At the end of May I had a physical. Since I’ve been on anti-depressants (2001+) every time I see the doc I get to fill out a PHQ-9, and usually get some discussion about the state of my mental health. As usual, we talked quick about it, and moved on. But I stopped the doc (who I love) and asked to back up a bit. I said that actually talking about it really moved me, and thought maybe I could talk to someone again in therapy. My doc said there was a perfect fit in the office, and gave me a referral.
I also went on a solo trip out of town for a nephew’s graduation. It was great to see family, and I got to stay with my sister at her house on a beautiful island. Just an amazing place to be. But I was feeling awkward and depressed and the anxiety was just really starting to creep in. The four day trip was supposed to be something of a “wind down” for me and it was nice to get away from work for a while, but it didn’t wind me down at all — if anything, maybe a bit up. Overall a happy trip, but I was starting to see there were some bigger issues at hand.
On the 2nd of June there was a neighborhood festival that I usually enjoy. My son and I will walk among the exhibits and booths and people watch and chat. He was back from college but busy that day, and the wife and daughter were off on their own as well. I went alone and all I could feel was being alone, and seeing all of these people being happy in the summer sun. I just wanted to slap them all and tell them it wasn’t okay and there wasn’t anything to be happy about.
By the 13th I was having trouble scheduling the Psychologist – a very popular one indeed. My wife knew if I called the scheduling line they could hook me up with a social worker who would assess and recommend someone else. Looking at this psychologists profile I really knew they would “get” me, so finding someone else was not helping my outlook.
And it was a bit of a kerfuffle. The first appointment I showed up only to find out they tried to call me and tell me the social worker was sick. Fine. The next day I show up and the social worker asks me the standard questions, and looks on the schedule and finds a doc in the next town over who specializes in Postpartum depression and domestic abuse. Neither of which apply to me, but I’m game so I take the appointment.
At the interview with the social worker I was asked about my support circle. I said my wife and children were my primary support. What about friends? I thought about it and realized I didn’t have any friends that I felt like people I could go to for support. That actually disturbed me more than anything, and it made me realize I’d fallen off the earth of my friend circles. (To anyone reading this who is a friend, I’ll throw in the caveat that my understanding of who and how I could go to for support is different now. Nobody need feel slighted!)
I was still having no luck getting The Good Psychologist, and the routine was to call the scheduling line and see if there were openings — but an intake is a special appointment, so it was harder to find. Luckily, my primary put in a good word and I got put on a waiting list, and eventually got to see my new Psychologist.
In June it began to manifest as more severe generalized anxiety and panic attacks. My psychologist referred me to a psychiatrist. I’ve had therapy in the past but not with doctors who “get me” so well and really understand and care. They’re the best I could ask for.
I really liked the Psychiatrist, but as it happens it’s the same one as another family member, so she set up a transfer to a colleague who happened to work on the Partial Hospitalization Program, which was convenient.
By July/August I had entered a major depressive episode for the first time, which is a completely different beast. The anxiety and depression increased and I had trouble making it to work on some days. I was getting new meds that gave me some pretty wicked side effects and that didn’t help the hopelessness or anxiety. That’s about the time my passive suicidal ideations evolved to more serious issues (planning, no intent) and at times I have concerns about my impulse control. My company and boss and the founders all love me and value me, and had suggested I take some time off to get my meds sorted out, so I took a week off. That week didn’t help, as I was without the daily structure and just inside my head the whole time.
My care team and I talked about a day program three afternoons a week, but that didn’t seem like enough. Things had gotten bad enough that we were all talking about hospitalization, and my worry about being away from work was pretty much irrelevant. So I accepted my situation and decided to go with the Partial Hospitalization.
So we called my boss back and told him I’d be out for another few weeks. He was absolutely supportive and passed on that the CEO back in Scandinavia was “200% behind me.”
I had no idea what to expect, but as it turns out, that’s the right attitude.