My first official blog!
I’m going to lay it out early…. We’re not starting with something wonderful, or transformational. There aren’t going to be pics of breathtaking scenery today. We’re going to start off keeping it really real. I spent my morning puking into the toilet like something strongly resembling the Exorcist. I think my head might have even spun around a few times. Wait, did she do that, or was that Beetlejuice? Both? I might be confusing some childhood movies, but that’s neither here nor there. I would like to brag for a quick sec that I didn't pee my pants while puking. That's a real feat, right there.
My new/old psychiatrist (I’ll get to that part; it’s really the bulk/point (if there is one) of the story, but just give me a minute) and I are trying to perfect a delicate balance of formulas to keep me in my rocker, and one of the unpleasant side effects happens to be nausea, that according to the paperwork, happens to about 10% of peeps. Now, it is said that these meds can be taken with or without food, but trust and believe tomorrow it’ll be WITH. It is also mentioned that the side effects will abate after a couple weeks (fingers forking crossed). I was pretty chill about the headaches and dry mouth of last week, but no matter how much I long to be both slender and jacked, I prefer my bulimic days be left in my teenage years.
So, the new/old psych story:
I had an AMAZING doctor assigned to me four years ago when I was perilously close to having a mental breakdown after the death of my Great Dane, Donky. There are some things in life that cannot be processed away quickly enough, and I maintain that the death of a loved one might require some m̶i̶l̶d̶ extreme sedatives. The long/short of it is that I have never wanted to rely on meds on a daily, so while I said a begrudging yes to benzodiazepines (don’t worry; I generally like to drink my feelings and can therefore be trusted with a 6-month supply of Xanax, but don’t even think about leaving me with a bottle of vodka that you expect to get back), I stiff-armed every variety of antidepressants offered to me. I also wanted to try and work through some of my issues the old-fashioned way, you know, by swanning about on a couch wailing of my daddy issues until I pass out and am subsequently revived by a mustachioed man with a cigar/pipe offering me smelling salts and/or a cattle prod. What? That’s not how it works, you say? At any rate, I was assigned to Dr. Delightful, and he, in turn assigned me to a lovely therapist to talk it out. No, he wasn’t passing the buck; his job was to prescribe me the happy pills and make sure I’m of (mostly) sound mind; it’s someone else’s job to listen to my bullshirt.
Let’s fast forward to the beginning of the pandemic. I’ve been seeing Dr. Delightful every 3-4 months for the past two years. I still politely decline every suggestion of anything other than what can take the edge off of m̶e̶ ̶n̶e̶a̶r̶l̶y̶ ̶s̶h̶i̶t̶t̶i̶n̶g̶ ̶m̶y̶ ̶p̶a̶n̶t̶s̶ a plane ride, being a passenger in a car, or whatever garden variety panic attack life offers me. But I adore Dr. Delightful, because he (gasp) LISTENS TO ME! It’s a concept, I know. Hard to wrap your head around. But it really made him stand out. So here we are at the beginning of the pandemic, when I am most certainly going to need the edge taken off, and I hear the words, “Dr. Delightful is leaving the VA. We’re transferring you to Dr. Foreskin.” Now, I don’t know immediately how detrimental this is going to be to me, because I think that all I require is the occasional (just FYI, I spelled that correctly on my own the first time around) Xanax. I don’t give a fork who prescribes it.
Enter Dr. Foreskin. You know how you meet some people and you just click? He was not that. He was the opposite of that. He didn’t give a fork, flying or otherwise, about anything I had to say. He would ask questions and then seemingly not listen to or comprehend any of my answers, other than the one about my drinking habits, which he latched on to like Dracula on a fresh corpse. I honestly don’t know a thing about doctors that are not affiliated with Veteran’s care, but at the VA, any time you go see anyone for anything, they need to know two things: are you knocked up and how much do you drink? Now, as the delightful Sailor that I am, I like to drink my grog. Yes, I am aware that the amount I can put away would t̶e̶c̶h̶n̶i̶c̶a̶l̶l̶y̶ ̶c̶l̶a̶s̶s̶i̶f̶y̶ ̶m̶e̶ ̶a̶s̶ ̶a̶n̶ ̶a̶l̶c̶o̶h̶o̶l̶i̶c̶ please a pirate. It is something my healthcare providers mention that I keep an eye on, and I agree. But never-have-I-ever felt so blatantly judged than that initial (and every subsequent) meeting with Dr. Foreskin. For almost two years, all he ever wanted to talk about was about how I drink three glasses of wine instead of the recommended one or two. Seriously. That’s it. Mental health, be damned. Just. Stop. Drinking. And. That. Will. Solve. Every. Forking. Problem. You. Have.
Let me interject here and say that I do not disagree with about 85% of that sentiment, but holy shirt, Doc, let us entertain another storyline as well, since I’m trying to be open and honest here! I largely figured, however, that since I only have to see this schmuck quarterly to top off my Xanax, let him be whatever kind of prick he wants to be.
Picture it. January, 2022. A remote cabin in VT (and if you can’t appreciate what I just did there, you might not be old enough or have the proper sense of humor to be reading this blog). I have just wrapped up the end of the steaming pile that was 2021 (that’s a whole other blog or fifteen). In my year-end musings, as I look forward to how I can make myself better in the coming year, I realize I have come around to the fact that I need some medical help. No matter that I have indeed managed to largely curb the drinking over the last four weeks, no matter how much reframing I do, or how many pep talks I give myself, or how many other people give me pep talks, I can no longer deny that my brain is just not currently producing the right chemical cocktail. And I say as much to Dr. Foreskin in our early January rendezvous. I hold out my hands and say meekly that I am ready to accept help. Daily. In the form of whatever he’s got in his prescription rolodex that is going to make me feel better. Do you know what his response was? It was to give me the names of several antidepressants, and tell me to go do some research on them! What. The. Actual. Fork?! SIR – YOU ARE MY RESEARCH!!!! Also, don’t doctors usually hate it when you come to them after using the Dr. Google? Suffice to say, I am not over that encounter yet, but don’t worry, dear readers; this tale does have a happy ending.
As we were wrapping up our least productive encounter to date, Dr. Foreskin uttered the most magical phrase I’d heard in at least the last year: “Dr. Delightful is coming back, so if you are ever unable to reach me and you need anything, you can always get a hold of him.” At least I think that’s what he said. I honestly n̶e̶a̶r̶l̶y̶ ̶s̶h̶i̶t̶ ̶m̶y̶s̶e̶l̶f̶ w̶i̶t̶h̶ ̶r̶e̶l̶i̶e̶f̶ completely stopped listening after “coming back.” End scene.
Re-enter Dr. Delightful (because believe you me, I dropped Dr. Foreskin like he wanted me to drop drinking). Even though I knew I had always disliked Dr. Foreskin, I didn’t realize just how much it had affected me until I was reunited with Dr. Delightful and bawled like a soldier without their woobie. I told him how I’d been feeling, and begged him to help me. He not only had an immediate solution (Wellbutrin) to offer, with the added mental hug that WE WILL FIND SOMETHING THAT WORKS, he also followed that up with that if I find I’m having a hard time cutting back on the drink, THERE’S SOMETHING HE CAN GIVE ME THAT CAN HELP WITH THAT, TOO! I’m going to imagine that my red-rimmed, watery eyes rather bugged out of my head with a combination of rage and dismay that Dr. Foreskin had opted to belittle my inability to abstain for two years, when he could’ve been presenting me with some possible forking solutions.
Okay, that’s my story. Let’s talk about the takeaways. Wait, hold on. I’ve forgotten that people get very concerned when you talk about your doodoo…..let me assuage your fears. I am okay. I will not be joining AA or become a teetotaler. I am a delightful social drinker, and would like to keep it that way. I would also like to be less of an alone drinker (thank you Dr. Delightful, and ReVia) and ensure that my liver functions for many years to come. Please don’t take anything I ever say to shame anyone, particularly those struggling with any variety of addiction, or those with mental/mood disorders. I see you. It’s forking hard. I am a woman who struggles with too many feelings, and too many fears, and too many tears, and I (try to) suppress some of these fears, and tears, and feelings (oh my) with undesirable coping mechanisms. I have always turned to these undesirables, and now I am trying to do better for myself. It’s also possible that I left out some plot points, but that’s okay, you got the gist, right? Okay, back to the takeaways.
1. I’m not saying every doctor has to make you want to hang out and be their best friend, but there is something to be said about reading the room and bedside manner. If they’re putting out the legit cold prickly vibes, request, nay DEMAND someone else. It is, above all, your health, so best to be proactive. As my dear friend Shannon has taught me through her battle with cancer, be your own forking advocate. You are the only one that you know has your best interest at heart. You don't have to be stuck with a dick.
2. It’s okay if you don’t want to take drugs. It’s okay if you do want to take drugs. I don’t mean let’s trip balls every day, but if that’s what gets you out of your funk, who am I to judge? J/k…..what I really mean is to listen to yourself to find out what you need. I totally get not taking an Aleve for every ache or pain. I’m the first one to go for the homeopathic/natural/hippeAF remedies. BUT…. It’s okay to take the Western meds. Don’t let silly things, like pride, get in the way of you feeling your best. If your brain is producing the right mixture on its own, more power to you, but mine needed some help, and if yours does too, know that you are not alone.
3. It’s okay to talk about your mental health. Or not. Like every other thing in your life, it’s personal. I choose to share my stories because not only do I think it’s an important component of my professional career (fitness - which I will always maintain is far more than just picking up weights and running and shirt like that), but because the shame of it seems to dissipate somehow when I share it. Yeah, man, I’m forked up in the head. I think we all are, if we’re being honest.
4. If the Patient Information Leaflet says take with or without food, just do yourself a favor. Make yourself a special brownie.
Until next time, beautiful readers..... Beware the Ides of March, and CHEERIO!