“So YOU don’t think you’re depressed?”
The incredulous tone, the abrasive manner; these were not things I expected from a therapist. I stammered something about not having started my meds yet. I wanted to say, I’m breastfeeding. I wanted to say, I need to know what my options are. I was taken completely off-guard.
“Well,” she said through pursed lips, ushering me into her office, “first we will review the symptoms of depression.”
And so we did. Well, she did. It was a script no doubt intended to empower the patient into making their own diagnosis. But this interview, as she enumerated symptoms and cajoled responses, was more about bullying me into admitting something.
I’m depressed. I get that. What I wanted to talk about were options.
I can’t count how many times I was tempted to get up and walk out. But I forced myself to sit in that chair, and figure out whether this loathesome woman could actually help me. I’ve been depressed before, I’ve tried therapy before, it’s never really done much for me. But then, those therapists were a lot nicer. Maybe what I needed was a bully.
“WHAT, ” she demanded, holding two fingers in the air and looking at me sharply, “are the TWO forms of depression??” I got the distinct impression that, had there been a chalkboard nearby, she’d have been smacking it with a ruler.
Seriously, lady? Was I supposed to study before I came?
“I’m sorry, I don’t understand the question.”
“There are ¡TWO! forms of depression. Situational and genetic. Situational depression is caused by the si-tu-a-tion,”
You don’t say.
“¡YOU! have genetic depression.”
This, without any discussion of situation or family history. Impressive.
Next, she quizzed me about sleep. I told her that I didn’t have much control over my own sleep, what with a baby and all. It was the first bit of personal information I had managed to inject into the conversation. We covered ages, gender, and I finally had a segue to explain, “I’m breast feeding, that’s why I’m concerned about taking medication.”
“You have to stop breast feeding.” It wasn’t a suggestion, it was an order.
I have some pretty strong feelings on breast feeding. They revolve around a woman’s right to choose what is best for herself and her baby. Nobody – NOBODY – tells me when I wean my child. I think she eventually got the hint, so we moved back to sleep.
“She is 13 months old. She is perfectly capable of sleeping through the night. Why, ” she asked pointedly, “is she not sleeping through the night?”
I looked her straight in the eye. “Because she wakes up.”
A pause. “Is there anything else you want to tell me, about sleep?”
I co-sleep with my daughter
I will never tell you that
I will never tell you anything
and by the way, fuck you
Incidentally, anger is a symptom of depression. Who knew.
That interview did not end on a happy note. But I am determined that this post will. For that I have to rewind to what started the ball rolling: the visit with my family doctor. It was only 15 minutes long. I cried through a good chunk of it. But still, it has been the biggest help so far.
He drew a picture, on the exam-table tissue paper, of a person at the bottom of a well. He drew a rope, with knots in it, representing the goals and accomplishments that I would be reaching for as I pulled myself out. Getting up in the morning. Finding and doing something I love. But, he told me, for now my job was to simply look up.
So I am.
image © Lisa F. Young – fotolia