She seemed competent enough. I scanned the office while she read through the information on my medical chart. Clean. Organized. Not cluttered. No cheesy portraits of people gazing at the sunset. Three degrees hung on the wall- UNC, Duke, Texas A&M. She interrupted my examination with a smile.
“How are you feeling today?” she asked.
I stared at her blankly. Is that a freaking trick question? I’m doing excellent. I was singing with the birds and the other woodland creatures and in that state of euphoria decided why not stop by the psychiatrists office for a chat.
She stared back at me, still smiling. She tilted her head slightly. Excellent wait time; bravo.
I acquiesced and answered the question, “I’m okay”. When you ask a real question, I’ll give you a real answer.
“Do you want to talk about why you’re here today?” This is just laughable. What are you going to do if I say no? What magical question will you pull out next? I’m too tired to mess with you. I just want this to be over. I’ll play along.
“I’ve not been myself for the last few months. I’ve been experiencing high levels of anxiety. It’s affecting my work and my marriage. So, I was referred by a therapist to you.”
She nodded calmly. She followed up with a series of questions about what specifically I meant when I said “panic” “anxiety” and “moody”. You know, the writer in me likes your attention to detail.
Finally, after pausing a moment to translate more of my life into the boxes on her notepad, she asked, “do you think you’re depressed?”.
My teeth clenched. I willed my eyes not to roll. Do I think I’m depressed? I’ve said the word depressed 15 times today. Also, you’re the doctor. Do you think I’m depressed? I think my life is upside down and you are stalling in helping to fix it.
“Yes. I think I have a mood disorder.”
“Hmm,” she sounded, pretending to entertain the idea. “It may be too early to tell that. But we can start you on some depression medication and see how you’re feeling in a few weeks.”
I didn’t blink. You’re not the only one with excellent wait time.
“In the mean time,” she added, “I think you should see a therapist to work through some of the other issues discussed today.”
So, this whole hour of questioning and prying was bullshit. Where am I from, what do I like to do, how do I take care of myself- those are therapy questions. Why ask them if you’re just the pill pusher?
“Great. Thanks,” I managed to utter. And I meant it. She did help me. Before the conversation, I thought I was crazy, but surely a crazy person would not have held it together like I did. Depressed. Just depressed. I could live with that.
She wrote the prescription. I started to cry. She smiled and nodded calmly. I guess you’ll have to do.