Friday, August 24, 2007

¡Ahora con mas cojones!

Well peeps, this post is long overdue. Think of it as a sort of addendum to my profile. It’s not that I was holding out on you before; it’s more that I was, in a sense, holding out on me. I don’t want to use the word denial because it’s so cliché, but alas, I can’t think of a better one.

In the introductory part of my profile, I make it sound as though I’m a bit vulnerable to the blues and all it takes is a daily hit of The Simpsons to keep me smiling. Ah, if only it were that simple.

Here’s how it really is:

In my experience, clinical depression (like various cancers) isn’t “cured” – it goes into remission. I guess at the time I wrote that profile, I’d been in remission for so long, it was all too easy to forget what a real depressive episode can be like. Guess what? I’ve recently been reminded.

It took about a week of living in hell before I had to admit defeat and realize I couldn’t “tough it out” on my own, so I finally made an appointment with my therapist. I guess this would be as appropriate a juncture as any to give my non-Canadian readers a little primer on staying well in the Great White North.

Canada has socialized healthcare, a source of national pride here, and a blessing for which I’m very grateful. Were it not for socialized healthcare, for instance, my younger brother would have to pay for his leukemia meds out-of-pocket – pretty tough on a construction worker’s salary. These are not cheap drugs, and my heart goes out to people burdened by this (or any other) disease and lack of access to treatment.

As far as mental health is concerned, medicare will cover sessions with a psychiatrist, but not a psychologist. Also, psychologists aren’t licensed to dispense meds, but psychiatrists (trained as medical doctors) are. Sessions with psychiatric nurses are also covered.

So who am I talking about when I refer to my “therapist”? You’ve probably figured by now that G-man and I are by no means affluent, and the smart money would say I need meds (yeah, I take antidepressants), so clearly a psychiatrist is in charge of my case. But I don’t think of him as my therapist. He’s the shrink who dispenses my meds.

I actually see two people, both of whom work at a teaching hospital.

My therapist is B, a psychiatric nurse I see for “talking therapy.” If there were a Nobel Prize for the Mental/Emotional Healing Arts, I would nominate B. I trust her implicitly. I tell her almost everything.

My psychiatrist – let’s call him Dr. Clueless – sees me to review my meds and show me off to his interns as a Great Success Story. I tell him almost nothing.

It took nearly two years before the Doc even got my name right. He has never been on time for an appointment, and always shows up with interns or psych students in tow to sit in during my sessions. Put me on the spot much? “Oh, I hope you don’t mind if Becky and Steve sit in with us today.” Like I’m supposed to say “Yeah, I do mind” when the people are standing right there. Okay, Becky and Steve, watch the lab rat do her thing now. Wonder if she’ll cry?

When it became clear to me this last bout of Darkness would not go away of its own accord, I got together with B first so I could vent and tell her all the self-destructive shit that had been on my mind. That session helped to a degree, but B knew (and I had suspected) that my meds would have to be tweaked, so natch, I had to make an appointment with the Doc. At least I was assertive enough this time to ask for a one-on-one appointment.

To the Doc’s credit, he respected my wishes and showed up (half an hour late) alone. I also appreciate that he didn’t try to over-medicate me. He raised my anti-depressant dosage slightly, but it remains low. I had a follow-up appointment with him a few days ago – again sans interns – and that went quite well. It went quite well, that is, until he started up with all this weird shit about how not everyone is meant to write and that perhaps I should pick up a flute and take beginner’s lessons. Beginner’s flute lessons? He might as well have said “basket weaving,” the condescending fucker.

The implication here is that I’m just too fragile to do what I’m doing right this minute, and I should be prepared to choose between happiness and creativity. I should be willing to settle for a state of emotional flatlining (that passes for happiness by Doc’s standards) and “get a hobby.”

And he actually brought up Kurt Cobain and Ernest-fucking-Hemingway, like these damaged icons are in any way pertinent. For starters, I’m not suicidally depressed, nor do I have that sort of history. But more to the point, I don’t write with an agenda to become rich and/or famous. I write because writing is my passion, and if passion is a “symptom” to be treated in pursuit of “normalcy”, then I’d rather be mental, thank you.

I’m on the waiting list now for a new shrink. He has an excellent reputation and apparently sees people as more than a sum of their disorders. I’m thinking he won’t automatically equate “creative” with “troubled”, although yeah, I admit the two sometimes go hand in hand. It’ll be a few weeks before I’ll get to see this guy, and switching shrinks will mean giving up B, who is considered (not by me) an adjunct to the Doc. I’ll miss her a lot, but she agrees I need a shrink who’s on the same page as me and doesn’t show up with an entourage.

The good news is that the meds, and my B appointments, have “kicked in” and I’m feeling better. I’ve been working out for the past few days and listening to guess what? Yeah, I know – you would think happy-clappy Manu Chao or crazy-good-time Gogol Bordello, but you’d be wrong. This depression has been a job for Nine Inch Nails! (Do ya’ think maybe Trent Reznor has some issues?) I guess angry just feels better than sad. For sure it burns more calories! Anyway, both anger and sadness are (*knocking wood*) out of my system now.

Amor, esperanza y paz,



Reza said...

Dear Friends,
A group of researchers at University of Nevada, Las Vegas, are investigating effects of Weblogs on “Social Capital”. Therefore, they have designed an online survey. By participating in this survey you will help researches in “Management Information Systems” and “Sociology”. You must be at least 18 years old to participate in this survey. It will take 5 to 12 minutes of your time.
Your participation is greatly appreciated. You will find the survey at the following link.
This group has already done another study on Weblogs effects on “Social Interactions” and “Trust”. To obtain a copy of the previous study brief report of findings you can email Reza Vaezi at

balthasar said...

Effortlessly conversational (I can hear you talking as I read) but never rambling or unfocused. Obviously you can write better than your ex Shrink can shrink.

DeLi said...

hi papillon, i hear you!
and i hope you are doing better

Papillon said...

balthazar - Thanks! But "never rambling or unfocused"? Dunno about that one - you were with me Sunday night, remember? ;-)

deli - Thanks, I am feeling a lot better, despite the many brain cells I lost this weekend during my husband's 40th birthday celebrations! My liver is actually grateful for the start of the work week. ;-)

kateybelle said...

awww, sweet papillon...never let a neurotic head shrinker try to kill your joy! recall: yin cannot be appreciated without yang in contrast, neither exist in isolation. 'tis this frisson that gives the spark of life. you're a firecracker; he's but a nutcracker. pooey.

Papillon said...

Te amo, Kateybelle!