One month and 20 days ago, I was at my doctor's office asking for something other than Cipralex because my anxiety was getting out of control and I wanted to avoid the cholesterol problems that I found I had during the last time I took it. Well, my doctor was less than helpful that time; was annoyed that I wouldn't just go back onto Cipralex and in a mocking voice asked if I wanted to try Effexor then. I said I guess so, filled the prescription, did research and decided that Effexor is a little too scary for me. So, as noted here, I started up with the Cipralex again from what I had leftover from last year, and took the smallest dose possible to try to feel better.
Yesterday morning I was back at the office to refill my prescription to Cipralex. Since I've been having some other issues, I had prepared a whole speech for when my doctor came into the room. It went like this:
Dr: Hi, how are you?
Me: Well, I've been struggling with a weepy eye since November, low back pain since December, an aching chest since January and frequent migraines and extreme fatigue over the last little while, but I'm here to get a Cipralex refill.
That did not happen, because all I could think of going in there is how doctors only hear people complaining all day long. And I didn't want to be just another complainer. So this is how it really was:
Dr: Hi, how are you?
Me: I'm doing alright.
Dr: What can I do for you?
Me: I am here for a prescription refill for Cipralex. I know you gave me Effexor last time, but I researched it and the side effects look too scary for me.
Dr: *gives me an I told you so smirk*
Me: So I've decided to take the Cipralex despite the cholesterol problems it causes-
Dr (cutting me off): High cholesterol is not a side effect of Cipralex.
Me: I had good cholesterol before I took it, high cholesterol while I was on it, and good cholesterol when I was off it.
Dr: I've never read that cholesterol is affected by Cipralex. I will refer you to a dietician nurse for your high cholesterol and I'll monitor it. And you can ask the nurse about cognitive behavioural therapy too, when you see her.
Dr: How much are you taking? 5? 10?
Me: 2.5 mg
Dr: What? That is not anything. That is not enough. You have to take 5 mg. Even 5 is nothing. 10 is the therapeutic dose.
Me: It works for me.
Dr: Take 5 mg. *hands me prescription*
Me: Thanks. Have a good day. *leave room*
I left feeling so very sad. Sad because I am a strong and confident person who is not afraid to stand up for myself and I still left frustrated that I was not heard. Sad because I had a great relationship with my doctor until I started taking antidepressants. Sad because I can feel that even though I see all the campaigns to get mental health out in the open and recognized as a real thing, nothing is changing.
I have a friend who, after much encouragement from me, worked up the courage to tell their doctor about their struggle with depression. Something that had been going on for years. That courage was rewarded with a simple "go out walking more, and spend more time with your family". Guess how helpful that was.
It is over two years later and this person is STILL fighting depression, trying to figure out a way to manage it on their own, but sinking deeper and deeper by the day. For over two years I have been listening and encouraging this person to get a second opinion, but they are resistant because they spoke up and got no help. Can you imagine feeling like you are drowning in a deep dark pool for years and years with no hope of rescue even as you look up and see someone standing at the side with a branch strong enough to pull you out?? Some people reading this will say yes.
I was thinking of these people as I drove home from my doctor appointment, and about the photo that shows dealing with life-threatening injuries the way mental health issues are dealt with. I have a new one..."Yup, your arm is definitely broken. Go out walking more and spend more time with family. That should clear it right up."
I'm looking forward to my appointment with the dietician. I plan to bring a list of my meals consumed, exercise done, and sleep accumulated to the appointment, to avoid wasting her time and mine. I know she will ask why I'm there. And I will not have a good answer.