The Journey, not the Destination

Seeking Bettie Page

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Woman, Interupted.
I've been away for a few weeks, I know. My depression and anxiety has really taken over. After being offered a medical leave of absence from school for the rest of the semester, and much consideration, I accepted the offer. Last Monday I took my RESP exam - and pulled an 87%! - and that was the last thing I have to do until January. Last Tuesday, I had my dreaded appointment with Dr. P (and Ellie there to support me). It went okay - we talked about why I was uncomfortable with our relationship - and she seemed to have done a 180 on the meds issue. I was feeling okay about it. Then I went to the lab to get my TSH drawn, just to make sure it was okay, and when I went up to meet with Ellie, she immediately brought the idea of voluntary commitment to the hospital for a few days. She said they would be able to change my meds faster that way. It seemed like an excellent idea. Although, as I was soon to learn, I was under the impression I'd be in the medical ward. But no, I ended up in the psych ward. And very quickly had another panic attack.

That was very hard. Despite the uncomfortable beds, the crappy food, the lukewarm showers, the ridiculous number of restrictions and frustrations such as: nothing with strings, no pens, no belts, I had to check out my hair brush to use it, I couldn't have my teddy bear, visiting hours were 5-7 in the evening - during rush hour!!!, no caffeine, no smoking, being on suicide watch for the first 24 hours, being checked on every 15 minutes, no cell phones, no computers, a two hour wait for Advil and benedryl when I got a migraine, having to go to med nurse to get ben gay for my elbow, having to go to the med nurse 5 times a day for my various meds, being bored out of mind, sleeping too much, hiding in my room, watching some of the other patients mumble to themselves, drool, have PTSD attacks, cuss and scream at everyone, overreact to everything, complain about everything, and on and on and on. My doctor was very nice. A first year resident, which, of course, I couldn't hold against him, since that WILL be me one day. I went to bed each night doped up on ativan and benedryl, just so I could (unsuccessfully) get through the night in peace. Four or five panic attacks. And it was always fucking freezing in the day room. I went around in layers - long underwear under sweats and toting my blanket. And no shoes. So I had on two pairs of socks, usually. The sinks and showers were run by these little push buttons that gave you a certain amount of water, and thus you had to keep pushing them. The chairs all weighed 50 lbs so people couldn't pick them up and throw them. The toiletries they gave us consisted of a shampoo/body wash that sucked, a tiny tube of toothpaste, a roll on anti-antiperspirant and a bottle of mouth wash. All the big furniture was bolted to the walls or floors, and the cupboards were all locked. Everything was designed so that people couldn't hurt themselves with it.

Most of the other patients were very nice. All of them were considerably older than me (which gave me a frightening vision of my future should I not be able to kick this disease). I was probably the most sane person there. And by far the highest-functioning. And one of the quietest (can't beat the mute guy).

I felt cut off from my support network. Granted, there were phones, in the freezing day room, that were ancient and had crappy connections. And my mom, bless her heart, visited me almost every day. And several friends from school came, too. That meant a lot to me. And my aunt called regularly - usually during dinner.

That whole place made me want to fade away. To stop thinking and dealing. I don't know yet if the time there has helped me, but I hope so. Regardless, it was a helluva learning experience. It made me feel weak and vulnerable and helpless and frustrated.

It scares me that my doctor thought that was necessary. And that, had they their druthers, I'd still be there, and stay for another week or two. But since it was a voluntary commitment, I told them I was going to Georgia on Wednesday and would be leaving no later than Tuesday.

I feel weird now. I took a nap on the couch earlier and when I woke up, I didn't know where I was.

There are several issues that came up that I realize that I need to deal with - things I have squashed down and ignored for years - that just maybe might be adding to my current condition. I need to find a new therapist.

And Dr. P came upstairs to confront me about me wanting to change from her service. She partially listened to my issues, and then, in true shrink fashion, turned them all around so that they were all my fault - my fault she couldn't breach my defenses and really get inside me, my fault for taking things (like the mysterious drug test) too personally. None of the the issues I had with her were her fault at all. She couldn't even bring herself to apologize for making me feel like shit. Honestly, if these problems of mine were so long standing, why did she never mention them? I've been seeing her for two and half bleeping years!?!? And NOW she tells me that it is my fault? Sure, I'll take the blame for being closed off - I probably am - but if she had called me on it two years ago, we could have worked on it.

I learned a lot about how I want to practice medicine. And how I don't want to practice medicine.

I'm hopeful that the week was not a waste, that my new meds will work for me, and that I find myself stronger after being so miserable for seven days straight. I hope.

The best thing that came out of this experience was my decision to get a dog. Mom brought it up - after seeing how much getting Barclay helped my brother with his loneliness, she is in full support of it now - which was all I needed to hear. So, when I get back from Georgia next week and go through all my appointments on Tuesday and Wednesday (and hopefully have one with my new therapist), I'm going up to my folks' and my mom and are are going to the humane society to find me a dog. I'm really looking forward to that. And I think having a dog in my life will be incredibly therapeutic.

So, that's all for now.


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