Friday, 24 October 2008
Friday Is Doctor Day
I've written before about Friday being a day of seeing doctors. Friday morning sees me attending my regular appointment for psychotherapy, and my first appointment of the day with a doctor. This hour of talking about myself and my feelings and thoughts about things in my life is not the easiest hour of my week, but it is helping me. My friend, Mr Smiley, has said that he has noticed a big difference in how I am over the last few months and I know that going through the psychotherapy is a big factor in this.
I have always tried to set myself high standards to achieve, and for many years I did just that. But when I lost the support of my husband, I started to lose confidence in myself and my ability to do many of the things that I had done without thinking previously. It wasn't just the depression that I started to suffer when my husband died, but also the harassment and discrimination that I started to encounter from some people at work. For years I managed to keep working despite all this, but eventually it had such an effect on me that work became impossible. During this time my mother had died very suddenly, so in addition to all the problems that I had at work and with my health, I had to keep an eye on my elderly father from a distance of almost 100 miles. When my father died a little more than two years after my mother, work became impossible and my GP sought early retirement for me on medical grounds.
I decided to move back to London when I retired, mainly because I was not happy in the home that I had shared with my husband, but also because I felt it better to get away from the area where I was likely to see many of the people that I had worked with, and I could not face constant questioning about why I had to give up work. With the move came a change of GP, and a year ago, concerned with the depressive state that I was in, my new GP decided to refer me to the local Mental Health Trust to be assessed for psychotherapy. I was lucky, I didn't have anywhere near as long to wait for assessment as my GP had warned me that I could expect to wait, and after being assessed as suitable for individual psychodynamic psychotherapy and warned that I would be on a waiting list for some considerable time; I started therapy three months later.
I have been attending most Fridays since the beginning of May and the six months of 'talking therapy' have definitely made a difference to how I am feeling. I still have periods where I fall into that black hole of depression, but I find that I can climb out of it more easily now. And after suffering for so many years, I think that we have uncovered some of the things that caused me to be the way that I am and possibly why my depression, which originally was thought to be a grief reaction, has continued for so long.
This afternoon, I had to go and see my GP for a check on my present state. Regular readers will know that the GP who I had been seeing when I registered at the local practice when I moved back to London retired a few months back. I had needed to see a doctor when my GP was away at a conference, so I saw one of his partners, and finding that I got on well with this other doctor, it was decided that he would take over my care when my GP retired. So new GP has been seeing me at fortnightly intervals since taking over my care, so that he can get familiar with me and my problems and we can develop a relationship that I will be comfortable with.
Today's appointment was the first since we had managed to get my blood pressure under control, so it really was just a case of me reporting in and saying that I felt fine. I expected it to be a five minute visit, but I was wrong. When I was called through, I got to GP's consulting room and he opened the door just as I arrived and as I was walking in told me that he had a medical student with him, and asked if I would be happy for the student to stay during the consultation. I surprised myself and my GP by saying that I was happy for him to stay.
The consultation that I expected to last just a few minutes took a little longer than that. After getting over the shock of me agreeing to the medical student staying for the consultation, GP decided to use me for a good teaching experience. I think I coped with it all quite well. Tears were very close on a couple of occasions, but GP kept a close grip on things so that I never went over the edge. I hope that the medical student gained from the experience, I believe that I managed to climb another hurdle and get over it without any harm. My psychotherapy was discussed in general terms, we discussed the strategies that I use to manage my day to day life when I am feeling depressed, and how studying has been one of my lifesavers over the last few years.
So I have seen two doctors and an almost doctor (he takes his finals next year) today, and I'm not even ill. Well, I have the last remnants of my cold, but nothing worse than that today. Maybe my life is starting to take a turn for the better after all those years of despair. I will obviously be susceptible to depression whenever I encounter really difficult times, but I seem to be learning how to deal with it and come out the other side without too much harm.