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When Getting Help Is Anxiety-Inducing

The human brain is a fascinating organ. Despite being the boss of the central nervous system, the brain lacks pain receptors. Am I wrong in thinking this implies that the brain never feels pain? I don’t know about you, but to me that feels a tiny bit greedy of the brain. I personally am in daily distress due to a chemical imbalance in my brain, yet my brain feels no pain. See? Fascinating.

I bring up the topic of the brain because I recently had a visit with a new psychiatrist for medicine management. Medicine, along with weekly talk therapy, helps to keep me from becoming a permanent victim of my controlling brain.

Sometimes, however, visiting a new doctor can be a very anxiety-inducing experience in and of itself.  It is a necessary evil, but I, like many people, have a very difficult time talking about myself. The idea of discussing the reasons for my PTSD-induced nightmares makes me want to cover my eyes and yell, “You can’t see me!” I learned this coping technique from my 3-year-old. I’m still working through the details, but it seems like a solid method.

The new psychiatrist invited me into his office for what would be a 90-minute intake appointment. He wasted absolutely no time in asking the hard questions:

“Do you ever hurt yourself?”

“How is your anger?”

“How was your childhood?”

“Would you say your agitation with your children at times would lead to you harming them?”

The physical symptoms of panic flooded me as I struggled to respond to his questions. My mouth was dry and it became hard to swallow. I know he asked these things for a purpose. There are reasons he needed to ask me if I knew the day of the week and if I could name the last three presidents. But I became so overwhelmed with emotion and anxiety it was almost impossible to speak. It was as if the entire session was one huge trigger for my PTSD and was some sort of exposure therapy. Really unwanted, crappy, exposure therapy.

It’s hard to be vulnerable to another person and expose those things in life that I perceive as ugliness. Recently, however, I think I’ve finally come to terms with the fact that if I don’t speak about these things with the people trying to help me, I will never take ownership of my PTSD, OCD and anxiety. They will continue to rear their ugly heads and try to remind me time and again that they are in control. Not me. And if they are in control, I will likely never make any progress at all.

In the end, I made it through the appointment. I wasn’t judged. I was treated kindly and with respect. And ultimately, I was given the continued opportunity to receive proper treatment so I don’t have to spend the rest of my life submissive to my mental health demons.

Reaching out for help and making that first phone call can be so intimidating. I have found Psychology Today a useful resource in finding help for myself and my family. We all deserve the opportunity to feel better. Yes, even you.

Image via Thinkstock.