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What It Was Like to See a Psychiatrist for the First Time


Today, I saw a psychiatrist for the first time. It’s no surprise I ended up here. Since I was diagnosed, I assumed this day would come. Thankfully, I know there’s nothing shameful in this. I know this doesn’t make me “crazy,” but I’m still scared.

I put off thinking about the appointment as much as I could, knowing it would do little more than fill me with anxiety and fear. I planned what time to leave the office, what train to get, and I’ve given myself ample time to find the clinic.

The morning passed by smoothly; I did some work in the lab, taught a class and had lunch with friends. On my way there, no longer distracted by work or people, I became more and more anxious. Had I accidentally written down the wrong train to take? Would I be late? What if I got the address wrong? Both my mom and boyfriend had offered to come along with me, but I knew I could do this on my own.

I wondered what she’d be like. I had made the mistake of reading online reviews about her, most of which were negative. I tried to brush it off as people being pedantic and wanting to complain. I reminded myself that my general practitioner, who I like and trust, had recommended her. But that wasn’t enough to stop my mind spiraling through possibilities. What would she be like? Would I like her? Would I feel comfortable talking to her? What if she was harsh and abrasive and upset me? What if I got so anxious I couldn’t properly tell her about the things I was struggling with. What would I even say to her? I was filled with fear. This continued until the session began. She started off with basics; “what medication have you been on,” “do you work or study,” and so on. Then she asked me to tell her about my depression. I didn’t know where to start. I managed a few words, telling her it had been going on for a few years and that I often felt down and had suicidal thoughts. She then asked me what my symptoms of depression were. Another simple question, yet it threw me. I had never just listed them off before, but I did my best.

The session went on and she confirmed my diagnosis, while saying that I was functional and that my described symptoms didn’t match my functionality. She gave me a prescription, told me how to take it and before I knew it, I was out of the door.

I’m still not certain how I felt about the experience. I don’t know whether this step will help me get better, but I want to try. I want to be better. I want to feel hopeful about the future. I want to experience joy from the things I do. I want to be happy.

If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.

If you need support right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255, the Trevor Project at 1-866-488-7386 or text “HOME” to 741-741. Head here for a list of crisis centers around the world.

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Thinkstock photo via AlexandrBognat