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To the Doctor Who Told Me My Depression Was Just ‘a Low Day’

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Dear doctor,

I came to you today because I was at one of my lowest points. It took a lot for me to get out of bed and come to you. I wasn’t expecting miracles, maybe just a suggestion for a different antidepressant, maybe just to lend a listening ear.

Instead, you spoke like the anxious voice that’s inside my head. “Maybe you’re not doing enough,” is all I could hear.

I told you I’ve been depressed for a year. I told you my panic attacks were followed by periods of sleeplessness that would last up to 22 hours at a time — rearranging furniture or scrubbing the house — and that severe low points followed.

I told you I hadn’t even received an official diagnosis. You told me, “Boxing yourself into a diagnosis wouldn’t help. Mental health does not work that way.” You suggested I might not have depression, maybe I was just having low days.

I told you I thought about hurting myself to take the feeling away. I told you today I felt like dying. All you could say was, “But you’re not going to, are you?” That was enough for you. I could see you scrolling through the medical textbooks in your head, maybe even the DSM. “Her high periods don’t always include risky behavior, therefore we can’t label it as mania.”

What is so wrong with wanting a diagnosis? If someone could just tell me if there’s something wrong — a mood disorder, depression, whatever it might be — then I could begin to properly manage it. I’ve tried to treat what’s going on with counseling, medication, “positive thinking” and healthy habits. So tell me doctor, why does somebody who attends CBT, eats regular and nourishing meals, takes their medication and goes to the gym, still have debilitating insomnia, anxiety and depression?

I felt like you didn’t like whatever was going on with me because you couldn’t “fix it.” But you could have made me feel better. You could have showed me some compassion, even faked empathy. Instead, you suggested that I was not doing enough, that I just needed to go to counseling. You put me on the long waiting list for a psychiatrist, stating again that you didn’t think it could help.

I knew there was no point in arguing. You were stuck in your ways. Luckily, you are not my regular doctor who is well versed in mental health and has always left me feeling like I have a grasp on things; who always reassured me that there is something going on and there is hope.

If anyone has has an experience like this, please do not give up on seeking help.

This is just one person’s opinion, and while it angers me that mental health issues are not always dealt with seriously, not every medical professional acts this way. I am lucky that my regular doctor is fantastic, and it was unfortunate that I had to see someone else who showed me that not everyone is this way.

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Thinkstock photo via Design Pics

Originally published: August 2, 2017
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