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I’m on a journey

25 March, 2010

Over at My Exodus I mentioned earlier today that I was about to have my first session with a psychologist in response to my recent commitment to deal with my depression.

The reason for writing that blog post this morning was to capture a “Before” snapshot of where my head was at going into therapy and to explore some of the topics and history I might discuss with the psych.

I’ve been putting off therapy for a long, long time … and driving in today I was highly anxious, so much so that I had to take 10 minutes before walking out the door to meditate and calm myself.

I walked in the front door of my psychologist’s office where she greeted me and took me into her counselling room. There were a couple of couches with a plain Japanese-style divider partitioning off the couches from her desk at the other end of the room. I sat and she asked me to fill out a new client information form while she read through the mental health plan from my GP.

I don’t understand why GPs play a pivotal role in mental health. I had to see a GP three times before getting a mental health plan (which I needed so I can claim it on Medicare). It’s not like the GP is my doctor. I just go into the medical centre and see whoever. Yet I had to get my referral from him, he regulates my anti-depressant medication, reviews my therapy progress. I don’t know – it just seems weird to me. I know psychologists aren’t medically-qualified like psychiatrists and can’t prescribe medication and all that but I don’t see why some GP needs to be kept in the picture …

Anyway, so back in my psych’s office and obviously I’m not going to share what we talked about but just want to convey the overall experience – mainly for other people who can’t quite bring themselves to go seek professional help. I had a stereotypical image of what a psychologist would be like in my mind and the first few minutes confirmed that image … the soft way she spoke and reflected what I said back to me; I found it initially a little amusing and also a little disconcerting but by the end of the hour I didn’t even notice it any more. Whilst I started off the session anxious and nervous I left feeling quite calm contrary to what I expected. I thought I might leave there feeling drained, exposed and vulnerable. Wasn’t like that at all.

Of course, I know there are likely to be psychologists out there (just like there are in any profession) who might technically be qualified but just aren’t any good at their jobs. It was partly a fear of ending up with someone like that that put me off from seeing someone for so long – but my experience today was positive and I felt comfortable, listened to, special and unique … unlike how GPs often make me feel: just another corpse on the conveyor belt. I felt like she had a genuine interest in my situation and circumstances and I didn’t feel as though I was just one of dozens of people she must see each week. When talked about really personal matters that really matters. Even the slightest sense that someone isn’t listening to you or attending to you 100% in those situations could put you off.

So, first session of many to come. Booked in for at least six sessions over the next six weeks and then my GP will reassess my mental health plan.

If you suffer from depression, I implore you to seek help. It won’t be easy, you may feel a bit disheartened when dealing with the GP initially or if the initially-prescribed medication isn’t effective, and the side-effects can drag you down but stick with it. I’m only four weeks into my medication and already feel an improvement. Happier, yes … but more importantly I more often than not stay afloat when normally I would get sucked into the black hole, down under the dark waters that would take hours and sometimes days to pull myself out of.

I look forward to sharing more of my journey out of depression, if only to help others start theirs.

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2 comments

  1. LOL Nat get a Good GP, stick with them.

    They will get to know you and your body, they will over time surprise you as they are able to work as true health professionals and not script / referral service.

    I have been where you are with GPs. Previously, I changing GPs a few years ago, I had my last GP for 18 years. I only changed because she was cutting her hours back and was impossible to get hold of.


  2. It’s very unlikely I’ll be able to get on the books of a private GP so I’m just going to the medical centres and getting first available each time …



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