Before I get into this story, let me just put in a serious aside here. I am in no way making fun of anyone, I’m not putting anyone down, I’m not casting judgment on anyone who uses antidepressants or anti-anxiety medication. Miley over at Musings of a Confused Woman wrote an excellent blog post on the subject of mental health, as did Midwestern Mama. Everyone at some time or another struggles and if you or someone you know needs help there is absolutely no shame in getting help. It’s a taboo subject though, and one most people are sensitive about, including myself, which is what led to this exchange.
Some background information: When I was 17 I was in a car accident. It wasn’t a very bad accident but I did bite a chunk out of my cheek and butterflied my tongue on the left side. It hangs over my teeth now and if I ever get hit the jaw again I’m going to bite it off.
Anyway, like I said - it wasn’t a bad accident, but it made me realize that I was not in fact indestructible and was capable of wrecking my car and injuring myself. Cue the panic attacks. I would get them every so often if I was driving in an unfamiliar area or driving in really bad weather. Panic attacks are probably a little different for everyone but mine involve going from fine to freaking out in the snap of a finger. It feels like that moment in a scary movie when you know something terrible is about to happen any second and you're absolutely powerless to do anything about it. I feel like my vision is messed up, or like I’m not registering what I’m seeing correctly and am about to be in an accident.
I go from this:
It’s not fun. Slowly over the course of eight years it got better and then pretty much stopped.
Until I moved to Columbus in 2009. It was probably a variety of stresses and other issues piling up, but I started getting panic attacks more frequently and in places I had never gotten them before; at work, at home, on the bus at school, driving on familiar roads. A helicopter hovering over my house last fall nearly sent me into a meltdown (I'm afraid of hovering helicopters - too many nightmares with them in it). To make a long story short I finally had to do something because I couldn’t handle the attacks and I was suffering from general anxiety almost all day.
So I made an appointment with my doctor. On February 14th.
I made an appointment to get myself crazy pills on Valentine’s day. Oh the things they must have thought about me picking that day to get on medication.
I don’t know what I was expecting when I went in but I thought I would say, “Hi, I have panic attacks and general anxiety, can I have some drugs to help me cope until I can manage it?” And then the doctor would say, “SHORE!” And write me a script.
That isn’t exactly what happened. I sat in his office answering questions about whether I was depressed, if I thought about suicide, what kind of sexual activity I had, what was stressful in life, so on and so forth - FOR AN HOUR. I should be grateful that he cares so much and wanted to make sure I was okay and was getting the right medication but after an hour of talking about my personal life and my feeeeeeeeelings (not a fan of this unless I'm bitching about something) I was ready to go.
FINALLY he told me he was going to write me a prescription for Prozac. Before he left the room he gave me a hug. I'm all about hugs, I have no problem getting them or giving them, but getting a hug from your doctor after spending an hour talking about your intimate thoughts and problems made me feel like he thought my ship was sinking and sinking fast.
So, prescription in hand I drive over to the pharmacy with the biggest I AM NOT CRAZY smile on my face I can muster. "BE COOL!" I thought to myself as I drove up to the window. "IF YOU ACT COOL HE WILL NOT THINK YOU'RE A PSYCHO." I drop off my prescription and am told to come back in 30 minutes.
At some point while I was wasting 30 minutes I managed to rub my eyes and smear my eyeliner so it appeared as though I had been crying or having some kind of nervous breakdown. I didn't realize this.
I pulled back in and told the guy in the drive-through window my name. He was very . He walked away and came back and said, "I don't have a current copy of your insurance on file. This is going to be three ninety nine."
I start freaking out. There is no way I can afford that without insurance! Kaiser's surgery plus my credit card bill from Christmas had just wiped my bank account clean. I tell him that my mom's card is on file there and that we're on the same insurance. Can he look me up with that? He goes away and comes back a few minutes later.
"I added your insurance, but this is still three ninety nine."
There is no way I can afford this. I tell him so. Actually, I was so thrown by the whole exchange and already rattled about being embarrassed to be getting pills to regulate my mental instability and having this guy be such a dick to me I said, "Well, that's not gonna happen!"
He stares at me for at least a full thirty seconds and then says
"OH GOD, OKAY!" - nervous laughter - "I thought you meant three hundred and ninety nine dollars."
More nervous laughter. He doesn't say anything. The silence is more than I can bear.
"You probably thought I was super cheap!"
Without saying a word he filled my prescription and sent me on my way with my crazy pills, probably thinking that I was going to need a much stronger dosage than what he had given me.
I had totally gone into that thinking I'd be charming and happy and he would not think I was insane. I obviously failed.
BUT the silver lining is that I think they are working and I also didn't realize how anxious I actually was. I think I've even lost a little bit of weight already because I'm not cramming food in my face in an attempt to self medicate. I'm probably also drunk a little less but I totally plan to remedy that tonight.
Have a good weekend!!