In any journey to recovery there are the first steps that need to be taken. For a broken limb its weeks in a cast, for an infection its antibiotics, but for depression, anxiety and other effectors of Mental Health, the first step is asking for help. I have now taken my first step.
After identifying that I wasn’t OK, and with the support of my Wife and loved ones around me I took steps to get help. Last Monday I saw my GP for a Mental Health Assessment. And it didn’t go well. The discussion began asking a series of questions that, to the casual observer would seem random, but given my background as a Nurse and history with Psychological screens in the Navy I could tell she was ascertaining in which direction my Mental Health had gone; OCD, Depression, Anxiety, PTSD, ADHD etc.
She determined, and I agreed, that BiPolar is unlikely due to a tendency towards the lower side of mood vice the euphoric, and the fact the symptoms haven’t been present long enough. So my GP completed a short assessment, a DASS (Depression, Anxiety and Stress Scale), to determine the extent of my Depression, and to test for presence or influence of Anxiety and Stress. I completed the questions and handed them back to my GP. Now the results are a tallied score of certain answers to give 3 total Scores, one each for Depression, Anxiety and Stress. Out of a possible 48 I scored a 36, 24, and 44 in the same order as previously listed. A score over 14 is considered extreme and deserving of immediate attention.
So the current diagnosis is Combination Anxiety/Depression which is almost what I expected, I wasn’t expecting the results in either Anxiety or Stress but there you go. We had a discussion surrounding the way forward, and my GP advised a Medicated and Psychological approach would work best. Having read numerous articles, books and listened to a number of lectures on the benefits of a combined approach, I agreed. She wrote two referrals, one to a Psychologist and one to a Psychiatrist. The Psychologist will conduct the actual Talking Therapy while the Psychiatrist will perform an extensive assessment, medication plan and treatment plan long term. For now though, I am booked in this Thursday, so stay posted for how that goes, and I have been given Lexapro to help with my Depression and Anxiety and Temazepam to help me sleep.
I have felt a little less low this week since taking the medication, I am still feeling distracted, fidgety, and everything is an effort. This coupled with the anxiety attack I had in the grocery store on Friday, a near miss on Saturday and being borderline most of Sunday morning, has meant that I am not feeling supremely awesome, but I am sleeping better. So thats a start.
My family, friends, church family and social media community have been excellent during all of this. You have restored much of my faith in humanity this past week. It is truly awesome to know that I have so many people around who care about me, and wish me well. It is also important that you keep that same love, care and good will towards others as well. Together we can lift the stigma on Mental Health and be the support that others so desperately need.
Until next Monday, keep me in your prayers, and Maintain the Rage