I’ve spent the last few months contemplating about visiting a psychiatrist. There’s nothing shocking or revelatory about it, not only for me, but for all. Anyone who’s ever known me knows I’m a bit loopy, and getting help from a mental health practitioner is the norm. Everybody does it. And for a change, I will not talk about mental health and stigma, other than the one directed towards the mental health blogger (i.e., the assumption that they write about it to gather sympathy and attention), and focus solely on the simple act of admitting there is a problem, and wanting to do something about it. And then, acting on that want.
I’ve had chronic anxiety and depression all my life. I didn’t have a name for it before, and most of my childhood and young adult years were spent using the word “tension” anytime a task performed unsatisfactorily by me had to be explained. But, we’re not going to be terribly psychoanalytic here and start from the start, because there is no beginning and no end. This is one of the main reasons why I feel wary of talking about it, not just here but anywhere. Because, the notion behind our relatively discursive culture of mental health is, people have an agenda behind it. I have only one, and that is to help, if I can, anybody who is suffering. For my own case, I have no aspirations to be the poster child of depression. For one thing, it won’t make a good poster. For poster status, you either have to be a triumph or a cautionary tale, and I am neither. I know I will never completely overcome it, but I refuse to succumb to it.
This thing just changes with age and circumstance, ebbs and flows in ways I can’t anticipate, and it’s not the sort of thing that even a lifetime of treatment can cure, because I don’t think it can be cured. And I am not being masochistic when I say that, but I simply can’t imagine who I would be, or if it is possible at all to be human without it. I have talked about my experiences with getting help before, and my biggest reluctance about getting help is the possibility of being misunderstood. I am not an easy person when it comes to being helped, but more than that, I abhor being labelled and put into boxes. Also, I happen to be a know-it-all, ready to swing into action, to focus on outside crises, hoping that a by-product of those efforts will be remedying the inner crisis as well.
That’s the way it is. I know it’s not ideal, I know many of you will very kindly tell me of things I could do differently, but this is who I am. But, I want to get help because, among the perks of having anxiety and depression are a few physiological conditions, that can’t always be solved by a general practitioner or even a specialist. If the problem is psychosomatic, i.e. the mental crisis is causing the physical one, then I must try and obey logic. A life coach, or even a therapist, couldn’t help with that, and no matter how much meditation and affirmations might potentially overcome my scepticism, I still have a real health issue, that needs medical attention.
The main issue, I suppose, is trust and faith. If I had a fever, I wouldn’t have spent months debating it. I would have gone to as many doctors as required, taken as many medicines as required, until the problem was solved. But, I am so scared. Scared of being misunderstood or dismissed, and of being told I should be more worried than I am right now. I am scared of how long it might take to change for the better, how much I’d have to change in order to be a better functioning human being. I’d hate to be told by a professional that my unchangeable eccentricities are getting in the way, and at the same time, I’d have to trust this person to help me be able to make more of my life.
Clearly, this hasn’t been easy for me to write. I am more comfortable telling people what to do, than admitting what I need to do. But, I don’t know how to find the courage to get help, even if it might turn out to be another disappointment. And I’ve wasted so much of my time, my energy, and perhaps, a significant amount of what I have to offer, just by being scared. I usually end my essays with some sort of acceptance and solution, but this one shall remain open-ended. Because, to quote Jerry Maguire, “I have lost the ability to bullsh*t.” Especially, to myself.