Shock Therapy

Shock Therapy

“So YOU don’t think you’re depressed?”

The incredulous tone, the abrasive manner; these were not things I expected from a therapist. I stammered something about not having started my meds yet. I wanted to say, I’m breastfeeding. I wanted to say, I need to know what my options are. I was taken completely off-guard.

“Well,” she said through pursed lips, ushering me into her office, “first we will review the symptoms of depression.”

And so we did. Well, she did. It was a script no doubt intended to empower the patient into making their own diagnosis. But this interview, as she enumerated symptoms and cajoled responses, was more about bullying me into admitting something.

I’m depressed. I get that. What I wanted to talk about were options.

I can’t count how many times I was tempted to get up and walk out. But I forced myself to sit in that chair, and figure out whether this loathesome woman could actually help me. I’ve been depressed before, I’ve tried therapy before, it’s never really done much for me. But then, those therapists were a lot nicer. Maybe what I needed was a bully.

“WHAT, ” she demanded, holding two fingers in the air and looking at me sharply,  “are the TWO forms of depression??” I got the distinct impression that, had there been a chalkboard nearby, she’d have been smacking it with a ruler.

Seriously, lady? Was I supposed to study before I came?

“I’m sorry, I don’t understand the question.”

“There are ¡TWO! forms of depression. Situational and genetic. Situational depression is caused by the situation,”

You don’t say.

“¡YOU! have genetic depression.”

This, without any discussion of situation or family history. Impressive.

Next, she quizzed me about sleep. I told her that I didn’t have much control over my own sleep, what with a baby and all. It was the first bit of personal information I had managed to inject into the conversation. We covered ages, gender, and I finally had a segue to explain, “I’m breast feeding, that’s why I’m concerned about taking medication.”

“You have to stop breast feeding.” It wasn’t a suggestion, it was an order.

I have some pretty strong feelings on breast feeding. They revolve around a woman’s right to choose what is best for herself and her baby. Nobody – NOBODY – tells me when I wean my child. I think she eventually got the hint, so we moved back to sleep.

“She is 13 months old. She is perfectly capable of sleeping through the night. Why, ” she asked pointedly, “is she not sleeping through the night?”

I looked her straight in the eye. “Because she wakes up.”

A pause. “Is there anything else you want to tell me, about sleep?”

I co-sleep with my daughter
I will never tell you that
I will never tell you anything


and by the way, fuck you

Incidentally, anger is a symptom of depression. Who knew.

That interview did not end on a happy note. But I am determined that this post will.  For that I have to rewind to what started the ball rolling: the visit with my family doctor. It was only 15 minutes long. I cried through a good chunk of it. But still, it has been the biggest help so far.

He drew a picture, on the exam-table tissue paper, of a person at the bottom of a well. He drew a rope, with knots in it, representing the goals and accomplishments that I would be reaching for as I pulled myself out. Getting up in the morning. Finding and doing something I love. But, he told me, for now my job was to simply look up.

So I am.

image © Lisa F. Young – fotolia


24 responses

  1. There is nothing worse than a doctor who acts as though it’s your own fault you’re not getting better when you’re still trying to figure out what’s going on. I hope it gets easier.

    • Hey Amy. The therapist was a real prize. But fortunately I’ve found another one. I decided that maybe a bully was not what I needed 🙂

  2. Oh Sasha, that therapist was horrible. But I am glad you are taking these steps and looking up. Your family doctor sounds awesome. Hugs!

    • He is awesome, he really is. If it weren’t for that, I don’t think I would have gone to him. I had a horrible family doctor after my first was born, and so never went to her with symptoms of PPD. It makes such a difference. That being said, I think anyone who is struggling should go to their doctor, or find someone else they can go to. There’s really no reason to just suffer. I should have done this months ago.

  3. AYE AYE AYE…what a BIOTECH…how on earth is she going to help anyone like that? Very glad your getting help with someone new, very glad your sharing and talking about it, and like Barbara said your strong even when your down.

    • Quite the piece of work, eh? And there was more than would fit into the ~300 words I usually permit myself. Her unsolicited advice on sleep training, for example, was priceless. You should have seen her disappointment when it seemed I was doing it “right”, depriving her of the excuse to lambaste me for it. Yeah. Not going back.

  4. Oh Sasha, you always make me laugh and cry at the same time. You handled that so well, and big hugs to you.

    I think you and I should have wine again soon my friend.

  5. This “I looked her straight in the eye. “Because she wakes up.”” made me laugh.

    I’m glad your family doctor was able to help and that visual is fantastic. I switched family doctors after the birth of my first, and I’m so happy I did. Having a doctor that listens non-judgementally about anything is such a relief. No one ever needs a bully, good to know you don’t have to put up with one.

    • I think it’s safe to say I was getting a bit testy by that point. This was the last person on earth that I’d ‘admit’ to cosleeping with. I just didn’t have the energy for that argument. And you’re right, nobody needs a bully.

  6. I think you have incredible strength to have sat there through the whole charade. Kudos to you, and congratulations on finding someone else who you actually feel you can share with. If there are things you feel you need to hold back on, then there’s no way they can really help you.

    • Thanks Becky. That really was the clincher for me – I was trying to keep an open mind but the realization of just how much I would *never* tell this person, there’s no way it could have worked out.

  7. I love this (the post, not your experience). Mental illness is real and normal and something everyone deals with everyday; your post hits home in so many ways.

    • Thanks :). I’m afraid I spend a fair bit of time wondering whether I’m a hypochondriac or a freak, I suppose it’s possible to be somewhere in between 😛

  8. Somehow I managed to miss this post. Won’t happen again. 🙂

    What a lady. She gives therapists a bad name I’m glad you had your family doctor.

    • For the record, I don’t expect anyone to catch all my posts, and would never be offended by this. I always worry if I mention one that I might make someone uncomfortable if they haven’t read it. So please, feel free to let it happen again 🙂

      My family doctor is awesome. I’m so glad I found another one. His approachability was instrumental in my willingness to seek help. And it has made such a difference.

  9. There are so many things about having young kids and having PPD that are simply not talked about during pregnancy among peers and I think that the more it is discussed, the better. I had my kids at a very young age and made it my mission to tell my GFs about feeling bad about your body even though you’re growing a life inside you and how PPD can sneak up on you. It’s good that you were able to realize that the first therapist was NOT good. New mothers need nurturing, mothering of their own, not scolding for godsakes…

    • Yes! To all of the above. I find I’m learning so much *after* the fact. I had heard of PPD, but didn’t really appreciate what it could do to you. Good for you on spreading the word.

  10. I am so sorry you had an awful experience. You were right not to trust her. You should feel safe with a therapist.
    I hope you find the right therapies for you. You deserve to be happy.

    • Thanks Sandra. I have found someone – she’s awesome, I can tell her pretty much anything. And she’s been a huge help.