October 18, 2011

Getting Help

As I've posted over and over before, mat-leave was rough for me. Probably a lot rougher than I've let on in this blog. I was stressed about being a mom. There was stress in my marriage. There was stress in my relationship with my parents. During the course of my mat leave, I actually tried to seek help. I found a counselor  through the hubby's Employee Assistance Program (EAP). I knew that there was something wrong. I probably should've figured that it was post-partum depression (PPD). I wish I had figured that out earlier, so that I could've sought treatment earlier. But alas, I didn't. I went to see the counselor, hoping that she would just fix things for me. Unfortunately, the thing with EAP is that it's meant to be short-term counseling. Which they tell you from the beginning. And since the beginning, I felt like I was being shoved along a drive-through. Being given quick-fix advice, with the expectation that things would resolve themselves quickly. After two sessions, I quit. I wasn't in the right headspace for it, and I found the counselor rather antagonistic.

Over two years passed. Many of the stresses from my mat-leave year were still there, albeit to a lesser extent. I've always complained on this blog that PK seemed to favor the hubby over me. It pissed me off to no end. Why was it that my relationship with PK was more like a "typical" relationship between a child and her father, while the hubby's relationship with PK was more like the mother-child relationship? The more she took to the hubby, the more I resented them both. It was a vicious cycle.

This past February/March, all of the stress just about caused me to crack. I was in one of those moods where if PK said or did anything disobedient, it made me want to crawl into a corner and bawl my eyes out. I was not in a good headspace, and I knew it. I needed help. Badly. I needed to talk to someone to just get all of this crap from the past 3+ years out in the open. I've got a few close friends that I've confided in over the years, but let's face it. Everyone has their own set of problems. I didn't want to burden them to the point of driving them away. I was in desperate need of a psychotherapist.

Unfortunately, most psychiatrists do not practice psychotherapy. That normally falls under the realm of psychologists. And the thing with seeing a psychologist for psychotherapy is that it's not covered by OHIP. Of the psychiatrists who DO practice psychotherapy, many of them have huge patient waiting lists. If they even take new patients at all. I went to my family doctor to try to get a referral, and he said that he didn't even know anyone that he could refer me to.

So I did the only thing I could - I once again turned to the EAP. This time through my workplace. This time, I saw the counselor for about a month or so. While I had more or less the same experience with him as I'd had with the previous counselor, I decided to stick to the therapy this time. I found this guy way too antagonistic for my taste. I related to him some of my past stresses that gave way to my present stresses. He listened patiently for the first couple of sessions. Then when I went on rambling rants, he just got pissed and basically told me to stay on topic. While he may have been right, his people skills were definitely lacking.

One of the things that I talked to him about early on was my relationship with PK. I recounted the stresses of the past several years which led me to where I was with PK. He was actually quite worried about how this would affect my future relationship with her, and actually recommended that I contact a clinic which deals specifically with child psychiatry/family psychiatry issues. I contacted them that very day, and got a callback later that evening.

To make a long story short, anything psychiatry-related around here has a long long wait time. It was almost two months before I spoke to someone over the phone to assess my case (i.e. to determine whether or not I would get seen by their team of pyschiatrists), and then another 6 months before we were actually seen. But alas, the day did come!

We started seeing the psychiatry team in early September. Since my stresses affect my family, all three of us came for an assessment. The assessment took several  sessions. We brought PK to the first two, and in the last two, the hubby and I each spoke to a psychiatrist (separately) to get our respective family histories, so that they could better understand us and our family dynamic.

I have to admit that the history portion of the assessment was very emotional for me. It brought back some memories of things that I had long ago repressed. The psychiatry team determined that I suffer from depression. I have to admit that I'm  not terribly surprised. If you read this blog regularly, you'll probably notice that the tone of the posts go up and down like some crazy roller-coaster. I'll go through periods of being totally elated with life, and then, I'll get into a funk.

It's funny when the psychiatrist interviewing me first told me that I might be suffering from depression. I guess many patients don't necessarily take well to being told this. I, however, have been pretty sure that I've been suffering from depression for a long time, so it was no surprise to me. Not to mention the fact that all of the difficulties in my relationship with PK are the result of my depression, triggered by things that happened before and during my pregnancy. I can't even begin to express the extreme relief of knowing that I'm not alone in what I'm going through. That others before me have gone through this too. Not only that, they are willing to help me!

At the end of those five weeks, when the psychiatry team gave us their final assessment of the situation, being told that they could do something for me nearly brought tears to my eyes. I was finally getting help. I was finally going to fix things.

My treatment will be a two-pronged approach. On the one hand, I've got weekly therapy sessions with PK at the clinic. They've determined that there is nothing psychological wrong with PK and her reaction to me. Rather, it's just a behavioral thing, which can be worked through with the right therapy. Our weekly sessions will consist of 30 minutes of playtime with her with a therapist in the room, followed by 30 minutes of talking with the therapist about the playtime. I'm also getting help for myself. If all goes well, I'm going into a group therapy session starting in January.

At the end of the assessment, I was asked if I'd be amenable to taking any medication to deal with my depression. I respectfully declined. There may be a time and place for meds in my life. I hope it never comes to that, but you never know. I'm open to it, but I don't want it to be the first thing I try. Don't get me wrong. I think that there are cases where medication is the only way around certain issues. In my case, however, I just need someone to talk to. I need to talk through the crap that has happened in my life. These assessment sessions have helped me realize that there's a lot of stuff that happened in the past 15 years or so that I've just never properly dealt with. Individually, they are probably fairly insignificant. Put them all together, and you just get the big emotional wreck that is me.

I have to admit that I had reservations about writing this post. It's always tough writing about anything psychiatric. There is such a stigma around mental health. Of course I worry about what my friends reading this blog will think of me. Will they treat me any differently? Will they feel sorry for me? (For the record, I don't want pity.) Will they stop being my friends? I guess time will tell. In the end, I don't care. I figure that those who stick around will do so because they can see past these issues and realize that deep down inside, I am still me. Plus I hope that if  anyone stumbles upon this blog post, it will give them hope for their own individual case and perhaps inspire them to seek help. There is help out there. Just make sure that you get it before it's too late.

I look forward to brighter skies ahead.


Mr. Shiny and New said...

If any of your friends read this and decide they don't want to be friends with you, they weren't your friends in the first place. You can count on your friends to help you. Parenting isn't easy. Just reading this blog reminds me that when I am having a bad parenting day, I'm not alone, other parents struggle with it too. I'm sure most of your readers are silent but they still read it.

And I'm glad that you had the courage to get professional help about this AND the courage to write about it. There is a stigma about mental health but there shouldn't be. Keep up the good fight.

Fawn said...

Hurray for you, Indy! I'm so happy that you were able to take the steps to find the right help for you and for your family. It's too bad about the EAP experiences (I've used EAP, too, and was lucky to have a fantastic counsellor... but at least it got you to where you needed to.) Sending big hugs.