In typical fashion, I had a perfect title before I had anything else even written.
I just sent an email to a potential new psychiatrist (in the event it works out and I eventually tell you about this, hi hon!). While I was in school, I utilized our student health services and saw the same psychiatrist on-and-off for about three years. Always check out the resources available to you, especially when you’re at school—I’ve heard some horror stories about SHS, but I’ve always had good experiences.
In one of our last sessions, my psychiatrist and I planned out what I would do after graduating. One of the services SHS offered was helping with referrals—matching me with places that would take my insurance in my area. After the session, which might’ve been our last one (?), I promptly ignored all the emails of the woman trying to refer me and settled into a nice, cozy post-graduation funk.
I avoided transferring over my prescriptions from Boston to New York. I deleted the text message alerts about the referrals. I rationed out the remaining pills in my current bottle.
Why would I do this, when I literally have every resource at my fingertips? When I have, like, forty people buoying me up?
Because mental health issues are tricky like that. And I’m tricky like that.
I know this is…surprising, but mental health isn’t as glamorous as you might think. WOW. Yes. I hardly ever sit on wide windowsills looking out of windows tear-streaked with rain. I NEVER float in pools fully-clothed, and I had to stop writing empowering messages to myself in lipstick on mirrors—but that was mostly because that particular HomeGoods closed.
Part of my avoiding taking any action was simply the paralyzing inability to make any decisions—you know, normal stuff. Even though it’s all good and helpful and beneficial, I hate making certain decisions.
But another part, maybe a slightly bigger part (an Anne Hathaway to an Emily Blunt), is the internalized stigma I have about my own mental health. I would go months of no therapy instead of rescheduling psych appointments. I would have to schedule appointments in previous sessions because the idea of speaking on a phone to someone, out loud, about psych appointments was too much.
As open and proud (?) as I am, there is still that niggling sense of embarrassment I have around the practices of mental health management. I don’t mind talking about it, but doing the rote things like “scheduling appointments” or “transferring prescriptions” makes me feel super weirded out. I think it’s partly that feeling that I’m someone who needs “extra” help. Like, no, I can’t just suffer in silence or get over it, I have to “talk” to someone about my “emotions.”
It comes with the territory of an invisible illness—I haven’t lost that desire to prove it to somebody. I can’t point to my depression; I can’t scratch at my anxiety. Because you can’t see it, I have the paranoia that people will think I’m making it up, or being dramatic.
And in the deepest parts of me—the parts that depression and anxiety prey on—I wonder if I’m making it up.
I’m happy; I’m funny; I’m quick-witted. I’m a little bit stressed out right now, because I just graduated and my life is an amorphous mess—if no one ever asked me about my “dream job” ever again, it would still be too soon—but overall I’m good. I’m also several years deep into therapy. But when I was tearing at the walls and tearing up at every slight infraction, there was some deep-rooted validation.
Yes, I thought, this is real.
Now that I’m stronger and better and have a good grip on my mental health, those moments are way less frequent, but I’m missing that gut confirmation of “Oh, I’m not making this up.” Ironically, the less depressed and anxious I get, the more anxious I get about not being anxious enough.
Eventually my indecisiveness and my anxiety about my lack-of-anxiety reach a boiling point where I hop into action. That was today, when I got the fourth “Hey I’m trying to refer you out” email and was like, “Okay I cannot keep ignoring this.”
So it took all of two minutes—including the on-hold music—to get my prescriptions transferred over, and another two minutes for me to read the referral emails, write down the names of the New York options and send one an email. Five minutes out of my day, and then I could get back to watching a supercut of fans imitating Sasha Velour’s “So Emotional” rose-petal RuVeal. It makes me, so emotional, you guys.
Mental health is tricky, and I don’t think I had allowed myself to remember that. And to realize that even though I’ve been doing this for a while, that doesn’t mean that I can’t still be affected by small, or big, things.
I’ve got to upload this quickly, because I’m making lobster rolls and (attempted) In-N-Out-style burgers for dinner tonight. I’m gonna do corn as well, which my sisters hate when I make but my mom loves.