TW: Suicidal ideation.
In mid-January, my mental health took a nose dive, and I wrote about it. I had no energy to do things, and I really wanted to die, but I really didn’t want to hurt my loved ones by dying. Every night was a non-stop inner monologue about how I could make my death look like an accident. I knew I shouldn’t be that way, and I knew it was my meds. Because I know myself really, really well. It’s a prerequisite for surviving my life.
Do you know what that silly little packet says that comes with your antidepressant every month? I never read it because I’ve been on antidepressants since I was 15. It says, in case of sudden onset of suicidal thoughts, call your doctor immediately and stop taking the medication. It doesn’t say stop instantly, but it does explicitly say that you and your doctor need to come up with a safe plan for getting you off that pill.
If you read my last blog, you know what happened. I went to my doctor and I was like, “hey dude, pretty sure these pills at this dose shouldn’t make me want to unalive myself,” and my doctor was like “lol no, it’s probably your thyroid, let’s up the dose.”
For clarification, my psychiatrist is a straight white boomer man, but you could probably guess that.
So not only did he disregard the FDA’s explicit direction on medication management, he actually gave me MORE of that drug that was making me, uh, wildly unstable.
(To be clear, “wildly unstable” for me looks like me calmly and politely telling people that I didn’t want to live anymore and making that known to my support group and my therapists so someone was always checking on me, even though I was 90% sure I wouldn’t try anything)
AND he triggered my anxiety about my thyroid and that caused a spiral when, guess what?–my thyroid level was so normal as to be boring.
The bump up in dosage was, as you can probably guess, not a very smart idea, in practice.
Suddenly, I couldn’t sleep and my anxiety was horrible and I was constantly spiraling. The last time I felt that horrible was when I was 18 and my then-primary care physician (white and male) told me I could quit an antidepressant cold-turkey since it had increased my heart rate and blood pressure. Guess what? That shit almost killed me, too.
Do you know what happened the last time I knew something was unusual with my body and I went to a white male doctor? It was when I had my blood clots and he dismissed it as a panic attack. The next day I was hospitalized and I was in the hospital for five days with one lung at 20% operating power and the other at 40%. His refusal to hear me almost cost me my life.
I debated hospitalizing myself. I looked up several locations with my mom. I reached out to my community to keep them updated. I had safety plans in place, and I had a last resort.
My last resort was meeting with my new primary care physician. I haven’t had a PCP in about 8 years because they have all been white men and none of them have listened to me. This one is a woman! I texted her, which is a thing I can do, about how worried I was. She moved up my exam and met me within the week.
When I started talking, I started crying. And, surprisingly, she listened. And listened some more. And then we came up with a plan.
Immediately, I felt better. And then I started the new medication, and within two days I was feeling better than I have in years.
Isn’t there something in the hippocratic oath about listening to patients and taking them seriously? Or nah.