Yesterday I had a Doctors Appointment to get the result of the blood tests I had done last week.
I like this doctor. She’s a locum doctor that works part time at the practise, and often has more available appointments than the other doctor I like. I feel like whenever I see her, she takes me more seriously than some doctors have in the past, and has a really sensible attitude that works well for me.
There were three things that came from these blood tests:
- I am low on potassium. I now have some god-awful tasting Dioralyte to drink every day for the next month.
- One of my blood counts were low, and the other one was on the low side of normal, which (and this is the way she put it) suggests my iron levels have recently been low. My iron levels are something I’m regularly hearing about after blood tests, mainly that I need more of it in my diet. I have some wonderfully named PREGADAY iron and folic acid supplements to take for that. (I have been tested for pernicious anaemia multiple times, rest assured this is not something I have).
- My (TSH? I remember it being a three-letter acronym with an S in it) levels were low. It’s in the range it could be a natural deviation caused by other factors, but requires another blood test to make sure.
So yeah, I have a nice daily regime of stuff to take for the time being. I’ll need another two blood tests, one in a month (thyroid and potassium) and one in three months (iron), to check everything is righting itself. During this period I’m going to work out ways to get more of these things into my system through diet alone, so when I stop taking them I’m used to them being a focus in my diet and this won’t happen again.
Oddly enough, prior to this I was talking with some friends about how I was enjoying something I never thought I’d enjoy – beetroot juice.
Marks and Spenser do some fruit-and-vegetable drinks I bought out of sheer curiosity, as I like fruit juice to take my medications with, but after the periods in my life that have featured disordered eating, the sugar levels always bothered me. Conversely, my fruit and veg intake is sometimes lower than it really should be for someone who’s a vegetarian. Fruit and vegetable drinks seem like a decent compromise – the nutritionals are surprisingly similar (compared to similarly priced not-from-concentrate orange juice – if you’re talking cheap stuff, that has way more sugar from the looks of it), but I get two of my five a day not one. The two I really like is one with beetroot, apple, and blackcurrent, and another tropical juice with kale (only time I have managed to stomach pineapple). My friends made fun of me for actually liking beetroot juice.
As I was on the way to the shop after my appointment for food, I did a quick search to see what foods the internet would tell me were high in potassium. Low and behold, beetroot was on the list. My sudden love of beetroot is actually really good for me. Score!
On the topic of my thyroid – I’m not going to worry about that right now. If it comes out that needs treated, fine. After years on and off anti-psychotics and with major depression, I am horrifically overweight and kind of unfit, but surprisingly healthy for someone of my size (my back issues pre-exist my weight).
(I am working towards, not just a healthier diet – I fall into the trap of lazy depression eating more than I would like – but increasing my fitness levels. I’m giving myself a pass on the exercise for now, though – as this would currently involve fixing my back again first – until I can fix my antidepressants and, therefore, my motivation levels aren’t up in the air).
Today was the appointment with the psychiatrist. This did not go as well.
I’m not sure I like this psychiatrist. I’m not even totally sure what to think about her. I’ve seen her a grand total of twice, and she’s a trainee that has to contend with the fact my last psychiatrist was absolutely amazing, so she’s at a disadvantage right from the start. Last appointment she accused me of changing my story half-way through when I insisted the antidepressants were the cause of my headaches, when actually she’d simply misunderstood what I was trying to say (I believe the medication interferes with my sleep cycles).
I explained to her that the headaches had reached a level that meant I ceased being able to persuade myself to take them, and had stopped cold turkey by accident a week ago. I explained that I had genuinely wanted to come off them with advice from a doctor – to be honest, I did try and get doctors advice on coming off them, but didn’t manage. If a medication is causing issues I am running out of patience with, I think my subconscious starts using my memory issues to force the subject (it’s definitely not a concious decision to stop), but as I’ve seen my current set of professionals for such a short amount of time in the grand scheme of things, I don’t think anyone was comprehending that this was a danger.
I also explained to her that since I unintentionally stopped taking them, the worst of the headaches had stopped. This, I feel, is evidence that the headaches were being caused by the medication. From this point she seemed fine with the idea that for me, that medication is off the table.
She then said we needed more time for the last of the medication to leave my system. This I am fine with. I expected it, even. But then she added that she’s leaving and would get me an appointment with the psychiatrist overseeing her training. For the end of August.
Immediately I was scared. This would leave me for six weeks with no medication. Her reasoning was this would allow them to see where my baseline mental health is. Currently, the my plans for the end of August involve returning to college, for a course that I have dropped out of once already due to depression.
My moods, at this point in the withdrawal process, are already erratic to the point I have difficulty controlling them, and the idea of seeing where my baseline is made me burst into tears in the middle of the appointment despite my despite efforts not to.
The last time I saw my baseline was August 2009, when I took myself off citalopram because a well-meaning doctor (note: not a psychiatrist) had doubled my dose. This caused me to have a serotonin storm. The recommended treatment for a serotonin storm, I realised much later, is to stop or reduce the offending treatment, but this never happened – another doctor gave me diazepam and sent me on my way. Over period of several months, I was in a constant state of delusions, anxiety, dissociation and self harm that I don’t remember much about, until I violently stopped taking them. The psychiatrist I saw after this was the one who decided I didn’t have depression at all, I didn’t need medications because I’d taken myself off them, and decided to leave me without medications until I managed to force the service to get me a second opinion. At this point, my baseline at the time, the suicide attempts topped out at once a month, and my self-harm reached a point I was in danger of loosing the use of my hands.
I explained these concerns, and why seeing my baseline is a massively scary prospect. I explained that I don’t want to be going on a medication while starting college. I explained that I didn’t feel ready in any shape or form to be off anti-depressants.
She offered the compromise of writing a letter detailing to my doctor what anti-depressants she would recommend. We discussed, briefly, the issue with each anti-depressant I have taken in the past. I didn’t mention that this was something she’d offered in my last appointment with her, and something she hadn’t done, so I don’t actually trust her to stick to her word. I probably should have.
I did manage to get out of her that at this point, the absolute minimum I should be off medications for is another week.
At this point I was still crying, and had to explain to her that while I understand the situation, it was going to take me longer to be okay with it than we really had time for. I left the appointment to try and stop crying behind a nearby Tesco’s for a while, where a security guard actually came over to ask if I was okay. I had to persuade him that right now was not a good idea to try and hug me, as I felt pretty close to having a panic attack and was pretty sure I’d hit him if he tried (I don’t think punching security guards goes down well), but once I explained I’d just had a bad psychiatrist appointment he listed off his list of diagnoses, one of which was a personality disorder. The rush of relief – someone who would get it, what were the chances – I felt was immense. I explained that I have a different personality disorder, and they wanted to see my baseline without medications, which scares me. He sympathized. We laughed at how horrible past glimpses of our baselines have been, and how uncharacteristic they are of us. I started to feel more emotionally capable of the half-hour bus ride it would take to get home again, and thanked him profusely.
I wanted to talk a bit more in-depth about the symptoms of Borderline Personality Disorder I have, and how I experience them – the ones that interfered with this session, specifically – but I think I’m going to leave that for a later post. I’m currently writing up a nice little to-do list of subjects I want to talk about, as the response I got from the last post and the response I get whenever I start talking about mental health is that people want, in general, to hear more.
If you’re here for the gender posting – don’t worry, that won’t stop. I have topics like how Borderline Personality Disorder and Gender Dysphoria tie in together planned as well.
If there’s anything you would like me to write about, do feel free to pop me a note. I’m well up for that!