In my past blog posts, I’ve occasionally touched on the topic of mental health, covering topics ranging from struggles I’ve dealt with since being diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder in my 20’s to exploring the reasons I decided to return to counseling last year. Unlike my wife, who is an open book in regards to her life, struggles, and frankly, is an inspiration to everyone she comes in contact with, I tend to lean the other way. I’m more of an introverted and private person who is not comfortable with phrases like, “emotional vulnerability” or words like, “crying.”
That said, when I started writing here, I told myself that I was going to be open and honest, not only with strangers, but with myself. So on that note, here goes nothing…
Before my recent wisdom tooth extraction three weeks ago, I was in a constant state of heightened panic. The night before the surgery, I was talking with a friend and he asked me, “what are you so worried about?”, to which I somberly replied, “dying.” I was convinced one way or another based on the research that I had done, that there was a good chance this surgery would do me in: If I didn’t go into respiratory arrest while under twilight anesthesia, I’d develop an infection after the operation that would travel to my brain or heart and that would be the end of it. Never mind the fact that approximately five million people undergo wisdom teeth extractions each year, and the majority suffer nothing more than soreness and bruising.
Truthfully, I’ve felt like things have just been slightly…”off” lately: Anxiety attacks hitting harder and more frequently, being more irritable than usual, unable to get restful sleep due to bouts of insomnia, and possibly worst of all, periodically suffering from intrusive thoughts that snake their way through my mind. Example: While casually folding clothes, I wonder what it would be like to put the cat in the dryer. Now, before you call PETA, I did not and have never had any intention of taking the cat for a spin with a load of delicates, but the fact the thought entered my head left me asking, “what the hell is wrong with me?!”
All of these puzzle pieces led me to spend two and a half hours out of my day today sitting in a psychiatrist’s office undergoing an official psychiatric evaluation.
Overall, the two hours I spent in her office went by faster than I thought. The details aren’t terribly important and unfortunately, I’ll have to schedule another session before we can formally close out the evaluation (she got me from the lobby later than expected and we spent a good deal of time walking down memory lane – a separate piece from the formal eval, but provides context and background for the psych.) As the session came to a close, she gave me her “working” diagnosis, to be further refined (or left alone), based on our final meeting and the results from my blood work:
- Generalized Anxiety Disorder
- Mixed Obsessive Thoughts and Acts, a derivative of OCD
- Persistent Depressive Disorder, sometimes known as “Eeyore Syndrome” (side note, this blog post (not mine) on the characteristics of an “Eeyore” were hilarious in how close they hit to home.
Good things come in threes, right? To be honest, I’m slightly conflicted and not sure how I feel about it all yet. On one hand, I thank God that I kept the appointment, went in there as honest as I could be, and now actually have a point of reference to work from. If given the chance, I probably would have used the lines, “well, this is just my personality” or “my past helped shape me into the person I am today” to excuse poor decisions, misguided thought patterns, neuroses, and idiosyncrasies. On the other hand, I’m honestly surprised I’m only a little scared and haven’t gone into full-blown panic attack mode yet. While the diagnoses didn’t necessarily catch me or my wife off-guard, its still jarring: I’ll need to start medication, go through the initial shitty side-effect period, and find one (or a few) that will work for me. I’ll keep my counselor Nate gainfully employed as we do the hard work of walking through these diagnoses. The mere fact of coming to grips with these diagnoses being a part of who I am, but not defining who I am…there’s a lot there to unpack, you know?
I think this is a good stopping point…it’s 10:10pm and I need to attempt to get to bed. I suppose this just leaves more to unpack and explore in future posts.
Fun Fact: The title of this post is in reference to the ICD-10 medical codes for the diagnoses I listed above. Knowledge is power, people…