Crazy no more

Thank you, thank you, for your very helpful comments on my anxiety post. Who knew we were such a crazy lot? I never thought I was alone in this, but I certainly had no idea so many of you have experienced anxiety and depression. Thank you for taking the time to tell me about it.

Though my doctor's appointment was over a week ago, I felt there needed to be some distance between it and this post. The treatment suggested was so profound, so groundbreaking, that I needed time to digest it. What is this newfangled way of dealing with anxiety? you all clamor to say. I am wary of telling you, lest you decide to pursue this pathway to happiness yourself and frankly I want this to be mine, all mine.

Ok, I'll tell you. You have all been there for me during my many periods of mental instability, so it's the least I can do. The cure to all of my ills - the late nights spent panicking over the deaths of me and my family, throwing up from worry, insomnia, Nyquil on tap, is...a book. More specifically, this book. This, my friends, is the anxious person's Holy Grail. The answers we have been looking for are right.here.

I went to the GP with the best of intentions. I was going to be honest, and try very hard to not turn into a crying heap of unbrushed hair and unkempt clothing. I was vastly unsuccessful, instead favouring the breakdown and crying-until-you-cannot-form-words route. I gushed about all of it, the overwhelming concerns over my own health, inability to eat and sleep, and the crippling pall which hangs over my life almost every day. Once I gathered myself I thought for sure the GP was thinking, "Bitch is crazy. Medicate! Medicate!" Alas, she was unfazed by my insanity and thought a little bit of book learnin' would not be remiss.

I nearly choked on the phlegm which seems permanently lodged in my throat when she told me that she does not like to prescribe medication, but prefers less mind-altering methods. You know, like reading a goddamn book. I really thought she was kidding at first. I was hoping. I was written a prescription. A "book" prescription. No, really. She has a prescription pad just like the real deal, but it is labeled as a book prescription. You take it to your friendly neighbourhood library, and they get your crazy ass said book. It's just that easy. Not to mention the ease with which I can read books, having an 8 month old and all. Ask my Innard Twin, I've had one of her books for near on two years. One of these days, one of these days...

I was furious when I got home, choosing to shut myself in the kitchen to scream, throw things, and cry. Poor P. was in the lounge on her playmat, rather unsure what to do. Once I managed to almost compose myself, I sat down next to her and apologised for being a fucking dweeby nutjob. Ok, I left the nasty eff word out of it, but I did tell her that Mama was very sorry for not being stronger for her. P. looked at me with her huge, blue doe eyes and gave me a gummy smile, which of course made me cry even more.

I emailed The Dude at work to tell him how the appointment went, perhaps going a bit overboard on exclamation points and fully-capitalised words. I told him the GP recommended reading a book, and I was pleased to see upon his return email that he was as appalled as I. Trouble is, the dumbass thought I meant any book. As if the GP listened patiently for 20 minutes, shrugged her shoulders, and said, "Have you tried reading a book? A work of fiction, or perhaps a Physics textbook? Whatever floats your boat."

It's been a week and a couple of days and I'm on page 12. I'm trying my very best to be...what is it called...umm...oh yeah, optimistic about the book. This, despite the flow charts on almost every page which are deep evaluations such as: Anxiety ---> Physical Reaction ---> Illness & Positive Thoughts ---> Coping Skills ---> Shiny Happy People.

Dear God help me.


Adrienne said...

Genius! Who would have thought that reading a book could have such profound consequences for one's health? I'm sure if I just read the Infertility Cure multiple times, until it actually becomes a part of me, infused deep into my bone marrow and I can quote many passages at length, that my infertility will be cured! Heavens be praised!!!!!

Bittermama said...

Oh, come on! That book looks positively dreadful. I'm getting more anxious just looking at the cover of it.

And a "book prescription pad"?!?!?! I'm thinking your GP is keeping all the happy pills for herself and they're making her a bit too cheery.

mm said...

Bitch must be going for the gold in the Asshole Doctor's Olympics. I was near nervous breakdown several years ago and had a shrink recc'd the Feeling Good Handbook, which I already knew was total drivel bc I'd had to read it for an awful psych class I took in college. That doctor was lucky I didn't flog her with that fucking book.

Hang in there. So are you going to see another doctor? One without a prescription pad reserved for books?

DD said...

At my "strongly recommended" EAP appt, my counselor suggested this excercise:

Whenever I get frustrated with my coworkers or a task, pretend I'm Cinderella.

I would gladly take the book over pretending I'm a some ninny who talks to mice and thinks a pumpkin is a fancy carriage.

Flicka said...

Well, I am a librarian and so think that books are the cure for everything. That being said, however, it seems like a second opinion is in order. Because, you know, librarians and friends of libraries should not be dispensing medical advice.

Thalia said...

I'm wondering if she was trying to give you the poor-NHS version of cognitive behavioural therapy, which is the only kind of therapy which has been proven to help people. Dunno. Seems genuinely strange to me.

T said...

Certainly Caesar's Conquest of Gaul would be easier to get through?

New Doctor! New Doctor!

Suz said...

Okay - I actually like the book prescription pad because, you know, like SOMETIMES it works. But not with this. Like you need to know what anxiety is?!? I must join the chorus of "new doctor" or, at least, a better book.

H said...

Whilst I like the idea of a book, which will help, I also dislike the fact that you have essentially been brushed off of the face of the NHS. This is not what SHOULD happen. This is wrong.

I understand that CBT is very good, but...for the love of God, if you want to give the girl CBT send her to a therapist!

I hate the fact that the doctor clearly doesn't understand the implications of anxiety. If I were you, I would get a second opinion. It's not that I want you to be drugged up, but at the very least counselling might be worthwhile, and a book is not counselling.

Anxiety is such a personal thing; no book can fully solve anyone's problems, especially if it's not used in conjunction with other, more acceptable, medicines.

LIW (Lady In Waiting) said...

I went to a modern psychoanalyst for 6 long years who was very opposed to prescription meds for the treatment of depression/anxiety. The sessions with her certainly helped me more than, say, going to noone but let me tell how angry I STILL am at her (nearly 7 years after I stopped seeing her since she really wasn't helping me anymore) for NOT encouraging me to get a psychiatric evaluation. If I had only had ADs to help with my anxiety and depression years ago! ARGGH! I thank my lucky stars every night when I take my little 40mg of citalopram. That little pill helps me to not be wracked with anxiety and to actually feel happiness in my every day!

I am an avid reader who loves books with a passion unparalleled in the modern world...but when you are dealing with near-crippling anxiety and/or depression, meds are necessary to balance those brain chemicals. Get a second opinion!

Mollywogger said...

Wha . . . ?

I am sincerely so baffled I barely know how to respond.

You would think that a GP would understand the medical, chemical basis behind anxiety and try to help you with that as well. A book is good and well, but if you're barely in the frame of mind to read it (and you certainly haven't got time), what's the use?

Pooooo. New doctor.

Rachel said...

Wow. After 20 years of being more or less crazy, who knew all I needed was a BOOK to fix it? Halleluhjah, I am healed.

Egad. On my first visit to my previous doctor, she took my medical history, watched me break down and get snot all over myself, then handed me a prescription for Celexa along with a few sample Valium to get me through the next few days while the Crazy Pills kicked in. I loved that doctor so much but she moved to another state, damn her.

Hope you're feeling better, and if not, perhaps you should schedule another appointment with that doctor and punch her in the face. That would probably help!

Lut C. said...

I think Thalia has a point, it does sound like a prescription for cheap DIY cognitive behavioral therapy.
The real deal might be more effective though.

On a smaller scale, I had some success with cognitive behavior therapy out of a book, to tackle my negative thought loops about infertility.

About such therapy, the BBC did a great documentary about agoraphobics (one form of anxiety) overcoming their fears this way.

Em said...

At least if you try the book and it does squat then you can go back, guns blazing, and demand meds. However, I will disclose I have no experience whatsoever with taking medication for depression/anxiety. I think I have had low-level anxiety for ages. When I first started going to AA and stopped drinking that helped a lot but I have been a bit lax with working the 12-steps for the past few years so I am a bit crazy!

fisher queen said...

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy WITH meds. WITH being the operative word. How awful- I'm sorry. Can you get to a doctor who will actually help you?

julia said...

Are you SHITTING me? I would have told her to shove it up her ass and get me a psychiatrist. Jesus H. Christ.

Um, can I suggest that you find yourself a new GP?

Georgie said...

Yes, I was going to say it sounds like CBT. Which, as stated above, can be helpful WITH MEDS. Or not, for someone who chooses that path. But it's not like every person can read a book and be All Better.
I had a therapist throw a book at me once as The Cure. It riled me.
You know, when you had that link, I was sure the book was going to be the bible. Oh well.

electriclady said...

Um. I'm speechless.

Even if this were the most magical book in the world, one would still need meds to take the edge off so one can function while waiting for the book magic to kick in, no?

(I have no idea why I am using odd pronouns like 'one.' Call it extreme sleep deprivation.)

down.under2 said...

Can you go to another Dr? Books don't work with me.

Bon said...

yikes. beware cognitive behaviourism. not everyone is interchangeable, after all...perhaps someone should inform your doctor that meds are actually moderately more progressive than Skinnerism.

that said...erm, spit out, really, with more vehemence than needed...i generally believe there's some good to be taken from most things you read, if you have ye olde grain of salt handy. i wish you good luck...

nope sorry. still giggling. your doctor apparently needs some meds herself - where on earth are you going to find time to READ the damn book when you're busy with your baby and your freaking anxiety?

bah. my genuine sympathies.

Hetty Fauxvert said...

I'm sorry I didn't post to your earlier post ... I do understand the anxiety of dealing with profound anxiety (if I may be permitted to be self-referential here) since I was a freakin' nutcase myself for about 15 years. I could not go to the grocery store without tanking up on Xanax. Going to the dentist was out of the question, and I had panic attacks over just about anything you could name. And I put all my ambitions for children on the permanent back burner, since I could not see how on earth I could care for children when I could barely take care of myself (or how I could get through 9 mos of pregnancy without my precious Xanax!!).

And then I got just enough backbone to take a local course that was highly, highly recommended to me ... and in the 10 weeks of the course, I was 85% better. Now, two years later, I haven't taken Xanax in a year, and my twins (!!!) are asleep in the other room. And the last panic attack I had was when I walked into the OR for my C-section ... but I hadn't had one before that in over a year.

I know it isn't practical for you to come to the SF Bay area to take this course (though one woman in my class came up from San Diego and stayed in a Motel 6 for the whole course -- and likewise got MUCH better, as I did). But the teacher, Dr. Howard Liebgold (who should be listed as a national treasure!) has a book (which I don't recommend) and a set of CD's or DVD's that covers the entire course (which I do recommend). So much of what makes his course work is the repetition -- he pounds his points home again and again until your subconscious believes him, I think! And at the end of ten weeks, his message has soaked in and you are better despite yourself. (I didn't do ANY of the required homework, and still got better!) I think if you made a commitment to watch all the DVD's or listen to the CD's (much easier than reading a book) you would experience improvement. Please, please feel free to email me about this. And here is an article about Dr. Liebgold's work -- http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/chronicle/archive/2001/12/30/CM99668.DTL -- and a link to his website: http://angelnet.com/fear.html (Warning: Dr. Liebgold has a very cheesy website! LOL! But the information he has to share is invaluable.)

I do think it is pretty lame that your doc expected you to be able to concentrate enough to read a book on the subject. And I will also confess that my Xanax made it possible for me to GET to the class (since I had to drive an hour each way, and highway driving was one of my big phobias). But Howie's class is what cured me, not the Xanax.