In the middle of the night
Miss Clavel turned on her light
and said, "Something is not right!"
~Ludwig Bemelman, Madeline
My favorite picture from Bemelman’s classic story is of Miss Clavel rushing to the girls’ dorm room at a 45 degree angled run to take care of whatever was “not right.” My own Miss Clavel came rushing over to let me know that “something is not right!” Mary came over for tea and to post the warning that I may be leaning too far over that pit of despair.
Stepping away from the fact that it is me and I am quite miserable a lot of the time, it is quite a curious situation. I am spending my time this year, at least in part, being as reflective as I can be about my life changes. Intentionally, I am working through my great loss. I am cleaning house inside and out. I am steadfastly facing the storm with the hope that I can incorporate, process, and integrate the past and present to arrive at a . . . nor normal or not where I was before David died, but a new wholeness of spirit.
But doing this stuff makes me sad. I am utterly lonely and pretty miserable a lot of the time. Of course it does. But am I too sad? Am I tipping into depression, a physical depression that I should not try to cope with alone. How much is too much?
I argued with Mary. It was, I fear, a reluctance to consider a therapist, another doctor to explain something to. It is not a reluctance to let someone else into my world -- I write here. But it is a reluctance to need to explain my story. I have been explaining Julia’s story for a long time now and it is exhausting. I am tired of it. Every new therapist the medical practitioner needs to hear enough to help. I am burned out with explanation. The recent pediatric dermatologist visit left such a sour taste in my mouth. And when I thought, albeit briefly, about what I would say to a mental health practitioner -- dead husband, autistic child, lack of direction and vocation, and winter -- well, who wouldn’t be depressed.
But not one to look a gift horse in the mouth -- I just love that saying. Such a visual! -- and knowing and respecting Mary’s love and experience, I called my doctor’s office yesterday. The practice has at least two behavioral care providers on staff and available for appointments without referrals. I needed to start somewhere. The practice also has a few days a week when there are same day appointments which are kept open, usually for emergency and as it turned out there was one about an hour after I called. Not an emergency but no one else took that time.
So, I went.
I have had some issues with my doctor’s practice from time to time, but yesterday, I was impressed. I counselor/doc that I saw had actually read my file before I got there, so my big qualm was taken care of. I could begin in medias res. When I was able to quantify my concerns, I isolated my reasons for taking Mary seriously:
- I feel no joy in my life. It is especially apparent when doing things that have brought be joy in the past.
- I do not have the patience that I need when I am parenting Julia. I grow frustrated and irritable much too quickly.
- I have a lot of interrupted sleep.
I would live with the first and third, but the second is too important to me not to do everything I can to do a better job parenting Julia.
The counselor made some suggestions -- a parenting journal, working on acceptance of my limitations as a single parent, as well as noting that I was priming the pump to raise my spirits -- exercise, meditation, writing -- and functioning pretty well. He also suggested that I may have fallen into depression and advised some medication. He offered that I should think about whether I wanted to go down that path right now, but I explained that I am not about prolonging this process any longer than necessary. If I need a medical kick in the pants, then I do. And the prescription is waiting at the pharmacy.
I will be talking to my doc in the next two weeks and may still want a referral to be able to see a counselor often. And although, I was ornery with Mary when she brought up the subject, it all seems so perfect right now. Yes, I needed some help. I have just started figuring out what that help is. And I am so very fortunate to have a friend who loves me enough to notice how far I had leaned. Thank you, Mary.