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Doctors and counselling didn't seem to help?

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    I don’t know what to do. Over the past year especially I feel that I have suffered tremendously with anxiety. As a result I have suffered the symptoms of depression, depersonalisation, disturbed sleep and sleep paralysis. I’ve also been self harming. It’s had a tremendously negative effect on my uni work, and at the end of last term I finally managed to begin to mention it to my tutor, and we had a really good discussion which led me to calling the doctors (I’d tried calling them so many times in the year and previously but could never bring myself to do it)

    So I went to the doctor, and I had a really hard time describing my problems. It took so, so much in me to finally seek some help that I thought the hard part had been done and I could just essentially leave it up to someone else to deal with and help me overcome my problems. But, after a quick chat with the doctor, she determined that I was pretty much fine, but she gave me information on antidepressants and CBT and asked me to read through it as homework. I had a follow up appointment to see how I had been feeling and I instinctively made light of everything, because that’s just my automatic reaction after so much practise. She asked me what I thought about the information she gave me and I said I didn’t know (what are you supposed to say to that?) She said that she didn’t think I had anything that needed diagnosing (fair enough), recommended I see the uni counsellor, and that was it.

    So although it didn’t go quite how I’d hoped, I thought okay, I’ll go and see if the counsellor could help me. Again it took me a few weeks before I could bring myself to call them (telephonophobia), but I booked an appointment. I showed up and it felt like a very similar thing as the doctors, where I just felt unable to really express how I was feeling without making light of everything. I didn’t mention anything about the sleeping issues I’ve been having and the lethargy that comes with it, nor did I mention the self harm. She recommended a self help book on CBT to help me deal with my anxiety, and that was it again, she sent me on my way.

    I’m in no way criticising them for not being able to pick up on my problems if I hadn’t mentioned them, but I just feel at such a loss of what to do now. It took me a whole year to finally seek some help and I was so proud of myself and felt like maybe things could start to get better, so it just feels very disappointing. The reason I wanted to go to them was because I felt like I’d reached the point where I was unable to help myself anymore, and it feels like that is what they expect me to do, like I haven’t been trying to do that for so long already. I could maybe eventually build up the courage to go back and see the counsellor again but I don’t see how it would have any different outcome.

    My main worry right now is that it’s going to seriously affect my degree, I’ve already messed up year 2 and I want to tackle this before I enter year 3 so I can achieve the best grade that I’m capable of.

    I just feel very lost. Does anyone have any advice?
    Thanks a lot
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    Well you sound exactly like I did back when I was in my second year of college, though I couldn't bring myself to go to a councillor, I almost got kicked out of college, as at one stage my anxiety and anthropophobia left me unable to leave the house. The only advice I can give you really is to keep going, force yourself to get out of bed and do your work, force yourself to partake in class discussions and such. It isn't easy but you will pull through it, I managed it, I'm sure you could. I understand your frustration but only you can really fix this, as only you can understand what you're going through. Good Luck :hugs:
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    I'm really sorry that things are so difficult for you at the moment.

    One of your main problems would seem to be that you gloss over your issues whenever you have to talk about them in person. It's possible that the professionals you've seen don't think that you need intensive support, which is why they're suggesting so much self help, but from the list that you give in your first paragraph, you don't sound 'pretty much fine'. Maybe you need to find some way of making it easier to be honest with your GP or counsellor when you see them.

    How would you feel about writing it down? If this sounds like something you'd be comfortable with, then spend some time composing a letter that properly expresses everything that's going on; you could include a paragraph explaining that you will probably minimise how much it's impacting on your life if asked, but that you genuinely want help to change things. Then give it to your GP/counsellor to read. That way, they'll have all the information and you don't giving yourself the chance to leave things out when you're in the appointment.
    • Thread Starter
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    Thank you both for the replies, I really appreciate it

    Yeah I think the main problem is the "I'm fine!" response I tend to do whenever anybody asks me how I'm feeling. If ever I'm asked a direct question I will answer it honestly, but with more open questions I tend to just give a very basic, glossed over answer. I think it has a lot to do with the fact that I feel stressed and pressured and vulnerable in that situation as I feel like they're judging me (which obviously is their job) because when I was speaking to my tutor about it I felt a lot more comfortable and able to explain things a bit. But I've never properly spoken to anyone about anything before, the only way I've ever been able to express what's going on in my mind is by writing (been keeping a journal in various forms for 7 years). I think I also really didn't want to self-diagnose, like I didn't want to say "I've been feeling depressed" and make it sound like I'd come to them asked to be formally diagnosed with depression, I wanted them to determine what the problem was.

    I probably could write things down, it's just finding the ability to actually go back again for help. I think it would actually be a little harder the second time, as this has shaken my confidence a bit. I do also intend on getting the CBT book that was recommended to me, but I just worry that it won't be enough or it won't deal with everything or that it'll take too long and I'll still mess up my 3rd year. Perhaps I'm incorrectly looking for a quick fix.

    Thank you again for the helpful replies!
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    If you want a quick fix for anxiety to help you through uni while you do CBT to get to the root of your problems (if there even is a root problem, some people suffer from anxiety/depression with no root and can successfully be treated completely with medication), it's worth trying out the antidepressants you were offered or asking for specific anxiety medication if the depression is due to anxiety. There's a few things they can give you like SSRIs, pregablin, propanolol or benzodiazepines (best bet is to just ask for something for anxiety, rather than requesting a specific thing and they'll work out the best fit for you).

    Writing things down and taking it to them is a very good idea, people do this all the time so they're not going to think it's weird or anything. If you want them to diagnose you just write down what you feel rather than giving it real names or anything. But saying "I feel depressed" or "I'm constantly anxious" would both be okay.

    Once they know how you feel they'll probably give you a quick questionnaire thing to fill out that rates how bad your depression/anxiety are, so again you won't have to actually explain much to them to start with.

    When I finally got the courage to go to the doctors I literally just said I was feeling depressed and they took it from there with the questions/questionnaires/etc. I know how hard it is to force yourself to go, but things can get a lot better when you start getting the proper treatment once they know how you feel.

    (Original post by Anonymous)
    Thank you both for the replies, I really appreciate it

    Yeah I think the main problem is the "I'm fine!" response I tend to do whenever anybody asks me how I'm feeling. If ever I'm asked a direct question I will answer it honestly, but with more open questions I tend to just give a very basic, glossed over answer. I think it has a lot to do with the fact that I feel stressed and pressured and vulnerable in that situation as I feel like they're judging me (which obviously is their job) because when I was speaking to my tutor about it I felt a lot more comfortable and able to explain things a bit. But I've never properly spoken to anyone about anything before, the only way I've ever been able to express what's going on in my mind is by writing (been keeping a journal in various forms for 7 years). I think I also really didn't want to self-diagnose, like I didn't want to say "I've been feeling depressed" and make it sound like I'd come to them asked to be formally diagnosed with depression, I wanted them to determine what the problem was.

    I probably could write things down, it's just finding the ability to actually go back again for help. I think it would actually be a little harder the second time, as this has shaken my confidence a bit. I do also intend on getting the CBT book that was recommended to me, but I just worry that it won't be enough or it won't deal with everything or that it'll take too long and I'll still mess up my 3rd year. Perhaps I'm incorrectly looking for a quick fix.

    Thank you again for the helpful replies!
    • Thread Starter
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    (Original post by Exopaladin)
    If you want a quick fix for anxiety to help you through uni while you do CBT to get to the root of your problems (if there even is a root problem, some people suffer from anxiety/depression with no root and can successfully be treated completely with medication), it's worth trying out the antidepressants you were offered or asking for specific anxiety medication if the depression is due to anxiety. There's a few things they can give you like SSRIs, pregablin, propanolol or benzodiazepines (best bet is to just ask for something for anxiety, rather than requesting a specific thing and they'll work out the best fit for you).

    Writing things down and taking it to them is a very good idea, people do this all the time so they're not going to think it's weird or anything. If you want them to diagnose you just write down what you feel rather than giving it real names or anything. But saying "I feel depressed" or "I'm constantly anxious" would both be okay.

    Once they know how you feel they'll probably give you a quick questionnaire thing to fill out that rates how bad your depression/anxiety are, so again you won't have to actually explain much to them to start with.

    When I finally got the courage to go to the doctors I literally just said I was feeling depressed and they took it from there with the questions/questionnaires/etc. I know how hard it is to force yourself to go, but things can get a lot better when you start getting the proper treatment once they know how you feel.

    I think I was confused because rather than directly offering me antidepressants (SSRIs, which she stated were helpful for a lot of things including anxiety) or CBT, she just gave me 2 information leaflets about them to read over. So when I went back and she asked me what I thought about them, I didn't know what to say. I didn't feel comfortable saying "yeah I'd like to try this or that" because I thought it would be more her telling me what she thinks I should do and then asking if I was okay with it. But I guess I could always go back and ask if she'd put me on them.

    Thank you very much for all the advice, that's very helpful
    • Thread Starter
    #1

    Also, it just occurred to me that perhaps the reason the counselor gave me a self-help book, rather than offering me further sessions or anything, is because I will be going back home for summer after I finish my exams. She did say that I can go back to see her after exams or after summer if I feel like I need to, so I guess I will do this as the time comes.
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    (Original post by Anonymous)
    I didn't feel comfortable saying "yeah I'd like to try this or that" because I thought it would be more her telling me what she thinks I should do and then asking if I was okay with it.
    In a way, she did.

    The thing is, both medication and CBT have proved themselves to be worthwhile treatments for many people with your kinds of problems. However, both are next to useless if the person isn't comfortable with them. People who are suspicious of psychiatric drugs may be more more inclined to stop taking them. People who are ambivalent/wary about therapy can find it more difficult to engage with, and may stop going prematurely. Either that, or they struggle to trust and be honest with the therapist, or they do everything they're supposed to in the sessions whilst nothing changes in between (not that I'm putting all the blame for unsuccessful therapy on the service user - it's just that in some cases, these things play a role).

    Ultimately, it in the interests of both you and your doctor to establish how you feel about this, because helping you has to be a collaborative effort. Yes, she may be more informed about the treatments, but she can't be more informed about you. If she refers you on for a treatment you're not happy doing, then there's a greater risk that nothing will change or that you'll get worse.

    Does that make any sense?
    • Thread Starter
    #1

    (Original post by Geritak)
    In a way, she did.

    The thing is, both medication and CBT have proved themselves to be worthwhile treatments for many people with your kinds of problems. However, both are next to useless if the person isn't comfortable with them. People who are suspicious of psychiatric drugs may be more more inclined to stop taking them. People who are ambivalent/wary about therapy can find it more difficult to engage with, and may stop going prematurely. Either that, or they struggle to trust and be honest with the therapist, or they do everything they're supposed to in the sessions whilst nothing changes in between (not that I'm putting all the blame for unsuccessful therapy on the service user - it's just that in some cases, these things play a role).

    Ultimately, it in the interests of both you and your doctor to establish how you feel about this, because helping you has to be a collaborative effort. Yes, she may be more informed about the treatments, but she can't be more informed about you. If she refers you on for a treatment you're not happy doing, then there's a greater risk that nothing will change or that you'll get worse.

    Does that make any sense?
    Yes it does make sense I suppose I just feel like I want help; I don't know what way to go about it or what way would work best for me, or what would make me most comfortable. I was probably hoping she's just take that pressure off me and suggest what she thinks, although realistically I know it doesn't and can't work like that, for the reasons you stated.

    This was just before the Easter holidays and she did actually mention that if I really wanted to go on ADs over Easter then a doctor at home should be able to prescribe them, or something. I think I was just very wary because where she didn't actually give me a formal diagnosis (in fact I think she determined that I didn't need one) I was very confused about where I stood and what my options were.

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