Grief Journal: Diagnoses

Every 10 – 12 weeks, I have an appointment with my psychiatrist. It’s an important one, because she keeps the anti-depressants coming, and anti-depressants are what make it possible for me to get up every day and function.

These appointments aren’t therapy; more check-ins on how I’m doing. We always talk about the same things. How my job is a giant stress-ball, but no, I can’t quit because I’m the sole provider. How I’m doing emotionally supporting my husband and children. How I haven’t lost any of the 40 pounds I packed on thanks to my last anti-depressant, even though she thought they’d fall off once I stopped it. And of course, how I’m doing without Charlie.

After my last appointment, I got an email from MyChart—the web-based software that tracks my medical records and lets me communicate with my doctors—saying that a note was on file from my last video session (thanks to COVID, they are now video appointments). Intrigued, I decided to check it out.

It’s interesting to read my psychiatrist’s take on our visit. Apparently, I came across as “irritable”, which is no surprise, given that the meeting took place at the end of a very long, stressful day. I kind of take exception to the note about “lack of eye contact” because that’s more about my current video set up than anything, but is helpful to know that clients or colleagues might notice it. I apparently need to follow up with her about post-traumatic stress disorder, because after our May conversation when she brought it up, I do agree that I probably have it—my flashbacks just happen throughout the day, rather than in my dreams. 

But the most interesting thing is seeing my diagnoses. Major depressive disorder. Complicated bereavement. Unspecified Anxiety Disorder.

That’s a lot.

But is it really unexpected? I mean, two years ago my son died. It would be strange if I didn’t have DSM-5 diagnoses. The most mentally healthy person in the world might struggle in the aftermath of such a loss.

Yet, 99 days out of a hundred, I still get up. I still function. I work. I try my best to be a good parent, spouse and friend. 

Not going to lie—it’s hard. The diagnoses don’t tell you how shattered my heart still is, and that the healing process is so slow sometimes it’s imperceptible. But I’m not ashamed of my diagnoses, or that I need medication to get through the day. It means I loved, and loved hard. And still do. 

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