Thursday, September 8, 2016

What a Depression Diagnosis Means When Your Doctor Is Terrible

A while back I took an extended break from grad school for medical reasons. Many, many medical reasons, but chief among them being that I was constantly in pain, and exhausted from being in pain, and generally miserable all the time. And being in pain, having difficulty being fully load-bearing on one's feet, having limited motion, etc. is a bit difficult to get around in a theatre program. In the words of one of my advisers, the group would only be as good as its weakest link.

So maybe that was a pretty shitty thing to say to me, but I pursued medical treatment expecting...well...better treatment. Medically. From a professional who would take me seriously instead of insinuating that I was making the whole thing up. 

Ha, ha. 

I went to the doctor, who sent me to physical therapy (again). However, she was more adamant that I go to psychotherapy. This was because when asked whether I felt "down" or "depressed," I made the mistake of answering honestly. 

Of course I felt down, I said. I was in pain. Sitting in this chair hurt, but not as much as I knew it would to get back up. I was in pain and it was keeping me from doing the things that I like to do. And that's depressing. Who wouldn't be depressed?

Apparently I must have been speaking backwards, because she told me that no, I was in pain because I was depressed. And did I have any trauma in my past that maybe I wasn't dealing with?

I did agree to try a prescription of anti-depressants and go to a psychotherapist. The pills, surprisingly, alleviated the insomnia, which was awesome. But at the dosage required to be effective, they made me really nauseous. I was constantly sick to my stomach and missing work because of it, so I stopped taking them. While they worked, the trade-off was too much at that time. 

Therapy was similarly unfit for my lifestyle. It was expensive and yielded poor results, if any. I tried a couple of people, but I think I may be one of those people for whom therapy doesn't work very well. I find it intrusive and offensive to sit there and take it while a total stranger describes everything wrong with me based on 30 minutes of my rambling. (Also I hate feelings.) 

I went through this rigmarole to satisfy my GP, who held other treatments and referrals -- like allergy testing, sleep studies, physical therapy, and more -- hostage on the condition that I forced myself to continue a treatment that was, if anything, making things worse. I tried to go around her to find a place that wouldn't require a referral to a specialist, but I live in a rural area dominated by one major health group. To see someone in that group, you need a referral from a doctor already in that group. 

Finally, I was able to get a referral to the physical therapy that I desperately needed by simply lying to my GP and telling her that yes, of course I was still seeing that psychotherapist and taking my antidepressants. 

And guess what? My PT person was nice and listened to me. Physical therapists are the nicest kind of doctor, at least in my experience. Probably because their job requires them to listen to their patients. And have the best "bedside" (poolside?) manner. I was scaled back from land therapy to pool therapy, made some improvement, and was given a regimen to complete on my own at home. 

And because of the improvements resulting from that treatment, I started to feel less in pain and less depressed overall, like I told my doctor I would in the first fucking place. 

She left the practice because her family moved. At first, I felt bad that I'd thought badly of her. We got off to a good start, but our relationship disintegrated over time. I wondered if I'd done something wrong, offended her somehow, and that was why she didn't take me seriously. I figured she was trying to do her best. She did help me with some things, after all. 

But you know what? No. She could have helped me. Instead of insisting that my pain was all in my head or perhaps due to something in my past, she could have wondered, hey, maybe it's being exacerbated by your job as a cashier where you stand for 8+ hours a day. She knew that. She could have done something, like written me a note that said I was allowed a chair at work. Or more frequent breaks. My physical therapist at the time urged me to quit that job. And sure enough, when I switched jobs, that had a huge positive impact on my health. 

She could have done something, instead of throwing up her hands and trying to fob me off to a psychiatrist. 

But, I don't think she ever really believed I was in real pain. Because surely, if she had, she would have done something about it besides ask if it was all in my head. 

I could go on about this doctor and all the things I didn't like about her. Instead I'll just keep doing my exercises.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

So Apparently Audible Warns You About "Diverse Content"

I signed up for my free month with Audible.com, Amazon's audiobook company. I like being able to listen to a book while driving or doing chores.

Plus, there's been a book on my TBR pile for a while: A Wish After Midnight by Zetta Elliot. I got it and finished listening. I'll review it here in a bit, but for now I'll say it was one of the best audiobooks I've ever listened to.

The thing that annoyed me was that once I got to the download screen, I noticed that contained under the book information was a little warning box. A warning about "diverse content."

Eh?

A Wish After Midnight is the story of an African American girl from Brooklyn. One night, she makes a wish at a fountain and finds herself transported back in time to Civil War-era Brooklyn. There, she has to survive and get back to her own time.


Image result for a wish after midnight
Also, hooray for introverted protagonists, ordinary people, and others who don't normally make it into fantasy novels. Because they're pretty much all in this book.

It's pretty clear from the synopsis that the book contains some heavy issues, such as, I don't know...the Civil War and how black Americans are treated by society then and now. And Jenna is an African American girl, but her dad is from Panama, and her family also has Native American heritage, so the character is "diverse" in that sense. She and her boyfriend are also members of a minority religion. 

But I don't really believe that the "diverse content" sticker is supposed to warn you about all that. Anyway, are all those things we really need to be warned about? For fuck's sake, A Game of Thrones has a character eat a horse heart and ride around on dragons in fantasy-Asia -- yet we need a "diverse content" warning about a normal kid from modern-day Brooklyn? I don't fucking think so. 

I suspect "diverse content" is in place just to make sure you don't buy a "black book" by mistake. 

But if you'd looked at the cover, you'd know that A Wish After Midnight is about African American characters. If you have a problem with that, you probably haven't gotten to the stage where Audible warns you about it. (Which appears to be only after you purchase the thing, which is also weird.)

Or maybe it's a coded warning that "this book contains the n-word." But again, if you'd read the synopsis, you'd know A Wish After Midnight is about the Civil War. So even if you were offended by it, you might not necessarily be surprised. And if that's what they meant, then why not use a language advisory? "This book contains adult language and racial slurs."

This weird little content warning just seems like another gate kept by Amazon's mysterious censorship gods. Like, watch out! You might end up reading "diverse content" in books about characters different from you!

Different from you. That's the implication here that really bugs me, I think. The assumption that their audience is all the other things the characters are not (namely, white) and might need a warning so as not to be shocked. 

I know I put "Diverse Reads" tags on some of my book reviews. But, hopefully, I seem as though I'm trying to promote diversity, rather than warn about it. Doing the Diverse Reads series is an attempt on my part to read more widely and to let others know about more of these books. Looking at Audible's content warning, I really, really hope it hasn't come across in the wrong way. :P

I tried to see whether Audible puts "diverse content" tags on books with themes other than race, but the warning doesn't seem to pop up before the final stage (and I'm too broke to try and find a pattern). If I purchase Mind Games, which has a blind protagonist, a depressed protagonist, and a graphic depiction of a suicide attempt, will I get a "diverse content" warning?

Or is it really a race thing?

*squints suspiciously at Audible*

I think I'm going to try Nook Audiobooks for the time being.