Doctor 3 was actually good. I think my parents found her when they passed the psychiatric centre on the street and decided to go in and take a look. They asked for a doctor who spoke English and found someone who had undertaken part of her studies in the States. Yay for cultural common ground!
I don’t remember everything from the first appointment. I do remember that, in contrast to the previous one, the psychiatrist was extremely proper. She asked whether I wanted my parents to come in (I think she recommended they be outside, at least to begin with, but I’m not sure). She outlined very clearly at the start how the session was going to run. She said she was going to ask me a lot of questions and that I didn’t have to answer anything I didn’t feel comfortable answering or talk about anything I didn’t want to talk about. During the session, she asked for clarification about whether my parents knew x, y and z and how much I wanted to share with them. I don’t really have secrets from them, but the point was that she made sure.
As far as the questions she asked were concerned, my impression was that she went through checking all the major illnesses I could have had by screening for various symptoms quite systematically (again, in stark contrast to the last guy!). She obviously didn’t tell me what illnesses might be indicated by these symptoms but, having done an inappropriate amount of research myself a la hypochondriac, the implications of what she was asking didn’t escape me (as a side note, that is a bit of a problem because I have ideas about what illnesses I would prefer to have). She asked me if I was seeing strange things, if I could smell burning sometimes, if I had periods of boundless energy, and so on.
She also kept little notes (unlike the last guy) which seemed to me to be a very sensible thing to do. At some point I became really upset at the prospect of dying from a terrible illness and I broke down crying. I could not go on talking or answering her questions. I think I just kept saying “There’s something wrong with me!” or words to that effect. At that point, she saw fit to reveal her notes. Quietly, she said, “Do you want to know what I think?” “Yes please”, I guess I replied as I calmed down a little. She showed me a little checklist of letters and symbols that she had signifying the symptoms of depression and went through the items: sleeping too much but waking up in the early hours of the morning, loss of appetite and weight, lack of concentration, poor memory….. I don’t remember all of the items she had on there, but I think they were roughly the DSM criteria. She said that though I was worried that I had some kind of dementing illness, I seemed to be experiencing “pseudodementia” as a result of depression.
She also told me that depression is especially common in young women. For some reason, although this is hard to explain, I felt that this was a nice thing for her to say because she said it with such a lot of compassion, as though she was especially aware of the trials of being a young woman in the 21st century and acknowledged that I was somehow bearing this burden. Of course, everyone experiences trials of being what they are, when and where they are, and I’m not sure that I am especially troubled in this way, but it was still comforting somehow and I’m glad she said it.
She recommended doing an EEG to rule out epilepsy as suggested by the neurologist. She also backed up the prescription of Effexor that the neurologist had made, although she gave quite different dosing instructions. She gave me her phone number and asked me to please call in order to help her get a better picture of what was going on and also as a lifeline for me. I was to see her weekly for the time being.
Needless to say, I wasn’t satisfied with her non-serious diagnosis but I felt that now I was getting somewhere.