I don’t know how to measure myself in numbers.
I know that I’m 5ft 7, I’m about 65kg. I’m size 10-12. I’m 27 years old.
But when the psychiatry clinician asks me;
“What would you say your anxiety is, on a scale of 1 to 10? 1 being no anxiety at all, and 10 being overwhelming anxiety?”
I’m not sure what to say. It changes day to day, hour to hour. I think I said 7.
It’s 7 because I get anxious about medical appointments. I get anxious about having to ‘sell’ my mental illnesses to medical professionals. I get anxious about the clinician reading my history on the screen as I sit in the same room, reading the same stuff.
It’s 7 because I was stressed about getting to this appointment. I get travel anxiety. I get anxious about missing the bus or the bus being too full for myself and my daughter (whose in her buggy).
It’s 7 because I’m having to travel into town during what would be my daughter’s nap time, which means I am disrupting her sleeping schedule, which might affect her later. I get anxious about meeting my volunteer who looks after Violet once a week for 1-2 hours, because I know Violet always gets upset when I leave (and when I come back).
It’s 7 because I’m exhausted. Everything is too much to do. I want to hide in my bed and recuperate from emotionally and physically draining days prior.
What I really don’t understand about this system of measuring mood is that mood changes all the time. ALL THE TIME. I can’t tell you how my mood is without telling you everything that has happened, every way that I have reacted to what has happened.
For example; (1 being I’m doing okay, 10 being I’m not doing okay)
I woke up wanting to die = 10
My daughter looked at me, cocking her head to the side like a puppy, smiling at me as she watched me cry = 6
At the park, 2 dogs came over to us and I got to pet both of them = 3
Violet fell asleep on the sofa next to me = 2
My thoughts spiralling when thinking about all the things I should be doing instead of sitting here in front of my laptop = 8
The psychiatric clinician asked about my meds, if I had tried a higher dosage. I had, it was horrible. That extra 50mg of Sertraline somehow increased my anxiety ten-fold.
He told me that all he could do at this point was advise me. Because I had a couple of A Levels, he said I was obviously intelligent (?) and that, not that he wants to tell me what to do, but he thinks that I should get a job. He thinks that will help me.
I told him about something else that had happened to me, a new trauma I’ve gone through that I’d like to talk to somebody about. He gave me a phone number for a local helpline that specialises in this kind of thing, which is all fine I suppose, I just wish I could have been put on a new waiting list for more counselling.
I left the appointment after 20 minutes. I walked to the park and collected my daughter. I walked fast in the hot sun trying to defy Google Maps, legging it for the next bus so that we could get home before 5pm. I made it, but the bus was late by 15 minutes.
From a scale of 1 to 10, 1 being a beneficial, worthwhile medical appointment, and 10 being a complete waste of time and energy; I’d have to give him a solid 11.