As soon as we were settled in Hamilton I knew my first job was to register with a GP and get myself referred to a psychiatrist to be diagnosed. I went prepared with my diagnosis criteria checklist from the psychologist and was naively excited thinking the ball would be rolling very fast from there.
The GP was very supportive, from what I told him he felt it was fairly clear that I was on the right track but he made sure I was a bit more realistic about the time frames with the Waikato public health system. It would be 6-12 months at least before I would be seen. However, he did send a referral to the Mental Health team to see if ongoing psychological services could be provided while I waited, as I had been eligible in Rotorua.
By that time, I had been off medication altogether for 3 months. My psychologist wanted to make sure what I was experiencing was not due to Duromine withdrawal, things had only become progressively worse for me so my GP agreed to put me back onto Duromine. I knew that at least this would give me some relief from my brain while I waited to be seen. I was disappointed with the time frames ahead, but still relieved that at least I was on my way to having that clarity and confirmation.
The effects of having medication versus having no medication for me were significant.
Me with no medication:
- Red bull every day to function at my job
- Unable to focus on anything at work or home due to a constant preoccupation with food
- Average of 5 hours sleep per night due to racing thoughts
- Forgetful: Leaving the oven/stove on, get up to make dinner for my daughter and then sit back down 2 minutes later without starting anything, forget important work deadlines
- My head running through a never ending checklist 24/7 of everything I need to do until the end of time
- Mess, clutter, and hoarding – I see the mess and it drives me crazy but when I think about cleaning up my mind runs through the entire process so I am exhausted before I start. Where would I put that? But if I want to put it there where will that other thing go….
- Too exhausted to give my daughter the attention she deserves
Within 48 hours of Duromine:
- Don’t need Red bull
- Don’t think about food
- Able to focus easily
- More motivated
- Sleep easily through the night without waking
- Happier/better in general
- No change with the hoarding however
With the Duromine Band-Aid on I awaited a response from the mental health team, it took less than a week but was not the response I was hoping for. There was no help, if I wanted to see anyone further I would have to go private which financially was not an option for us, especially while paying $90 per month for the non-subsidised meds while waiting for the assessment.
About a month later I found out that I was getting a bonus at work of $500, and I decided I would use that to get privately diagnosed. If I was going to have to pay for my Duromine while waiting anyway it would have added up to the same in the long run. I did a lot of research and it became clear very quickly that the availability of psychiatric services in the Waikato was terrible even privately. For the first time since I left I wished I was living in Auckland again.
After a lot of phone calls I finally had a booking. I had 3 weeks to wait, and as each day went by my fear and anxiety grew more and more. I can’t remember ever being that nervous, what if she sad I didn’t have it? What then?