This is another guest post by Dorothy Donald.
“I’m fine,” I say.
(Josh makes a face that says ‘I call bullshit. I’m not going to embarrass you by doing it very loudly and publicly in this coffee shop because I’m your friend, but I do.’ You’ve all seen this face, I’m sure.)
“Really, I am. I’m going to see CBT man tomorrow –”
“But it’s just a follow-up, to see how I’m getting on. I’m fine.”
(Silent bullshit-calling face)
“It’s just… No, I am fine, it’s just I… find Christmas difficult.”
(“I know. That’s why I asked how you were.”)
Damn you, Josh, and your horrifying insight. Please don’t go away.
“I’m a lot better than I was,” I say. “But I just don’t seem to be able to concentrate at work. I’m not being very productive.”
So far, so familiar.
“And… I don’t really know how well I am. I know I’m better than before, but I also think that I’m not… that great. I don’t know if my problem with work is to do with depression, or if it’s just that I’m lazy, or that this is just how things are, or what.”
Neil suggests a little assessment inventory. The questions are familiar to me (this is not my first experience of depression inventories) and by the time we’re at the end I’ve already had a few clues that I’m maybe in the ‘cause for concern’ category.
The verdict: ‘moderate to severe’ depression. Perhaps, Neil suggests, it’s no wonder I have difficulty concentrating at work?
I’m actually rather relieved. I had somehow convinced myself that it wasn’t legitimate to hope for any further improvement. This assessment has reminded (told?) me that “Not continually preoccupied with ending own life” is a poor benchmark for adequate mental health. It is true that I am a lot better than I was, and that’s good and important. But I am not yet ‘fine’. (Sorry, Josh.)
Then we talk about some strategies for dealing with the Christmas break.