I want to share a story of a client of mine whose struggling with depression and hypothyroidism.  She’s in her mid 50’s, self employed and has been in remission from her depression for about 8 years.  She thought she was well beyond it as her life has opened up in surprising ways.  She’d worked with a therapist for many years, learned priceless tools to help her cope and though life continued to be stressful for her she had the tools to keep things together until BAM. . . . things changed.

First it was insomnia.  Then, she started having various aches and pains that she tried to ignore but eventually had to address.  She described her mood like a stick shift on a car where she could feel a sudden jerky downshift as she became paralyzed, indecisive, tearful and unfocused.

That’s when she contacted me.  We talked about what was going on with her and she cried as she described how alone she felt and how difficult her life had become.  She felt that she’d used up her “pass” with her support system – that no one was really interested in what was happening with her.  Yet, because she had been through this before, she held out hope that there was light at the end of the tunnel.

I suggested she contact her primary care provider and make an appointment.  I talked her through the Appointment Preparation Worksheet so that she’d remember what her issues were when she saw her doctor.  I invited her to make two copies so that if she fell apart at the doctor’s office, she could just hand the doctor a copy and say “read this.”

That’s exactly what happened.  She walked into the doctor’s office and sobbed uncontrollably.  She couldn’t even talk.  They ordered some bloodwork, gave her instructions for taking her basal body temperature and a prescription for anti anxiety medicine to take as needed.

That’s how an Appointment Preparation Worksheet can literally save the day when you’re in too much pain to communicate clearly. 

She called me after the appointment.  She felt heard and understood – all her questions were answered and she knew exactly what to do next.  We talked through what things made her anxious and how she would use her anti anxiety medication.  She decided she’d find other ways to get through anxiety than use the prescription.

That’s an example of figuring out whether what the provider was offering her was a match for her values.

The following week, she called me again and was once again despondent.  She couldn’t stop crying, didn’t know why, had done her basal body temperatures and called the office, which resulted in a crazy making game of phone tag.  It was so frustrating as even though she had told them she had a private voicemail where they could leave a complete message, the messages were: “This is Sue from Dr. Helpful’s office.  Please return our call” – so not helpful at all. 

I suggested she call the office, ask to speak to the nurse and if she couldn’t get through to schedule an appointment.  She balked at the idea – she didn’t want to take the doctor’s time.  She thought she should be able to handle it.

Here’s an opportunity to practice Patient Power:    I reminded her that she deserves good healthcare.   If she trusts this provider, this is an opportunity to step up to the plate and get and give clear complete information.  We filled out the Appointment Preparation Worksheet together again.

This time, though, she left the Appointment Preparation Worksheet at home unfortunately.

You know, the amazing thing about preparing for your appointments ahead of time is even when you forget the sheet, the sheet is still working for you.  Yes, it’s better when you have the Appointment Preparation Worksheet to refer to – but life doesn’t work out perfectly for any of us.  She remembered why she was there, got the instructions she needed and is doing better today.

So, here’s what you can learn from this.  It applies to any situation – whether you’re dealing with depression, pain, or some other conditon.  Just substitute whatever is going on for you with the word depression and see how it fits.

  • I know I may sound like a broken record here but please do yourself and your provider a favor and download the free Appointment Preparation Worksheet, fill it out ahead of time and bring two copies with you to your appointment.
  • If you’re struggling with depression, please ask for help.  There is help for you.
  • If you’ve had depression and been in remission, sometimes it shows up again – often when you least expect it.  Of course, that’s alarming and disappointing.  That’s a very natural reaction – it’s painful to be in that spot that is so amorphous and indescribable.  Remember that you’re not alone and there’s a way through this.
  • Depression, by its nature, is pervasive – it can affect every aspect of your life.  It can seem like you’ve always had it and will never get over it.  And that’s just not true.
  • When you’re not feeling well, it’s the hardest time to step into your authority and speak up for yourself.  It’s also really important that you find a way to say what’s true for you – despite the fact that it is so very hard to do.  If you need help with this, contact a friend or you are welcome to contact me and I will help you get the healthcare you deserve.
  • Hang in there – and I don’t mean to sound trite here.  But, part of dealing with depression is hanging on til you get the help that you need.  That’s another thing you may need support with and I can help you.

Having said all this, by all means, if you’re questioning your ability to keep yourself safe you MUST let someone know about it so that you can get the help you need.  You matter – get the healthcare you deserve.


2 Responses to “Ask Char: Dealing with Depression”

  1. Laura Hegfield Says:

    Char this is fabulous…I love the idea of an appointment prep worksheet…I am going to download it and use it for my next neurology appointment. Thank you so much for this generous offering. I’m also going to let some friends know about it.

  2. Char Says:


    I am so happy that you’re taking care of yourself in such a pro-active way. You’ll be amazed how simple this is to use – it will take you less that 3 minutes to jot down a few things so you won’t forget what you’re there for.

    I love that you’re sharing it with others too. My passion is really helping everyone concerned to get their health care needs met timely and efficiently.

    Let me know how it goes!!


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