Almodovar is a pseudonym for a dentist in general practice somewhere
in the UK, who wishes to retain anonymity due to the sensitive nature of
this blog.
3 minutes reading time (534 words)

Depression in Dentistry - Forgive him, he’s an idiot.

Forgive him, he’s an idiot.
Well, it’s been a wee bit longer a break than anticipated. I had intended to give you all a break from my depression over the Christmas period as, let’s face it, Christmas can be depressing enough on its own! I then felt that January wasn’t a particularly cheery month due to

a) the weather
b) the Christmas bills shock
c) tax bills

So I figured I’d leave things a bit longer. Of course, life then intrudes and so here we are nearly half way through the year.

My last blog had seen me arrange the first counselling session. I can’t really say much about that session, apart from it involved a large quantity of tissues, several glasses of water, and a short episode of hyperventilation. I seem to recall some questions over whether I felt I was a risk to myself or others, but as these were asked at a number of the sessions I’m not entirely sure. What I CAN say is that I felt a billion times better when I left the office than when I arrived.

With the benefit of hindsight, I know that this vastly improved mood was both transient and conniving, unfortunately at the time I felt that – having taken that sizeable first step in seeking help – everything would just be OK soon enough. WRONG!

Yes, my mood had lifted. Yes, I wasn’t crying as much. Yes, I thought I could get back to working as normal. Yes, I thought I was “better”.

Yes, I’m an idiot and was nowhere near better, but that’s the fragile balance of ego & id for you!

The following day at work I was cheery, chatty and pleasant. Some of the staff joked a bit about my finally getting out of the right side of the bed, or of wanting “some of whatever you’re on”, but I just ignored them and got on with my day. I had a pleasant weekend with my wife, relaxed, watched some TV. In other words I behaved normally. This, I now know, was the problem. I was BEHAVING normally, not actually being normal.

This pattern continued through the next week at work, although I would often feel panicky on the way to work and my mood would darken by the end of each day, and often sooner if problems arose. We aren’t talking major problems here, just late arrivals, delayed lab work, snotty patients, etc. Our usual daily niggles frankly.

The next counselling session came about, and I was stunned by how quickly I broke down again in the office. It didn’t occur to me during that week that I was just putting on a show for everyone around me, until the therapist metaphorically whipped back the curtain and popped the spotlight straight on me. Right on cue, I sobbed my heart out.

My therapist was concerned about my having continued to work without at least easing back on the hours or workload, and was clear that my arguments about NHS contracts and targets were all well & good, but were a contributing factor in my stress and depression. It was clear that I still had a long path ahead.

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