The neurologist peered over his glasses. This was the man Georgie Dent had hoped would cure the apparent vertigo that had been crippling her for months. The dizziness and nausea had forced the 24-year-old to take leave from her high-stress graduate job as a lawyer and move back in with her parents in Lismore, where she spent most of her days confined to the couch.
But if anyone could help, doctors told her, it was this man — a ‘dizziness guru’. It had taken her months to get an appointment. He took just 10 minutes to examine her.
“Now Georgie, I’m just going to say this,” he said. “From looking at you, it is quite obvious that you are what I’d call a ‘cappuccino’ kind of girl.”
Georgie looked confused.
“Let’s be honest, you’d quite like a leisurely life. That’s what you’re best suited for, isn’t it?”
In other words, ‘stick to sipping cappuccinos in cafes, and you’ll be right.’
Listen to Georgie Dent chat with Mia Freedman about her nervous breakdown.
Those familiar with Georgie’s life and career will know just how far from the truth that doctor’s assessment was. She’s a journalist, columnist and commentator, and now also an author, having penned a book (Breaking Badly) about the nervous breakdown she experienced that year.
That nausea and dizziness, which the neurologist had dismissed as a ‘cappuccino’ constitution, turned out to be intertwined with mental ill-health. Georgie was experiencing untreated depression and anxiety, which had crippled her emotionally and physically.
Speaking to Mamamia‘s No Filter podcast, Georgie said it took a far more empathetic doctor to help her realise it.
“Mum took me to a physician in Lismore and he said, ‘Georgie, I’m so sorry for what you’re going through.’ And when he said that it nearly made me cry, because it was the kindest thing and most sincere thing a doctor had ever said to me.
“He said, ‘Look, in my medical experience — you know, I’ve been treating patients for nearly 50 years — whenever there are unexplained physical symptoms, stress is always the explanation… What I would recommend is that you see a psychiatrist tomorrow morning.'”