it is hard enough to have a mental illness. there is a stigma surrounding it, as though we have a choice or some control over it. most mental illness is caused by neurotransmitting chemicals being slightly off. there is no way for anyone to control that. other mental illnesses are generally caused by trauma to the brain, this can occur at any time. neuroscience has found that there are at least 7 emotional regions in the brain, some of these can be more sensitive than others; this is caused by genetics, prenatal stress, situations in childhood, etc. no matter the cause, mental illness is not a choice. it’s a humiliating noose around the neck of the affected.
i see a psychiatrist bc i have major anxiety/agoraphobia and depression. eli and ted also see the psychiatrist. we have been without a psych dr for 2 months now bc the guy we were seeing was travelling to the area and his wife became ill so he could not travel anymore. he was the only dr in the area that would take our state insurance. he worked out of a clinic twice a week. it was a mad house to go. every adult with medicaid who was mentally ill went through this clinic, and there were ppl from all over oklahoma that would wait to see him. there would be up to 75 ppl at any given moment in the office, usually yelling at their kid or spanking their kid or bitching bc they had to wait. sometimes we waited for 6+ hours to see the dr.
i called the clinic to find out if they found another dr and they had. he only works at the clinic on saturdays and sundays bc he has his own practice in the area. so we showed up at our appointment time prepared for the experience. we noticed that there weren’t the regular amount of cars in the parking lot. we got pretty excited about that! when we went into the office the receptionist said they could not see ted bc he has medicare and they don’t take medicare anymore. ( thanks for letting us know that when i made the appointment….) so it was just going to be eli and i.
it only took about 10 minutes for us to be called back to see the dr, but in that waiting time we saw a woman leave shaking and crying after she had seen the doctor. i sat in a chair by the big dr desk and eli sat back on a couch against the wall. the dr started by talking to eli.
“so i see you are diagnosed with anxiety?”
“do you do drugs?”
“i will not prescribe you xanax. that is what you all want, the xanax. junkies are the ones who come to this clinic”
“ok well i don’t want xanax, i just want the medication i was on”
“he has aspergers,” i said
“that is not in his chart.”
“he was diagnosed when he was seven by dr mobley. dr z new that he had aspegers, but he did not diagnose him with it. it should be in his chart though”
“like i said it’s not in his chart. do you live by yourself?”
“no i live with my mom and dad and stepmom” eli replied tilting his head towards me.
“you are mom?”
“i thought you were his sister.”
“it is not a compliment!” he said raising his voice slightly,” how old were you when you had him? 14?”
“no i was 18 almost 19.”
dr condemnation eyeroll.
eli answered a few more questions. one was about a medication he has been prescribed for years.
“why do you only take this at night?”
“bc that is what dr z told me to do”
“all of this is what dr z told you to do. but why did he do it that way?”
huh? eli and i exchanged glances. this was weird and really uncomfortable.
“dr z prescribed the medications. we took it as prescribed. if you think that it needs to be taken differently we are open to see how that works” i piped in.
another dr eyeroll
the dr told us a long line of why he was a competent dr. he worked here and there and for so long. he started this program and that program and pat on the back. he knows what he is doing, look at all these letters behind his name. blah blah blah….then he told eli to go into the waiting room.
he asked if my meds were effective. i told him that i have am having alot of neurological issues that effect my mood, but i think i am doing good despite that. that i am going to the neurologist next month and we will know more then. he asked what kind of neurological issues i was having and i told him a few-dizziness, feeling like i am falling, weakness, issues with word recall. dr eyeroll.
“being in pain all the time is hard.”
“do you take anything for pain?”
“yes. i take tramadol. 50 mg twice a day. it isn’t the best but i would rather not be on opiates.”
earlier he had asked me what meds i was allergic to, and i told him. i also told him that i cannot take medications that work on your dopamine.
“tramadol effects dopamine. you said you can’t take things that affect your dopamine. which one is it?”
“umm…well…the reason i can’t take things that affect my dopamine is bc i have major reactions to it. dr z had me on abilify and then latuda both of which work by decreasing dopamine but it makes me have medically induced parkinsons, and i can’t take them”
“that doesn’t happen. you can’t have medical induced parkinsons” loud voice then a laugh while he shook his head in that ‘this stupid ass woman’ way!
“no but it did happen. that is what happened.”
“then you should stop taking your tramadol shouldn’t you?”
i was dumbfounded. i felt ashamed and belittled. i couldn’t say anything bc i was going to cry. i just looked down and tried to find patterns in the carpet.
“what do you want me to prescribe for you?”
“my general practitioner has already prescribed for me for this month, but i will be out of meds on the first.”
“then why did you come here?”
“we need a psychiatrist to help us…my gp doesn’t know enough about mental illness. we just needed to reestablish.”
he started to lecture me on things, but i was shut down by that point. i felt like running out of the office. i felt like punching him in his dr face!
amy usually comes to all of my dr appointments. she realizes that, while i can advocate for others, i have a hard time advocating for myself. i know that i am not really able to judge my mental state. if i am being irrational or doing things out of character i am not going to be aware of that. amy will realize it. we know the value of an advocate. i am an advocate for my kids, ted and i was for my sister (who has bipolar and has delusions, which she cannot report bc to her they are real) but a sick mind doesn’t know it’s sick, so amy can help by telling the drs what she has seen. if i were a dr, i would appreciate this sort of thing bc it would make my job easier, but most drs dislike health advocates. when they called us back into the dr’s office this morning, amy was using the restroom. they wouldn’t let her come in. so i was stuck alone in a room with this man who was demeaning and rude and mocking me.
i walked out feeling like a piece of crap, like a drug seeking loser. this psychiatrist, a specialist, made me feel like i had made a conscious choice to have a mental disorder. i know that is not the case. i know that i am responding to things bc my body is sick, taking most of my energy to just wake up and deal with constant pain. but i was humiliated.
we are going to start calling around to find a new psychiatrist that will take our insurance. that means we will have to drive at least 45 minutes once a month to see a dr. i am willing to do that so my family and i don’t have to deal with a dr who is going to belittle and debase us. i am also writing a letter to the state board of medicine to file a formal complaint. there were medical issues i needed to discuss with him, that he had made me too uncomfortable to address. that is not ok.