A long, long time ago. . . (okay, two months, but right now time is relative), I wrote a post about diving into the world of looking for a new psychiatrist (It’s Time To Say Goodbye). I sort of had it in my head that I could write posts about my search here on Canvas. This would be the first, because my moods went off the map and I subsequently slipped off of the radar temporarily.
I’ve had two appointments with one doctor, and one with another. I also have a consult scheduled in January with a third. But before I get much further into to how things are going, I should probably just get my views out here. They’re pretty crucial to understanding my experiences and this post.
To me, psychiatrists have become a necessary evil, at best. That’s not to say I don’t respect them for what they do, because actually I respect them tremendously. But I would really like to be able to respect them in the same way I do soldiers and Red Cross workers in disaster situations. From a distance.
I honestly don’t consider any of my other doctors to be “necessary evils.” Maybe my annual well woman visit to the gynecologist (sorry, boys) comes close, but honestly for me it’s once a year and usually pretty painless. Oh, and the dentist as well, but really, does anyone like going to the dentist?
In any case, mostly my doctors are viewed by me as great resources. When I do have to seek them out it’s to make something that’s gone pear-shaped with my body’s functioning right again, and I’m thrilled and delighted that they are able to perform this service for me. Not so much with psychiatry.
There’s the obvious part, where the malady (maladies) that takes me to a psychiatrist is not something relatively simple. It can’t be diagnosed with an exam and some blood tests or cultures, treated for a couple of weeks with some easy pill, then sent on its way. There’s the part where in psychiatry, so much more depends on your relationship with the doctor and is left almost entirely to their discretion. Yes, there are standard treatment algorithms for manic-depression, but psychiatrists really seem to take them as extremely loose guidelines, with infinite room for interpretation, and there’s no rule that said algorithms even have to be consulted at all.
What I dislike most is the fact that what they’re treating, what they are attempting to examine and test and measure the functioning of is, to me, the most deeply personal and highly sacred part of my body: my brain.
I can think of nothing else more invasive in the world than psychiatry. I have had more than your standard in office visits as far as gynecology (although not so extreme as another Canvas blogger), I had a D & C and lots I won’t detail leading up to it (you’re welcome, boys). I had an endoscopy following a diagnosis of stomach ulcers. I have never had major surgery, so I can’t say for sure, but I think even getting used to an organ transplant would not feel like such an invasion as someone poking and prodding and asking me all about my thoughts and my moods and how they are functioning and basically wanting to cross that final frontier into the land of what I consider to be most private. At least not for me it wouldn’t.
And yes, I know I am seeking out their help, which makes my cooperation pretty much compulsory. Hence the ‘necessary’ preceding the ‘evil.’
But back to the me and the now. Both psychiatrists I have seen thus far in my search have been very nice and very competent. The first one, Dr. M~, I had two consultations with. She was quite helpful and she said she would absolutely be willing to treat me, but that she wasn’t entirely sure what was left for her to try that hadn’t been tried already. She highly encouraged me to look nationally, to places like the National Institute of Health, the Mayo Clinic, Yale, Harvard. . .
Basically she was smart and took what my previous doctor had done over the past five years and, instead of insisting that we repeat it and I go through all of the ridiculous medication and treatment roulette again, she arrived at the same conclusion he had (he had also suggested I look nationally for someone). The one somewhat novel suggestion she did have for me on a local level was that I go see a psychopharmacologist, as he would be very well versed in the intricacies of the specific drugs and their mechanisms of action, more so than the average psychiatrist – a plus for someone with complicated medication and metabolism issues.
The second doctor, Dr. R~, I still have to wait and see (I’m waiting for a call back from his scheduler for when I can see him next, har, har). He was quite nice and very thorough at our first appointment, and Dr. M~ told me he was a good doctor, very well-regarded by his peers. As to how much weight I put on the regard of his peers. . . Well, I guess I won’t get into that just now. But I like him well enough so far.
And then there is the final doctor, Dr. B~, with whom I scheduled first and am waiting the longest. I’m okay with that, I really liked him on the phone and he did his residency with my former psychiatrist, so they are well acquainted.
I’m just so sick of and exhausted from the psychological poking and probing right now. The title of this post came into my head as I was leaving my second appointment this week (my mistake, scheduling them so close together). All I could think was, ‘Stop looking at my brain! Get out of my head and leave it to find some peace of its own!’
Which, of course, is the entire point of the process, isn’t it? I’m looking for someone to help my brain find some measure of balance and peace, and it’s stirring my brain to chaos and frustration.
The irony abounds.
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