Meeting Yet Another Shrink

So, as I mentioned yesterday, we met with a new potential shrink on Monday. It was weird and creepy when I got there because a circuit had blown, so the hall lights and air conditioner were off, which meant I stepped directly off the elevator into a dark, hot waiting room.

Then these two therapists walked out and started discussing the situation and it was obvious that neither of them wanted to actually deal with it. They mentioned that the superintendent should be called, but then the man therapist was like, “Well I could call, but I have a phone session…” and the lady therapist was like, “I mean, okay, but I have a client in session right now...” and it went back and forth like this until they just walked away from each other passive-aggressively.

Then another man opened the door and was like, “Hey, it’s dark out here! How long have the lights been out?” and I told him I had no idea because I just got there, but that two other people had spent a few minutes discusssing the situation without actually coming to a solution. He just said okay and shut his door. Then he re-opened it two minutes later and was like, “Okay Andi, come on in” as if he we totally knew each other. Very strange.

He was your stereotypical machismo male doctor, which I don’t love. I find it very intimidating. He was fast-paced and kinda fidgety. He kept getting up to check on the status of the lights and air-conditioner and also to get more paper from his pad. At one point, I noticed he was sweating and I was just thinking he should stay seated and grab the whole pad, so he didn’t have to keep getting additional sheets. Then maybe he’d be calmer and less sweaty?

He asked approximately one million questions, many of which were triggering as fuck. I’d brought a list of all the medications I could remember us ever being on (there were 21 of them), all of our 14 hospitalizations as well as the 12 different diagnoses we’ve received over the years. He was very thankful for such a list, but then proceeded to go down each and every bullet point to ask me about it. For every single fucking medication he asked for “positive” and “negative” effects, as well as the reason for the prescription and the time we were on it.

I honestly cannot remember all of that shit! I do (mostly) remember the bad side-effects of certain meds so I was able to let him know that information. But…dates? Seriously? I ended up just sending out ballpark figures that are probably wrong. I’m not sure it’s vitally important that he know the exact time frame anyway. He didn’t seem suspicious of the dates I gave, so I guess I was close enough.

He also asked about trauma which is by far my least favorite question, ever. Psych people have this way of asking this question in a way that makes me want to dropkick them in the mouth. It went something like this:

“Tell me about your trauma”

“Uh….”

“Was it abuse?”

“Yes.”

“Okay. Who abused you?”

“Uh…my parents…and…some other people.”

“Other people?”

“Yeah. Like my grandpa and ‘uncle’ and…just other people.”

“Okay. With your parents – what was the nature of the abuse?”

*stares blankly*

“Was it physical…?”

“Yes”

“Anything else?”

Everything else.”

“Meaning…?”

At this point I wanted to scream. Is this guy for real? WHY is it always necessary to answer with this much detail within 15 minutes of meeting a person? Sometimes I wonder if they don’t ask these questions just to see how we answer them. Or just to be dicks.

“Meaning everything: physical, sexual, psychological, emotional, financial, spiritual…EVERYTHING!”

“Okay. And your grandfather and uncle?”

“What about them?”

“Was that physical abuse?”

Motherfucker. Here we go again…

“Yes. And sexual.”

“And the others?”

“Yes! Also sexual! It was all sexual!”

“How long did this go on?”

“Well the longest was with my father. I don’t remember when that started but it ended when I was 25.”

I literally saw him gasp and then scramble to compose himself. Gah. So fucking uncomfortable. Then, once he was sufficiently satisfied with our trauma history, he started asking about relationships. He assumed when I said “married” that I had a husband so I had to correct him, which was annoying.

Then it was basic health questions. He was impressed with how well we take care of ourselves until we got to the topic of weight. River jumped out to say that she’d like to lose 40lbs. He just kinda gawked at us and then said, “Uh…Why do you want to lose weight? Did your doctor say you needed to lose weight?” And River was just like “No, but obviously I’m really fat so I’d like to lose more weight.” And he said he could not see where we had 40lbs to lose and then River said that Wife always says the same thing but she doesn’t know what they are looking at. He said, “I suppose I wonder what YOU are looking at. Sometimes people with a history of eating disorders have something called body dysmorphia where they see a distorted image of themselves” but River was basically like blah blah I don’t care I’m still gonna lose weight and he was like, “I…I don’t think I could support that “ as if she has any fucks to give about his support. Ha.

Then he asked about current symptoms and I stumbled a lot with this one. It’s very hard to put together symptoms when you’re only Part of a whole System. So I mostly just went generic: tired, groggy, trouble concentrating, trouble sleeping, depressed, overwhelmed, headaches, suicidal thoughts, and I mentioned the dissociation part. I wasn’t going to, but the therapist said we really should bring that up when we met him so I made sure I did that. He asked what that was like, which was also a hard question to answer, but I told him it was like having a conversation with your own thoughts and feelings and he seemed satisfied with that. I was nervous to answer because when I tried to explain this many years ago, we were diagnosed with schizophrenia and put on horse tranquilizers antipsychotic medications.

By the end, he decided to grant my request to taper off the clonazepam (Klonopin) but he increased the propranolol to somehow make up for that (?). Then he added lamitrogine (Lamictal) which kinda made me want to punch him, but he felt like we needed something to manage our mood. I didn’t really get it, so I was like “What is your vision for how this will go” and he said it seemed like I was working very hard in therapy, which often brings up a lot of pain. And although that is a necessary part of healing trauma, it can also be destabilizing. So the medications can help ease some of that by helping keep the mood more stable.

I mean, whatever. I’m not sure medications ever actually work for us, but he sold me enough on it to agree to be RE-prescribed lamotrigine. I’m not thrilled because I don’t like mood stabilizers. Actually, I don’t like any medications. I didn’t really feel like I had a choice, though. I couldn’t just flat out refuse to try anything. Well, maybe I could have, but the idea of doing that scared me too much so I just agreed to take the script with the knowledge that I technically didn’t HAVE to fill it if I didn’t want to (spoiler alert: I filled it).

He told me to text him in two weeks to let him know how the adjustments were going (Um, gross. We are not friends. I am not texting you) and we scheduled an appointment for September.

I don’t love this. I didn’t even really like him. But he asked good questions and took a thorough history. It was annoying to answer so many questions about medications, but I like that he seemed to actually give a shit about what’s been tried before. And he seemed genuinely concerned and interested in how we’ve been treated by former psychiatrists and how their decisions basically did a lot of fucking damage, both to our physical body and beyond. He seemed kind of appalled, actually.

So, you know, good enough.

-Julia

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22 thoughts on “Meeting Yet Another Shrink

  1. Tina says:

    Wow👀 ummm Glad that he was thorough, but I agree he could minimize the sweaty effect & employ a better bedside manner.
    But omg damn. The way they stood in the hall, ineffectively discussed the electrical issue & proceeded to pass the proverbial buck. lmao How unprofessional:(

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Zoe says:

    What really upsets me about psychiatrist is how the just assume answering certain things is easy or simple, upon a first meeting. Like what the actual fuck. I prefer to fill that shit out in a survey before the appointment which they can later ask questions about, perhaps more mindful of the traumas. I hope he works for you though.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Andi says:

      Totally agree. Did he not think about how triggering that might be and how not cool it would be to trigger a trauma victim in the middle of an interview with a total stranger?! Jesus.

      Like

  3. Rachel says:

    Uhh, I have to be honest. He sounds insensitive, not attuned, and I’m feeling this protective need to say something more judgy but I won’t. But I want to.
    I get it, the need to ask questions, but there is a way to do it that doesn’t feel intrusive.
    Btw I know meds suck but Lamotrigine is the only one that really did any good for me and it really did help me stabilize and kick the eating disorder.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Andi says:

      Eh, I hear ya. You’re totally right on all points. We’re just so fucking tired of “shrink shopping” that *good enough* seems like a reasonable place to stop for now. But it’s very encouraging to know the lamotrigine worked well for you. That is hopeful.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Rachel says:

        I hear you, I’m sure you are all very tired of looking for someone. And re-telling your story, over and over.. “good enough” might be exactly right for now. There is plenty else to be expending energy on.

        Like

  4. Cat's Meow says:

    I really wish that I could clone my psychiatrist and share her around! Not only does she specialize in trauma and actively keep up on all of the latest developments in meds that can be used to treat trauma (including off label uses), but she also does therapy with DID clients herself. At this point my child parts feel comfortable with her and will come out to address things that are very distressing. It helps her have a more complete picture of me.

    I hope that this shrink works out to be ok for you!

    Liked by 2 people

  5. La Quemada says:

    The first psychiatrist I ever worked with was gentle and caring. I gave him permission to talk to my therapist at the time, and that reduced his need to ask some questions. He treated me respectfully and even checked in on me when I was out of town. He set the bar quite high, and so far no one else has ever met it. It’s surprising to me that people working with clients who have mental illnesses and great emotional pain can be so blind to the impact of the way they interact with them. I hope that over time he becomes a useful support to you.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Andi says:

      I hope he does call our therapist and that their communication helps him help us. But he could just be blowing air. Who knows. And yeah, it totally sucks that people who went to school and got licensed specifically to work with this exact population seem so awful at actually doing that.

      Like

  6. Cat says:

    Psychiatrists direct question can be so difficult and leave us feeling completely washed out. I agree, he sounds thorough although I share your concerns over meds. Admittedly, mood stabilisers were my saving grace and I hope you have some success

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Cat's Meow says:

    I had to come back over a couple of things that I wasn’t up to commenting on yesterday. First of all, I’m sorry that the shrink was so ham handed about asking about the abuse. I’m impressed that you made it through that.

    Second, I had no idea that the abuse went on for so long with your father. I am so outraged on your behalf. I can’t think of anything to say that might not offend someone, but just know that I really am royally pissed on your behalf.

    For me, the dissociation is really strong around the older abuse and I haven’t worked on it much. I’m not sure when it ended. I think most likely before I finished high school, but there are some things that make me worry that it may have continued while I was in college and even on one visit home when I was 22 and in my first year of marriage.

    I’m saying this because the amount of shame went up exponentially for me, the older I was. I hid all of this from my therapist for so long, afraid of how she would react. I was afraid that it would finally be the thing that would push her to judge me. After I told her and we were able to talk about it and feel it from the inside, I was able to start to believe that it wasn’t my fault. It wasn’t my shame. The abuse started so early, I was conditioned so thoroughly to do what my father wanted, and even at 22 I didn’t yet have either the internal or external resources to directly stand up to him and make him stop. None of that was my fault. He was the one who made his choices as to what to do. He was the one who set me up. Notably, I have never been alone with my father, since, even in the more than 20 years in between when I couldn’t admit that my dad abused me.

    I’m bringing this up because I suspect some or most of you is just as ashamed as I was about the older abuse. You may not be able to believe it right now, but I’m still going to say it, “I don’t care what the circumstances were. I don’t care how old you were. Your father’s abuse of you was always his fault. Never yours. It is not your shame. It is not yours to feel guilty about. It was only possible because you had been abused from a young age.”

    It will take you however long it will take you in order for this to start to feel true. I just wanted to be sure that someone had said it to you.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Andi says:

      Thank you for this. Knowing others’ abuse went into adulthoods is both awful and incredibly comforting. I think there is a ton of shame around that and it can be hard to not self blame. We are starting to learn about how abusers can pull this off when they start abusing you at a young age but it’s still confusing and hard to talk about.

      Like

      • Cat's Meow says:

        It is beyond confusing! Honestly, I don’t know if the abuse stopped when I was a teen or an adult. The parts who hold the older abuse are still very dissociated from me. I just know that I’m afraid that it happened and I had to talk about it my therapist in order to be able to let the issue lie for now. The early/ mid teen abuse is hard enough to deal with.

        I can’t quite remember whether my therapist herself worked with someone whose abuse went into her mid twenties or if someone in her consultation group worked with someone whose abuse went into adulthood. But there definitely are others out there. Sadly.

        Liked by 1 person

  8. J says:

    Awkward question: are you paying out of pocket or going through insurance? I can send you a list of really excellent psychiatrists in NYC (got the referrals through my excellent psychiatrist for my sister in law), though I don’t know if they have expertise with DID or not and they don’t take insurance (I pay a sliding scale fee and am reimbursed with out of network benefits so it’s doable). But let me know if you want it and I’ll send it.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. ambivalencegirl says:

    Oh my goodness, I would have surely shut down if someone started questioning me like that. I’m so overly sensitive that I would have “heard” that he didn’t believe me and thought I was making up a story and that many “others” couldn’t be true (although I don’t think he said anything even close to that). And the part about what kind of abuse, I would not have handled that well in really proud of you! Great job.

    Like

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