Having a good relationship with your psychiatrist is vital. Dr Shrimp.
9. Resonances of a Bipolar Disorder
I have been diagnosed with manic depression for ten years. I have a diagnosis, medication, and lots of times I'd like to forget my life history because of the disorder. My symptoms have recently been unbelievably under control. I measure this by the fact that I've only had to go in-patient for treatment twice in the last ten years. I attribute much of my success to having a psychiatrist who listens to me and trusts me.
I went through a lot of disillusioned hopelessness before I found my current psychiatrist. If you cannot talk honestly to your shrink, to whom can you talk? I found a large majority of the psychiatrists I've seen professionally are really uptight jerks. A patient can't always tell by the first appointment if the doctor is someone they're going to feel comfortable discussing personal, and emotional issues, and sometimes delving into one's personal life to the point of practically confessing (and incriminating) yourself.
When I left my last psych doc, I really lost my cool. I screamed, waved my arms, and shouted while stomping around his office. I had it with his bullshit. I was not feeling emotionally helped, not comforted, or much less relaxed enough to discuss anything rationally. He turned our consultation appointment into a stressful situation. I can only battle one set of hang-ups at a time, and all of a sudden, due to my inquisitive curiosity, he became defensive and mounted a verbal assault. I was not at all prepared to turn offensive, but I did because I unknowingly pushed one of the doctor's buttons. He misconstrued my purpose, and my reaction was like a reciprocal spark to me emotionally. My reaction to his reaction was like a reciprocal spark. Instantly, there was more than a desk between us. It evolved into a feeling of my doctor being on one side, and me the patient being on the other. This all began when the doctor noticed that I was reading his diplomas and certificates that hung on his office wall.
I was surprised to see his undergraduate degree came from SMU in psychology. Southern Methodist University is a terrific, expensive private school--and very good, but they are not known for their mental health program. SMU is a private Methodist University, which houses President George W. Bush's Presidential papers.
The doctor explained he came from a poor background and had received a full scholarship. He sure looked proud. I might also mention that he's about 5'2", and I'm 5'11'. A receptionist had made my appointment with Dr. Shrimp because she thought he was good-looking.
She said, “If you’re going to have to sit there and look at some psychiatrist for an hour, you might as well have someone nice to look at." He was dark and handsome, but the difference in our heights made both of us uncomfortable, though we never spoke of it.
Height difference issues aside, aside, Dr. Shrimp stuck to his guns in the wrong diagnosis. Fuckhead! (Profanity comes out when I reach total frustration). He wasn't convinced I had bipolar disorder. He thought I had a borderline personality disorder, a different diagnosis requiring different medication. He discontinued my bipolar meds.
Somehow, he turned the conversation I thought I was having with him into his defense. It was as if I had pulled out a knife and flung it across the room at him, and come damn close. He accused me of questioning his credentials. I was actually just wondering why he chose to be educated and graduated from SMU. I guess I was asking a personal question, but I had not intended it to be. He was sure I had borderline personality disorder, whereas ALL my other doctors over the years had diagnosed bipolar. I had a fit in front of him, and he still couldn't see bipolar. I didn't realize I was having a manic fit in front of him until later, because I was busy living in the moment. Things move faster when your heart pounds in your chest, and your voice control is reduced to a short-circuited series of sniffs and squeaks. I was emotionally distraught to the point that my good sense filter was not working.
I think I called him something like a stupid little fucking shit (and I did say "fucking" to him—unfortunately, I’d been rehearsing to let out frustration), and he ought to find a profession more suited to his abilities. Then, I stormed out to the receptionist’s desk, still shaking in tremors and quaking in tears. My tissue was used up from facial flooding. I was used up too. I did not leave the office until I had an appointment with another doctor at another location.
I had to make an appointment with a doctor somewhere, because when one is that upset, they do need to talk to a psychiatrist as soon as possible. I didn’t want Dr. Shrimp to close my file and expect to see me in the hospital psychiatric ward for emergency care. During a previous hospitalization, Dr. Sam had seen me as an on-call basis. I made connections with the receptionist over the phone, and I was very fortunate he took me on, as his practice is mostly adolescent now. My appointment was soon. The sooner I could get past this, the better.
Sometimes, psychiatrists, and other doctors, stop taking new patients because they have peeked out on their workload. I may act adolescent at times, but I'm in my late forties. I understand that adolescent and adult mental problems are different, and specialization usually helps. However, I was with Dr. Sam for a total of five years. He turned to only caring for adolescents, so eventually I went doctor hunting again. It’s a stressful process because patients don’t really get a chance to talk with the potential new doctor before they are already signed up as a patient, with all legal papers already signed. You can’t get into the doctor’s door without signing legal papers. I know I may be more particular than most about what I require from my psychiatrist, but I’m sure one has the right to get along philosophically with whoever is prescribing medications.
I felt like I'd played the rebellious teenager type almost on provoked cue, for Dr.Shrimp, because of his attitude, or mood at the time. We were not both on the same page for dealing with my psychiatric issues. This indicated to me that we were at an impasse, and I was not going to get help from him. I am sure he did not want me as a patient anymore either. Generally, doctors do not like screamers in the office. I don’t like yelling either, and I don’t like losing my composure, but my emotions escalated. Sometimes it's better to walk away than to do battle, or that's my philosophy. I’m a writer, not a fighter.
When dealing with very personal issues and conflicts, misunderstandings happen. The doctor wants to be the one to diagnose and dispense medication. On the other hand, I expect to fully understand what I’m taking and why I’m taking it. If I feel that I have an adequate reason for not wanting to take a medication, the doctor should accept that. It’s my body, it’s my quality of life, and I’m the one who has to deal with the side effects. Doctors who say, “Take this and don’t give me any problems about it,” cannot have the patient’s best interests in mind. Some doctors prefer uneducated patients. I have educated myself enough about the biochemistry of bipolar disorder to discuss it intelligently. I’ve spent years reading about and studying my own bipolar disorder. Dr. Shrimp did not appreciate my inquisitive nature.
We'd had other divisive issues over the nine months or so I’d been seeing him, but each of the other problems was just a little disturbing. I lived with the little problems silently,.However, I also added them up and kept them inside until I could not stand them anymore. It worked out as an emotional blow-up on my part.
Displeasure and irritations keep building up inside me until I have an emotional blowout. I have realized I do that in life, with my family and friends; sometimes I will have an emotional outburst and the people around me do not understand why. I know they can’t see what I’m thinking in my head.
I’m trying to learn to deal with stressors at the time they bother me, instead of letting irritants mount up. This is a coping habit I am trying to change. It was not only what had happened that particular Dr. Shrimp appointment, but a building block stack of disagreements that had started at the beginning, and festered until I could take it no more, nor could my psychiatrist. I found out from experience, that if you are not having a positive healing situation with your psychiatrist, you ought to get another psychiatrist. There can be personality issues when one has to openly discuss personal problems, with psychiatric doctors particularly. Nobody can overcome a personality conflict.
I've been seeing Dr. Sam on a regular basis for about four years now. I find that he is a very good doctor for me. We communicate with each other well. He can read my moods, predict cycles, and stop them with meds before I lose myself. It's a great comfort to have a qualified doctor to talk to. Open discussion leads to positive results.
Before Dr. Shrimp, I had gone through five years of a foggy-minded haze, thanks to various county health departments. They thought they were helping. If you asked them, they'd say they were helping. Publicly funded agencies have their limitations: money, or rather not enough of it. My experience is that you can't get better with just government help. I improved when I was able to have insurance for my own private doctor.
When I saw Dr Sam today, we agreed I am in a mixed state: manic and depressed at the same time. Yes, it is difficult to explain, but it happens to me frequently. He also said I looked pale. If that's the worst he can come up with, I was coasting along good enough to feel okay after this appointment.
I'm glad Dr. Sam told me I was in a mixed state, or I wouldn't have known. I have trouble recognizing my own symptoms. If I am going to get manic, it usually happens between May and July. I am seasonal of an emotional nature, but not all bipolars are. I didn't notice Robin Williams was particularly seasonal, but he could swing between highs and lows, dark, shadowy characters with unbelievable ease. Robin Williams without bipolar symptoms would not be the actor and comic so many enjoyed. His bipolar caused a major adverse event in his life. He ended his life by suicide. Many bipolars do.
I have a higher dose of meds to take now. It is known as a bipolar cocktail. I know the difference between good and bad influences. I'm about to go visit a possibly negative influence. I don’t need to be spending much time around people who are drinking alcohol, because I might impulsively indulge. But sometimes the environment of a bad influence feels like a breath of fresh air. It doesn't make sense, but that’s the way it feels to me.
My coherency and ability to write are affected as my "disorder" grabs more control of my daily routine. Some days it has more control over me than other days. There is a low point in an episode, or my episodes, where it is as if you do not exist--or time doesn't exist. I can't explain it when I'm not there. I write to try to catch my moods and cycles on paper because I will not remember them otherwise unless someone points out my behavior to me. Bipolar disorder is a humbling mental health issue for patients and their family and friends.