Having a good relationship with your psychiatrist is vital. Dr Shrimp.
9. Resonances of a Bipolar Disorder
I am bipolar. I am manic-depressive. I have a diagnosis, medication, and lots of times I'd like to forget my life history because of it. My symptoms have been unbelievably under control since 1999. I measure this by the fact that I've only had to go in-patient for treatment twice since 1999. 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, shouted while stomping around his office. I had 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 punched 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. SMU is a terrific, expensive private school--and very good, but they are not known for their mental health program. Southern Methodist University is a private Methodist University, which will be housing 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 though 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 some one 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 a wrong diagnosis. Fuckhead! (Profanity comes out when I reach total frustration).He wasn't convinced I had bipolar disorder. He thought I had borderline personality disorder, a different diagnosis requiring different medication. Dr Shrimp stuck to his diagnosis, even though this particular date I had an animated manic rant right in front of him. I didn't realize this until later.
Somehow, the he turned the conversation I thought I was having with him into a defensive position. 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 fucking fit in front of him, and he still couldn't see it. 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 suiting his abilities. Then, I stormed out to the receptionist’s desks, 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.
I had to make an appointment with some 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 closing my file, and expecting 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 patient. I made connections with the receptionist over the phone, and I was very fortunate he took me on, as his practice is mostly adolescents now. My appointment was soon too. 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 48 now. 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. Dr Sam 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 potentially 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. They generally do not like screamers in the psychiatrist’s 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, that conflicts and misunderstandings happen some time. The doctor wants to be the one to diagnose and dispense medication. However, 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 were just little irks. I lived with them silently, but I also added them up and kept them inside until I could not stand it 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 blow out. 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 the 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 are personality issues when you have to openly discuss your personal problems. discussion 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, and 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 went 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 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'm coasting along good enough to feel okay after this appointment.
I'm glad Dr Sam told me I was mixed, 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 emotional nature, but not all bipolars are. I don't notice Robin Williams is particularly seasonal, but he can swing between highs and low, dark, shadowy character with an unbelievable ease. Robin Williams without bipolar symptoms would not be the actor and comic so many enjoy. So far, his bipolar has not caused a major negative event in his life, and I would be willing to wager that Mr Williams sees a doctor and takes his medication.
My depression from winter is SLOWLY fading away. My mania has not quite kicked in. Doc hates it when I go manic. At first, I become hypomanic, which is not depressed, and experiencing only mild symptoms of mania. I can’t always tell the difference between a natural good mood, or the start of hypomania. Time always tells.
Mania is fun, but ends up being self-destructive! When manic, I am impulsive, I need little sleep, little to eat, and I’m often irritable, overly self-confident, and I take on lots of jobs to work on—overextending my time to what is impossible to complete, and I love to spend money—that I don’t have to spend. Bipolars have credit problems.
I have a higher dose of meds to take. 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. Sometimes the environment of a bad influence feels like a breath of fresh air. It isn’t suppose to make sense, but that’s the way it feels to me.
My coherency and ability to write are affected as my "disorder" grabs more full 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 it otherwise, unless someone points out my behavior to me. Bipolar disorder is a humbling mental health issue for patients and their family and friends.