|Not All Shrinks Know Their Stuff
December 24, 2000
If you are bipolar then you know that just because someone becomes a psychiatrist, hangs a shingle, and charges $150 an hour, does not mean that they actually know what they're doing. During the course of my disorder, I have been seen by psychiatrists aka shrinks aka Pdocs, that range from "your degree had to have been via correspondence", to "Good lord man, you're more screwed up than I am".
I've had a shrink that had a long pony tail and earrings that dangled haphazardly and always distracted me and trust me, my focus ability is nil. He had a calm, soothing voice and truly seemed interested in my case. But of course, he was just a pill pusher and deferred me to a "therapist". A therapist that didn't seem to care as she watched her time clock more than she listened to me. I had one shrink that was from a foreign country and to see the two ob us trying to communicate was like watching Abbot and Costello.
Then I found this new shrink. For the first year I would go on a soap box on this man's wisdom, insight and foresight. I felt that I had finally found THE one. He did not talk "down" to me. We researched different medications together and sweef fancy marie...he actually listened to what I said. Now, I'm not sure at this point, if all of that really happened or if I was just so stoned and whacked on all the meds he had me on. So perhaps I viewed that first year through psychotropic sunglasses.
By the second year with this same pill pusher (he said he was done doing therapy because it was just too much trouble) I was beginning to sense that things were going downhill faster than a skier on a snowy mountain. I became combative, not physically but verbally and to my surprise, so did he! Now, I'm no brain surgeon but even I know that shrinks are trained in counter-transference and this dude had been in the business for about 20+ years, so you would think he'd be able to handle a 110 pound verbally combative, heavily medicated, bipoloar woman. But no, he was just as rude to me as I was to him. Even my therapist was shocked.
So in time I learned which buttons to push in order to set him off. It became a game of chess. Who could be the most childish before he kicked me out or I stormed out on my own. I would say, "Would you puleeese listen to the patient?", to which he would respond, "Would you listen to your doctor?". Hmmmm. I always thought they were supposed to listen to us? How else will they know that the drug that is supposed to help us is making us violently ill and almost totally unfunctional in our daily living skills.
Each time I went in to see this guy, I had to sit in his office while he tried to find my chart and had to "give him a few minutes" to go over my chart. Let me tell you folks, this guy was so manic it was unbelievable. Besides, isn't it more proper to read about your next patient before you see them so you are prepared? I guess that would be difficult when you're herding psych patients in and out the door like a herd of cattle on their way to the auction block.
One time I calmy mentioned that I thought he was bipolar. OUCH! I must have hit a nerve because he stopped what he was doing and whipped aroung in that chair and looked over his glasses at me and said in a snooty tone, "What did you say?". So I repeated it and this time he just glared at me and went back to mania.
I always enjoy how the first thing they will say to you when you go in is, "Hello, and how are you?" To which I always reply." Well I'm sitting in a shrink's office, how the hell do YOU think I am?" That usually shuts them up and they get down to business.
Listen, if your Pdoc does not listen to you, bail and get a new one. In order for this entire thing to work we need a Pdoc who keeps current on the new meds for our disease and who will actually spend more time talking and listening to us rather than watch the ol time clock. If you get one who's a clock watcher, bail out, he or she is just in it for the bucks and doesn't really care.
Of course managed care has really hit the mental health care system hard. Shrinks all over my area are pulling out of insurance plans like crazy! I can't really blame them because their capitated cut of the money is reaaaalllllyyy low and they didn't spend 8 years studying to get a whopping $20 per head.
It isn't easy finding a Pdoc that is a good "fit". And it can be quite costly in hunting for the right one, especially if you do not have health coverage. Even with health coverage it is a pain in the bum because instead of being able to talk out your pain and fears, you have to start all over again each time with each new Pdoc.
So if you can find a Pdoc who will prescribe your med AND do your therapy and you're happy with them then good for you! Bipolar Disorder people need more than just the meds. We need to have someone to talk to and help us adjust to not only what the pills are doing to us, but also to help teach us how to deal with those nasty elements of Bipolar that get us in trouble and I'm sure you know what I'm talking about. So in other words, just popping those psychotropic meds aren't going to be enough to help you attain a somewhat normal life. You NEED someone to talk to and someone who will listen and help guide you into coping with your disorder.
Remember, this is a disease and it will get progressively worse as we get older. Especially if you go off your meds which is a huge NO-NO. So
stick with those meds, find a good shrink and therapist and make it a part of your life. Like my great Pdoc told me, those meds are just drugs, they are your lifeline.