Seeking help–pt. 2

After a long battle of finding a therapist who takes my insurance I was referred to Bonnie. I made my first call to her to set up my first appointment. Everything actually went smoothly for the first time since I attempted to seek help.

Our first session went over pretty nicely. I liked her and she liked me; it was a good match. After seeing her for about 2-3 weeks though we discussed my main issue, the suicidal thoughts. They were really persistent. I was having 4-5 suicidal thoughts a week and those instances would last for an hour, if not longer. That was in addition to my outbursts, the anxiety, and depression I was dealing with. So inevitably the topic of medication came up. I told her I was strongly against medication (and ironically I wanted to be a psychiatrist), but I felt I may be open to the idea if it helped. She told me my homework was to call my insurance and find a psychiatrist. As soon as I got home I did just that. I got the names for 4 different ones who were all in close proximity to my house. I called/looked up reviews and was once again disappointed. I ended up calling the insurance again a few days later and asked for a few more names and requested they mail me the entire list. I was told they would, but in the mean time I wrote down the new names. I called the first one they gave me and realized it wasn’t a psychiatrist, but a licensed mental health counselor. Apparently the lady at my insurance didn’t know the difference between an MD (or DO) and a LMHC/LCSW/Ph.D/Psy.D. Every name I wrote down this time was one of the latter. I decided to just wait for the list, but it never came. I called once AGAIN to get a few more names, and finally I found a psychiatrist I was willing to see.

I made the appointment and as the day approached I was actually a little bit excited. Was I finally getting the help I so desperately sought? The day before my appointment I got a call that the doctor had to reschedule because they lost my appointment, but it actually worked out better because they told me I could come around noon instead of 4pm. I had missed the call though and called back first thing in the morning. The receptionist told me that the appointments were really first come, first serve, and that he actually wouldn’t be in until around 1pm. I told her no worries, that still worked out good for me, because I had to go to work around 3. I showed up and I was the first person there, the receptionist looked at me in amazement, and I looked back at her puzzled. She told me I was REALLY early, as he would be in until 2pm because he was at the hospital. I was really upset at this point but shrugged it off. The time kept going though. First it was 1pm, 1:30, 2:00, 2:30, 2:45. I was furious!! I told them I was going to be late to work and I WASN’T going to reschedule. The doctor finally walked in the door. I sat down expecting a 20-30 minute intake interview, but got the complete opposite. He asked me why I was there, and I told him depression and anxiety. He then prescribed me Celexa (an antidepressant) and asked if I had trouble sleeping, and if so I should try something like benadryl. I told him yes, but I cannot take anything that makes me sleep, as my body fights it and I end up feeling paralyzed as I lay there. He looked at me and prescribed me Ambian (a sleeping pill) and told me we were done. I was beyond livid, not only did I wait over 2 hours, I was now late to work, he didn’t listen to me, and he only spent 5 minutes with me! I left and tore up the prescription for the Ambian, but put the Celexa in at the pharmacy. I figured I didn’t like him, but while I search for another psychiatrist I can at least start the antidepressant.

This lead me to the worst experience I have ever encountered with a mental health professional. There’s this hospital near where I live and they have this outpatient treatment center, specifically for mental health. I had actually called them originally to find a therapist, but never got a call back. I called 3 more times, and still I heard nothing in return. I was so frustrated though I gave them another chance, in hopes that their psychiatrist would actually help. They actually answered this time and I was all set up for an appointment. When the day came I was dreading it, as my previous experience made me reluctant to go in the first place. I was feeling ok though once I go there. The receptionist was nice and the lady who registered me and took my payment was also fairly nice. Then came the downfall of the entire establishment.

My intake interview was conducted by a LMHC who would then refer me to the proper person within their practice. She asked me the usual questions and mentioned they would conducting a drug test (which I thought was odd and I was little offended). Then we got to the question of whether I smoke weed. I would’ve lied because I know I get judged pretty harshly when I tell people that I do. I have my own reasons for doing it and I function just fine (graduated high school with a 4.5 gpa, graduated with my bachelors, I work, etc.). So I was honest with her, and boy was that a big mistake! After that she made snarky little remarks. I told her I didn’t know if the Celexa was working and she was like “well smoking pot definitely isnt helping.” I also told her about my past history with abusing pills from when I was 13-16. With everything that happened with my parents, I was distraught and would take between 3-7 pain killers at a time, I would drink, smoke, and do anything that was considered “substance abuse.” I also mentioned though that I realized my destructive ways and on my own I stopped. I left the school I was at because the pills were easily accessible and I cleaned up my act because I wanted to do something with my life.

We then went to do the drug test. I peed in the cup and put it in the slot. She started the test and asked me if I was to wait for the results or just finish up the intake. I told her I didn’t care either way, because I knew it would only test positive for THC. She gave me a disgusted look and said “well why don’t we wait to make sure that’s the ONLY thing you test positive for.” I was really offended, because she made me feel as if I was lying. So we waited and she seemed surprised it was only positive for THC. We then made our way to the front. She then told me that I would have to come back to see a nurse practitioner (NOT a psychiatrist) and he would be the one giving me the medicine, but if I smoke weed he may not even prescribe me anything. The last thing she said to me though as I was getting ready to walk away though was “I hope you know what you did isn’t normal. All the drugs and pills, thats not what normal kids are doing. I know you think it is, because all your friends were doing it, but its not,” and then she walked away.

At that point I was done. I was belittled, hurt and offended. I stopped taking the Celexa cold turkey after taking it for about 2-3 weeks. I didn’t want medication, I didn’t want to see a psychiatrist, I was just absolutely DONE.

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4 thoughts on “Seeking help–pt. 2

  1. I’m so sorry you’ve experienced this. It’s not uncommon these days. Psychiatrists are hard to find now and, among them, good ones are even harder. I know your pain and hope you are doing well. You were smart to discard the Ambien. Be careful, as psychiatric medications are very serious. They’re individually suited and often more than one needs to be tried over spans of time before finding the right one for you. You’ll know it when you do find it, but it takes a qualified, attentive psychiatrist to help get you there. Also, you might ask your insurance about qualifying a psychiatrist outside of your immediate area under their coverage. They won’t want to offer those options, you’ll have to probe and probe some more. Best wishes for you.

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    • Thank you for your comment. It’s definitely difficult and I have finally found a little bit of stability in the medication area. The insurance was no help at all, but luckily I got new insurance and they’ve been more than helpful!!

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      • I hope so Sara. I know the battle very well. The right medication does make an important difference & it’s important to take it regularly. It took a very good doctor and more than a year of trial & error for me to find the right one, but I had good coverage and that certainly helped. If you ever need a shoulder to cry on please let me know.

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  2. The right medicine does make a huge difference. And wow, a year?! That’s so tough because it’s so easy at that point to become discouraged, but you persevered through it! That’s amazing! Also, thank you! The same goes for you 🙂 I’m always willing to listen.

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