Psychiatry

Oh, psychiatry. I wish I had better things to say about you. I have been involved with you since age 18, over 25 years. I’ve probably had around 10 psychiatrists in my lifetime. Here are a couple of negative situations.

I was going to a community mental health center that also had people prescribing psych meds. She was a physician’s assistant who was off the rails. One day she took a bag of sample medications and literally threw them in my face, all while yelling “We try to help people here!” Apparently, my complaints about the side effects and lack of efficacy of the medication did not please her. Needless to say I never went back and I felt traumatized by the whole encounter. I told her my level of educational attainment and she seemed confused why somebody at that level would be so depressed! Her blithering ignorance was stunning. I didn’t even bring up being transgender because I got a bad vibe from her about accepting LGBTQ people. Upon googling her name, I see she is still a PA and that she is gainfully employed including in behavioral health. This just goes to show how low the bar is for people who work in the mental health care area.

My second story deals with a man that worked at another community mental health center. It is in an old, dilapidated house. As soon as you walk in, there is an admin who says a curt “hi” and then literally asks you for your co-pay. Not “how are you?” or even basic chit-chat. Just down to get the money. Then you wait in the ugly waiting room until he comes out. Basically, this operation is like a psychiatric factory. This particular psychiatrist almost never looked me in the eye. From the time I entered until almost the time I left, he was typing away on his laptop. The appointment was 15 minutes, if that. Apparently he was typing because he didn’t have time to write clinical notes later so he just wrote them during the session. I would not be surprised if he saw 32 clients a day. It was always: how are the meds working? Who are your symptoms? And how are the side effects? Holistic was not in this man’s vocabulary. Then he would print out the scripts and send you on your way. Every time I came out of there I felt worse than when I went in. In fact, it triggered another mental health challenge that I will talk about in a future blog entry. The sad part is that I learned that out of the four or so psychiatrists there he was one of the better ones!

I am currently seeing a psychiatrist that is better than the previous two. I still generally do not look forward to the appointments because it is a fight over the meds, which ones are working, which ones aren’t and which different ones I should try. Like most psychiatrists she is “conservative” about meds but apparently less concerned with efficacy. Psychiatry is like a medication roulette wheel. It is like throwing a strand of spaghetti to the wall and seeing if it sticks. It is the most inexact science within all of medicine. Like therapy, I wish it worked better. Having depression is like living on a cliff and always being afraid that you are going to fall off the edge. Talk therapy and psychiatry are the tools that are available to you and they are incredibly ineffective, at least for me.

I could write a whole entry about people who identify as psychiatric survivors or ex-patients as they had such horrific experiences with psychiatrists. This is, after all, the “science” that came up with such great accomplishments as the lobotomy. Sorry to sound so cynical, but I really feel like I have been put through the ringer as far as psychiatry. I have no easy wrap-up except to say: be brutally honest with your psychiatrist. Let them know what’s going on for you and how and why you are dissatisfied. We need massive changes to our entire mental health care industries and that includes psychiatry. I wish I was more optimistic about change but it seems to come very slowly, if at all.