My psychiatrist retired in July. At our next-to-last appointment he told me I was doing well enough that he decided not to refer me to another shrink, instead my family doctor will be treating me. Which I’m a little nervous about.
I’m not sure how I feel about losing the ‘talk therapy’ part of my recovery. My psychiatrist and I basically stopped talking almost a year ago. It was my fault. I spent four months in the hospital recovering from ‘severe uremic neuropathy‘, then another month in the hospital recovering from a kidney transplant. So for five months out of a year I was basically on my own, a hermit with only doctors, nurses and (for a while), a roommate to talk with.
After a few weeks of staring at the walls for company, there comes a time when you forget to do things. Like smile, or talk. And I forgot how to do both.
It has almost been two years since I was released from my second stay in hospital, and I still have problems with both. So in the end stages, my sessions with Dr. O had been pretty quiet. I was used to him scribbling to keep up with my various trains of thought, but just staring at each other for 45-minutes was getting pretty tedious and not a little depressing on its own. Now he’ll keep my files for ten years, then he’ll delete them and sixteen-years of my most personal thoughts and ramblings will be gone forever.
…I probably should have asked for a copy, but there are two folders and they’re each six-inches thick. And the poor guy just wants to enjoy his golf game.
Dr. O was the psychiatrist who first diagnosed me with manic depression, way back in 1989. After living out in the wilderness for 14-years, he was kind enough to take me back in 2002 when I finally hit bottom and was desperate for a way up.
There are a handful of people who are responsible for my being alive today, and he’s one of them. Without the talk therapy he provided, there’s no way I’d have survived my bottom. Without him my understanding of the disease would have been limited to An Unquiet Mind, the DSM, and a playlist of songs from Jimi Hendrix, Pink Floyd, and The Cure.
I understand his point, about not needing a new psychiatrist, I’m not in any immediate danger of having an episode one way or the other. I haven’t had a major one in years… but I’m not symptom free by any means. I still, albeit occasionally, get overwhelmed by the manics and the depressions. I still have a disease, even after sixteen-years of treatment I haven’t been cured. The disease is still there, and it still wants me dead. I’ve just learned how to cope with it, how to make sure it stays dormant.
It’s just the duration of the attacks are shorter, they’re manageable, they don’t cripple me for days on end. I can think my way out of them. I can reason with them. I can see past them. I can cope with them. They don’t range from 0-100 anymore, with the medication and the skills my psychiatrist taught me, I can live in a more normal range of emotions… at least I can live inside a lot less devastating range.
With his help, and the right pills, I’ve found a range that isn’t devastating. I think that’s what I’m trying to say.
I understand his decision, and I’ll live with it and the consequences, but I am a little nervous about no longer having a psychiatrist on my recovery team. Of the three recovery tools I’ve had over the past twelve years — talk therapy (gone), medication, and this blog (shut down in 2014) — I was down to the Abilify, Seroquel, and Welbutrin*. And, really, medication is just not enough.
At least not for me.
Plus, and this is not related directly to my recovery, I’m on ODSP for the bipolar stuff, and the latest provincial government is bound to be performing a ‘review’ of the disability program, and that generally means making life more complicated for the people who rely on the program. They’ve already cut a planned increase in the amount we receive from 3% to 1.5%. And no one can explain why.
And it’s just going to be that much harder to prove my disability without a psychiatrist.
*…yes, I’m off the Lithium. More about that later.