I’ve seen a lot of psychiatrists in the 15 years since I was diagnosed. Often not by choice – I lived different places, my health insurance plans changed so I had to switch. But sometimes by choice.
I had the psychiatrist who gave me 7 diagnoses in 8 minutes, including ADHD, when I’m pretty sure my difficulty focusing is due to anxiety and medication side effects. I had a psychiatrist who refused to refill one of my meds, until she saw me in her office, shaking, curled up in a fetal position in my chair and sobbing from withdrawal symptoms.
I had psychiatrists who barely listened to me when I talked about my concerns about medications, but only asked me if I might be pregnant, then said, “I put all of my bipolar patients on Depakote.” I protested, saying, “But it makes it so I can’t think clearly, and I’m having problems remembering things.” The doctors looked at me blankly and repeated, “You’re stable right now. I put all my bipolar clients on Depakote.”
Anyways, after many psychiatrists who over-diagnosed me, over-medicated me, and didn’t seem interested in getting to know me, I was happy to find a psychiatrist who was different.
My new psychiatrist took all the diagnoses off my chart except for bipolar. He was genuinely interested in me as a person, not just me as a patient with symptoms.
It was refreshing. I happily shared with him about my life.
We made a deep connection. I started emailing him about how I was doing in between sessions. I was sharing more and more details of my life via emails.
He loved hearing about how I was doing and was glad to respond. He thought highly of me and encouraged me to go back to school to pursue a career in the mental health field.
With his support, I applied to graduate programs in counseling and was accepted.
But before I was to start my chosen program, I decided I wanted to try going off my medications since I wanted to get pregnant, and all three of my medications could cause birth defects. With my psychiatrist’s support, I slowly weaned off my medications.
It didn’t go well. I had terrible withdrawal symptoms and fell into a deep depression. After the depression, I flipped to an intense five-day manic episode. My psychiatrist put me back on the medications, at a higher dose.
He suggested I started meeting with him regularly. So as I stabilized on my medications, I found myself in his office once a week, talking to him for an hour about my anxieties.
Those meetings made me feel very uncomfortable. It seemed like he was trying to counsel me, which I disliked since I already have a counselor, and I didn’t feel comfortable with his psychoanalytic approach. He has a degree in psychoanalysis. At the meetings I shared what was on my mind, while he studied me intensely and made psychoanalytic statements that made little sense to me.
I kept going because he wanted me to. I finally told him that it made me feel uncomfortable since I already have a counselor. So we stopped.
Since then, I don’t email him anymore. At our appointments he asks too many personal questions and studies me too intensely.
I feel like it’s all my fault. I shouldn’t have shared so much with him during those first few years. I shouldn’t have emailed him so much. I emailed him about some very personal things. I shouldn’t have agreed to those quasi-counseling sessions.
I’ve had three conversations with him about boundaries. Each one seems somewhat helpful, but things haven’t changed.
I’ve come to dread my psychiatry appointments. During my appointments he stares at me so intensely that I feel uncomfortable. He asks me a lot of questions I find unnecessary for a psychiatrist to ask, like asking me about my parents and husband’s welfare, and my relationship with them.
I go into his office to ask for an adjustment on medication, and he is talking to me about how my strained relationship with my parents, along with past emotional abuse by my mother, is contributing to how I feel drawn to a hostile work environment where I am devalued. Or he’s telling me how I married someone with a disability since I like difficulties in life.
He says these things to me that are inaccurate and feel like more than a psychiatrist should say, like “When people are nice to you it is a problem for you, “You seek out chaotic work environments where you can be the savior,” and “You seek out people who belittle you due to your low self-concept.” He thinks he is an expert on me due to my emails and the counseling sessions.
I wish I could reset boundaries, so that there are fewer personal questions and less intimacy, but it seems like it is too late. I should never have written personal emails or allowed him to counsel me.
I keep thinking maybe I should find a new psychiatrist. But this one really cares about me and has me on a decent combination of medications. So for now I guess I’ll endure the personal questions and scrutiny.
I thought I wanted a psychiatrist who cared about me as a person, but now I want a professional who asks me medical-related questions and keeps boundaries. But it seems to be too late for that.
The whole experience has taught me how important boundaries are. In the future I will be more careful with boundaries, so I don’t have this issue with people again.