When Your Doctor Fails You, Don’t Fail Yourself
It’s been almost 2 months since I’ve started taking medicine again.
At first, I was feeling relieved, better, and proud of myself for taking a step towards wellness and healing, but I’ve come to realize that the effects were more placebo than anything.
When I first met my “doctor” (she’s actually a nurse practitioner) I thought our time together was a bit short (around 20 minutes) but I felt listened to, understood, and like she believed in me and my ideas toward treatment.
Well, my follow up visit, a 15-minute med check proved to be anything but helpful.
I was given all but 3 minutes during this 15 minute med check and, honestly, this was the first time in my years of seeking help for my mental illness that I have felt uncared for, unheard, and like a number.
Maybe you’ve had a similar experience or even many of them. If you have, I’m sorry.
The first time I walked into her office, I felt hopeful, excited, and ready to tackle my Bipolar Disorder head on.
After the last visit, I left her office feeling like an inconvenience, defeated and disheartened.
It hurts to be treated like a number.
So, that brings me to the question, “What do you do when your doctor fails you?”
When Your Doctor Fails You, It’s Important to Not Fail Yourself
See, the old me, the old Dan would have said “F*** you, lady!” and stopped taking his meds cold turkey. He would have used it as an excuse to self-destruct, not give a damn, and then blame all of his self-destructive behavior on the doctor and her lack of concern. In short, I would have given her a reason to be concerned. However, the new me has a bit of a different approach.
I’ll keep taking my medicine and, eventually when I’m able to drive again, I will find a new doctor.
As people with mental illnesses, it’s important to not fail ourselves.
Sure, it’s easy to blame our doctors, our therapists, and even our support systems but at the end of the day, we are the ones responsible for making good choices and taking care of ourselves.
It would be reckless of me to stop taking my medicine because I would run the risk of sending myself into an episode when I’m already struggling this time of year.
So, instead of acting out as a result of the doctor’s lack of concern, I’m doing little things I can to take care of myself during what I feel is a very sluggish and depressing time, for me.
Things I’m Doing to Manage My Depression In Addition to Taking Medicine
I’m Reaching out to My Support System
For me, I have an inner circle that I call “Team Dan 6” and these are people (family, friends, and others who live with mental illness) that I can reach out to and be honest with about where I am in my journey. Just talking to someone and owning my current state is usually enough to keep from doing something stupid and making bad choices.
I Am Still Exercising Even Though It’s Tough
My exercise has basically been cut in half, both in intensity and effort, BUT I am still moving. It’s important to me to not totally lose my progress from this past year but it’s also important to me to show myself love through exercise.
I’m Expressing Gratitude for Both Things I Am Thankful for and Things That I’m Proud of Myself for on a Daily Basis
I make a list of 2 or 3 things, a day, which I’m thankful for and proud of myself or love myself for. It’s really helped me balance out the scales of my mind which tend to always lean on the negative and dark side of life.
I’m Cutting Back on My Work
This one is tough because I am in a place where I can do it (I live with family) and I have very understanding students (I’m open to them about my Bipolar Disorder). I know it’s not easy to do this ,or even practical for most, but I learned a long time ago that if you don’t take care of yourself, first and foremost, you will suffer in the long run.
I’m Practicing Self-Compassion
If you’re anything like me, this will feel wrong and unnatural, to put yourself first and forgive yourself, but it’s necessary. It’s hard to forgive yourself for having some shitty days and outbursts, but you must forgive yourself.
You’re human and fighting a battle whether others can see it or not.
Even though I’m doing some things to manage my current state, I do know that medicine can be very important in managing a mental illness.
So, when I’m able to drive again, I will seek out a new doctor and find one that is a good fit, for me.
Finding a Doctor Who’s a Good Fit
A few things to consider when searching for a doctor:
Are They a Doctor?
Seriously, this is something to consider. The current professional I am seeing is not a doctor rather a nurse practitioner and while I respect her education and degree, I would feel more comfortable with a doctor who’s completed many years of training specifically geared towards Psychiatry and mental illness.
Does Gender Matter to You and What Is His or Her Communication Style?
This is important because you need to know yourself. Do you feel comfortable with men? How about women? I used to abhor working with women until I had a doctor who changed that. Now, I’ve come from a doctor who often ended our time with a “You’re awesome, Dan 6” and a hug to a professional who will barely make contact when I reach out to shake her hand. These things may seem trivial, but if you’ve experienced that safe place and loving professional, it makes all the difference.
Will Your Insurance Cover Your Visits?
This one is important to consider because, let’s be honest, we’ve all been there where we’ve had no insurance or pretty bad insurance. Many offices will offer a sliding scale fee if you find a professional you love but your insurance won’t cover it. It’s a conversation worth having with the office manager to see if any payment arrangements are offered based on income.
Do They Respect You and Your Opinion?
I’ll never forget when I had a psychiatrist in the hospital look at me and say, “Therapist, eh? You guys are the worst.” You don’t deserve that kind of treatment and YOU DO DESERVE TO BE HEARD and have a say in your care. You also want to be open to the professional’s advice but, at the end of the day, it is your mind and body so make sure the doctor lets you have a say in your treatment.
Doctors, like therapists, counselors, and social workers are not a one size fits all.
You will have some you clash with, some you mesh with, and some you will never forget (for good and bad reasons). I encourage you to keep looking if you’ve not found your perfect fit BUT also to take care of yourself during this time.
Don’t stop your meds cold turkey and don’t use a bad experience as a reason to self-destruct and undo all the work you’ve done.
You’re not alone on this journey! There are many of us out there who are fighting, daily, a battle that many don’t even know exists.
Don’t give up on yourself.
We need you and we need each other.
Your life and wellness are worth fighting for!
If you’d like to connect with me on Instagram, you can find me by searching: Justanameandnumber
, . (2017). When Your Doctor Fails You, Don’t Fail Yourself. Psych Central. Retrieved on April 22, 2018, from https://blogs.psychcentral.com/desk-couch/2017/12/when-your-doctor-fails-you-dont-fail-yourself/