And now, the down-and-dirty on my psychiatrist.
Let me be clear: I did NOT go to my first appointment willingly. I went because my primary care physician thought I had something more serious than he could handle, wasn’t going to prescribe yet another type of antidepressant for me, and referred me for a psych evaluation. I thought he was sending me to a therapist. When I found out I’d been referred to an actual psychiatrist, I flipped out: “I’m not crazy, Doc,” I told him, “I’ve just had really bad mood swings for forty years!”
But it took all of about 30 seconds for a tall, slender, and relatively young man with a receding hairline and intensely kind eyes to make me feel safe, and for someone with trust issues, that meant a great deal. It didn’t take many appointments for me to feel totally comfortable confiding things my own husband didn’t know about; my pdoc turned out to be incredibly nurturing, but even better, he had a warped sense of humor that matched my own. You’ve gotta love a guy whose favorite movie is National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.
This is, by far, the weirdest relationship I’ve ever been involved in. He respects me as both a patient and a nurse; I admire him for having served with the Army in both Iraq and Afghanistan. There isn’t much the man can’t do—he does acupuncture, performs magnetic brain stimulation procedures, AND cans his own homegrown fruits and vegetables. He is arguably the coolest individual I’ve ever known, and frankly, we adore each other—not in the carnal sense (ewwww, can we say ‘professional boundaries’!?), but as close to friends as a doctor and patient can ever be.
It could have a lot to do with the fact that we ARE both clinicians and speak the same language; I know about his colonoscopy results, and he asks me about my arthritis. We chat about his latest batch of blackberry jam and his troubles raising teenagers; we also BS about football and my garden. We joke around in between serious discussions and tease each other at every opportunity (“YOU? Stubborn??! Oh yeah, let me write that down!”). We even use bad language and talk about religion and politics….none of which are particularly approved of in every other domain of life.
By now you’re probably wondering if he does me any good, and the answer is a resounding YES. He is one of only a tiny handful of people who don’t co-sign my bullshit, and I respect him tremendously for that because I am an extremely persuasive, and even manipulative, human being. He’s my cheerleader, my mentor, even my job coach……and he’s taught me, at long last, to believe in myself.
Granted, I pay my psychiatrist serious amounts of hard-earned cash for his services, but he goes so far above and beyond the call of duty that I don’t begrudge him one thin dime of it. I hear so often about patients who see their doctor for 15 minutes every three to six months for medication management, and they pay the same fees as I do for sixty full minutes of therapy monthly (or more often if I need it). Never once has he allowed me to leave that office without feeling better than I did when I walked in. And he even keeps the seashells I brought him (after the trip to the beach that he ‘prescribed’ for me in April) right by his computer keyboard.
No, this is not your typical pill-pushing nerdy Freud wannabe scratching out notes on a pad while you lie on a couch; this fella is your basic metrosexual with a flair for business-casual dressing, who does everything he can to be unobtrusive with his note-taking (he’s still pissed about having to type his notes during sessions because the transcriptionist was laid off last month). And the “couch” is a comfortable loveseat, with only a glass table with a box of Kleenex on it as a barrier between doctor and patient.
But what it all boils down to is, the man saved my life. I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for his prescribing the right meds in the right combinations, being available when I was in crisis, saying the right things at the exact time I needed to hear them…..and $267 per visit doesn’t even BEGIN to cover that debt of gratitude.