Yes, you read that right—I am now between psychiatrists. Dear Dr. G. did exactly what I’ve been dreading since I first saw him four years ago, and retired. My last telephone visit was on Tuesday and I’m already missing him, even though I was never as close to him as I was with Dr. Awesomesauce. He was smart, compassionate, and as he said, we worked well together.
I actually found out about his impending retirement about six weeks ago. I got a call from the mental health clinic asking me to move up my September appointment to August, and even though they wouldn’t tell me why, I just knew. He sent a letter out a couple of weeks later which confirmed my suspicions, and suddenly the anxiety flared almost out of control. Who would care for me? What if I hated him/her? And oh dear God, what if I couldn’t find anyone right away and I ran out of meds? Visions of being hospitalized with a wild manic or a severe depressive episode danced in my head.
Fortunately, Dr. G outlined for me the next steps in the journey. There are two new psychiatrists starting at the clinic in a couple of months, and my care can be transferred to one of them once they get established. The office will call me when they start filling their schedules, although Dr. G said I wouldn’t be first on the list because I’ve been so stable (isn’t that nice? Yay me!), but that someone will take me on. In the interim, I can call the office for meds and in case I have a psychiatric emergency, because there are other doctors on staff who will take care of me until I get my permanent pdoc sometime this fall.
Then we did a little reminiscing about our years together. He actually apologized that my medication regimen is so “complex”, as he put it, but the simple fact is it works and I’ve got to stick with it. No argument from me; in fact, I fear the next psychiatrist will want to change the magic formula. That’s a big deal for me…for years, I resented having to take so many meds and was constantly looking for ways to cut down on the number, but somewhere in the past couple of years I came to understand that I really DON’T want to screw with bipolar disorder. My credit score and money management abilities reflect how far I’ve come, and I know I could destroy years of hard work with one manic episode. If I’m a little flat emotionally, if I lack energy and motivation, it’s a small price to pay for my sanity.
I don’t know if I would have come to that conclusion without Dr. G’s guidance. I’m stubborn, and I remember clashing with Dr. A more than once about wanting to have at least a little hypomania; but it only took a few gentle reminders from Dr. G about how necessary the meds were for me to have a decent life. Maybe I was just ready to accept it then; maybe it was that I’d finally developed the emotional maturity to see things as they were, rather than wish they were different. I don’t have many regrets in life, but taking so long to accept bipolar as a part of me is one of them. It would have gone so much easier for me if I’d realized it earlier in life and done something about it. But it’s useless to dwell on the past; far better to put those feelings to work and help other people, like I (hopefully) do with this blog.
In the meantime, I’ve got plenty of meds and I know I can get help if things go sideways, but I don’t expect them to. I’m stressed out due to some events happening at home and some days I wake up wondering when the other shoe is going to drop. But rather than losing my shit—which would do no good for anyone—I’m handling it.
Farewell, my good doctor. You might not have been my first choice, but you were always Goodenough for me.