Crisis psychiatrist

Today, I saw the crisis team psychiatrist… it didn’t go well.

He showed me to the interview room, with this pleasant, eager young woman following in his wake.  I was a little puzzled about her presence, but had a sneaking suspicion that she was a training psychiatrist come to sit in on the interview.  Having had this before, I knew that they always asked if it was acceptable for the trainee to sit in, at which point I was ready to politely decline her being there.

We entered the room, and he sat down briefly, flipped through my file, noticing that there weren’t any blank pages, so left to get some.  Saying over his shoulder to the eager young woman (who had scooted her chair up to the desk), to introduce herself.  She was incredibly polite, saying that she was a trainee nurse.  When the psychiatrist returned, I asked if she was studying at the same institution where I worked – she nodded eagerly.  I asked that she not be present as I worked there and didn’t want to discuss the issues I was facing in front of a student from the same institution.  His immediate reaction… “But, she’s here for my safety”.

Apparently I look like someone who would either physically attack this old man, or scream sexual harassment.

What was interesting, was that at no point did he consider my safety.

His compromise, was to sit the student in the corridor just outside of the office with the door wide open.  It was a busy corridor.  At one point a woman stood at the doorway for over a minute trying to close an adjoining door – while loudly talking about her inability to do so.

Then there was the interview…

“So you didn’t show up for an appointment last week with Dr X”
“No, I’ve shown up for every appointment that has been made for me”
“Accusation number 2”
“No, I took care of myself”
“Accusation number 3”
“No, that didn’t happen”

So it went on… “What’s your mood level?” “How are you sleeping?” “What drugs are you taking?” “How much and how many have you got left?” “What do you want?” “Why are you here?”

Then it got worse. “I’ll prescribe X drug”. I asked what that was… he went into a long description about how benzos are addictive and their effect diminishes over time. He didn’t actually tell me what the new drug was, just how bad my current medication is. When I asked what the new drug would do, he said it would calm me down. I asked about another drug that I’d been recommended, and he scoffed. Saying that’s an anti-psychotic and that I’m depressed; and they only give that drug as injections up at the hospital anyway.

As I’d checked about the use of the drug before going into the appointment, I knew that it was also used for PTSD symptoms – my main problem at the moment; so I knew he was wrong about it’s use.  But I didn’t correct him… he was not a person to be corrected.

We’d started the interview pretty low, but this crushed us.  We crumpled.  I asked if it was ok to leave, he said yes; so we got up, thanked him for his time and left.  As we were doing so, he flipped my file shut with a sigh and leaned back on his chair.

I know I didn’t handle the situation well… I know I should’ve taken the drugs he was offering… but I couldn’t cope.

When I got back to work, I put my things down and told my cynical friend that I thought I was going to cry… we went into a spare meeting room and it all came out.  How I dissociate, how unsafe I am, everything…  She contacted the work place therapist who sat with me for an hour talking about things.  When I described the appointment to him, his comment was… “Yes, the psychiatrist had done his job.  He’d mentioned all the right things in all the right ways; but he didn’t care what happened beyond his vision of what you were and needed”.

It was this therapist who gave me the two creative expressions that I put up here today.  I decided to remove one, as although parts of it were powerful, the potential for triggering someone outweighed those benefits.

I’m still at a loss as to what I can do.  The birthday has now past, and that seems to have eased things internally.  I’m back at work, and that has forced a level of functioning.  I also have my cat back home… that always makes life good.

Now playing: Sarah McLachlan – I Will Remember You [Live]
via FoxyTunes

23 thoughts on “Crisis psychiatrist

  1. *hugs*

    I’m sorry the crisis psych was so bad. He sounds like a complete a$$hat. Ugh. On the flip side I’m glad you told your coworker and that you spoke to the workplace therapist, that’s really good. Especially good that you now have someone at work who knows how hard things can be.

    Please be gentle with yourself, and don’t let the a$$hat get to you.

    • It’s strange Kerro, but I really don’t care about the psychiatrist all that much. He was a strange man who had preconceived ideas about me, or all of his patients in general. Yes, some snippets of the interview are going through my head, but they’re nowhere near as bad as I thought they’d be.

      I’m actually in a pretty good space right now.

      Three totally awesome things happened today…
      1. ACC approved 20 more sessions with Allison!
      2. I told my cynical friend that I dissociate and was suicidal, and she didn’t freak or crumple.
      3. I told the work therapist some of the issues and he was quietly accepting. He listened. He asked me to notice what was happening internally. He told me some basic theory, which I already knew, but he gave it in a new way. He also said that I can contact him anytime and he’d be willing to work with me. He’s such a gentle soul and I didn’t feel scared being in his rather small office with him alone… I knew instinctively that he was safe.

      When you compare those three awesome things to one bad psychiatric assessment… well, there’s no contest. Yup, it would have been good if the psychiatrist had taken the time to listen to me, rather than assume things about me; but then, I’ve never had good service from this organisation – hence the necessity for me to have the ACC funding.

      At the moment… my cat is by her heater purring and I’m listening to some good music… I’m pretty lucky.

      Take care,

      • Wow. You really turned that experience with the crappy psychiatrist around after having some positive things happen. Are you going to complain about him? Do you think it would have been different with a female doctor?

        So, so glad you were able to speak with the work therapist. Will you go back to him or was it a one-time thing?

        My kitty ate a bird and showed me. I’d rather he sat by a heater…

        • Hi Lisa,

          I don’t know if there would be any point in laying a complaint about the psychiatrist. As the work place therapist said, he did his job and ticked the right boxes. He just didn’t do his job very well.

          I don’t think it would’ve mattered who I saw, if they weren’t willing to take the time to listen or understand what was happening then it was never going to work. I also know I tend to close down when I’m threatened or uncomfortable – I was both during that interview with this psychiatrist.

          I know it’s a fairly general assumption that if you’re suicidal, you’re depressed. But, that isn’t the case for me. Yes, I became depressed because I couldn’t find a way to get help and I was/am seriously lacking sleep. But the underlying cause of that wasn’t depression, it was the PTSD issues.

          The work place therapist has left it open as to returning to see him. I’m still fearful of closely linking my mental health issues to work, but it might be a valid option.

          I’m also looking at attending Al-Anon as another support system. I’m going to try my first meeting next week…

          Winnie (my cat) was very proud of the mouse she left for me the other day… I also like it when she curls up in her bed by the heater instead 🙂

          Take care,

  2. I’m sorry the psych didn’t work well. When we are unable to cope well or sleep well, medicines can help. But I am glad you moved past this and got some good news.

  3. hi castorgirl~ what a terrible experience with that crisis therapist. i’m so sorry. but it’s so neat that you look at this now in a positive way, because if that hadn’t been so terrible, you wouldn’t have opened up to your friend at work and gotten to meet that comforting workplace therapist. i’m so glad to hear you’re in a good space~

    and as for posting your creative expression, i understand your reasons for not posting one. i worry a lot about triggering other people. and when i feel like i have done something potentially triggering, i feel awful and have trouble letting it go. but sometimes i wasn’t triggering at all. and i just worried i was. it’s a tough issue. and confuses me. it’s one reason i restrain myself from expressing everything i want to on my blog, among other reasons. i’m thinking about writing a post on this. thank you for bringing that up.

    wishing you well~~~

    • Hi Katie,

      You’re right, if he hadn’t been the final straw, I would never have gone back to work and talked to either my cynical friend or the therapist. So, he did me a favour.

      I constantly struggle with the triggering issues. I know that we can never know everything that will trigger others – some of mine are common phrases, so I know that it will be the same for other people. But, I always worry about causing pain to others. I know we should all be responsible for our own safety, but it’s easy to be triggered by something in an otherwise safe site. At the moment I’m trying to be very aware of my safety by not reading some news stories and going to blogs which are dealing with heavy stuff – not because I don’t want to support the people, but rather because I need to protect myself.

      I’d be interested in hearing your thoughts on triggering. I also censor what I write here; and I sometimes publish something, then delete it when I’ve read it from a different space. Some of that censorship is for my own protection, some of it is for the percieved protection of my readers…

      Take care,

  4. I’m sorry what happened with the psychiatrist, but in your answer to Kerro you have written such good news!!! I’m so glad that the ACC approved more sessions 🙂 and with the work therapist and your friend at work…. I’m so happy for you, that finally something good happens!!! 🙂
    Many warm safe hugs if ok (((((CG)))))

    • Thank you LostShadowChild… I really hope I read similar good news about your continued funding for therapy soon!

      (((Warm safe hugs))) if they are wanted 🙂
      Take care,

  5. Hi, Castorgirl;

    I’ve been reading your blogs, but this is my first reply. I just wanted to say that I think you read and responded to your situation very well.

    Reading about your experience with the psych doc (and friend) reminded me of several experiences I had when I first moved to a city. I was used to warm, fuzzy practitioners and was not prepared for the metropolitan crowd control that became my experience for about three years. My first response was to rip into the intern for lecturing and shaming me for having tried to commit suicide. I did not have an “upside” to balance the experience with, that day, but things eventually got better.

    Good going!

    • Hi Meredith,

      Thanks for commenting 🙂

      I know I can be dysfunctional in my interpretation of events, but I’m usually pretty good at reading people; and this psychiatrist either should never have been one, or should have retired a long time ago. It’s interesting that you mention the metro comparison, as this psychiatrist told me in detail that he usually worked in the local psychiatric ward, and was doing this consultation because so many of the normal crisis psychiatrists weren’t available and someone from the crisis team had requested I be seen. So he didn’t really want to be there, and it was like the equivalent of the metro psychiatrist being forced into doing a one off consultation in some small hick town.

      I’m sorry you got the lecture. There is a time and place for lectures, and that isn’t one of them. I know interns have it tough and have a lot to learn, so you may well have done them a favour with the telling off – it might have opened their eyes a little (she says hopefully).

      I’m glad you’re still here.

      I’m glad there was an eventual balancing… I know that “eventual” can seem like a lifetime.

      Take care,

  6. I’m sorry about the awful experience with the psychiatrist, but I’m overjoyed that some good things have happened for you as you wrote in your previous comments. I’m really glad you were able to confide to your cynical friend about what you’re experiencing. Sharing our pain (when appropriate) with others can be a healing experience.

    Take good care.

  7. W/the Gov’t p-doc I went to only once. He kept a female w/him in the room at all times. MY GP is female. My GYN is male. They asked if I wanted a female to come into the room w/him. I said I didn’t care. Guess they could see I was kinda so so, so a nurse came in too and just stood there.
    Just protocol.
    There are some good p-docs out there…..tho I’ve yet to meet one….
    I am glad you have more sessions w/Allison and that your friend took what you said OK.
    And that workplace T is kind 🙂
    Good for you to see the good things.
    I have found it difficult and impossible sometimes, but working hard to find the good things in life(like the cat) is very very helpful to me when I can do it.
    Like the fact I have a roof over my head and am not in the street. My kids are ok mostly. My dog is sweet….
    Sometimes its hard tho.

    • Hi Ones,

      This was the first time I’ve ever had another person in the room without my permission – that’s with past experiences in seeing both male and female mental health professionals. An important distinction, is that you were asked if you wanted someone there with you, at no point was I asked if it was alright. Then to leave the door wide open into a busy corridor… It may have been policy, but I’ve never encountered it before. He could have handled the situation differently and thought about his client rather than just himself.

      I have met a couple of excellent psychiatrists – one within the crisis team and one privately. They are out there.

      Take care,

      • I suddenly realized, tonight, that I have had good psych docs… and crappy psych docs. I think that the psych docs who ‘deal’ with DID are, what I call, Birkenstock Doc Stops. Those who just can’t go out on that DID limb are working from a different side of the brain. I don’t think it’s personal, I don’t think it’s political, I just think it has to do with the way various minds are wired.

        It was such an epiphany–thought it might be an interesting thing to share.


        • Hi Meredith,

          That’s a really interesting way of looking at it…

          I wonder if they’re wired differently, or whether they’re coming from a place of empathy and understanding? Hmm… maybe that is the same thing?

          The excellent psychiatrists that I’ve encountered haven’t talked about diagnoses with me. Instead, they’ve talked about the symptoms I’m facing and what they can do to help me manage them. They haven’t made judgments about me, or why I’m experiencing the symptom… they’ve just accepted the bunch of symptoms I come with and try to work with me on them. Gentle is a word that comes to mind. But while they are gentle in their care of you, they have huge strength and knowledge to support that care.

          The worst psychiatrists I’ve encountered have been arrogant and have often made up their mind about you before you even step in the door. They seem to be tired of you, the mental health system, their work and life in general. They have the personality of a dead bug, and guard that pretty well too.

          There is a huge difference between a psychiatrist who wants to be there, and one who doesn’t. There’s a huge difference between a psychiatrist who is competent and one who got straight A’s, but has the bedside manner of a dead bug. Are they wired differently? Possibly so… Interesting… thanks for the comment 🙂

          Take care,

      • Your right, it was incredibly poorly handled. I re read what you wrote. I think the first time I didn’t read it, or I guess it was more it didn’t go in. Sometimes that happens to me. With my own writings too. Sorry.
        I cannot beleive they didn’t realize it was a conflict when she is a student in the same institution as you work. Open doors? Bizarre and I sorry it happened to you that way.
        One day maybe I’ll meet a good p-doc….

  8. Wow. I got angry as I read this over the obvious labeling and stereotyping going on by the Psych. But, I am so happy that you have been approved for more sessions. I hate it when someone who should now better believes we are dangerous. Sheese.

    • Hi Ivory,

      There may well have been some notes on my file that indicate I’m dangerous, I don’t know. I’ve never been violent with any mental health professional – although I have been angry, yelled and sworn during a dissociative state several years ago. I usually present as I did during that session – withdrawn, anxious and with little affective response. I also know that I probably confirmed all of his assumptions of me by walking out without any medication, but it was all too much.

      Take care,

  9. Thanks to you, castorgirl, thanks to you. Thanks for sharing, thanks for being such a protective person (I understand the feeling), and of course you have the right to protect yourself as well, that absolutely doesn’t mean that you don’t care or anything wrong about you. There’s just times we’re down and feel vulnerable,that we just need to do so. Geez! we also get in bed and eat chicken
    soup when we got a cold, don’t we?. That’s just the wise thing to do. I mean it’s alright to be caring and protective and I can see you are a very good hearted person,but…you must save a portion of those good feelings for yourself too. It’s good to love,but it’s our duty to love ourselves too! Then once again…I understand the feeling. (It’s easy to talk and advice others,and then when it comes to ourselves…it doesn’t seem so easy, right?)
    Concerning to the pshychiatrist (to give him a name),well, I been there too. Actually ,I’m there right now. It’s hard to find one who has empathy and like human reactions,(at least I haven’t found one yet)and be a little less technically perfect empty shells, or dead bug personality owners like you very accurately said (you made me smile).But girl, you just gave me hope, now I know there’s got to be some good ones out there. Hopefully I’ll find the one I need someday.
    Also thanks for after reading you I don’t feel so lonely,cause I really got to think there was nobody else with the same problem.
    Seriously,those guys should be more concerned about getting A’s in Empathy and Sensitivity, but I suppose that’s not something to learn in a classroom, it’s something that goes with the person, and some people just should’ve chosen a different profession.
    Well, thanks to you all people, and very specially to you castorgirl, just keep it up mate. Life’s a constant trial, you know that for sure.So always keep in mind that you’re much stronger than you think. We are!. We have to struggle more, that makes us strong !

    Big hug ! M.

    • Hi Morna,

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting 🙂

      Yes, it’s often easier to give others advice than it is to use that advice ourselves.

      I’m sorry that you’re struggling with psychiatrists as well. There are some good ones out there, but they seem to be in fairly short supply. All I can say is to keep asking questions and trying to get your point across. I also know that can be pretty difficult at times…

      You’re definitely not the only one struggling with this sort of thing…

      Take care,

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