"What's wrong with you?"

"You’re the most promising person that’s walked through my doors in a long time."

So says the new psychiatrist I went to see today. It was a pretty funny visit but worthless. I’m not sure that this post will communicate that effectively.

Dr. X works out of her home. I arrived at her home sometime around 10:15. I parked aways down the street since I wasn’t sure exactly where her house was located. I get out of the car and walk up to the street to her home surrounded by lush bushes, blooming flowers, and tall trees. She has a sign on her front door that has her full name on it with M.D. at the end. Ok, I thought, this should be interesting.

My thoughts didn’t disappoint. A petite, frail, old woman – maybe in her late 60s/early 70s – opened the door and grinned at me upon my arrival. I instantly knew at that moment I wouldn’t be coming back. Judging her appearance, I figured that she might not be the best person to help me with my treatment. (Yes, I am being judgmental.)

We briefly shook hands and made our introductions. I did a quick survey of her home from what I could see and it certainly was absolutely gorgeous. Dr. X lives in the suburbs of Philly, best known as "The Main Line." Her home was large and spacious. It wasn’t a mansion; it was one of those large, nice homes that Dr. X had probably moved in during the 1950s or so and always lived there as the housing price value went up. Everything was neat and in order. Not a cat, dog, or mouse – or another person – to be found.

She ushered me into her office and told me to sit in the "rocking chair." Oh no, I thought to myself. This is the crazy patient’s chair. However, I complied with her command and sat down, gazing around the small office. A desk sat diagonally in the right-hand back corner of the room with enough space for her to slide in and out of. She slowly walked over to her desk and handed me a clipboard with a slight tremor in her hands, I suspect, from old age.

The clipboard held an insurance form and I proceeded to fill all the required sections out. She stops me
and tells me not to fill out the employment questions. I looked at her quizzically.

"Ok," I replied while silently thanking God that I’d ignored that section.

She told me that the form was a Worker’s Comp Form and if I filled that stuff out, then my claim would get denied.

Great.

I finished filling out the form and she reminded me that there was one last bit of business: the co-pay.

I fished through my tiny purse and confidently pulled out my wallet to grab the $20 I’d stashed in my purse. I open my wallet and the $20 isn’t there.

Wait, I know I put it in my purse.

Then it dawns on me that today happened to be "Marissa carries multiple purses day." In my mad rush out of the house, I grabbed another purse that I use for work and stuffed my cash in there in addition to a checkbook in the event that she didn’t have change. I told her that I had to run to the car because I left my money there.

I ran down the street to my car, backed it up (half a block) in front of her house, and just snatched the cash from my other purse. So much for my laziness. In retrospect, I wish I’d left the car down the street.

I run back inside where Dr. X is calmly waiting for me with her nice, old lady grin. She holds out 5 ones to me as I slip the $20 bill in her hand. As we walk back into the office, I quickly survey her home once more. Everything is neat, orderly, and clean. Does she live alone?

I stopped wondering about her life after she closed the door and I sat in the crazy patient’s chair. She asked me about my life.

I slowly delve into the beginnings of my depression with my first suicidal attempt at age 14. She sits on her red, velvet couch right across from me nodding her head solemnly, patting her right hand on the couch’s arm.

She’s not taking notes. How is she supposed to remember this?

I forge ahead with my history as she stops and interrupts me with various questions:

Dr. X: Where are you from?

Me: Long Island.

Dr. X: Where on Long Island?

Me: Near Hofstra University.

Dr. X: I’m originally from Garden City. It’s changed so much. I drove up there the other day to see friends and nothing looks familiar anymore. Roosevelt Field Mall wasn’t there when I grew up.

Wow. She drives to NY? By herself? This little, ol’ lady?

Dr. X: Well…

I notice "well" is her favorite word and the ubiquitous segue throughout our session.

She asks me other questions, which I answer:

  • Were you born here? (Yes.)
  • Where are your parents from? (An island in the Caribbean.)
  • So they’re immigrants? (Yes.)
  • Does your husband love you? (Yes. I have the most amazing, supportive husband in the world. I’m very lucky.)
  • Did you graduate from college? (Yes. A degree in print journalism.)
  • You have a job? (Kind of. I work contract.)
  • What brings you here? (I’m on Lamictal, have bipolar disorder, left my job and my health insurance behind so I need a psychiatrist covered under my husband’s plan.)
  • Why are you on medication? (Bipolar disorder, rages, mixed episodes, multiple suicide attempts.)
  • Do you have kids? (No.)
  • Do you get along with your in-laws? (Yes. Quite well, actually.)
  • Are your parents still alive? (Father died in 2001; mother is still alive and working in NY.)
  • Brothers or sisters? (Nope. Only child.)
  • You have a supportive husband, a wonderful family, a Bachelor’s Degree, you’re able to hold down a job, you seem pretty competent with the ability to find a new job if you wanted to get one, you’re 26 and young, you have your whole life ahead of you. Now, why would you want to kill yourself? (That’s a good question. That’s why I’m here. I’m not sure.)

Well, she wasn’t sure either. She hit some of the perfectionist part of my life and offered to be my therapist on a regular basis. I told her that under my other health insurance plan, I was required to get a therapist separately from my psychiatrist (for whatever reason). My therapist isn’t covered under insurance hence the reason I wanted a psychiatrist that is.

She said she could prescribe an extension of meds if I needed it but she recommended that I come off the Lamictal as soon as I could. She added that she was willing to help me do that. The offer sounded enticing but given my recent experience on going down to 100 – I’m more than a little scared. I’m having Paxil syndrome. I feel fine when I’m on it but when I try to come off it, I start having side effects so I go back on it so I can feel fine again. (Repeat x 365 days per year)

At this point in the session, I realized we weren’t making any progress. My problem: I have a life full of blessings and I don’t want to live. I even admitted that I’m an ungrateful brat. Then she summed up my life in the most positive way possible:

"You’re the most promising person that’s walked through my doors in a long time. You have a great life. How on earth could you be depressed?"

I wouldn’t be paying her money if I could figure that out on my own, now would I?

Back to the drawing board.

4 Comments

  1. Jim said,

    May 29, 2008 at 8:50 am

    In her defense, I think she saw you correctly. You’ve got a lot going for you. I can see that simply from the posts that you write and the few emails we’ve traded.
    The second half of her response leaves me puzzled and you’re probably right not to let her treat you… but I think she was right on with the first part.

  2. May 29, 2008 at 9:09 am

    UGH I can feel your frustration. Where’s the “Bang Head Here” sign when you need it?
    I agree with Jim, though, she did list your blessings quite accurately. It’s our brains that’s messin’ with us.

  3. Jazz said,

    May 29, 2008 at 10:46 am

    “You have a great life. How on earth could you be depressed.”
    I don’t know, that sounds like something my mother would say…not something I would expect to hear from someone who is supposed to be helping you deal with it.
    Just my two coppers…

  4. May 30, 2008 at 3:04 pm

    Following your instinct is usually right on in this kind of situation. I think I would have felt the same meeting with this woman. She sounds like an interesting character, just not what you need in a psychiatrist. Although I’m having a hard time imagining what sort of person she might be beneficial to…maybe someone who simply has situational problems?


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