I've wondered what the psych doctor at the hospital wrote in my charts. But I've never actually gone to read them. Until today, when I was looking through my previous primary care provider's file for me (they gave me an electronic copy so that I could pass it on to my next primary care provider, and said I could make myself a copy...). This would only be the summary. And it was interesting. And it supported my suspician.
My first psychiatrist seemed to have preconceived notions about me. He also seemed to view me out of his particular lens. A lens that said my problems were largely just coping skills. That I had very deficient coping skills and was struggling to live on my own after living at home. And that I had borderline traits. He seemed a bit stuck on that due to my having a relative that he treated who had borderline personality disorder.
And then there is me from that time. The agreeable me. If a counselor said, you might be having trouble living on your own; it is a big move to start living on your own (never mind that I had moved to Puerto Rico for two school years without anybody I had previously known). And I would be like, yeah, it's hard. Of course it is hard! I was depressed!!!
There was the counselor who talked to us as a group about being codependent. I immediately hopped on that bandwagon. That must be a problem I have. I depend to much on people. I even didn't tell one of my friends that I was calling from the hospital (she was a couple states away on vacation and invited me to come see her after she returned). I didn't tell her because I didn't want to bother her. And because I didn't want to be codependent.
Because you know me; suggest I have a problem, and suddenly I can see it. If you give me a few hours including time away from the person suggesting the problem, I might realize that that isn't the case. But if I'm in the hospital for depression? Really? Of course I'd be agreeable.
Which was probably good since I've heard that the disagreeable aren't released as fast.
Anyway, about my cartoon I'd drawn the doctor to try to express myself (I can express myself, but I do so better in writing or in cartoons usually, because then I can think it through without the anxiety of talking to someone changing what I say), the dear doctor took it strangely. As in, he thought I had a strange way of expressing myself, a rather fantasy way. He said, (approximate quote), "clearly" the thoughts I was attributing to the star person were my own thoughts.
DUHH! Okay, allow me to explain something: Yes, Dr., I was trying to express my thoughts to you. No, I was not confused about who was thinking those thoughts. It was late at night, I couldn't sleep, I like drawing star people, I wanted to express myself to you and it wasn't working so well, so I drew a star person cartoon! Seriously? I thought that was simple creativity, not poor coping skills.
Alas, that doctor seemed nice, but I grew to dislike him, and I wasn't the only one. He was a behavioralist with depression. Fix your actions, fix your depression. Maybe cognitive behavioralist. He liked CBT stuff. Change your thoughts, change your actions, cure your depression. Hence, my problem would have to be life stress and poor coping skills. He told me, at my last visit, that if I had schizophrenia, it would be different. If I had schizophrenia, I'd need medication, and that would be about all I could do. But with depression? The medication was just to let me do the therapy work I needed to do so that I could feel better.
That, and the fact that since I didn't respond as wished to two SSRIs then I must have a depressive personality disorder that wouldn't respond to antidepressants, and the marvelous fact that I got onto my parents insurance for a year and a half, is why I switched psychiatrists.
Well, the Dr wasn't all bad. Let's not jump into black and white thinking, since that can cause depression. He did recognize that my counselor was helpful to me. And when he said I was improved when I left the hospital, he was right. And he was the Dr. that passed on another doctor's words... well, actually, one of the hospital counselors did, too... see my thoughts as ships going by on the horizon. Let them come and go. And doing that to my probably obsessive suicidal ideation did actually help me.
And with the counseling I got at the hospital, I did get a jump start into learning to love myself. Which still sounds so contrary to the way I grew up. Perhaps sinful or at least prideful. But now I know it is important.
And finally, remaining from that hospitalization I have something like a $5,000 debt to pay back - it is a no-interest medical loan from my county. So I'm paying it back $50 a month as agreed. And I really am grateful for the loan. Just I'm also a little grumpy knowing that other people have gotten that sort of thing written off... my counselor is in the neighboring state and she tells me it would have been written off by now in that state.
Wow, I wasn't going to end up grumping about finances.
The side story is, I'm really grateful for the new healthcare legislation that has enabled me to get back on insurance. So trash it as you will, but I'm still grateful.
The moral of the story is, my mental health journey wasn't all pleasant. But then again, I don't know how being severely depressed can be pleasant even if there was an absolutely perfect doctor helping you. Reading about my depression and OCD experience from my primary care provider's notes was saddening, too. It was just a hard time. And reading the papers from the other side, I know I wasn't always understood. But sometimes I was understood. And either way, I'm out the other side now, at least for the most part.
And now I get to prepare to see a new primary care provider tomorrow. Yay. Reopen my medical history. I'd better hurry towards bed tonight.