Several years have past,but I can still recall the anguish I felt during one particular visit with my then psychiatrist. Before I explain, let me give you just a little bit of what led up to this visit. My family doctor diagnosed me with fibromyalgia, and had been treating me for some time. After trying several different medications to manage my depression and anxiety, my doctor decided I needed more help than he could provide. He told me that I needed to see a psychiatrist; I immediately burst into tears. Before fibromyalgia I was not the crying type, especially in front of other people, but these tears gave no warning; they escaped my eyes before I knew they were even there. He asked why I was crying and I didn’t know exactly. I was supposed to be strong and able to push through this. I was supposed to be better already, and he was telling me I was worse off than I thought.
My First Psychiatrist
I went to my first psychiatrist for about a year. He tweaked my medication and I started feeling better. I told him one of my meds was making me extremely groggy in the morning, and that I thought I needed a change. His response was something like, well you don’t work so what difference does it make. Really?! I have kids, I wanted to go back to work, I wanted to get better! He didn’t get it; I stopped going.
The Worst Doctor Visit I’ve Ever Had
I eventually found a new psychiatrist. After a few visits that seemed to be going well; (at least he talked to me for more than five minutes) it all went wrong. If I thought the first psychiatrist was insensitive to my situation, I was in for a rude awakening.
This new doctor told me he knew people with fibromyalgia that got better, and that I was acting helpless. Helpless? I asked him why he felt that way. He told me that people usually came to him with goals and I didn’t seem to have any.
I couldn’t believe a doctor could be so cruel. It was horrible; I immediately started crying (again), walked out, cried all the way home and never went back. I was lost, stuck in a depressed state, struggling with anxiety that caused panic attacks, and I needed help. I was in the midst of a divorce and at an all time low. I didn’t know how I was going to be able to keep going. I had marriage problems, a disability appeal, two kids to raise, and I didn’t know how I was going to pay the bills if I didn’t get approved for disability. Couldn’t he see that he was kicking me when I was already down? It was condescending. How could he say thatword to me? It stung, it felt like a punch to the gut, I was broken.
Was I ReallyActing Helpless?
I told my parents and brother, (a doctor himself), what this doctor had told me. They listened as I cried and asked if he was right; if I was acting helpless and I just didn’t see it. My family reassured me that I was not acting helpless. Had I been acting helpless I would not have been trying so hard to get better. I had dragged myself to so many doctor appointments, physical therapy, had blood tests, neurological tests, MRIs, tried numerous medications, and went to therapy…. That Dr. was wrong. A helpless person would have simply given up on getting better. I had/have major depression and generalized anxiety disorder among other conditions, and I needed help learning how to deal with it. He expected me to have answers when all I had was questions.
We expect our doctors to be compassionate and help us. They take an oath to do no harm, and this doctor hurt me to my core. Since he was a doctor treating people with mental health issues he should have had some idea that telling me I was acting helpless would do more harm than good.
On a Brighter Note
I later found a psychologist who was very empathetic and helped me tremendously. He asked me questions and listened to my thoughts, worries and desperation. He worked with my regular family doctor on tweaking my meds, andgave me strategies to manage my condition. It helped.
Now I see a psychiatrist to manage my depression and anxiety meds. He doesn’t spend much time with me since his role is not to provide therapy, but to handle my medications. I can see that he believes what I am telling him and he shows compassion. He always asks me how I am doing. I always say that I am tired. He always questions why. Fibromyalgia I remind him. Then we talk about my medications and he tells me to call him if I have any problems. It never fails that the last thing he says to me is to go home and get some rest because I am making him tired by just looking at me. I may have to remind him of things, but he has never used words that hurt and for that, I am grateful.
Has a doctor hurt you? How did you deal with it.