This topic is very near and dear to me because of my own personal experience living with mental illness. I suffer with an array of mental illnesses and have just recently found out I mayhave been misdiagnosed or not fully diagnosed. I ‘ve been to some of the best Dr.’s and a myriad of therapists over the years.
Each and every one of these mental health professionals has, at the very least, given me food for thought and a long list of meds that do NOT work and those that kind of work and thosethat work but then stop working and I think you get the idea.
We all know our own bodies and minds well; we just need a mental health professional who actually listens to us. Have you ever tried to explain the wild hatter ride going on in your mind to someone who is sort of kind of listening but seems as if they have already made their diagnosis? I have and it’s terribly frustrating. You have so much to convey but the very nature of the illness takes away your voice. You feel as if you are rambling, or not making sense and they seem to be barely able to keep their attention on you. Those who suffer as I do know that exact moment where the pain and frustration overwhelm us and the tears start to flow. The Dr./therapist hands you the tissue box and waits with an expressionless face as you try to gather yourself and your thoughts. Before you know it, Times Up!, and off you go with a few extra tissues for the ride home and another frustrating visit is over. Don’t forget to schedule the next one before you leave.
I used to think of my psychiatrist as the final word on my mental illness. As time wore on and I do meantime, as in years, I was at a point of spinning my wheels. Three months of trying a med, doesn’t work, go two weeks without any meds, try a new one and on and on until ad nauseam.
Another frustrating few weeks until the next visit where I would ask, again and again, why am I not getting better? Why the meds aren’t working and will an increase in dosage really solve the issue? I’ve had good therapists, bad therapists and one downright weird one who thought a metal singing bowl would help. Seriously, I almost busted out laughing during that special moment. It only did one thing, made my ears ring the rest of the day.
Support is very important and I am thankful that I have good support from my daughter, and a good support person is a must with this disease, whether it’s a friend, family member, coworker, etc. we all need someone who listens and doesn’t judge but also is strong enough to say the tough things that sometimes need to be said and to also guide us toward the help we need.
My daughter finally convinced me that the Dr. and the therapist I had been seeing for years weren’t helping me. My mental illness was not being managed and I was in an ongoing circle of new meds, no meds and non‐working meds. I have tried mindfulness, meditation, praying, reading, etc. You name it I’ve tried it. Everything short Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), which quite frankly scares the bejesus out of me. Although I admit I know little about it and its effectiveness.
I was working at a great job when my mental illness decided to rear its ugly head and came back with a vengeance, I went out on disability as my job required a level of thinking that my mental illness was not allowing and an ability to handle the stress of the job which again, my mental illness was not allowing. My managers and HR Reps did not come through with the support I hoped they would and what I thought they were legally bound to give. That is another story for another day.
As I travel this bumpy pothole ridden road of life with mental illness I have a few pointers to share that came as a result of the bumps and bruises I sustained along the way.
If you feel that your doctor/therapist isn’t listening to you, trust your instinct. They probably aren’t and it’s time to seek someone else. I know how hard it is to find a new mental health professional and the thought of once again for, what feels like the millionth time, retelling your story. The effort can and will pay off when you find someone who listens and someone who takes the time to diagnose you correctly.
Tell someone you trust about your concerns, have them give you honest caring feedback
about your next step and ask if they will go with you. Even if they just sit in the waiting
room while you see the mental health professional
Trust yourself and your instincts. I know I mentioned this one first but it is worth
repeating. You know yourself better than anyone, if you don’t feel like what the Dr. or
Therapist is saying or prescribing, is working then ask about what is available to try.
Make sure you are comfortable with their diagnosis, read everything you can get your
hands on about your particular illness (s) if their diagnosis doesn’t seem to fit how you
feel then question them. If they don’t listen or feel as if their word is the final word
because after all they have the degree then it’s time to find a new doctor.
Lastly, BE HONEST. Tell them everything about how you feel and what you are thinking.
Tell them if you are abusing drugs or alcohol to get you through the day. It truly can be
the difference between managing your illness or slogging thru life one day at a time and
wondering if you can make it to another day alive.