When I was diagnosed with bipolar d/o in 1986 in New Orleans, my doctor at the time was an exceptional one. He was there for me whenever I needed him, in fact he even opened his clinic on weekends if one of his patients needed him. He listened to me, he prescribed state of the art medicines, he adjusted the doses when my side effects got too severe. When I went into hypomanic phases, he kept in very close touch with me, talking to me daily and adjusting my meds daily. I even had him as my psychiatrist when I moved out of town, even out of the United States to Turkey! We had phone sessions and it worked well. I still think he was one of the best doctors I had, empathetic, always there, listened to everything I told him. Finally, he took a job as the head of the Psychiatry department at a state hospital after hurricane Katrina wiped out not only New Orleans but his private practice as well. After that, he couldn’t be my doctor because he didn’t have insurance to see private patients anymore. I was pretty devastated. He had been with me since this awful, hellish roller coaster ride began, from 1985 to 2005, 20 years! All through the ups and downs and smooth patches. Of course, it had been hardest in the beginning and he had walked me through it. Through my first full blown manic phase, when I called him at 3 am screaming and yelling about people trying to prove I was schizophrenic, ugh … He was there when my husband proposed to me and we got married, there when I moved to Istanbul and the stresses that brought on, he was there when my son was born, a very joyous occasion. He was there (on the phone) when I bought my first house. In short, he was there through many major milestones in my life. I, haha, of course, tried to talk him into seeing me any way. But he didn’t concur… I was very upset, it is always a very traumatic time when you change psychiatrists. Of course, I was afraid I wouldn’t find anyone as good as him, who would understand me and listen to me and be such a good psychopharmacologist and psychotherapist. And I lived through this stress and went to a few psychiatrists who didn’t mesh with me (and one who sexually harasses me) and I suffered. Then in 2008 I found my next amazing psychiatrist. He listened, treated me extremely well, was trained in the psychoanalytic fashion and knew about drugs as well. However, to my dismay, he retired in 2011. Then again, a couple of years of limbo and one awful psychiatrist later, we moved to Louisville. I came to Louisville in very bad shape. Too many stresses, selling our house, leaving my son behind in Buffalo, leaving all my friends behind, one very, very sick beloved cat, and MOST importantly of all, I constantly took sub therapeutic levels of Lithium. I came to Louisville in an almost full blown manic phase and here I found the best doctor I’ve ever had. I was so lucky! He is extremely intelligent, works for the University, he has his own lab, he teaches, he is up on ALL the latest research and he treats patients and is an expert in mood disorders. I hit the jackpot with him, haha. I am so glad he is my doctor. He knew to increase my Synthroid dosage when my endocrinologist didn’t know. He knew that because Lithium blocks the action of thyroid hormone, I should be on higher levels of Synthroid. He has me on safe and therapeutic levels of Lithium and Seroquel. I am hoping, for my sake and my family’s, that he doesn’t retire any time soon. Fingers crossed.
But if there is one thing that my relationships with all my psychiatrists have taught me, it is that no matter what, I will survive. I will miss the good ones, and I will not look back on the bad ones, but I will survive. And so will you, my fellow readers, writers, moms, dads, brothers and sisters, my fellow people. Both you and I, we will. We have coping skills, we have communication skills, we have resilience. We will survive and we will thrive.