“I can’t give you a magic pill to make it all go away. If there was a pill like that we would have no need for places like this and I would be out of a job.”
This was the comment my NEW psychiatrist made to me when we were discussing my medication. I had to bite my tongue so as not to be rude, but it was bursting to come out.
She also asked me to explain in my “layman’s” terms what I felt was going on, what my symptoms and issues were. Again I had to bite my tongue.
I actually dread to think what they have said about me in their team meetings and what is subsequently in my notes. However I am imagining that it states firmly that I am difficult, don’t try hard enough, or at all, and that I have to be constantly reminded that the only way for me to get well is to use the STEPPS (aka dbt) skills. Oh, and that I question my diagnosis.
“do you really think that a team of qualified professionals could misdiagnose you?”
Mmmm…I said no. But it was awkward and I felt somewhat ganged up on given that my care co-cordinator (cc) was there too. My cc is an approved mental health practitioner (AMHP) and the new psych was happy to tell me that she had 25 years experience of working with severely sick people with bipolar and schizophrenia.
There was a lot that went on but the main point is about the medication and the general tone of this first meeting. I admit I was absolutely terrified of having to go by myself especially given my last psychiatrist appointment was a wash out.
From the get go it seemed like I was being put in my place. That questioning the “professionals” was unacceptable in my position.
Furthermore, I am an addict as far as they are concerned which obviously means that I am after the strongest drugs possible and unwilling to use the therapy that I am doing for a second time.
I got incredibly angry and got up to walk out. I felt yet again that I wasn’t being listened to and that more crappy, fucked up assumptions had been made about me. I felt like I was being made out like I was a hypercondriac or that worse I want to be more unwell with something else. To be honest, I’d rather be physically unwell than ever have any form of mental illness. At least there are real tests and investigations that can be carried out. With mental health it seems that you are not allowed to have an opinion, voice your concerns or even perhaps not make progress despite all the medicine they prescribe and therapy they throw at you. The ‘expert opinion” of the psychiatrist is pretty much what you are then labelled with.
Borderline personality disorder (bpd) is sadly one of the most misunderstood, and difficult mental illnesses to treat. In part the medication cannot undo any trauma that someone should present with, only talking therapy and learning to manage it can even get close to making that better. But the mood swings, anxiety, depression etc seem to be put firmly into the hands of the sufferer too. It’s apparently not ok to say that a high dose of medication isn’t working. “There is no magic pill.” I quite agree there isn’t. But there are things that can take the edge off or stabilise a particular symptom and surely it’s ok to expect the one person who can prescribe you with medication to understand that. It’s not like I expect the medicine to change my life, my past…but perhaps it can help prevent such severe depression and anxiety which then cause hideous thoughts of suicide and risky behaviour. I’m not after a magic cure, if only there was one, but I do want to function again.
What I find the hardest to understand is that listening to what I have to say is something that none of them are really willing to do. I’m not sure what I have to do to prove to them I am trying and that I am willing to do whatever it takes to get my life back. I hate feeling like this. I hate the affect it has on my family.
Their diagnosis is based on the trauma I have experienced. It is based on what I tell them in that moment. They seem to be unwilling to consider anything other than bpd. They haven’t even spoken to people who know me the best, like my husband. Surely another person’s input is important when coming up with a definitive diagnosis.
Whether we like it or not, a diagnosis does make a difference. When you’re seeking help to get well you have to disclose what your illness is. On benefits forms, going to university or college, sometimes it’s advisable to disclose when applying for a job. You can’t runaway from it, especially when you know that it will impact how are you and what you are entitled to.
I know I have bpd and I’ve never really disputed it. I haven’t liked it…scratch that, I hate it. But I can see quite clearly at times how the bpd comes out. But it’s so closely related to bipolar and not all my symptoms are so clear cut…but I’m not allowed to question that, I’m not allowed to suggest they speak to my husband or any of my friends who have seen me more frequently in a number of different situations. Instead, I have to shut up and like what they are doing.
Since my diagnosis I have felt more and more that my opinion isn’t valid. I get spoken to like I am a complete imbecile and I am really struggling to feel that I have their support.
The psychiatrist was not horrible and did listen to some of what I had to say, but only tiny bits where the care co-cordinator was there to back up what I was saying.
However when the psychiatrist was reviewing my meds, one of her final comments to me was that ‘this was all that she could do for me.’ Meaning that she would not prescribe me any other medication.
The emphasis being placed firmly on my shoulders that I have to make the dbt work and that I have to accept that I have bpd. Nothing is going to cure it, I have to do that myself!
I broke down during that session and sobbed like I have never done in front of any professional. I couldn’t stop them from falling and I left the appointment in tears.
There is more that happened but for now, this is all I feel able to write. I’m withdrawing from one med and adjusting to am increase of another, so I’m not feeling too good.