Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Psychiatrist Appointment Tomorrow

Tomorrow, I let another professional be apart of my health care team. I have been without a psychiatrist since December and I felt that perhaps it would be good to have another key player on my side again.

You see, I have been without a psychiatrist since December 2011- Christmas time. I really connected with my last psychiatrist, "Dr. R", as he was down to earth and willing to help in anyway I would let him. I had been working with him since August of 2007 as I knew I needed someone who specialized in medication in my corner. I started working with him after a three month hospital stay at the Nova Scotia Hospital and a seven week Day Treatment program in the city. I left these programs with enough medication to sink a ship so I knew that a psychiatrist would be helpful for management.

I have had a few psychiatrist in my life over the years and I can see more advantages than disadvantages when it comes to care. Psychiatrists have a lot more knowledge on what is out there for medication should I require some pharmaceuticals to aid in my goal to recovery. They also know about other therapies or treatments should I choose to go that route opposed to the medication side of things.

So, I feel this is a good choice in my life. Mind you, it was indeed hard to find another psychiatrist who I may work well with or who was willing to see me. There is such a shortage when it comes to good doctors especially within the mental health realm. I had been referred to this new psychiatrist "Dr.J" in 2004 initially. However, at the time I was 18 years old and I did not understand the benefits of having a psychiatrist in my life. Also at that time I was struggling with my mental health and thus I missed the appointment without notifying the office. I was referred back in 2007 and I had planned to attend the appointment but once again I fell ill. I was hospitalized at the time and I asked the nurses to call and cancel the appointment for me so that I would not be penalized for another missed appointment. After I was discharged from the hospital my family doctor followed up with Dr.J to see if I could get another appointment. She was told that they were not willing to see me as I had been a "no show" yet again. The door was closed for seeing Dr.J in 2007.

It was not until this year that I thought it was important to have a psychiatrist on my team. I was referred to another psychiatrist after Dr.R left however this particular person stated that they did not want to see me unless I was ill and that they felt there was no reason to meet me when I was well. With this statement- I felt that this would not be a good fit for me as in order for me to be willing to see a psychiatrist when I am ill, then I must have developed some sort of trust with the person.

The hardest time of the year for me seems to be winter time when the days get shorter, there is less sun, it is cold out, and it is harder to get places. Christmas is also a trigger for me as well. I suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) among other things. So, having a psychiatrist and a relationship started is very imperative to my health before the snow flies. I decided this year I would also try to go off my medication and relay solely on my Light Box to get through the winter time along with getting out of the house and staying active in mental health advocacy. I feel no change since I have been off my medication however am proceeding with caution as winter comes upon us. I do not want a repeat from the last time I went off my medication winter 2010/2011. Another good reason to have a psychiatrist on my side.

So, with that being said I figured I would take the matter into my own hands and self advocate to see if that would change Dr.J's mind. My medical doctor had tried to refer me again this year to see him however there was no response. So, I decided that I needed to write a letter to him explaining the complex story starting at  the beginning of the saga in 2004. I wrote the letter in a professional manner and outlined why I felt that I needed to have a psychiatrist on my side along with other details that were prevalent in nature. It was not long after that I received a phone call from one of his secretaries with an appointment time. So, this goes to show that sometimes self advocacy pays off when it comes to asking for what you need. I was indeed satisfied that I got a response and that I did not have to write anymore letters to him- one was enough!

So, I am really hoping that this visit goes well and that I am able to work with Dr.J. This is my only fear- that our personalities will conflict and that he will not be in agreement for me to not be on medication. But, I figure that if he is on my side then I hope that he is supportive in what I choose to do with my life if I am doing well. I am sure he will- but its still a fear. Its normal to over think things when something new comes up.

I am hoping for the best tomorrow. This appointment is a two hour visit as it is the first visit and he wants to take down history and everything. I like it that he is through in that sense as I have never had an appointment that was that long before with any other psychiatrist to gather information. It shows that he wants to fully understand and gather information to help with treatment options. Its a good thing in my mind. Dr.J only has the information on file on what my doctor sent to him and my letter- he knows nothing else about me. This is a good thing because then he cannot be tainted by what negative experiences I have had in the past with professionals who have judged me and diagnosed me too fast, slapping a label on me, giving me pills, and sending me home.

I am looking forward to this visit tomorrow. A new chapter with a new psychiatrist... lets hope it is a positive experience.

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