I don’t think he was aware of the impact his words had on me but they had an impact all right.
I’ve been in counseling for what seems most of my adult life but sometimes medication is necessary to straighten out chemical imbalances of the brain. You must see a psychiatrist for prescriptions and the process must be carried out carefully and thoughtfully. After an extended period of melancholy, I reluctantly made an appointment.
I’ve gained weight and had negative reactions to some medications in the past so I waited until I thought I couldn’t avoid it any more. I’ve also had some negative experiences with mental health professionals so I’m leery for that reason also.
To make myself clear, I have complete respect for psychologists and psychiatrists. A lot of years and hard work go into becoming a professional. I believe most are dedicated, competent and empathetic. With that said, I’ve encountered some who’ve exuded a condescending attitude and I got that nagging feeling with this doctor from the beginning.
I didn’t feel comfortable opening up about myself and my life although this gentleman was nothing but professional and affable. I felt myself making curt responses to his questions and feeling like I was being disrespectful if I asked too many.
A few appointments went by uneventfully until last week when, after being asked how things were going for me, I decided to actually tell the doctor. I mentioned some business ventures and hobbies I was involved in and I was taken completely aback by his response.
I was flattered at first when he told me he’d never seen someone with depression and anxiety function on so high a level. It wasn’t until he said I almost sounded like I was manic/depressive but that he didn’t think I was, that I got uncomfortable. He said that I was very “colorful” in my life choices.
I began to defend myself by stating the things I did were carefully planned out, organized, and sustained as long-term goals. He said a couple of times that these traits weren’t bad but that he’d never seen this in all of his thirty years of practice. I started to feel angry without knowing why.
He then wrapped up the appointment and turned off the monitor as I was getting ready to ask him a question. I sat there for a moment wondering what had just happened then went out to my car and started to cry.
I felt humiliated and misunderstood. I yelled “fuck you” at him a couple of times during the drive home. I began to realize just how angry I was and thought the incident through in search of a clue as to what had bothered me so much.
It finally hit me just before bed time: this man knew almost nothing about me and armed with only a few sentences worth of information, he completely misjudged me.
I don’t think he meant to but he’d taken the things that were most important to me – my goals, the aspirations and dreams that propel me forward in life – the things that excite me and motivate me – he’d taken the core characteristics that make me, me, and turned them into a diagnosis – a possible sign of mental illness.
He got it wrong.
I called into the clinic and explained what had happened and that I didn’t think he’d meant it but I told the schedulers I wouldn’t be seeing him again. Did I make too much about nothing? My reaction is all the proof I need that it was something.
Us patients are mentally ill but we’re not stupid. 🙂
Incidentally, the shocking revelations about myself were that I have an invention that is in development, I love to prospect for gold and am considering buying a claim, I have a blog (duh), and I’m paying someone to publish a book I wrote.
Metal detecting in my pajamas at 2:00 o’clock in the morning isn’t so strange – is it?