Not a doctor just my stories
Dr. Old School
So I was finally ready to see a psychiatrist. I was in a bad patch, and after twenty-five years of talk therapy and a decent understanding (I thought) of my issues I knew I was in trouble. Previously my attitude was I did not want to feel better and it be “fake” so I had trundled along.
My therapist recommends a psychiatrist, who was very old school and just well old and very learned, a professor, no couch but I may as well have been paging Dr. Freud. I saw him for a consult and two sessions. I would talk and talk and talk and he would take notes. I waited.
Finally he suggested something but I had no feedback or a diagnosis. I had always classified myself as a depressive so I did not ask any questions. I do like to understand everything that is going on with me though, it helps me. Looking back I am surprised I did not press him further. Maybe because I was in new territory.
He recommends Abilify or Lamotrogine. He still gives me no diagnosis or explains the drugs except that Lamotrogine can have a side effect of very bad rashes and a one in blah blah number of people have serious complications and one in like a 100,000 death. I am never good with odds, I just assume it will be me. Which one did I want to try? I remember thinking are you kidding me? Do I want the death rash one or the other one? Abilify please.
I start to take it. I go into a euphoric state, super motivated, have a great three weeks. Meds are fantastic! Then I crash and I crash hard. I can barely function, I was at work staring at the computer screen and felt I could not remember how to do my job. I keep going outside to call my husband I am in hysterics and a fog.
Hubby tells me to call my therapist and he will meet me there. I call her and tell her I am having a breakdown. I cab over and I walk into her office and she looks at me and calls the psychiatrist right away because my pupils were pinpricks, she was very distressed and said I was dissociating.
Dissociation is a mental process that causes a lack of connection in a person’s thoughts, memory and sense of identity. Yup big time.
I get on the phone and start babbling and he says “Oh, just stop taking it” Dude, really?? That’s all you got for me? I don’t know ANYTHING about drugs or what is wrong with me. AAAARRRRGGGGHHHHH When my husband and I had looked up Abilify on WebMd (don’t do this, really don’t for anything) it said it was for epilepsy. Without context this kind of nugget will freak you out more.
I am done with Dr. Old School. We check in with my family and my bro-law has a cousin who had used a psychiatrist for her daughter and she says he literally had saved her life.
Dr. C likes to see patients with family members, spouses, significant others if possible because he likes a baseline. We go to see him and I tell him I had taken Abilify and it had made me “crazy.” He says okie doke no Abilify. I had had tachyphylaxis (fancy word bad reaction to meds–he is an md he can’t help himself.)
He asks questions, I start talking and do four to forty-five in an hour and focus on any “weirdness” and context around my behavior. As I am doing my autobiography I note a few things literally for the first time. I’ve got a LOT of sh*t to unpack.
I had worn a back brace for scoliosis for seven years and had had a back operation when I was nineteen. Maybe that back brace had given me some body issues and sexual immaturity? Hmmm
I had spent years of my adulthood binge watching TV buying box sets of shows I liked and every spare minute spent watching them. Extreme anxiety and stress? Hmmm Shopping addiction Hmmm
I did not think I would ever fall in love or get married. I was boring, not attractive, I didn’t deserve it. Depression maybe? Self hatred? This was after a few boyfriends Hmmm
My dad had died right before I met my husband. Grief, trauma? I had had two miscarriages by the time I was sitting in front of the doc. Grief, trauma? Lord
When running it all together I actually felt stupid that I had been trying to suck all this up and still did not realize anything might be going on with my brain or I had had some serious crap go on. I had always lived with my stuff, I had nothing to compare it to I thought this was how things were with me.
Dr. C. gives me a diagnosis. Huzzah! Angels sing! Information!
I was bipolar, had generalized anxiety disorder, smidge of panic, smidge of agoraphobia, smidge of depression. I am definitely manic, racing thoughts, super fast talker etc. He recommends, drumroll, Lamotrogine. Here comes the death rash.
Reality, Doc Old School had diagnosed me as bipolar and suggested the right meds but his method was the worst possible one for me.
We discuss the Lamotrogine–a mood stabilizer. He tells me about the rash. Let’s start on the smallest dose 25 mg and if it helps dose up slowly. He also puts me on Clonazapam for anxiety and it has a mild anti-depressant.
I get the rash within a day but here is the thing about Dr. C. The man doesn’t sleep. He is a researcher, scientist, sees severely disturbed patients and does psycho-pharmacology (me) He is reachable if you are having an emergency and he tells me the following; if I get the rash take a picture of it and text it to him which I thought was hilarious.
I remember when it started I went into the bathroom at work taking pictures of my thighs. I got welts and they would spread until my legs were one big patch of rash. Saving grace no itching, and it never went to my face ( I can be a little vain right?) Whatever picture I sent him it was fine. So, I calmed down about the rash.
He also told me meds were a process and we would be tweaking for months. I mention cutting out caffeine and he says that might be a good idea. I know he was thinking duh but was so polite. Mellow yellow this guy.
This has been a long post and I have lots of opinions about meds so I will make it a multi-part segment. I also will eventually list all my TV, movie, and entertainment obsessions from age four till today, should be amusing. I still watch tons of TV it helps slow my brain down.
Until next time