Quitting my psychiatrist

A few weeks after I see Dr L, I receive a copy of his notes on our meeting in the post. I’ve so far appreciated this (apart from when the letter went to a neighbour by accident), as it keeps me in the loop with what he is recording from our conversations. I was unsure what to expect this time around, after our last meeting being such a disaster.

Last week, he called me to check in, as I’d been in such a state when I last saw him. The call was scheduled for my birthday, which was bad timing, but also easier as I was off work. I decided to make sure I wasn’t hostile to him on the phone. And actually, the call was fine because he started off by joking about being the last person I probably wanted to talk to on my birthday. That enabled me to warm to him and be friendly.

However, he didn’t change my mind about his lack of care about my treatment. He said I had to keep going with the Brintellix, at least until I see him again next month. I told him I wouldn’t promise anything, because I didn’t want to get into another argument by saying I wasn’t planning to continue with it. So he doesn’t yet know that I stopped taking it a week ago.

This decision wasn’t a knee-jerk reaction to how he has treated me lately. At first, I was worried that it was. I thought about it carefully, because I didn’t want to stop taking it just to spite him. Well I did want to do that, but I knew it wasn’t the right reason. I’ve been reading a lot about the total lack of evidence supporting antidepressant treatment outcomes (a great book called ‘A mind of your own’). It’s something I have always felt instinctively, but it’s been good having that gut feeling validated by the research. So I don’t think this decision is a purely emotional one.

The problem now is that I have to choose what I am going to do instead of hoping the drugs will work. When I think about it, I mostly feel like there’s no hope, because I no longer believe in the ‘easy’ route of taking pills to feel better. I know I have to stop drinking. And I have to start eating properly. My wife is very keen that I see a dietitian and get a food plan in place. At the moment, that feels like a pointless expense, because the idea of having to eat thoughtfully and regularly scares me. That feels too big.

In the past few weeks, I’ve really felt like the two professionals I respect and trust to help me in my recovery had somehow ganged up against me. I knew that J had spoken to Dr L before I saw him. I don’t know what they talked about, as neither of them shared anything about it with me. But after Dr L was so unpleasant to me and I talked to J about it, I felt she agreed with him and I had nobody in my corner. They have both recently reminded me that they can’t ‘do it for me’ and I have to help myself. This is true of course, but it’s not what I want to hear.

When I got Dr L’s notes at the weekend, I was utterly furious about how he’d written up the meeting. He’d totally missed out important stuff, got other things completely wrong, and then assessed me as being ‘low risk’. In his words, ‘because Laura is ambivalent about suicide, I feel that she is at low risk’. I agree that I am ambivalent, but when I’m in the dark end of that scale, I am absolutely not at low risk. He also noted I was at ‘low risk of neglect’, which couldn’t be less accurate. Some days I eat almost nothing and I am increasingly underweight. Is that not neglect?

Dr L also wrote in a very clumsy way about the conversation we had in which he told me I have to take responsibility for myself, and basically stop ‘enjoying’ it when I am suicidal. He pretty much wrote, ‘I explained to Laura that she needs to take some responsibility for her actions, particularly regarding her use of alcohol’. It really upset me to be reminded of how blaming and upsetting that discussion was. And the way he phrased this is patronising and disrespectful.

I usually give J a copy of these notes when I get them, but I hesitated this time. I’d spent the whole weekend feeling hugely angry about the letter, and I was worried that she wouldn’t think it was so bad. In a lot of situations, I often feel like I am overreacting. In this case, I didn’t want that to be confirmed by her saying something that sounded like she was defending him. At the same time, I wanted to talk to her about it because it has really upset me. I wanted her to validate my feelings on it.

Anyway, I had the notes in my pocket during our session yesterday, but was nervous about sharing them with her. Right at the end of the session, I mentioned it, so I could leave without having to discuss it much. I gave her the letter as I left, knowing that I wouldn’t be seeing her for a week and my anger about the whole thing will have cooled down by then.

Later, I received a text from J to say that the letter had made her angry too. It was such a huge relief. I instantly felt less like a crazy person for finding it so infuriating. It’s good to know that she won’t be ‘on his side’ when I talk to her about it next week. And I need to discuss it with her, because I don’t know what to do about my appointment with him. I don’t know if I should just cancel and write to him to explain why I won’t be seeing him again, or whether I should go and ask to be discharged officially from his care. The problem I face is that I can’t change consultant, and if I stop seeing him I may have difficulty getting a referral again. There’s a lot to think about.


7 Comments Add yours

  1. bethanyk says:

    We hired a nutritionist: cultivateholisticliving.com sarah morford. She has been fantastic. She is a life coach so she helps with all kinds of stumbling blocks, healing crisis, etc.
    we ihired her after realizing the psychiatrist was not working and the pills were just a temp fix with tons of side affects. I’m doing my own trauma therapy but nutritions I know is so important to feeling better so we have given this a try.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Laura says:

      Thanks, it’s good to hear you’ve had a positive experience with it.


      1. bethanyk says:

        Yeah, I hve to be honest I was eating junk. I knew I could do better but I also wanted some advice on some stomach issues and calming issues and herbs and things. She was helpful

        Liked by 1 person

  2. La Quemada says:

    The psychiatric nurse I am working with is not anti-meds but she also doesn’t think they are the solution to everything. So as I think I’ve told you before, I’m weaning of them. And at the same time, I am taking vitamins and supplements. She is urging me to eat mostly veggies and meat (close to a Paleo diet, which she says will be temporary but is good for reducing inflammation in the body). I like this approach although lately I feel she is very pushy about me making a ton of changes at the same time, which is just too overwhelming. I felt irritated and frustrated after our last session.

    And yet, that is nothing like your session with Dr. L. That letter seems so harsh and judgmental. Why do they forget that judgment and blame is so unhelpful? We already do that so much to ourselves!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Laura says:

      That’s useful to know. The book I am reading talks a lot about reducing inflammation in the whole body through diet, and recommends something very similar to a paleo diet too. I have a problem with that as I don’t eat meat or fish! But I am sure it could be adapted in some way. I know what you mean about too many changes at once, it can feel like far too much. It’s easier when you can just take little steps gradually.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I’m always super skeptical about everything, but I’m gradually coming around to the idea that I should look at my diet bit more closely and see if addressing the inflammation-depression link is helpful. There’s a fair bit of scientific evidence now for the link – enough so that pharmaceutical companies and psychiatrists are jumping on bandwagon with trying to medicate that away as well, one of my doctor friends who has multiple psych problems is on minocycline for its anti-inflammatory properties – but I think drugs and supplements and even ‘superfoods’ is way too narrow an approach and that it needs to be more holistic than that, looking at the whole scope of what we eat and when and why. Food means so much more than just the dry facts about the nutritional content or its physiological effects. For me there is a whole lot of meanings in the act of preparing and sharing food and celebrating with food (or withholding any of those) that relate to nurturing and caring in general and I’m sure that it is similar for many other people.

    I haven’t looked into the nitty gritty yet though – how do eggs fit in?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Laura says:

      Oh it scares me that they are now trying to medicate away the inflammation, when the science clearly shows that diet is a healthier and more effective treatment. I have really reached my limit with the drug based model, it makes me angry now. I can really recommend the book – A mind of your own. Her recommendation is similar to a ‘Paleo’ diet (not great for me as a veggie!) but she talks a lot about how fab eggs are. The diet plan in this book has eggs in it almost every day.

      Liked by 1 person

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