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.