Friday, October 5, 2012

Finding a Psychologist - Part One

About a month before I started seeing my current therapist I had a really bad experience with a psychologist.  He.  Was.  Horrible.  In a sense, I know that I am lucky that doctor number one was horrible and doctor number two was amazing.  But I have to share about the first doctor.  Looking back, it's laughable.  At the time it was infuriating.  My first visit he double scheduled appointments.  It was me in the waiting room along with a mom and her young son.  The psychologist came out, looked at both of us, and then said he had scheduled us both at the same time.  The mom looked exhausted, said she couldn't come back later.  I know that feeling. I didn't want to make her evening hard.  I appeared calm, but on the inside was an absolute wreck.  Dealing with panic and anxiety on a daily basis, and on this particular day.  So, it was a huge step to just get to the office.  And then I get there and the doctor had made a mistake.  And I didn't want to upset this exhausted looking mom and steal a child's therapy appointment.  So I said I could wait.  The doctor pulled me aside and was like:  "Your not, umm...suicidal or anything...right?"
Seriously?!  This is the first time I have met you.  YOU scheduled me wrong.  I am here for help.  From you.  Have you even read my chart?  What if I AM here for suicidal thoughts?  Why would I tell you that now?  I would just say no and go jump off a bridge.  Oh, and thanks for planting that suicidal thought in my head, because, you know, I am here to see a doctor that helps people emotionally.  Ugh.  I hated him instantly.  But I knew that I needed help.  At the time I didn't know that I had anxiety, but I knew something was wrong and I couldn't fix it on my own.
So, I left.  Went home.  Wanted to curl up in a ball and never go out again.  But an hour later, I headed back to his office.  It was cluttered.  He was bumbling, distracted, disheveled.  But I went in with a positive attitude.  Maybe this would be a "Good Will Hunting"  type experience.  This guy looked the part of Robin Williams, and while I am not a genius, at the time I could definitely have cursed and chain-smoked my way through a couple sessions.
"Good Will Hunting"  this was not.  I explained how I had been feeling.  Anxious.  Panicked.  Not wanting to work, not wanting to be at home, scared to drive, overwhelmed with everything around me. Feelings of not being real.  His solution?  Get a housekeeper.  Get a babysitter and go on an overnight date with my husband once a month.  His exact words:  "If cleaning your house stresses you out, hire someone to do it.  I personally like cleaning my home and the satisfied feeling I get from it, but, if you don't, have someone do it for you."
Are you kidding me?  First, he tells me that I basically am lazy and don't enjoy the fulfillment of cleaning.  Then he tells me, a working mother of 2 children, to hire a maid AND take monthly weekend vacations.  Gee, why didn't I think of that?  Oh, yeah, it's because a splurge for me is Starbucks and a new top from Target.  But I don't want to paint the wrong picture here.  This guy did not give off the affluent-doc type vibe.  Like I said, very Robin Williams from "Good Will Hunting" -ish.  So, here's a guy in a sweater and corduroys with bed head telling me to just hire away all of my problems.  Thanks, Hobo Harold, but that ain't fixing anything.
But, being the optimist that I am, and wanting to really fix my problems, I went back the next week.  I don't really remember much about that session, except that he was putting away a Scrabble board from the previous session and said "I let the kid win every week, it's good for his confidence."  Oh, man, more money well spent there.  He also had me look up and read the definition of "worry" and told me that I just needed to change my speech.  Instead of saying "I am worried that a tornado is going to kill me." just say "I am concerned that a tornado is going to kill me."  Yep.  I was completely fixed after that.   NOT.
So, that was that.  I stopped going.  My co-pay is $25, so I figured that money could be saved up for Merry Maids or whatever.  He called me to see why I didn't show up.  Left a message saying that he hoped that everything was okay and that I should continue.  Blah, blah, blah.

My problems did not go away.  Weeks later I need a new psychologist.  I had my diagnosis of Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and panic attacks.  I was told to find someone that specialized in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy.

Finding that doctor will be part 2.

I really do like the story of bad therapist.  I can go back now and point out everything he did wrong, what he should have done differently.  In that sense, I really have become my own therapist.  So, the point in all of this?  Keep looking.  Keep trying.  If you know you need help, don't let one (or five) bad doctors keep you  from finding the right one for you.

Have you had a bad experience with a doctor?  Tell me about it below or email me.  I'd love to learn more.

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