Okay, so everyone has doctors. At least one. Whether you see them simply for a yearly checkup or or several times a year- everyone has them. Your mental health team can consist of a therapist, psychiatrist, general practitioner, or some combo of the three. Mine consists of a psychiatrist and a therapist.
There are a few important things that you realize when you depend on someone to help you keep your mental stability (because lets face it- that’s what they do):
1. It is oh so important that you click. If you don’t feel comfortable talking to them then you won’t… and that does no good.
2. You need to learn to tell for yourself what you need from them. This isn’t easy.
3. Have their number(s) in your favorite numbers or speed dial. Whatever your phone has.
4. This list could go much longer, but I’ll move on….
Your mental health team becomes a major part of your life no matter how often you see them. Think about it. Your psychiatrist (or GP) works with you on the medication that you need to be able to get through most days; and alters them when/if you need it. Can’t do that on your own. Your therapist, if you see one, works with you to talk through things, helps come up with coping tools, and can be someone to simply check in with when things are going well.
I have had 2 long term psychiatrists and one therapist. The first long term psychiatrist (the one that actually diagnosed me I only saw for 3 months before my dad’s insurance changed) I saw for a total of 9 years. Not going into the reason she left, I was devastated at the prospect of having to find someone new. Her office put me with someone that I absolutely hated. It took me over a year to finally make an appointment with the doctor that I see now. Trust me when I say friends we’re telling me long before then that I needed my medication again.
I’ve been with my mental health team three years now. I saw my new psychiatrist and she recommended the therapist that I see.
There is a #5 that I want to add to that list above,
5. NEVER take your mental health team for granted.
This past month so has been rough. I had a bout with anxiety. My therapist was out of town for a week and a half at the start of it. My psychiatrist rocks and tried to do everything she could to keep me safe and as good as possible until she got back. My therapist and I can usually work it out- between talking and art therapy assignments- relatively quick. We got that taken care of and over the past week and a half I’ve entered into a manic episode. One that doesn’t feel like anything I’ve evolved been through before. My doctor went out of town- she went out last Friday and won’t be back for another week. My therapist and I can meet, but talking out of a mania doesn’t happen.
So… My doctor, before she left, had added a medication to help me sleep, reduced one of the meds she raised, and said that if I needed to see someone before she got back that my therapist would be able to help me with someone. I saw one of the two that my therapist recommended, but she wasn’t a fit for me. The second woman I felt far more comfortable with. Now, I have a backup if my doctor is ever gone again and I need someone, but…
… My team is the absolute best for me. I feel safe in their offices, listened to by them, and relieved when I know an appointment is coming. I am assured of these facts even more after today. My doctor was back last week and today was our first appointment. I was beyond happy to be back in HER office after my therapy session. I felt completely comfortable telling her that I didn’t want to continue the medication I was put on while I was gone. We discussed it and she was understanding in my decision when I told her he reason. My therapist and I readdressed the issue of this blog. She had me take it down when I first published it. I was manic and she wanted me to regret nothing. Now that I’m on the upswing, we discussed it. As long as I’m comfortable, really want to do it, and am ready she gave her blessing. She said part of her job is to look out for me when I’m not feeling well and that allowing me to keep the blog up would not have been doing that.
When having a mental illness it isn’t always pleasant having to discuss certain aspects of things. Sometimes it is downright frustrating, embarrassing, and/or anxiety provoking. Having a mental health team that you trust and feel comfortable with is of the upmost importance in more ways than can be expressed on this page. You may not find the doctor and/or therapist on the first try, but when you do… When you do hold on to them.