A Familiar Conversation

Those who share some of my issues will be relieved to know that I am taking steps to obtain a supply of my bipolar meds again. Having dropped the ball during the previous months and the stresses I’ve been having, I have been without them for nearly a month now…and it’s not good.

At last, I became resigned to using precious funds on a visit to my old psychiatrist, because my plans to find a new one hadn’t panned out and there was no longer any time to lose. However, when I called the number, I found out the practice had just closed. Turns out he is still in practice, but with a new group clinic. So I called the number, and was told I need to go through the standard intake process before I can be given an appointment with him or anyone else. On the bright side, they might be able to match me with someone who will take my insurance for part of the cost.

So, yesterday, I found myself participating in an intake conversation. This feels weird on a couple of levels: first, it always feels overwhelming for me to try to summarize my present and/or past condition (can I just give them the address of this website, please?)  Second, the questions on the intake are familiar to me from both ends: before my diagnosis, I worked at a counseling center and did phone intakes regularly.

I know why they have to ask certain questions, and I know what answers they are looking for. I know what red flags they are trying to spot. I know the clinical descriptions of the things they describe. And although I know these things, I need to answer the questions like a patient and not a co-clinician.

Something else about this, for my readers who share my issues with addiction: the intake person asked me about any history of substance abuse. If it hadn’t been on the form, I would have brought it up myself. Whoever I end up seeing will, like my old psychiatrist, be fully informed about my history of addiction and recovery. I can’t overstate how important this is: one of the drugs I used to abuse came from a psychiatrist years ago. It wasn’t their fault, but as a person in recovery it’s my responsibility to make sure doctors of any kind know that certain drugs are not appropriate for me.

At the end of the questions, I was told they need to consult my insurance before they can schedule me an appointment. They will call me back, the intake person said. I promised myself I’d wait at least until tomorrow before calling again, but I feel anxious because some medical “we’ll call you back” things have not gone well lately.

So that’s what’s going on. Nothing very fun or inspirational right now, but I know many of my readers have been there. Part of living with our conditions is sometimes doing that footwork, one step at a time, and dealing with the frustration of not doing it very well.

3 responses to “A Familiar Conversation

  1. It was difficult for me, at first, to talk about past drug use. I always felt that since I was in recovery it shouldn’t matter but then during a relapse I realized it does. Having been on the psych merry-go-round for over 30 years, I also dislike “What meds have you tried?” I have bipolar disorder and have had a particularly lengthy bout with treatment-resistant depression; it’s much easier for me to say what I haven’t tried. I’ll be facing these issues in a few weeks since my psychiatrist has left his practice and I’m unable to go where he’s going. I have an appointment with a new psych in a new group, I’m thinking of simply handing her a card with my blog address and saying “Call me when you’ve read it all.”

  2. I can relate to doing the foot work. I’ve been seeing my psychiatrist every 4-8 weeks for the past 8 years because of the fluctuating nature of my bipolar and anxiety disorders. Lots of footwork. But so worth it to stay a well as possible.

  3. Good job taking that footstep. I wish you the best as you get back into psychiatric treatment. Hard (if not impossible) to cope with this illness without it.

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