Almost eight years ago, I went 80 or so hours without sleep and had a psychotic break. I was diagnosed as bipolar and started going to an outpatient hospital (that’s the extremely truncated version—this post isn’t about that).
I was assigned a psychiatrist. The guy was an asshole. I was technically an adult, but I was not in my right mind. I asked him not to discuss anything with me unless my parents were present. He did not obey my wishes. He also unexpectedly and preemptively discharged me from the hospital.
If I wanted to keep him as my doctor, I wouldn’t see him most of the time. I’d see a nurse practitioner. I didn’t like the sound of that, but I didn’t know what else to do.
Once I was discharged from the hospital, my parents started taking me to a psychologist. She gave me a list of psychiatrists who might be a better fit. I chose a man who always saw patients himself, and I made an appointment with him.
A lot of things during that first month of recovery are hazy and discombobulated, but I vividly remember my first appointment with Dr. Q.
He let my parents sit in on my appointment, which I really appreciated. My parents likely caught him up on the situation (I was incapable of doing so). Dr. Q listened, and then he told me something I will never forget; something that has kept me healthy these eight years.
He said, “Here’s the deal. You are taking medicine right now, and you are on a good path to recovery. However, if you go off your medicine, there will not be a buildup to another episode. If you stop taking your medicine, you will start an episode where your last one left off and you will spiral down from there. Do not, under any circumstances, stop taking your medicine.”
Let me tell you. That scared the shit out of me. I fought taking medicine at first, and I might’ve resisted even after that appointment, but I knew I didn’t want to get sick again. I take it religiously now.
I was in denial about my diagnosis for several months, and I didn’t want to take medicine for the rest of my life. Now, it’s second nature, and I don’t even think twice about it.
I sometimes have moments where I wonder if I really need the medicine, and I’ll be curious for half a second about what would happen. But, then I remember my first appointment with Dr. Q, and I know I’ll always take it.
I’ve been seeing Dr. Q for eight years, and I really like him. He’s quirky, but he’s good at what he does, and he doesn’t mess around with my medication at all. He seems genuinely interested in his patients.
I had an appointment with him at the end of July, and it was likely the last time I’ll ever see him. Dr. Q took an assignment with the U.S. government overseas, and he will be the psychiatrist for an embassy in another country. I’m not sure exactly what it entails, but he’s shut down his practice here and is leaving in October.
I’m pretty bummed about it. I’m happy for him, but I’m sad for me. I’ll be seeing a nurse practitioner that Dr. Q’s office hired. I haven’t met her yet, but Dr. Q had nothing but good things to say about her.
I’ve been stable on the same medicine for so long, I don’t have much anxiety about what will happen next. Dr. Q promised me the nurse practitioner won’t try to mess with my medicine, which may not be the case if I switched practices. There is still a psychiatrist at the practice, and I’ll be able to see him if anything major comes up.
Again, very little anxiety or angst over Dr. Q leaving. I’m mostly experiencing sadness. He’s been such an integral part of my healing and my mental health journey these eight years. I will miss him, but I know I will be fine.