Tag Archives: trauma

Yet Another Psychiatrist

Credit: Wikimedia Commons

I found a new psychiatrist, and I was able to see him this past Friday. Initially I wasn’t going to write about the experience, but some of my readers have been asking how it went. (It’s great to know that people read this thing.)

If you’ve been following my blog, perhaps you remember my experiences with the first two doctors that I had after leaving the psych ward late last year. Both doctors were from the same part of the globe, and I felt like they didn’t relate to me very well. The first one threw a hissy fit when I came to see her after my second suicide attempt. She ended up kicking me out. Like, literally.

The second doctor would freak out and start massaging his temples whenever I responded to his greeting with anything other than “I’m great.” He essentially let me be my own doctor by letting me choose my medication and dosages. I stayed with him because I was tired of shrink searching. God knocked me out of my comfort zone, however, when that doctor suddenly informed me that he would no longer accept my insurance.

There are a lot of foreign-born doctors practicing in the U.S. Apparently not enough Americans are choosing/able to pursue the medical field, and I have no problem seeing a foreign-born doctor for an annual physical exam or to treat my flu symptoms. When it comes to my mental health, however, I need someone who is patient, understanding, and who can empathize with my illness and not be scared away when my condition fluctuates.

Don’t get me wrong; I’m not saying foreign-born shrinks are all bad and that you should avoid them. It’s just that I’m seeing a negative pattern starting to form.

I went to my insurance website to get a list of psychiatrists within a ten-mile radius of where I live. The list was short because there were only two.

The first one was the psycho lady who kicked me out. The other one was Dr. Ariston Korhonen. Great.

I called the office to find out more information about the doctor. The conversation went something like this:

Receptionist: Good afternoon, Dr. Korhonen’s office.  (Good. She pronounced the name for me.)

Me: Um… Hi. I’d like to see the doctor.  (My verbal skills are not so eloquent.)

Receptionist: OK. How about tomorrow morning?  (Dang. No wait? Is he that bad?)

Me: Uh, how about Friday?

Receptionist: Sure. Is 9:00 okay?

Me: Yeah. Um, can I ask you a question? (I’m sure she was used to weird questions. After all, she works for a shrink.) Is the doctor, uh, is the doctor… from here?

Receptionist: Yes. He’s a white guy with a funny name.

Me: I, uh, didn’t mean anything bad by that. It’s just that… well… I mean…

Receptionist: I understand. See you Friday.

She also told me to show up 30 minutes before my appointment to fill out paperwork. I was used to crowded waiting rooms, so, out of habit, I arrived 45 minutes early.

The waiting room was desolate. I half-expected to see tumbleweeds blowing past me.

The “paperwork” consisted of a one-page personal information sheet. It took me all of five minutes to complete and turn in. I was about to go back to my car and get my phone before the receptionist happily informed me that the doctor was ready.

As I passed by the lady’s desk, I saw a tall, lanky guy surfing the ‘net with his back to me. It looked like he was browsing through the celebrity news on Yahoo.

Without turning around, the guy said, “First door on the right. I’ll be right there.”

Okay. It looks like I’m second to Miley Cyrus. Wonderful.

The rest of the visit was pretty mundane. He asked me a whole bunch of questions, and, by the end, I had spilled my guts about everything related to my illness.

It was traumatic enough to relive everything. The doctor’s exclamations weren’t necessary, though. I mean, did the psychiatrist really have to blurt out “Oh my gosh!” after I mentioned each suicide attempt?!

At the end of our session, I commented on one of the three framed diplomas on the wall. “Oh, you did your residency at the same psych ward where I was. When was that?” It was an innocent enough question I thought.

“Umm, last year. SO, I will see you in about a month, okay?”

Last year?

Stay positive. Stay positive…

~t


Dear Rhonda

This post consists of Rhonda Elkins‘ comment that she left on this blog and my reply. I didn’t intend to make them into a blog post, but it seemed like the right thing to do: I realized there was some information contained in our exchange that could be helpful to people.

Topaz,

I am greatly moved that you have made an entry in your blog about my blog and the loss of my beloved daughter. Your writing is beautiful and moving. What I am very happy about also, is that my blog and my feelings about my daughter’s suicide made an impact on your life and cemented your promise to never do that to yourself. In the depths of depression, many people don’t see the impact that it will have for those left behind, they only see their intense mental pain and want to end it. However, if people know beforehand, before they get to that point, maybe that knowledge can be retrieved in that dark moment and decide not to do what their depression is asking them to do.

I wish you happiness in your life, and if you ever need a friend, I will be here. Thanks for mentioning my blog. The more people can read about what suicide does to those left behind the better and I also want to fight against the stigma of mental health problems which prevents many people from seeking help. I think this is what happened to my daughter.

My name is Rhonda Elkins. I really did not realize I had not put my full name on my blog. It’s in the article I wrote way down at the beginning of my blog, but sometimes people might not go back that far. I don’t mind people knowing who I am.

Please keep in touch and thank you.

***************************

Dear Rhonda,

Thank you so much for your thoughtful comment. Everything I wrote in this post was true and from the depths of my soul.

When I used to be a Bible discussion leader back in college, members told me that they admired me for the way that I could “feel.” I never really knew what they meant until recently. I often feel for others so much that it overwhelms my soul and envelops me in a dark cloud.

I blame this ability/curse on the reason why I haven’t been able to achieve more in a career. I feel like such a loser because I’m approaching middle age with a Master of Arts degree, and I am still underachieving professionally. This thorn in my side, as I refer to it, is more than likely my illness. I think God is showing me that it can be a strength after all. I don’t know.

I didn’t want to tell you about this blog entry because I don’t like drawing attention to myself. I figured that if you found it on your own, then it was meant to be. That’s one reason I blog anonymously; the other reason is, of course, the personal nature of my posts. As you mentioned, there is an enormous stigma tied to mental illness that keeps me “in the closet.”

You’re right: Many people cannot think rationally in the depths of depression. I know I sure didn’t. For some unknown reason, it just wasn’t my time to die. Right before my first attempt, I remember cursing God and telling Him that He would have to physically come down and stop me. I said all this as I consumed about six shots of tequila. I said it one last time back in my car before I swallowed 40 Xanax tablets (1 mg each).

As you can see, I should not be here right now.

Maybe God wanted to use me as a testimony to help others. Again, I don’t know. I haven’t mentioned this publicly, but I attempted a second time last October. However, I got scared and changed my mind as the carbon monoxide fumes started burning my throat. I called 911 and was soon whisked away. My two little boys and my wife were waiting for me at our local community center for a Halloween event; I never showed up. It was the second time in two months that I had disappeared from my family. I am amazed and humbled that my wife is still with me.

My support team consists of two certified therapists, my psychiatrist, and my mother. I meet with all of them regularly (Well, my mother lives out of state). One of my therapists used to be an interrogator for the U.S. Army, so he pulls no punches. I also spent time in three different mental hospitals last year and earlier this year.

I already consider you a friend and it goes without saying that I will be in touch on a regular basis, because that’s what friends do.

[~topaz]