This post is based off a questions one of my readers posed, when I asked if there was anything anyone would like me to discuss. I really enjoy these posts as I can share what I learned over the years of therapy and doctors etc.
The questions is:
I’ve just decided to start getting medication. Do you have recommendations on managing my doctors so that I get what I want out of this experience?
Keep in mind I can only answer this or any question off my experience. I am not a doctor or a therapist.
When I first started seeing a psychiatrist I had no clue what I was doing. I was relying on him to remember me, and the medicines we had tried and not tried. Boy was I wrong, this first guy couldn’t keep me straight and I noticed he didn’t pull a file or anything when I came for my visits he didn’t take notes etc. If this happens to you I suggest you think carefully about changing doctors. Red Flag! This taught me that I needed to take a bit more control of my appointments.
I began to research depression, as that was the major symptom, along with rage and mood swings. The doctor was smart enough to mention Bipolar II. I went online read and read and searched and read. I went to bipolar chat rooms, and different sites that were set up to support people with mental illness.I didn’t do much talking in those chat rooms but I did a lot of observing conversation and learning what others were going through and what medicines they were taking. Then I would research the medicines a bit and gather even more information. In the chat rooms they talked a lot about the side effects of certain medications and that was really helpful.
I also learned to make lists of symptoms, experiences, and questions. I also sat down and wrote out my past experiences with the general physicians that I went to for my depression and my life as a child. This was more helpful for me than anything. I noted the medicines I had already tried and dosages and my experiences with mood changes. I was really bad about being able to journal my mood swings so I didn’t keep a general daily journal but I really suggest if you can do it. I am not organized enough and consistent enough to journal, even though I have tried.
Make sure you take your journal, lists of questions and symptoms to the doctors office with you. One of the most important things to me is to be completely open and honest with your doctor. Stick with the same doctor and the same therapist (assuming they are two different people like mine were) you do not want to see different doctors each time. If you don’t trust your doctor or feel uncomfortable for any reason, I would change to a different doctor. Now, remember anxiety tends to come with a lot of different mental illness’ so don’t mistake anxiety for not trusting your doctor. I still struggle every time I have to go to the doctor or leave the house for that matter, I don’t want to go. My anxiety kicks in and I have to force myself to go to the appointment, but I know that is my anxiety once I am there I am comfortable. Another suggestion I have is to see your doctor regularly, once a week if at all possible until you are stable. Stable for each person means something different but you will know when you are there.
Keep notes that’s one of the best tools you have and learn all you can about the illness you have or may have. With knowledge comes power, you can learn what triggers your moods and help to avoid the issues to keep the symptoms down. You can control a bit of it eventually. I remember feeling lost and stuck deep inside this crazy person, no way out and a tornado ripping through my insides all the time. I was never in control, I never knew what was going to happen. The strangest things would trigger a rage.
Due to the fact that I have studied myself, my illness and my symptoms I have pretty good control and most people don’t know that I am ill. Of course I tend to tell everyone so most know, but they are usually surprised when I tell them. They wouldn’t be surprised if they knew me back in the younger years.
It is a lot of work to monitor yourself and your feelings and your moods and find a way to be positive in your life, but it can be done. You can do it! Just don’t give up, your life, your happiness YOU’RE WORTH IT.