If you weren’t aware, prior to a few days ago, I was ‘taking a break’ from psychiatrists, therapists, and medication. I had what I thought what a good reason for it, which I explained in my Bad experience with Seroquel post. It may not have been the best choice, but regardless of that, I am getting back on track.
What changed my mind? Why did I want medication again?
Well, starting a couple of weeks ago, I started to feel very stressed, depressed, irritable, my racing thoughts were getting worse, I became very anxious, even paranoid and slightly delusional. I was losing the energy that I needed to cope with all the symptoms of my Bipolar, and I felt like I was on the verge of losing my mind completely.
So what did I do?
First, I tried (while anxious, mind you) looking up and calling various psychiatrists. In all, I ended up calling 8 different places – and all of them were either not taking new patients, or were booked until 2-3 months down the road. They would refer me to someone else sometimes, and I got the same result over and over. This frustrated me to the point of almost having a breakdown. I didn’t even feel like calling one of these places, let alone 8 or more. As a side note, I think it would be great if there were one number or way to find psychiatrists in a hurry – who are taking patients, accept your insurance, and make it as hassle-free as possible; there are so many people with anxiety problems that would probably just give up with how irritating and stressing it can be just to get help.
Since I was getting nowhere, I decided it would be in my best interest to go to the emergency room. My hope was that they could possibly give me some kind of medication to at the very least calm me down, and that maybe they could help me get an appoint with someone who could help me.
I went to the ER
Arriving very anxiously, with my blood pressure and heart rate sky rocketing. I told them what was going on, and eventually I was put in a room – where I waited. They told me to sit down, but I found myself pacing around and touching / playing with random objects, because I was so anxious. As I was doing the pacing, a social worker saw me while I was turned around, came in to introduce herself and told me that she would be talking to me later – and that a PA would be seeing me soon. I sat down because I realized she saw me pacing, and I felt a little silly; but I was still just as anxious. After about half an hour, the PA came in with what seemed to be a trainee/witness, and she asked me what was going on. I repeated my story, told her why I was there and so on. She checked some of my vitals, said she would see what she can do and left the room.
After another 10-20 minutes, the social worker came back in and asked me basically the same questions, but also asked me if I was interested in getting a case manager for my bipolar – I wasn’t interested, especially since it was from a Catholic organization, and I’m not religious. When she got done with me, a completely different PA came in and asked me the same questions again; he explained that the first PA who saw me left and he was there due to a shift change — great, I thought. I said “so I have to repeat this all againn?” (feeling kind of irritated) and he told me I could just give him a summary, which I did. He said perfect, left, and I didn’t see him again. However, the social worker came back (at this point, it’s almost been an hour and a half) and took even more information.
They finally told me what they could do is help me get a primary care doctor within 1-3 days who may be able to prescribe some medications until I can see a psychiatrist, since they didn’t know of any openings either. To cut this part of the story short – I agreed that would be fine, finished checking out, and left with a plan to see the primary care doctor soon.
Oh, and they prescribed me some Vistaril for anxiety in the meantime, too.
The next day, I went to the primary care doctor
Without calling first, and since I happened to be out just around where they were located, I dropped in at this new primary care doctor’s office. I asked them about scheduling an appointment, and to my surprise they ended up saying they could see me right then. I waited about 20 minutes, and got called back where a nurse took vitals and so on. The nurse asked me all the same questions as the ER, and some more – about if I use alcohol, drugs, some family history, if I was taking medications, what medications I had in the past, what psychiatrist I last saw and so on. When she was done interrogating me, I sat and waited about 20 minutes for the doctor to finally come in.
Feeling like a broken record at this point, I repeated my story, history and symptoms again to the doctor. She was very nice though, and sincerely wanted to help me. She did somewhat of a physical and took my blood pressure again – which was already lower due to the vistaril, but slightly high due to anxiety. After talking to her for about an hour, she said that would help somehow — she would call in some favors, talk to a psychiatrist about temporary medications (since she isn’t a psychiatrist herself) and see what she could do about getting me an appointment. I waited while she did all of that, and she came back with a solution: she prescribed me some klonopin (which I had been on before), a small dose of risperdal, and got into contact with 2 psychiatrists who may be able to take me as a new patient within a month. I was very pleased and relieved at this point. She assured me that even if I wasn’t able to get to see them within a month, she wouldn’t just leave me without any medication, because my condition is serious.
So in the end of this, so far, I got:
- A one month supply of 3 medications that I really needed
- A primary care doctor, who is awesome
- A clean bill of (physical) health
- Soon, an appointment with a psychiatrist
She did also order me to get a blood test to check my thyroid, kidney and liver function, cholesterol and nearly anything else you can think of.
And she wanted to see me again in 3 days to see how the medication was doing, and go over the results of the blood test.
A couple of days later (after seeing the primary)
I scheduled a blood test for the morning of the second primary care appointment.
Soon after that, a psychiatrist called me, and offered me an appointment .. the same day as I was going back to see the primary. Already!? Amazing. Such a different and better result than I had been getting on my own. I was excited about that, and agreed. We scheduled it between my blood test and primary visit.
The final day (for this story) – 3 appointments in a single day!
I woke up at 5 AM and fasted until after 7 AM when I went to the lab to take the blood test and get that done. No biggie.
Went to my mothers for a couple hours while waiting for the psychiatrist appointment.
When I got to the psychiatrist, I filled out some basic paperwork and waited around until it was my turn to be seen. I remember liking the atmosphere and the clean interior.
After going into a private room, the psychiatrist asked a lot about my history – and I mean a lot, this took up at least half of the entire session. Obviously I’m not going to repeat everything that was asked or that I said, but we did cover past medications as well. In the end I felt that he was knowledgeable, competent and kind. He confirmed my diagnosis of Bipolar Disorder (with some psychotic features), and asked how he could help me. I basically said that I’m hoping for now he can give me something to help stabilize my moods more. His response was that based on how many medications I’ve tried already, his suggestion was Lamictal – which I have been on before, and it had very little side effects – so I agreed that this was a good choice. So in addition to the meds that the primary prescribed already, he prescribed the Lamictal. We’re starting with a low dose and will increase every 2 weeks, in attempt to avoid Stevens-Johnson Syndrome
I’ll be seeing him roughly 3 and a half weeks to discuss my progress with the medication, and for refills of all the meds I was prescribed from the primary as well. I’ll also be getting an appointment with a therapist within a week or two.
I felt good with the visit and outcome, but I still had to go back to the primary!
And back to the primary, I went…
I got there a bit late for multiple reasons. The psychiatrist was running late, I ran into a lot of construction work on the way – and in addition to that, my cell phone decided it was a great time to overheat while I was using the GPS, so I had to recall some of the directions by memory when I had only been there once.
Note to self: never fully rely on technology to get you somewhere on time!
After finally arriving, I actually was feeling quite a bit less anxious – in part due to the medications, and how well the day was going so far. I even enjoyed joking around with the nurse a little bit. And my blood pressure came out at a near perfect 120/80.
I didn’t wait very long this time – maybe because I was slightly late. The primary came in shortly after being put in a room again, and I felt glad to tell her that I had already seen the psychiatrist – she was happy too, and said she wished she could do that for all of her patients.
We discussed how I was feeling, which at that moment was rather decent and definitely less anxious. She did a few more physical tests, and then we went over the blood test results from earlier in the day.
My blood test came out near perfect! Thyroid was great, liver and kidney function were normal and so on. Surprisingly, my cholesterol was quite low – but it didn’t seem to be a bad thing, it was just surprising? I thought that maybe it may have to do with me being vegan, but I’m not sure.
So anyway, everything was great. And she said I don’t have to see her for another year.
But she did recommend I have both a Tetanus vaccination and a pneumonia vaccination, since I can’t ever recall having the tetanus one and I’m sure if I did it was more than 10 years ago; the pneumonia one was mainly because I’m a cigarette smoker. I decided it wouldn’t hurt to get them, so I got both from nurse. This is where the joking came in. I asked some general questions about vaccinations because I was interested, which somehow led into one us talking about the arm falling off. So when she asked what arm I preferred, I said “I don’t know, I suppose whichever makes the arm fall over faster!” or something to extent. Also, when she did give me the first shot, it started to bleed – coincidentally enough, right over a bloody dagger tattoo that I have on my arm. My reaction was “wow, now I have a very realistic tattoo!!” and she said it was very cool that way. It may not be the most hilarious humor ever, but I found it nice to play around like that while doing something serious. 🙂
And with that all said…
I think it was a very good thing that I got back onto medication – and so quickly, even though I had to go through a bunch of frustration and jump through hoops to get it done.
Don’t get me wrong – I’m far from feeling ‘perfect’ and my bipolar is most definitely still here, waiting to creep up on me and make me feel like shit – for a lack of better words (excuse my language) – or feel like I’m losing my mind. But it does help to relieve some of the symptoms, and make my moods less frequent and slightly less severe when they do come at me in full force.
See also: My medication list