So, I have to start by saying, I loooooooove my therapist. Love, love, love her. She’s so calming and zen, with a soothing voice and gentle manner. I can’t imagine her ever raising her voice to anyone. The office where I go for therapy is double-sided. All of the therapists are off one side of the lobby, then there’s another mysterious door on the opposite side I never went through until yesterday.
My therapist and I decided the combo of meds I’ve been taking for anxiety might need to be tweaked a bit, so I made an appointment. On the other side.
If the therapy side is zen and peaceful with calming aromatherapy and tall vases dripping with purple orchids, the psychiatry side is more clinical. Almost prison-like. Hard chairs that remind me of a high school cafeteria, papers scattered everywhere. Walls painted puke green and yellow. An indifferent receptionist at the front desk.
After a long wait, I am finally called back to see the assistant. A kind woman I’ve noticed in the lobby before who has a sweet smile and a hello for everyone she meets. She tells me she needs to take my blood pressure and I comply, rolling up my sleeve.
“Pretty eyes. You look like Beloved!”
“The girl who played Beloved in that movie that Oprah made…”
“Ohhhhhh…Thandie Newton…errr…thanks…” She’s gorgeous but I look nothing like her. Nice compliment, though.
“Yes, I like her. She does a lot for the animals…”
“I love animals too…”
“Me too, I want to save the bears…”
She points toward a picture of grizzly bears framed on her office wall.
“Yes, I love all animals, but get between me and them bears and you’ll have a problem.”
You might have a problem if you’re outside playing with wild bears, I think, but I say nothing, just smile. As the blood pressure cuff tightens on my arm, she rounds her desk and picks up my file.
“What insurance is this? I’ve never heard of this!” I explain to her that they’ve already verified everything at the front desk, but she makes a loud, lengthy phone call going over my file to the receptionist again, the blood pressure cuff loosening and re-tightening over and over. Finally she removes it when I don’t think I have sensation left in my upper arm. She takes the rest of my vitals quickly, then I’m sent back to the lobby to wait some more. At last, I’m summoned to see the wizard, I mean the doctor.
She brusquely introduces herself and has a seat behind her imposing desk. I notice the painting on her side wall is crooked and hope she isn’t seeing any OCD patients later today.
“So, what’s wrong with you?”
She didn’t really ask that, but that’s how it feels. It’s very strange to have to explain anxiety symptoms or the symptoms of any mental illness. It’s almost as though people expect you to perform. Most mental illness-sufferers lead normal productive lives, with our symptoms happening in the background, or flaring up sporadically. I give a brief rundown of my complaints, and she click-clacks away on her computer keyboard. I swear this woman must type 2,000 words a minute. She clacks away in silence for at least 15 minutes, no exaggeration. I entertain myself by pretending to be Dorothy Gale, abandoned by Tin Man, Scarecrow, and Lion, left to face the wizard all alone.
“Why did you and your therapist decide you needed a medication management?”
I give another rundown of my symptoms, without variation.
“Bring me the broom of the Wicked Witch of the West and I will give you the pills you seek!” Again she didn’t say that, only in my imagination. But I’m beginning to think that might come out of her mouth as her face contorts in annoyance. She continues to clack away silently for another 10 minutes. I look around futilely for a clock, remembering my cell phone is dead. This is going on so long there is no way I can slip behind my desk at work unnoticed. Finally, she gives me her recommendations for adjusting my prescriptions, I make a decision, sign the needed paperwork and leave the office in haste. I re-enter my counselor’s lobby and inhale deeply. No place like home. Or my therapist’s office.
The doctor wants to see me again in a month. I think maybe I’ll ask my therapist for another referral.