For many that are afraid to get help(myself included) I wondered what it was like at the 1st psychiatrist appointment. Anxiety and the stigma kept me away from going for many years. I have recently went for the 1st time again in about 2 years. The 1st time was in Las Vegas to psychiatric nurse practitioner and on Friday I want to psychiatrist MD. Here is what happens.
The first thing you do is arrive early to fill out paperwork. This can vary in my experience with the amount of history they take in the paperwork. You are always going to sign in the the front office people and show your photo ID, insurance info, or arrange another method of payment. They will give you disclosures about your rights and how they do things at that particular office or how that particular doctor does things. This is similar to any doctor’s appointment so far, right?
You fill out the paperwork, sign a bunch of places, and initial in others giving them permission for various things. Depending on the doctor, you will fill out a history, medication list, ect. After you are finished with the paperwork you are called back and they take your vitals. This includes your blood pressure, heart rate, and weight. They need this information in case the doctor decides to prescribe medication. Sometimes the doctor will take your vitals but many times it is a nurse.
At this appointment I also filled out a single sheet of paper answering questions on a scale how often I felt hopeless, my sleep, suicidal thoughts, ect. Be honest and do not be afraid to just let it out on this paper. They more honest you are, the better they can help you. This part was difficult for me because there I was smiling and joking with the nurse, pretending to be fine(as I do with strangers or people that I don’t have any trust built with. I fake being well.) I had to break through my own denial of how I was really doing to admit that I was thinking about suicide nearly every day, I felt hopeless most days, not sleeping well, ect. It was difficult to admit these things and then hand this paper back to her. I answered a few more questions about allergies with medications and then back to the waiting room.
It did not take long for the Doctor to call me back. I went to a private office and had a seat in from of her desk. There was now medical exam table or instruments. It was just a nice office. This is where it can get a little more difficult. I talked to her about why I was there and my past traumas and brief history of treatment I had received in the past. She didn’t have me go into any great detail. I was thankful for that. I did cry a few times and she had a box of tissues ready. We went over my reactions to medications in the past, any hospitalizations, ect. This seemed to go pretty quickly. I felt listened to and cared for. In my case, she told me that her giving me a pill and then sending me home for a month was probably not going to help me. I agreed.
She wrote a prescription for a medicine that would help me with my chronic pain and that was in a different family of antidepressants that wasn’t all serotonin based. I have had bad reaction in the past as I have blogged about before and talking about on twitter so I won’t rehash that again in this entry. She recommended that I entered what is called a Partial Hospitalization Program at the hospital. It is one step down from hospitalization. I get to be home in the evenings and on weekends with my family. This will give me intensive trauma therapy on a daily basis and close monitoring for medication to get me the help that I need. I feel nervous about it because of stupid stigma stuff but I am very hopeful. I feel like I am finally going to get the help I need after remembering the trauma nearly 30 years ago.
Let me be clear that this is my choice and no one is forcing me to get treatment this way. I would only be forced to be in inpatient treatment if I had attempted suicide or talked about hurting other people. I could have said no and explored other options. I feel this is best for me right now. If I am asked to stay for inpatient treatment I will most likely agree. I need help and as much as I do share there are things I don’t that need to be addressed. I am getting worse the longer I go without treatment. Like I said before, I fake being ok for the most part as a survival strategy but I really am not. I have to admit that and get the damn help. Putting this off is literally risking my life. CPTSD can kill me or I can get help, those are my choices. I am choosing to live and get better no matter what it takes.
You will not have this same experience. You are a different person with different needs. You may have other co-occurring disorders or illnesses going on. You may be able to take a pill that improves your life immensely with follow up visits to the doctor to monitor your progress. You may need medication and therapy as well. It is less common for a doctor to recommend hospitalization like she recommended for me so don’t be deterred in getting help based on my experience either.
My 1st day is tomorrow and them I will know more details about what will happen. I will do my best to journal about this. It helps me a lot to write things down about my experience and feelings. I am guessing that I won’t be around much on social media for the next 6 weeks. Intensive therapy is exhausting and this is my 1st time experiencing therapy at this higher level of care. I have been to the therapists twice a week before but this will be much different.
I also want to thank you all for the love an support on this blog and through my social media like twitter. You have all helped me immensely. Thank you from all of my heart. It means so much to me that you care and send me encouragement. I will keep writing though I may keep some of it to my private patreon based on the content. I may not be comfortable sharing some things with the public but just with my private supporters there. I just really don’t know how I am going to feel about all of it and that’s scary too. It’s all scary but onward to treatment and feeling better. I deserve to get treatment. I deserve to heal. I deserve peace.
Love and hugs to you all! I will try to write again soon.