Nov. 10, 2018

EVERY MIND IS PRECIOUS AND SHOULD BE TREATED WITH RESPECT.

At various times in life, everyone needs someone to talk with, someone who will listen and offer advice.  Sometimes our friends and family are all we need.  But, there are other times when we are completely overwhelmed and know it’s time to seek the help of a professional.

I readily admit that in the late sixties, toward the end of my marriage, I unloaded my fears, frustrations, and anger on a Psychiatrist. He was a kind and sincere gentleman who was respectful of my heart--someone who listened as I cried through every word--a professional who understood when to stop listening and start sharing the hard facts I so desperately needed.

It took less than twelve visits to regain my confidence; to understand that my accomplishments far-outweighed my failures.

 My Psychiatrist guided me through a simple process that opened my eyes to basic facts:  My children and I deserved more from life than living with a bully, an abuser, and a heartless loser.

More than forty years later, when my two children abandoned me—walked out of my life forever-- I tried to work through my shock and sadness-- alone.   Finally, knowing I had reached my breaking point, I called the Arkansas Psychiatric Center and made an appointment with their “lead” Psychiatrist.

The day of my appointment, the waiting room was crowded with people of all ages and there weren’t enough chairs.  Some patients were forced to stand in the hall…which indicated the doctors were running far-behind.  I waited almost two hours for the nurse to call my name before quickly ushering me into the doctor’s office.

The Center’s lead psychiatrist was short, completely bald and wore open-toed sandals with a suit and tie.  Without the hint of a smile, the lead doctor directed me to a straight-back chair then dropped or rather flopped, noisily, into the over-stuffed recliner across from me. “What medicines are you taking?” he asked and I proudly replied, “Nothing.”

The doctor picked up a prescription pad and, without looking in my direction, replied: “Before I can treat you, you must start taking the three medications I’ll be prescribing as a new patient.  I see you have Blue Cross/Blue Shield and Medicare so…your costs shouldn’t be over-whelming.  Also, I see that you’re still working so that helps defray expenses, too. Now, are you allergic to any medicines?”  Puzzled to hear that I must take prescription drugs, I said: “Doctor, I don’t need drugs and medicine…I’m here to discuss my depression, to find ways to cope with my devastating sorrow. Can’t you help by--” The Doctor interrupted, abruptly standing up. “I do not talk or listen to any of my patients until they are totally medicated. Ms. Miller, you and I have nothing to discuss if you don’t agree to my terms.”  Apparently, there was nothing left to talk about…. and I was being rudely dismissed.

One of the nurses behind the check-out desk, spotting my tears, said: “You should make an appointment with Dr. Johnson.  She's very kind and, because she’s a psychologist, her patients aren't required to take drugs.

Two days later, I returned to the Arkansas Psychiatric Clinic to see Dr. Johnson.   I was a little surprised that Dr. Johnson seemed older than me, a little fragile, and—she was wearing fluffy-white-rabbit house shoes.  If she noticed me staring at her feet, she never acknowledged it by offering an excuse or an explanation.

She motioned me to a particular chair then sat down across from me. Her first words were: “Tell me why you’re here.”  I began talking, sharing my heartbreaking story, crying at times, emotionally crushed until-- I happened to glance in the Doctor’s direction and realized her eyes were shut, her mouth was hanging open because…she was fast asleep!

When I spoke her name….she quickly opened her eyes, shut her mouth, and woke up….clearly confused. She fought to make a few comments then looked at the clock and said: “Your time is up.  On your way out, stop and make an appointment for next week.”

This week was identical to last week except today-- Dr. Johnson was wearing fluffy bedroom “booties” in a Tiger design. I had barely begun describing the details of my daughters’ abandonment when… Dr. Johnson’s snoring interrupted my train of thought.  Rather than wake her, I made the decision to stop wasting my time and just leave.

On the way out, I stopped at the scheduling desk.  I cautioned them not to charge me for either appointment since Dr. Johnson slept through both of them.  I made certain they understood I was mere-inches from writing a complaint letter to the National Psychiatrists Licensing Board.  

Soon after this last experience, I decided it was easier for me to talk and cry to the mirror, write about my unhappy situation, and take longer walks with Cubby-Dog…than  let any more weird and crazy “mind” doctors…dump their stress on my stress.

PS…Beware of any so-called professionals who don't present a professional image.  Hippy Sandals with a business suit?!?!? Children's Bunny Rabbit Fluffies...in a  Professional office?!?!?