At various times in life, everyone needs someone to talk with, someone who will listen and offer advice. Sometimes, our friends or family are all the help we need… But, other times, we need the help of a medical professional. In the late sixties, toward the end of my marriage, I unloaded my fears, frustrations, and anger on a Little Rock Psychiatrist. He was a kind and sincere gentleman who was respectful of my heart--someone who listened as I cried through every word. My psychiatrist understood when to stop listening and start sharing the hard facts I so desperately needed to hear.
It took less than twelve visits to regain my confidence…to understand that my accomplishments far-outweighed my failures. The 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, a womanizer, and a selfish-heartless narcissist.
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. Realizing my sadness was beyond my control, I called the Arkansas Psychiatric Center. When I arrived at the center for my first appointment, I was concerned that too-many patients, including me, were forced to stand in the hall. The staff told us that the doctors were running far-behind and—as a result-- the waiting room was full. I waited almost two hours for the nurse to call my name before being ushered into the doctor’s office.
The Center’s lead psychiatrist was short, fat, completely bald, and wore open-toed sandals with a suit and tie. Without a hint of a smile, the Doctor directed me to a straight-back chair before dropping—or should I say flopping-- noisily, into an 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 treat you, you must first start taking the three medications I’ll be prescribing. 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 and that will 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 or medicines. 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 patients until they are totally medicated. Ms. Miller, if you don’t agree with my terms then we have nothing to discuss.” And, hearing that rude declaration, I left the doctor’s office.
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, shaky and 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.
Dr. Johnson 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, feeling 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—clearly confused--- woke up. The psychologist fought to make a few comments-- looked at the clock--- and said: “Your time is up. Stop at the receptionist desk on your way out and make an appointment for next week.”
The next week was exactly like the last week except this time-- 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 leave….permanently.
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 sure they knew I was ready to contact the National Psychiatric Licensing Board.
Soon after this experience, I began talking out-loud to the mirror; I spent hours at the computer, writing endless volumes about my unhappiness; I took longer-more vigorous-walks with Cubby-Dog and….I carried my sadness to God. I activated years of Strength Training and began my Walk of Faith.
When it’s apparent that the so-called medical professionals lack respect for you... when money and drugs are more important than you--the patient-- then turn your back on all of them. When it's clear that a psychiatrist or psychologist has more "hang-ups" than you--besides lacking professional manners and all sense of "style"---it’s time for Strength Training.
Fluffy-Animal-House Bedroom Slippers on an over-medicated doctor-in a Professional Office….REALLY?!?!?!