Wednesday, May 6, 2015


It's time. I have to break up.

No, I haven't been secretly involved in some tumultuous love affair. Let's not be delusional. Instead, it's my psychiatrist, Dr. Seven. We have a dysfunctional relationship. And I need to walk away.

I had insisted on a gay shrink. I wanted to be sure the person I was confessing my life to would be nonjudgmental. I didn't want to think that in his head he was dealing with some sort of prejudice. But clearly, gay alone is not enough. I don't wish to become friends with my psychiatrist. I don't even need for us to be friendly. But it can't be adversarial.

Dr. Seven is the seventh psychiatrist I've seen in the past year. Admittedly, five of them were hello-goodbye doctors during my nine-day hospital stint, but I number psychiatrists as part of my frustration regarding treatment. There is a lot of wasted time in starting over with each doctor. My referral to see Seven went in last May. My first session wasn’t until November. Needless to say, I don’t take breaking up lightly.

From the start, there has been friction. On our first meeting, he asked if the hospital gave me a diagnosis. Admittedly, those were foggy days. It wouldn’t be a stretch to say I was semi-catatonic. It was “One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest” brought to life as patients in my ward would get locked up in a window-less room with only a food-tray slot and security would get called to restrain those who refused their meds. One guy in the lock-up cell fought back with feces and screamed long into the night about how he’d “fucking kill you all.” Diagnosis? I was just trying to survive.

It took Dr. Seven fifteen minutes to fix that. Major Depressive Disorder. And to be sure I didn’t “forget”, he said it five more times in that session. Like jamming bad medicine down a kid’s throat. Fine. I’d been officially labeled. I didn’t care for the approach, but I tried to put my trust in the process.

Seven has always tried to fit me into a classic model for depression. Accordingly, I must be angry. People who are depressed are angry at others; alternatively, they have turned the anger inside. I am an all-around nice guy. There is no evidence of outward anger. Thus, I must be raging within.

And that's not me. I've tried and tried to accept that notion, but I am not in any way an angry person. We went to battle on this during an early session. He’s tried to bring it up during other times. It’s always a stalemate. We have put that aside, although he has said that it will come up eventually…when I decide to cooperate. After all, I must fit the model for depression.

But I don't. So what does that make me? A misfit amongst people with severe depression? The notion amuses me. Seems I am an inconvenient patient. It doesn't surprise me. I've always been too quirky for categorization.

My latest session with Dr. Seven became yet another battle. I'd had a decent week. Nothing pressing to discuss. "Ask away," I said.

And this became a problem.

Why was I being so passive? Why was I deferring to him? Wasn't I, in fact, wanting him to take care of me?

My basic reaction: "Huh?"

But Dr. Seven wouldn't let it go. Why was I refusing to take the lead? Why?!

In my mind, I thought, Isn't that your job? But I didn't say that. He would've concluded that was aggressive—an angry remark.

Again, why was I insisting on being passive? I was showing a stubborn streak.

"Not at all," I said. Let's just talk about something. "How about my mother?" (Sorry, Mom. But there’s plenty of fodder there.)

Still, he wouldn't let it go. We spent the entire fifty minutes going round and round, with him insisting that this meant something, this clear intention to be passive.

At one point, he said of himself, "My stomach is knotted up." As if the session was about him. Oops, maybe that sounds a little angry.

The whole thing felt like Seinfeld therapy: a lot of talk about nothing. "This discussion is irrelevant," I said several times. "Can't we just agree to disagree again?"

But Dr. Seven wouldn't let it go. Not, at least, until it was time for me to go.

I don't think I've ever been more relieved to exit a doctor’s office—and this from someone who is notoriously medically squeamish! Knowing that it is a final departure offers little solace. In fact, it’s the last thing I wanted. Now I must return to my family doctor and request a new referral. Now I must go on another waiting list. Now I must start over.

For the rest of the evening, I was extremely disheartened. Initially, I crawled into bed as soon as I got home from the session. But then after forty-five minutes, I got up and insisted on going to the gym. My battle has always been with depression, not with the doctor. This serves as a clear reminder of that. I may or may not find a therapist who can help. But I cannot wait. If Dr. Seven was right about anything, it was that I must take control. And so for now, as realistic or unrealistic as it may be, I will strive to fight the depression without any special gear. No helmet, no gloves. Just my bare knuckles and my wits.
For the moment, I have the energy to do so.

1 comment:

Inder13 said...

A psychologist who insists the patient take the lead because he can't, is only there because of a massive systemic failure in health care... :P I would have been too angry to be depressed anymore. ... Better a cup of mocha than him.