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The Tale of 5 Psychiatrists

Once upon a time there was a teenage girl who was feeling depressed. She needed a counselor. After three months of visits, the counselor suggested seeing a psychiatrist because talking alone wasn’t working and medicine might help. After consideration, the family made an appointment.

The family drove over the expressway and past the shopping mall to the first psychiatrist. His name was Dr. Texter. Picture a packed office in the heat of summer. Get comfortable and settle in with a 3-year-old magazine because it’s going to be a long wait.

At our first visit, Dr. Texter does lots of texting while he asks our young teenage heroine questions. She answers, he prescribes, we schedule another appointment and leave. This is our second visit, a follow-up to see how the prescribed medications are working. When we finally get in we tell Dr. Texter my daughter is nauseous daily and still feeling down from depression. He responds — without looking up from his phone — by suggesting she is anorexic. What made this diagnosis unbelievable was that this doctor had talked to our heroine a sum total of 20 minutes over two visits. My daughter looked at me, and a bubble pop appeared above her head (this fairytale is in comic book form). “Mom,” the bubble reads, “I love to eat and would eat copious amounts of food right now if I didn’t feel like I was going to puke. What is this guy’s major malfunction?” My bubble replies, “Don’t worry, honey, I’ll take care of this.” After we’re finished, we walk out, he directs us to window to make another appointment. I look at him and calmly say, “We are never coming back here.”  We find out a few months later the medication her dermatologist prescribed for skin issues caused the stomach upset.

The determined family sets off in search of a new doctor. At another recommendation, they drive over the expressway and through the woods to The Sage. He has been working as a psychiatrist for almost 60 years. Among other ideas, he tells our teenage heroine to “listen to this CD as you fall asleep to help you stay positive.” I’m not going to tell you what her speech bubble said this time. The Sage did help my daughter with being able to sleep better. He tried his best. He knew he was not helping and recommended we see another physician since our daughter was not connecting with him.

Once again the family sets off in search of a doctor who could help. The third psychiatrist was someone only our teenage heroine met face to face, as this was at a psychiatric hospital and he was much too busy to meet with us. Since I can’t share the name we have for him in polite company I’ll just call him PsyX. He huffed and puffed and lectured me (over the phone): “Our facility works mostly with ED children, but we’ll take your daughter and call the healing process flooding.” Buh Bye.

Worn out and losing hope, our fearless family sets off to meet yet another doctor. Are you overwhelmed, frustrated, disgusted, losing your wits, ready for this story to end? The fourth psychiatrist is Texter #2 who hides behind his cellphone and laptop “checking for drug interactions.” At least that was his answer when I asked, “Why are you always on your technology during our visits?”

It’s at this point we reach the climax of the story, the point of highest tension, the turning point. We get a phone call. It’s the children’s hospital in the big city. And we are next on the waiting list for an appointment. Cue heavenly music and beams of pure, white light.

Our fearless family drives over the expressway, boards a train, hails a taxi, scurries up an escalator, climbs in an elevator and arrives in a waiting room. Ladies and gentlemen, it is our pleasure to introduce Psychiatrist number 5, or the Angel of Lurie, as we like to call her.

At our first appointment, the Angel of Lurie asked us lots of questions and listened to the answers. She took one look at all the medications prescribed by previous medical professionals and started researching each while she talked to us and listened to our answers. After a short time she turned away from her computer, made eye contact (in my comic book this would be a cell featuring just a pair of eyes) and stated to our young heroine “one of these prescriptions should be increased, all the rest can be eliminated. We’ll do it slowly, but in a few months you’ll be down to one and feeling much better and more yourself.” And after about that much time she was exactly right.

Resolution of crisis. Ends tied up. Our fearless family can be seen driving off into the sunset, fists pounding wildly in the air. The moral of this tale is simple, and you, kind reader, are surely smart enough to guess it: Don’t settle for less than the treatment you and your loved ones deserve because there are some amazing doctors out there who are qualified and caring. And that’s no fairytale.

The Mighty is asking the following: How would you describe your disability, disease or mental illness to a child? If you’ve done this before, tell us about that moment and the child’s reaction. Check out our Submit a Story page for more about our submission guidelines.

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