When My Psychiatrist Said She Couldn't Help Me Anymore
I’ve been seeing this psychiatrist for almost two years now. She is someone I would not describe as empathetic, compassionate or warmhearted.
I noticed this at our first appointment, which should have been the cue to change psychiatrists, but honestly I didn’t care at the time. I figured all psychiatrists were this way.
In mid-December, I voluntarily signed myself into a psychiatric hospital for suicidal behavior. After my two-week hospital stay, I was required to set up a follow-up appointment with my psychiatrist to ensure I continued my medications.
As always, I was nervous to tell her I was in the hospital. Every time I’ve told her about relapsing, whether it was self-harming, having suicidal thoughts or another hospital admission, I leave the appointment feeling worse than when I walk in.
My thoughts began racing while sitting in the lobby. How was I going to word it? What tone of voice should I use? How is she going to react this time?
After waiting for 15 minutes, my name was called and I followed the receptionist into my psychiatrist’s office. While waiting for her to walk in at any moment, I was picturing her possible reactions to what I was about to tell her.
She finally walks in and sits at her desk. I hand her my discharge paperwork. She asks why I was in the hospital so I told her about the suicidal behavior.
She shakes her head and asks, “How many times have you been in a hospital, Andrea?” I’m very hesitant to tell anyone the number of times I’ve been admitted to the hospital. I’m embarrassed about it. “About four times,” which I knew was a lie.
“It has to be more than that.” Knowing that was the truth, I stayed silent.
A couple minutes pass by and she is looking through the discharge paperwork, while I am sitting there patiently waiting for her to say something and write my prescriptions so I could leave.
She hands me my discharge paperwork and says, “I can’t help you anymore, Andrea. Nothing I’ve done has helped you. I’ll refill your medications, but it’s a matter of time before you end up back in a hospital.”
Ouch. I felt my stomach drop. It took a lot for me to hold back my tears. I was speechless and didn’t know how to respond.
She hands me my prescription and I leave her office to walk to the checkout window. She follows me and tells the receptionist I will not be scheduling another appointment with her. I didn’t say anything to her. As soon as I walked out of the door, I let go of the tears I was holding in.
Thinking back, I should have said something to her. Anything besides silence would have been a better reaction, but I was in shock. I didn’t know what to do.
I felt extremely depressed and numb for the following week or so. I stayed in bed every day, questioning whether my life was worth anything. I wanted to stop taking my medications because of her comment. Why would I want to get better when a professional lost hope in me?
I received a letter in the mail from her the other day. It was a basic letter stating I need to find another psychiatrist because she is no longer going to help me.
After reading the letter, I realized I can’t allow one person out of the seven billion in the world tell me I will never get better. That’s her opinion and I have mine.
Recovery is not linear; it isn’t a roller coaster that only goes up. We don’t just take medications or go to therapy and feel better for the rest of our lives. Roller coasters go down as well.
I’m in the process of finding a new psychiatrist. Someone who is empathetic, compassionate and warmhearted. Someone who recognizes that progress isn’t just uphill, but when we fall down there is always something positive to gain from it.
If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.
If you need support right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255, the Trevor Project at 1-866-488-7386 or text “START” to 741-741.
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Thinkstock photo via max-kegfire