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Why Switching Primary Care Doctors Was Good for My Mental Health

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A couple of weeks ago, I went to my new primary doctor. We changed counties, and my old doctor was more than 90 minutes away. Quite honestly, my nerves are not equipped to handle the drive there, waiting up to an hour to see the doctor, and then the drive back home in the interstate — all in one day. I went to my new doctor, armed with my medical notebook and my husband. After the medical assistant took my vitals and my medical history, I was taken to the exam room. Eventually, the doctor came in and started reviewing my medical history with me. After a couple of minutes, he stopped me mid-sentence and asked me if I was bipolar.

• What is Bipolar disorder?

Now, when I gave them my medical history, I intentionally left out my extensive psychiatric history. A history starting at 11 years old with therapists, medications, reactions — eventually turning into psych admits, more doctors, therapists, medications — you get the point. It takes up more than two pages in my notebook. From what I have noticed, as soon as a doctor (primary, emergency room, anything) finds out I have a psychiatric diagnosis, they start treating me differently.

Back to this doctor. When he asked if I was bipolar, I told him yes. I told him I was diagnosed my junior or senior year of high school. Right away, he started blaming everything on my diagnosis. Every medical condition, every medication reaction was — in his words — fabricated by me because “that’s what bipolar people do.” Now, these are medical conditions multiple doctors have confirmed. Some of the conditions cause great pain, causing me to pain for days.

I left the office feeling completely destroyed. I couldn’t stop asking myself and my husband questions. How could a doctor treat a patient like this? Whatever happened to taking the Hippocratic Oath? Telling someone with some pretty serious medical conditions it’s all a fabricated because they have a psychiatric diagnosis is pretty harmful!

I decided right then and there I was never going back to that doctor. I called my insurance and changed doctors. After the change was completed, the insurance rep asked me why I was changing my primary care physician. I explained what happened and was told I could file a formal complaint against him. So I did just that. There is absolutely zero reason why a doctor (or anyone) should ever speak to a patient (or anyone) like that.

Just because someone has a psychiatric diagnosis, does not make them any less of a person. Battling your own inner demons say in and day out? That makes you a damn warrior!

Don’t let anyone ever tell you that you aren’t worthy of proper medical care due to a psych diagnosis. You are not your diagnosis. Your diagnosis is part of who you are. Fight back and make your voice heard by your doctors or insurance.

Thinkstock photo via monkeybusinessimages.

Originally published: April 14, 2017
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