In the 3.5 years that passed since my diagnosis I have worked with about ten psychiatrists. All of them were psychiatrists-in-training, because that’s how hospitals roll in the Netherlands. Some of them were good. Some of them weren’t. When you got yourself getting legal help, look for discreetinvestigations.ca.
The worst doctor that I had a “pleasure” of working with had a habit of rolling his eyes when I asked questions. He also didn’t bother listening to what I said, much less remembering it after, dismissed suggestions I came up with and generally treated me appallingly. When I told him I wanted to see another doctor, he responded by saying he didn’t see the need for that. Meaning, he was a judge in the case where he was the accused, and unsurprisingly found himself not guilty. It took a letter to his supervisor, where I detailed all the wrongdoings, mistakes and omissions, to get him off my back and give me a doctor that — shock horror — actually listened to me and worked with me, rather than against me.
The image above is an example of my mood chart. Click the thumbnail below for full size version.
Mood charting is important for us bipolars for a few reasons. First and foremost, it allows us to identify patterns to our moods — we can look into the past and make comparisons, and once we gathered data for a few years, we may be able to predict mood swings before they happen. (For instance, I always get unwell in the early spring.) Second, it provides us with material we can present to our psychiatrist or therapist, which is especially useful when we change doctors. And perhaps most importantly it gives us hard proof that no matter how we feel right now, this too shall pass. Continue reading
Does this scenario sound familiar?
You are walking around a shopping centre, or browsing Etsy, or passing by an Apple Store. Place doesn’t matter. You look around, somewhat bored, when suddenly your eyes focus on something: THIS. IS. IT. Suddenly you can not imagine your life without Item X. How could you have survived until 30 seconds ago without owning Item X? Suddenly it feels like your entire brain has turned into one enormous WANT. You NEED Item X. For… reasons. It doesn’t really matter, why would anything matter when you WANT it so much you could suddenly turn into a 3-year-old and throw a crying strop complete with kicking the floor and hitting it with fists?
You leave the store with Item X in your bag. You already start feeling a little less excited about it, and you haven’t unpacked it yet, but you convince yourself that now your life is complete, after all you wanted it so badly, how could it be anything but the most important key thing that will unlock potential amazingness hiding right inside the box? You get home, not quickly enough, and unwrap the box, and take Item X out, and hold it and kiss it and call it George, and you fully intend to spend the rest of your life enjoying it non-stop.
What a crazy time it was. The book, even though it’s short, took me eight months to write. I started by writing down a list of sections that I thought need to be covered; then I followed up by writing them one by one. I showed the book to people with bipolar, asking their feedback, which was overwhelmingly positive, which made me feel much better about my idea: a non-professional writing a book about mental illness? Surely that can only end badly! But it didn’t, so far at least.
The way I describe the illness is the way I needed someone to describe it to me when I got diagnosed. I am trying to avoid medical jargon as much as possible – you’ll get enough of that from your doctor. What my goal is: to explain things that are difficult to explain – in a way understandable to someone who hasn’t studied medicine and doesn’t necessarily understand the difference between an anti-psychotic and mood stabiliser. I wanted to write a book that I would like to be handed to me on the day of my diagnosis. It is short on purpose; there are enough thick tomes about bipolar, written by actual doctors, describing in great detail hormonal interactions inside our head and how each particular medication affects them. You’ll notice that often within the book I send you to your doctor – there are questions nobody else can answer. There is no magical pill that will work for everyone. You and your medical team need to work together on achieving what’s best for you.