Therapy part 4: That Mental Health Institution Shuffle.

A few posts ago I wrote about gettin’ the boot from my therapist and being referred to “specialist care”. I know, I also thought I was in specialist care already, but apparently not.

Anyway, the 84-day waiting list and then some has come to an end and I finally got the call! The call that told me that in another 21 days I had an appointment. YAY. You can imagine my anticipation.

Two weeks ago, it was time for that appointment and it was interesting to say the least. I don’t know if I have explained this before but the more specialist you get the more state or government funded these organisations are. Meaning it is free for me, the patient. Trust me though, we patients pay for that.

On arrival, I already had my first warning. This organisation also runs a free clinic for drug and alcohol addiction in the same building. Do not get me wrong, this is great of course. It does mean that we share all the same facilities though which leads to interesting scenes.

On coming in I pass a waiting room full of seriously bad looking people. Ranging from clear Mania to “I just shot up on the corner” to the exhausted, pasty, look of Post Natal Depression.

At reception, the receptionist asks me who I have an appointment with. I never got a name, big problem apparently. So, I asked her if it was possible to look it up via my name? my birthdate? my anything? After some blank stares, she had an AHA moment and chose to use my name. It worked.

She unlocked the door for me with a button under the desk. Always an ominous sign, the locked entrance door past reception. I took the elevator up to the third and arrive on a floor with nothing but closed doors, seriously no life, just doors, a coffee machine and a seating area.

All the windows were closed and the airco was definitely not working. With 30 degrees, Celsius (I gave up on Fahrenheit, sorry) and an anxiety disorder this is a bad situation. Hot, no air, no people around, closed doors everywhere, only way out via the elevator and everything looks and feels grimy.

Seriously, I was wearing a skirt and the seats were so filthy that I did not want to sit down on them. I would insert a picture here but in my distress I only took them in my Instagram live feed and they are gone.. technology.. next time I’ll do better.

After pacing through the hall for about 15 minutes one of the doors opened and a girl half my age came out and called my name like she was expecting 13 or more people in the waiting area instead of just me. I shakily followed her into an even hotter room, again, no open windows.

She explained to me this was my intake and I would be subjected to 1.5 hours of questions after which a “real” psychiatrist would look them over and decide on the right track.

She was not exaggerating, I got asked a lot a lot of questions. Ranging from my worst anxiety attack to suicidal thoughts, OCD and so on.

Then it was back into the grimy hallway/seating area again and after exactly 10 minutes I was called back in. The psychiatrist had arrived and apparently reviewed all my answers in 8 minutes. Yup! We shake hands and awkwardly try to find seating in the small sticky office.

When we do, sit down, she tells me she has concluded I am to follow the Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) Track because, as I was flabbergasted to hear, I do not have an anxiety disorder. Yes, these past 20 years I have been misdiagnosed over and over again.

After a stunned silence, I got pretty pissed off, which does not happen often in these situations. I told her I was fairly certain of what I have. Of course, I have some compulsive thoughts but the main problem is really an anxiety disorder.

She did not agree because panic attacks always, yes always, appear out of the blue. Clearly not knowing what she was talking about. True, this does happen and its the most awful feeling. But not always.

Especially not when you are drilled thoroughly by the previous battalion of therapists to recognise what is happening to you, like I am. I filled out endless forms over the years, given to me by therapists, that always pose the question: “what were you thinking before the panic attack came on?” To be prepared for the next time it hit instead of being caught of guard.

By now, I was seriously angry. How dare someone I do not know, look over some insane question list I had just poured sweat and tears into for only 5 minutes and decide something that has quite serious impact on my life?!

For the first time, since I started therapy, I told a psychiatrist I completely disagreed with her.

You would expect something spectacular to happen here but I barely got a reaction. Just a pitying look. Such a condescending bitch, yes, I am still pissed off. What did happen was that I got an appointment with another psychiatrist in two weeks to go over my medication, get told my options and make a plan of action.

Man, this post is becoming long, my apologies.

I had that appointment this week and the interesting outcome is they do not know where to place me. They don’t even know if they want to keep me. There is talk of being referred to the outpatient program for Panic and Compulsion at the hospital. Extreme, but after my experiences with this place so far, it does not sound that bad.

I would be placed on a six-month waiting list, again. Right now, that does not sound so bad to me either. I have reached my therapy limit, or at least my therapist limit.

In order to make the decision on where to place me they will be going over my records from the last therapist (the one that gave me the boot), and they will have a talk with my ex. I am not making this up. They want to talk to someone who recently lived with me. At least after that talk they will know that living with me is pretty hard going.

Anyway, that is for a later post, sometime soon. For now, I will remain in therapy limbo.

Thanks for reading, caring and all that beautiful stuff.