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  •  I diagnosed myself with depression.... (9+ / 0-)

    .. a few years back.

    Well, I was under the care of a psychologist, an MFT (who can't prescribe). I would seem him once a week.  So it wasn't tough to realize, ultimately, that something was wrong.

    Finally, I realized I needed some pharmaceutical help.  This took some time to realize; I had suffered from low grade depression for more than 2 decades by that time, but the depression had taken a dramatic turn for the worst. Because I was used to being somewhat depressed, I also was used to not thinking I needed medication.

    But I called my insurance company after being unable to locate a psychiatrist who could provide a prescription.

    They said that all their psychiatrists were booked up, but they gave me a "special number" to call where they said I could get help.  I did call, but I got no help.

    Finally, I recalled that a sibling of mine had been on anti-depressants.  I called the sibling and was told the medication and then went to my general practitioner and got a prescription for Lexapro.

    It's not supposed to happen typically, but within hours of taking it, I felt incredibly good. That night I slept soundly, the first time in months.

    I learned a few things:

    - Our health care system is such a joke.  I had "good insurance," and I was a seriously depressed person having to swim upstream to get help.  I always wondered if I had been incapacitated, completely unmotivated to help myself in the face of such obstacles.

    - Self-prescribing as I did turned out to be a lucky break for me.  But really? Having to call a sibling to find out what they were taking, in hopes that our similar body chemistry would indicate something important?  That is utter bullshit.

    - Medication can save lives.  I am convinced my life was ultimately saved.  I felt like I had been fighting a losing battle.  Lexapro put me on an entirely different plane, a good one.

    - Because I wasn't under the care of a psychiatrist, I was not warned of some unexpected side effects.  In my case, the anti-depressant led to euphoria but also disinhibition that ended up with me knocking up a woman I didn't know well, one I had been dating a short time.  Now, I am really happy I have a 5-year-old daughter -- and I've been a very engaged father -- but starting the adventure of parenthood with a woman one doesn't know well from a different country (Brazil) is not the way to go....We tried to marry, but that was a big failure.

    - While I don't recommend it generally, I wasn't very secretive with people close to me that I took the medication -- partly because I felt they should know that taking meds can be an important helpful option.

    Epilogue:  I went off the meds after 8 months, deciding that I was okay without them and then consulting with my non-psychiatrist doctor.  Having the meds for 8 months repaired me, apparently, of my low-grade depression as well as my acute depression.  

    But this is simply not the way to run a healthcare system -- and mental health should be every bit as insured and prioritized as other conditions.

    •  Self-prescribing... (8+ / 0-)
      Self-prescribing as I did turned out to be a lucky break for me.  But really? Having to call a sibling to find out what they were taking, in hopes that our similar body chemistry would indicate something important?  That is utter bullshit...
      Self-prescribing this way is THE way to go.  I'm not advocating paranoia, but as the years go by and you become more familiar with your condition than the doctors who prescribe the meds for you, you'll learn to do this just out of self-defense.  Especially if you're changing doctors and the new doctor gets some brilliant idea to change things.

      Anecdote:

      I'm bipolar.  My classical music diary series that I did for two years was almost, but not quite, a memoir about being bipolar, as the regulars know.  I'm soooo bipolar...

      One time, I didn't have the money for my meds which were costing me too much money, so I got the brilliant idea of getting a second free doctor through the local mental health clinic who could prescribe the same meds and get them for me cheaper or free.

      I swear the following happened.  I've been diagnosed as bipolar for about thirty years now.  

      He looked at me across the table after a very short intake, and told me that he he could tell just from looking at me -- just from LOOKING at me -- that I was a psychotic.  He started pushing free samples of Haldol across the table to me.  Haldol is a heavy duty major tranquilizer.

      I told him, politely, I appreciate your opinion on this subject, but I've been diagnosed bipolar for years, I'm comfortable with that diagnosis, I'm comfortable with the medications that I'm on but can't afford them, and that I'd just like you to represcribe them for me.

      He told me he would look into that, because he didn't think one was on their list of drugs they would pay for.  But he continued to try to persuade me to take the Haldol.

      I told him, no, I don't think so, but thank you.  I don't think you can diagnose me so quickly, and so differently especially when I have seen so many other fine doctors over the years who concur.  I told him that if I needed anything, I just needed some fine tuning.

      He told me, well, I'm not going to fine tune you!  I'm going to change the channel!  (I swear, he said that, used that analogy.)  The channel you have clearly isn't working for you.  (I guess he determined that from the way I looked.)

      I asked him, What is it, the beard?

      No, I just have a lot of experience at this. A LOT.  I can tell just from looking at you.

      This was very distressing to me!  Not just because I thought he was wrong, but because I thought he was crazier than me and I had waited three months for this appointment with high hopes.  

      SOOOOO...  This anecdote is long but it gets more interesting now.

      I told him, sure, I'll take the Haldol, whatever, as long as you say you're going to try to push through the prescription for the drugs that I'm very, very used to and need.

      He said, okay!  Then he started setting up appointments, and scheduling blood tests.  This went on for a while, and then I asked him, I'm curious, what are the blood tests for?

      He said, We need to find out what keep a close check on your blood levels of the Haldol.  

      I told him, Shit man, I had no intention of actually TAKING the fucking Haldol.

      He reached across the table, grabbed the free samples out of my hand!

      I told him this isn't going to work.  After the meeting, which was a total waste, I asked the office secretary if she could make me another appointment with another doctor because this had been such a disaster.  She wanted to know what went wrong.  I told her.  The psychiatrist came in as I was telling her and started arguing with me in front of her.  So I said, oh well, nevermind, and went to the elevator.

      I'm in the elevator now, right?  Ready to go to the parking lot and go home.  Just before the door closes, the same doctor gets into the elevator, presumably, I guess, to go home as well.  And there's an uncomfortable silence between us as we go down.  Before the doors open, he starts to tell me again how much experience he has at identifying people's problems just by looking at them.  

      At this point, I was just trying to be as polite and gentlemanly as I possibly could, in order to LOOK less psychotic to this man.  As we walked out to the parking lot, I told him that I appreciated that he believed what he was saying, but that I was just quite content with the treatment that I had been getting and didn't want to change things, like "changing the channel."  That it took me a long time to find the channel that I had.  This conversation continued right up to my car, where he hilariously kept trying to persuade me of this.

      So...  I went home and worried just a tiny bit for months.  Could I have been misdiagnosed all this time?  There's no point in being too stubborn about things just because the guy was a total asshole.  I came to the conclusion that my other doctors were right and, truthfully, the meds I was on were the best that I'd been on in a long while and I didn't want to change them, no matter what this expert said.

      I didn't return to the clinic, Long Beach Mental Health.  A few weeks later, I got the bill for this free appointment.  Because I had not stayed, I was being billed for it.  I didn't even fight them over it.  They put it up for collection, and I blew it off as I do almost all my medical bills.  Nice to know, after the fact, that all that bullshit was for a service that wasn't really free in the first place.

      •  that doctor (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Dumbo, ladybug53

        was full of it. You can't diagnose mental problems like that, unless it's someone who's really obviously ill (and even then, I'd expect them to need at least ten minutes).

        I hope he got fired at some point for that kind of stuff.

        (Is it time for the pitchforks and torches yet?)

        by PJEvans on Fri Mar 01, 2013 at 07:40:43 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  If you're familiar with Haldol... (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          crose, barbwires, ladybug53

          through a friend who has taken or just its history, you might also realize how I just missed a bullet.

          Probably didn't get fired.  If you go for free medical treatment, well, beggars can't be choosers in this country.

          •  I hope you sent (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            barbwires, ladybug53, Dumbo

            a letter of complaint to the management of that facility; you might want to consider filing a compliant with the licensing board as well.

            What that doctor did was grossly out of bounds and likely against whatever ethics code there is for his profession--possibly even serious enough to lose his license.  It is highly likely that you're not the only  patient he has tried to bulldoze.  He is likely doing this repeatedly to other patients.  

            Aside from intentionally mistreating patients, he could be getting kickbacks from the Rx manufacturer - I can't imagine why a doctor would be so hell bent to force a patient to take a certain drug.  Further, it's a drug that's referred to as a 'chemical strait jacket,' like you said, it's some serious sh__.  A doctor just shouldn't go around passing that drug out like candy.

            The banks have a stranglehold on the political process. Mike Whitney

            by dfarrah on Sat Mar 02, 2013 at 09:08:36 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  The worse thing is (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            ladybug53, Dumbo

            Many elderly folk who may get depressed and disoriented because nursing home life is the pits get pumped full of Haldol or heavy duty anti-psychotics to make them easier to "manage."  When a lot of time what they need are decent treatment, a good night's sleep and chacking for drug interactions and electrolyte imbalances.

            Also for those with elderly relatives watch out for SSRIs in the elderly-can lead to low sodium levels (hyponatremia)and all kinds of physical problems including death.

            Democrats give you the Bill of Rights; Republicans sell you a bill of goods!

            by barbwires on Sat Mar 02, 2013 at 11:59:21 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

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