Thursday, September 8, 2016

Psycho Psychiatrists

Chilling in the pool during my trauma-free childhood.

Tragedy: All men may have been created equal, but all mental health professionals definitely were not.

Yesterday, I saw a new psychiatrist.  I thought this would be an easy transition... give her my OCD backstory, explain the medications I'm on, let her know I'm doing pretty well working with my therapist about once a month.  Easy peasy.


Instead, the woman I saw described my medication as "toxic."  She suggested that I do intensive psychotherapy instead, twice a week.  TWICE A WEEK! As my dad asked, "What is this? Hollywood?"  This remark made me feel a little better, like Marilyn Monroe.

This woman was also obsessed with my past.  It was like a run in with Freud.   She wanted to know details and memories from when I was very little, even asking me to do research to see how my mom's pregnancy was and how I acted as a baby.  It was clear she thought there must be some trigger for the anxiety from my childhood. 

This is far from the case.  My childhood was awesome: Nothing bad happened.  I am not repressing something.  I am not hiding something.  I'm seriously just lucky.

That's the thing about OCD that many people don't seem to grasp: It's genetic and chemical.  Situations may trigger it in some people, but nobody had to do anything wrong; there didn't have to be a trigger.  It's not like PTSD... some people even call OCD a brain disorder instead of a mental disorder.

The psychiatrist also just didn't seem to understand some of my OCD symptoms when I described them to her.  Now, I get that this was our first meeting... but I'm pretty textbook.  I felt like I was dealing with someone who didn't have a good grasp of the problem.

This is the big issue with finding a psychiatrist.  To rephrase Forrest Gump: "Psychiatrists are like a box of chocolates: you never know what you're going to get."  They all have different views and different training.  Some of them hate medication, some are pill pushers... some are more Freudian, others lean toward more modern theories. Some you would trust with your life, others you wouldn't want to trust with your lunch.

My advice to OCD friends out there looking for a psychiatrist is to find a specialist if you can.  Also, follow your heart.  Find treatment that you can feel good about.  Just because someone has an M.D. doesn't mean that they know everything.  You are the best expert on you, so find somebody compatible who can support your recovery.



  1. Oh Laura,I hope your first appointment with this therapist was your last. Definitely not a good fit and if you are going to share your stories and anxieties with someone (and pay them, no less!) they need to be someone you can trust and with whom you feel comfortable. Good for you, recognizing this. (And your dad is spot on!)

    A therapist of mine a long time ago said "The goal of the therapist is to help you find yourself and work with yourself in such a way that you don't need us anymore." And sometimes it takes longer than others but when she said that, I knew she was the one for me.

    1. I like that quote a lot! I'm very lucky to have a wonderful therapist that I've been working with... now I just need to find a psychiatrist to match! It's not always the easiest process, but you definitely have to take the time to find the right one.

  2. I love this post, and think you hit upon one of the biggest roadblocks for those seeking proper treatment for their OCD. So many "experts" don't have a clue! Keep telling it like it is to help raise awareness. You're doing a great job!

    1. Thank you! It is amazing how many so-called "experts" are clueless. We really have to be our own advocates. Luckily there are a lot of good resources out there if you can dig through and find them.