I already have my psychiatrist — aka meds doctor. She’s great, which shows I ought to stick things out longer than I usually do. Because initially I was oh-so skeptical. Maybe it was because she’s not much older than I, if at all. It’s a little strange thinking your little sister could be in control of your psychotropic medications. But, we’re good now. And besides, I don’t actually have a little sister.
So today I met the psychologist, we’ll call her Dr. P.
Dr. P gave me the lay of the land – where to find the potty, HIPPA papers, and the whole money spiel: cancel-two-days-prior-or-you’ll-get-docked-some-cash. She brought me a glass of water, which helps, with what I don’t know, but it was nice. She gave me the chair option. I chose the one facing her, so I wouldn’t get a crick in my neck.
I crossed my legs, uncrossed them. Saw a bunch of balled up tissue in a garbage can. Wondered if she was going to make me cry.
I was kind of hoping she’d just make a beeline right to questions but instead and she asked me to start where I wanted to start. First of all, I didn’t want to start anywhere. But I did, beginning with very vague feelings about how I want to “understand my bipolar illness.” She crinkled her forehead, thinking deeply, perhaps? I managed to miraculously prattle on for a good 45 minutes without saying one word about the “really crazy stuff.”
“You say ‘weird’ a lot,” she said. I crinkled my forehead.
Yeah, well, it sounds better than crazy, right? And she crinkled her forehead. What does that mean? I pondered, the crinkly forehead. You don’t understand me? What I said was crazy? I am totally confusing you? The crinkly forehead might be the be-all-end-all here. I was obsessed.
And then, she spoke. She told me what incredible strength I have. That it’s amazing, all that I have – despite not being diagnosed until age 42. Still married after 10 years, have two amazingly wonderful children, a job I love.
And that I carry a lot of shame. A lot. And that I shouldn’t.
She told me that if I had diabetes, I would find a specialist, figure out how to manage it, decide who I wanted to tell … “Bipolar illness is no different.” I am pretty sure I rolled my eyes. Because she crinkled her forehead and went through the whole diabetes comparison one more time.
OK, slight breakthrough. You can have chemistry issues throughout your body – including your brain. I’ve read that in my bipolar magazine and the dozen books I ordered right after my diagnosis. But somehow having this PhD-educated women verbalizing it, with such conviction. Well, I believed.
And that was that. I survived. Only one tissue and a half glass of water.
She told me she figured we’d only touched the tip of the iceberg.
Then, she said, “I think you’re a flight risk.” Yeah, she’s right. The chances of me showing up for session No. 2 would normally be slim to none. But this is different. This time, I know I have bipolar. And I want help. I need help.
And I’ll be listening to her again, 8 a.m. Tuesday, crinkly forehead and all.
After all, she told me I have strength.