Too Long, Too Soon

On Thursday, I finally got a call back from the psychiatrist’s receptionist, almost two weeks after I’d called to make an appointment. My GP had called to let her know that I’d broken my wrist and asked them to please get in touch with me, and they did, but the appointment they offered was 5 weeks away.

I accepted, then crawled into bed in tears. How was I going to hold on for another 5 weeks? I felt frantic, thoughts swirling urgently – which bone could I break next? How would I do it?

Everything seemed hopeless. I’d tried over 20 other psychiatrists, even those who weren’t suited to me, and none of them were taking new patients. I wasn’t suicidal, but only because of Everest. A couple of weeks ago, I was sitting on the floor of my bedroom, tying a chain around my doorknob and testing to make sure it could hold my whole body weight, ready to choke myself. And Ever came over to me, curled up on my bare feet and went to sleep, breath tickling my ankle. I couldn’t bear the thought of her in the room with my dead body. Bringing her monkey over and dropping it in front of me, waiting for me to throw it for her. Patting my face and trying to wake me up. So, I’m not suicidal, right now. But I needed to hurt myself.

The next day, my brother C told me that my first choice of psychiatrists had agreed to see me. Originally she’d said she wasn’t taking new patients, but he’d called four times and told the receptionist that we’re out of names on the list and my sister needs to see somebody, so I need to talk to the goddamn doctor. I could never be that forceful, but it worked. The psychiatrist called him back and agreed to assess me with the possibility of seeing me regularly.

She specializes in BPD, so she must be experienced with self harm. She’s ranked #7 of #578 psychiatrists in my state, and she admits to the best private psychiatric hospital in my city. And when I called to make an appointment, she offered me one next week.

For a few minutes, I felt pure relief and excitement. And then I felt terrified.

It’s too soon. I’m not ready.

Now that I’m finally past the first hurdle, I remember how much I hate seeing someone new for the first time. How sick and nervous I feel and how hard it is to cover that up. How hard it is to stay resilient against whatever judgments they come up with about me, and the near inevitability that they’ll refer me on elsewhere to keep running like a hamster on a wheel. When I spoke to her on the phone I had real trouble understanding her accent, and felt embarrassed and ignorant when I had to keep asking her to repeat herself.

It’s more than that, though. When I first found her, she seemed like the holy grail of psychiatrists. I’m afraid of losing that hope. The idea of her was a safety net for me. I was resigned to maybe having a psychiatrist who wasn’t great, for now, but she was there as a shining beacon in the future – one day I’d reach the top of her waiting list, and all I had to do until then was find someone who was good enough to keep me relatively stable. If I don’t like her, or she doesn’t like me, that light at the end of the tunnel is gone.

Last night I dreamt of taking a wild wolf – boy foster child, who had four vicious dogs. He was burning them and branding them and beating them, and they were biting me, sinking their teeth in and not letting go. I was his aunt and I was committed to keeping him, but he took one of my comments as evidence that I was going to abandon him, and emerged from his bedroom with a knife, carving four deep gashes into my arm.

I don’t want to go to work today.

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Too Long, Too Soon

21 thoughts on “Too Long, Too Soon

  1. Sirena says:

    I’m so glad your brother fought for you and got you the help you so badly need, Rea. And I’m so glad for sweet little Everest who loves you so much. Fingers crossed that this Psychiatrist is going to be the one to help you.

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    1. I’m so lucky to have Everest. Even on days like today, where she climbs into the garbage bin and then can’t get out so just knocks the whole thing over.

      God, I hope she’s going to be the one. I wish it was Tuesday already so I don’t have to keep running over every possible scenario in my head.

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      1. Sirena says:

        hahha silly kitty! They really do get into some scrapes don’t they?
        Waiting is torture, but fingers crossed for you. Less than a week now! Maybe you could make notes or do art or something to take with you?

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      2. I’ve started trying to make a list of the things I want to get out of therapy, because I’m pretty familiar with the checklist of questions and that’s always near the top, but no matter how prepared I am, when the moment actually comes my answer will probably be “um…I don’t know…”

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      3. Sirena says:

        Maybe you can think about what do you want to make better in your life? Reduce self-harming, process trauma, learn emotional tolerance, learn how to cope in an interpersonal relationship..
        I remember my first session with Sienna and she asked ” What makes you think there’s anything wrong with you, why do you think you need therapy? ” I was like…. woah! I couldn’t explain properly why at the time and felt overwhelmed and intimidated. Didn’t take her long to realise exactly why I need therapy though HA!!!

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      4. Yikes, that’s a pretty confrontational way of asking the question! She definitely is pretty straight-forward, I do like that about her. Yeah, I’m thinking about the things I want to make better and how I want to make myself a better person, but really, all I need to do is roll up my sleeves to make it pretty clear why I need therapy!

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      5. Sirena says:

        She apologised the week later that what’s she’d meant was to reassure me that maybe I’m okay as I am and don’t need to change but it came out wrong in reflection. I like her straight forwardness too.
        They don’t expect a really in depth answer anyway they’re just needs a rough picture of where you’re at. Just be as honest and blunt as you can be about what you need from her.

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  2. Wow, big news and developments! The weeks away, not responding, what a joke. I’m disappointed in the provider. That is really unacceptable service.
    Glad your brother fought for you, glad you have an appointment. And hearing the fear and anxiety around meeting someone new, and the potential judgment and stigma. You do contend with stigmatized issues/behaviors, no way around that. I am hoping, REALLY hoping, this psychiatrist is not an asshole.

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    1. Last time I dreamt of Everest, somebody cut off her tail with garden shears to punish me. I prefer to wake up with her purring beside me.

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      1. This.shaking says:

        So sorry, dear Rea and dear Everest. My mistake. Please continue taking such good care of each other. TS

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  3. Ten zillion good karma points for your brother. I am so relieved he was able to fight to get you what you need and deserve.

    I sympathize with the difficulty of meeting someone new, especially when you have already invested so much in the idea of her. I’m guessing that since she specializes in BPD and knows about self-harm, she won’t be judgmental of whatever you tell her, just concerned, as well all are. I hope she’ll be warm. compassionate, competent and a good support for you.

    Who/what do you think the wolf-boy in your dream represents?

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    1. My brother is truly wonderful. He is so out of his depth – he has no idea what the difference between a psychiatrist and a psychologist is, let alone the answers to any of the questions they asked him – but he had no hesitation in making calls for me when I asked.

      I’m not sure about the wolf-boy. I wondered if maybe he’s an exiled part of myself, since I had the same feeling of foreboding walking down the corridor to his room that I get when I’m about to self harm. But his abuse of the dogs doesn’t really make sense – there’s no part of me that would ever hurt an animal like that, but maybe I’m being too literal. I don’t know. I guess I need therapy.

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  4. I hate those too soon appointments but in the end they are better because at least you get it over with. At least thats what I tell myself. Less time to be anxious, but the anxiousness is amped up pretty good. I am glad your brother is stepping up and fighting for you. that is good. I am glad you have Everest and that she has you.

    I bet the accent won’t be such a problem on the phone. I hate phone calls because I need the Visual and body language cues, especially for someone with an accent. I am glad you get to see her soon. I get seeing her as the last hope, but she is only #7, there are still 6 above her 🙂 I know easier to say these things from a safe distance over hear, not having to live it. But I do think its true. From now on maybe have your brother call. Maybe he can chew out your former providers too. That would make me feel better since I’m still mad at them in your behalf.

    I am glad you are not abandoning wolfboy in your dreams. I hope you don’t abandoned yourself.

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    1. You’re so right. I have flipped from it being too soon to wishing it was Tuesday already so I could just find out what’s going to happen. I’m trying to prepare myself for her not being able to see me but it’s still going to be hard to hear.

      Apparently my brother talked to Anna after she quit and stopped responding to me. When I was home over the weekend he told me he sent her an email and she suggested they talk on the phone and she explained her reasons for deciding not to work with me any more. He couldn’t remember what she actually said but he thought she had some good points. I was really upset when I found out they’d talked – not really sure why specifically, but I felt kind of betrayed and angry that she wouldn’t respond to me but she talked to him without my consent.

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      1. Umm yah, that is totally not ok. What the hell? Had you signed any disclosure/release of information agreements with Anna? If not at least here she can’t even confirm that you were seeing her, let alone talk about your treatment to ANYONE. Also totally non professional to ignore you if she is going to talk to someone else. Thats like triangulation and immature and really, really bad therapeutically. Are you going to call her out in it? Like report her to an ethics board? Maybe the timing isn’t the best right now, but I am appalled.

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      2. Nope, no agreement. I gave consent for her to speak with my brother once, at the end of last year after I’d just told him about my mental health problems for the first time, but I made it clear I was really uncomfortable with it and it wasn’t an ongoing agreement.

        It was a clear contravention of the Code of Ethics, but the idea of reporting her hadn’t even occurred to me. It was the wrong thing to do, but I expect she was looking for an opportunity to justify herself to somebody who was connected to the situation and might be receptive and therefore validating. Not legitimate, but human. I don’t know what (if anything) I should do about it.

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      3. Ok this isn’t the best advice but you could use it to blackmail her :-). Oh lots of thoughts how to use that leverage or cash!

        On a more serious note I think you could let her know that was not ok, it was a violation and she is not to do anything like that ever again. At the very least that would protect you currently, and any future clients she has. You can later decide to report.

        I agree with your assessment of her wanting to justify what happened, but just goes to show how far off base she got from her professional and ethical principles. On second thought maybe blackmail isn’t such a bad idea :-/

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  5. Hi rea, I am glad you found someone who treats self harm and is knowledgeable about it. I hope she turns out to be good and you will click with her. Sending you a lot of hugs if you would like them, xxx

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    1. Thank you! God, I hope she’s good, but if she decides not to keep seeing me then I kind of hope she’s lousy so that it’s less upsetting. I would love some hugs.

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