bad psychiatrists

Drastic Pain Calls for Drastic Improvements

Still Life with Skull Leeks and Pitcher by Picasso

Still Life with Skull Leeks and Pitcher by Picasso

I’ve been told by multiple mental health professionals, from psychiatrists to social workers, that I should not make big decisions while in the midst of a crisis.

I mostly think that’s terrible advice, and it’s definitely inappropriate when it comes from someone who doesn’t understand the context of your crisis. When you’re suffering an abusive relationship, it’s a huge decision to leave – a huge decision that you must make and enforce before your crisis will end. That’s an easy example, of course. There are harder ones – quitting your job when you don’t have another one lined up, ending a relationship that has its ups and downs.

But there’s something deeply marginalizing about that advice. Yes, you’re hurting, and that means you’re not qualified to choose a path, so just keep crawling along for a while. Your problems are not real, so things will probably clear up on their own.

True, you’re often not thinking clearly when you’re in a crisis. But recovery is full of big decisions. Seeking treatment itself can be a life changing decision. We’re supposed to wait? For what?

I stayed in a traumatic job for more than a year after I knew I needed to leave. I stayed in a city that I desperately wanted to leave, too. I suffered without the support of my closest friends and family, who were too far away to realize how bad I’d gotten.

Maybe I didn’t have it together enough, or didn’t have the confidence to leave. I don’t think I was blindly following bad advice – but I did take it seriously, and it was liverwurst.

A chemistry professor, who was also a minister, once told me that we live more powerfully when we live by our own choice.

Trust yourself. Find a calm moment, think on it, and trust yourself.


Photo of painting by Sharon Mollerus on Flickr

Can I Just Say #6 – A Note on Psychiatry

Operating SystemI am grateful for the work that medical science has done on depression. I am grateful (really!) for the medicine, which I’m taking and which is helping. But can I just say that I would appreciate some humility from the psychiatry crew?*

Your science is very young. You have no idea of the actual mechanism of most of your tools, and most of your interventions work only in the short and medium term. You don’t know my body better than me. You don’t know my mind better than me, and you don’t know which meds will work.

You ask me to track my symptoms and then ignore me when I say that it’s driving me crazy. (Are these thoughts worse than yesterday? These feelings? Oh. That was a bad one. Is this anger or anxiety…).

What’s the point of a bunch of painfully collected data if you can’t even begin to infer causality? Am I more anxious than a week ago because of the meds or is it because I just started a job at a call center where customers tell me to go fuck myself? Please stop acting like we have a counterfactual, an alternate Mfupi who didn’t start that job. Another Mfupi with my biology and history who’s not on the meds you recently switched me to. Just stop.

Also, there aren’t that many drugs for depression. You should be familiar with them.

I appreciate your help. I believe you have my best interests at heart, just have some humility. Please recognize that “everyone is different” means that you don’t actually know how to help me.

So don’t act like my doubts = noncompliance. This isn’t a relationship in which one person should comply. This is a partnership. You bring your imperfect understanding of my condition. I’ll bring my imperfect interpretations of my thoughts and feelings. And we’ll figure it out together.



*I’m a huge fan of psychology, where PhDs and other experts provide talk therapy. This post is about the medical field of psychiatry, which, for depression, mostly concerns itself with managing medication regimens.

Photo by Mark Anderson on Flickr

Can I Just Say?

This is the first in an occasional series called, Can I Just Say?. I try to keep the regular posts kind of positive, but sometimes positive is annoying. This isn’t a blog about feeling good. It’s a blog about dealing with depression. Not everything is progress, and that’s ok. This is a place to commiserate, a place to bitch.

And can I just say, the hold music at my psychiatrists office sounds like a fucking horror movie. It’s terrifying.  Like calling your psychiatrist isn’t hard enough, they’ve got me checking my fucking blind spots from my living room couch.

That is all.

The Cozy Beast

Guys, I gotta tell you about the newest technology in night-sweats management.

I have discovered a Hot Water Bottle Solution.

Many antidepressants, including SSRIs (lexapro, prozac, zoloft, etc.) cause night sweats and MAN is this shit annoying. I’m not talking about waking up with a damp hairline because your bedroom is too warm. I’m talking about changing your shirt three times (that’s four shirts!) in a night because you’re drenched and freezing.

First I freaked out. Then I felt extremely downtrodden (nightmares aren’t enough?), then I stopped using a space heater or my hot water bottle. Then I did some googling and my unemployed ass bought 100% cotton tank tops, sheets and shorts. No success.

THEN I thought screw this. I’m going to run straight at it. Real night sweats are not due to overheating. I don’t know what the fuck they’re due to, but it’s not a temperature thing. I wake up freezing because I’m drenched, so why not just fight fire with fire? I now sleep WITH my hot water bottle (the best hot water bottle in America, courtesy of my Aunt Nell in England, a hot water bottle aficionado).

The Best Hot Water Bottle in America

I leave the cozy beast by my feet and when I wake up freezing I just hug it close.

BAM. The Hot Water Bottle Solution.

It heats you up, let’s you go back to sleep, makes you feel like you’ve conquered the SSRI demon.

(Hot water bottles can be hard to find in the US, but they are hidden in many a CVS, on the bottom or very top shelf, folded up into a cardboard box that looks nothing like a hot water bottle. They come without covers, so I recommend plopping them into a pillowcase.)

Remember, kids. We’re behind you.

ps. A note to a terrible psychiatrist: “Thanks, My-First-Psychiatrist-Ever, for telling me, a thirty year old single woman who wants to have kids one day, that my night sweats were probably early menopause. Surely they couldn’t be a common side effect of a drug YOU prescribed! What else could they be? Cancer? A brain-eating parasite???” Lord this disease requires even more patience than it robs from us.

The Incognito Cozy Beast