What is the hardest thing about having a mood disorder? You might expect me to answer the fatigue or the weird looks I get from people when I tell them what I'm dealing with. Or maybe it would be the simple act of taking a pill every morning. The emotional implications of that are weighty enough, let alone the actual remembering. Heck, you might even guess it the few and far between yet very real suicidal hallucinations. But nope. It's not even that.
The hardest thing about having a mood disorder? Finding a psychiatrist.
All the articles and commercials and TV shows will tell you that the only responsible way to do antidepressants is through your psychiatrist. Sure you can get a prescription from your general practice doc, but he is probably so unaware of the ins and outs and complications that the odds of you getting something that actually works are pretty slim.
And then there's the self-medicating aspect. Having a psychiatrist is supposed to be keep people from doing dangerous things like going randomly cold-turkey off their meds or upping their dosage on bad days and lowering on good days. Psychiatric medicines aren't like Tylenol, people! Their effects take weeks to kick in and weeks to wear off. Psychiatrists are the dudes who are supposed to help us crazies navigate all that.
Of course, that means psychiatrists would actually have to be available.
Awhile ago my therapist recommended two psychiatrists for me. Neither of them were covered by my insurance but I thought I'd check them out. I had a few questions to ask them but I never got past the price. Intake exam: $300 dollars. Follow-up exams: $150. Out of pocket.
That sent me to my insurance website. I spent over an hour figuring out their system and how to tell who specializes in what and making a list of covered people and where they practiced. A couple weeks later I carved out the time to make the calls. After working through some bad phone numbers and crossing some dead-ends off the list, I got this lovely message:
Chirpy Robot Lady, "Press 1 if you would like to schedule a new patient exam"
(I pressed one.)
Chirpy Robot Lady, "We are not accepting new patients at this time." *click*
That's right, I got hung up on. Another hour down the drain.
I have some serious medicine questions--Husband and I are contemplating baby number four and want to talk with someone knowledgeable about the risks and medicine and other PPD issues--that I want answered and I know my OB and my family practice docs (and the internet!) can't answer them. I've spent the last couple weeks trying to drop my dosage--slowly, ever so slowly--and the results have been headaches, nausea, increased yelling (mostly at my kids), and fast-cycling, extreme emotions. That last one is usually a sign of big trouble.
I like to think I'm a pretty rational and responsibly disordered gal, but I'm beginning to feel like my hands are tied! My sister suggested figuring out if my insurance has a patient's advocate system that could help me muscle my way in to a psychiatrist. I've also heard that therapists can sometimes get you in, but I don't think my therapist is associated with anyone.
What's a girl to do? Do you guys have any ideas?