Psychiatrists and Bipolar Disorder

(Just want to say first that I’m not antipsychiatry. I actually LOVE psychiatry and am grateful to live at a time when we have it. But that doesn’t mean we don’t need more.)

anyway deep breath

Oh those silly Pdocs.  Can’t live with ’em. Can’t live without ’em.

A good Pdoc is hard to find.

A bad one is very easy to find.

Well not for everyone.  There are many areas where it is extremely difficult to find and actually get an appointment with any Pdoc let alone switch to a new one.

If it is possible, however, keep going until you find a good one.

This is like a Psychiatrist wanted Ad

“I am looking for a Pdoc who really listens, is respectful, who WANTS me to speak up about my treatment, who doesn’t dismiss anything I say, who doesn’t give me that condesending  look, and this really should go without saying (emphasis on the SHOULD) but they should not make me feel bad or say insensitive shitty things.

They should also be available and accessible to me.  They should get back to me quickly in an emergency, call when they say they will, and never make me feel like a bother or a burden.

An added benefit would be if their front staff could treat me like I’m human.  When I call and to my face.”

They exist but they are so rare it is crazy.  If you have the opportunity to “interview” Pdocs until you find a good one you might want to try it.  But what a holy shit ton of intakes to do.  Sheesh.

(I mean who likes an intake really.  Maybe the first time or two (if you’re all manic) it may be fun to talk about yourself but then it is just annoying and exhausting and it starts to feel invasive. blah)

The other problem is that Pdoc shopping makes US look bad.

People with other illnesses are supposed to get second opinions.  They can change doctors all they want without people impugning their character or “mental health”.  It may just look like they have high standards.  They tell people the doctor they left wasn’t giving them enough attention or wasn’t a good fit.

When we change Pdocs a couple times over it looks like we are the one with the problem.  Not the doc.  Their word against ours.  

But I decided I didn’t care.  I figured I am going to have this illness…hmm how long again…oh yeah FOREVER. And I kept firing them for their egregious behavior.

Psychiatrists are not Gods.

They are just doctors.  They went to school and learned some stuff.  They hopefully have a lot of experience treating people like us. They probably hopefully read the latest info about meds and stuff.  They should know their meds.

Ha. Look at my word choice…probably, hopefully, should…….can you tell how burnt I am?

They are providing a service.  We are paying them (or insurance or whatever) to provide us with a service.  Just like any other service.

They do not own Bipolar and are letting us be it.  It’s ours dammit.

Maybe some of them are themselves “mentally ill” and have taken some of these meds.  But most of them are not and have not.

So they can tell us what this stuff looks like and sounds like on paper but they haven’t ridden this ride.

It doesn’t mean that they are useless.  That is not what I am saying.

And I am definitely NOT saying that don’t have to listen to your Pdoc.  Nope nope nope.

We need them.  It is just part of Bipolar.  They’ve got the goods.  We need the goods.

But don’t let them usurp your power.

Research meds, see if there are any that YOU think sound like they may be a good for you and then ask your Pdoc about them.

Say your reasons for wanting the meds you want and don’t back down. I mean be open and everything to what they say and safety and all of that….. but also trust your gut.

And most importantly….

don’t let them dismiss you.

They can disagree with you and want you to do something else but you still need to feel heard and understood.

and then ask questions…

about the med

the side effects


how long will you wait to see if it works etc etc etc

Basically, be a Pdoc ball buster.

Sometimes you may even have to convince them and argue a bit.  Saying things like “i don’t think you understand what I am saying…or how much i am suffering… or how bad my anxiety is… etc”

Okay fine

I will tell you a little story.  Once upon a time I was anxious out the wazoooo.  I told the Pdoc of the moment that I was having really bad anxiety.  He said,

“No, no. I don’t see anxiety.  No anxiety. You look really good.”  (hmmmmaybe slightly inappropriate?)

I was like “It’s called make up you loser!” (I did not actually say that)

And I won’t get into the words that followed but you can be sure I left with the meds I wanted.

And here is the crap catch of this little situation…I have heard anecdotally that it is not uncommon for Pdocs to tell patients who are assertive that they must be Borderline.  Which is just a shitty offensive thing all around. Sorry Borderlines. We’ve got your back.

And again where is our voice here?  Who are they going to believe?…

“She is completely out of line.  I have added BPD to her dx.”

“He is an incompetent doctor. I demand to see a different one.”

ookkkkkayyyy crazy girl we will get riiiiiight on that (wink over shoulder to the pdoc)

But come on now, this is just a doctor and a patient.  If the doc is not clearly seeing the issue you are having then you deserve to communicate.

I mean if a dentist was about to start drilling on the wrong tooth you would speak up wouldn’t you? (Well I hope you would.  If not you need to be reading some dentist scared person blog or something.)

And would everybody accuse you of being difficult?  Probably not.

I have had Pdocs tell me things that were provably, undoubtably, officially, unquestionably, WRONG.

And it caused big problems.

I’m not talking about that one right now but maybe I should share a few others so you can see how I’m not being crazy when I say this stuff.

True story.  I was unmedicated and in a bad place.  I waited forever to see my then Pdoc.  I called her a couple of of times to tell her this.  When I saw her she completely brushed me off.  She was not even going to prescribe me ANYTHING.  She said, and I QUOTE….

“Well, I don’t know what you want me to do.  I mean you tell me that you’re sleeping okay.”

eXcuuuuuuse ME?

Back this truck allllll the way up.

I thought you went to a shit ton of school with the express purpose of KNOWING WHAT TO DO with people like me!

Okay one more.  I go to a Pdoc intake and she talks to me for awhile asking me all this random stuff.  Then at the end she says oh probably mild BP 2. No biggie.  And I say “You never asked me anything about my mania?”

She says….”Oh I didn’t think I needed to.  I feel like I have a pretty good idea of what’s going on from what I asked.”

I’m sorry but can I get a big……

what. the. fuck.


And those are just some.  So do you have a better idea of where I am coming from?

There are all kinds out there, people.

Once again I am going to say that you need to follow your Pdoc’s instructions, you need to be safe, you need to have a pdoc.

The point is that you need to advocate for yourself.

Whether you have a good Pdoc or  bad Pdoc or a Pdoc who is just meh

You need to power up your voice, pull it out, and whip it around.

You are not less than them.

You are not a second class patient because you have a “mental illness.”

You need to be respected.

And too often we don’t get respect unless we demand it.

(not earn. “earning respect” is a luxury for people who aren’t discriminated against)

The docs see a lot of patients.

You are not first on their list.


You are the ONLY one on your list.

Nobody is going to fight for you except you.


Add Yours
  1. themanicmonarch

    I really appreciate this blog post. I personally haven’t had the experience of going to bad psychiatrists since I’ve gone to the same one for the past 17 years but I know of people who had super negative experiences. My doctor has actually been very supportive of my mental health, writing letters advocating for me in certain situations and such. But im sure not all of them are like this


    • bipolarfirst

      That’s a good Pdoc! You’re so lucky.

      There are definitely good ones to be had.

      It is so good for us to learn about what it is like for others. That is one of the ways we can meld into a cohesive community.

      Like I had no idea that in some areas there is such a dearth of Pdocs and that lots of people cannot shop for the right one. Now I have more understanding of the Bipolar experience.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. carly456

    In the past, I haven’t even been able to get a referral to see a Pdoc, my PCP thought I wasn’t bad enough even though that’s what I wanted, so I’ve never seen one. Now that I have a hospitalization under my belt my PCP was much less reluctant. It’s unfortunate that’s what it took to get me there. That appointment was set up in May for August, so I have the long wait time problem in my city. But I am emboldened by your post to make sure that visit counts. Thanks.


    • bipolarfirst

      Oh, you are so welcome. I am soooo sorry that that is how it worked out for you. That is just egregious. AND you’ve had to wait all this time!???

      That totally sucks man.

      I am really glad you feel emboldened. That was my goal. High five!


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