It took me more than a year to a find a psychiatrist that was right for me. I saw psychiatrists privately and well as while I was hospitalised in both public and private hospitals at different times.
My experiences in the public health system are a topic for another post. But suffice to say, the experiences were not positive or helpful AT ALL at the time.
Psychiatrists I saw privately were good, but I didn’t find one who had a particular interest in Bipolar disorder, which is what I really needed.
Once I found one that did have a particular interest in that area, I then needed them to be inclusive of my husband – who was effectively my carer at the time. The first one refused to include my husband in my treatment and this was not in my best interest, nor my husbands.
So then we found another one who had a distinct interest in Bipolar and who was happy to include my husband whenever major decisions were being made – eg when to check me in or out of hospital, when to change my medications and when to use ECT.
I have written another blog on the topic of ECT (Electroconvulsive ‘shock’ Treatment).
I then took my time getting to know that psychiatrist (who is still my psychiatrist to this day) and we found that one of the most important things to find out about your psychiatrist is what admitting rights they have for which hospital – because that is the hospital that you will have to be treated in if you want your psychiatrist to treat you while you’re hospitalised. Mine had admitting rights to my hospital of choice and is actually also the psychiatrist who administers ECT treatments at that same hospital, too which is a great bonus. Much less stressful to undergo ECT when there is a familiar face in the room who you trust.
It is then imperative that you force yourself to be brutally honest with your psychiatrist of choice. They can’t treat ‘issues’ they are not aware of. Asking your ‘carer’ (in my case my husband) to help you with being honest is often critical – as it can be hard to see your own behavioural changes.
Once you are happy with your psychiatrist, nourish the relationship, always pay them on time, always try to be organised and ready for your sessions with them – write down the topics you need to raise, any scripts that you need renewed and any input from your carer. That way you will get the most out of your sessions with them and it will be worth the money you’re spending.
The other thing to remember is to be proactive in your relationship with your psychiatrist. Ask for help when you need it. Hold your ground too – if you don’t agree with him/her say so and have a conversation with them about why you have a different opinion to them. Don’t be afraid to disagree and don’t just take everything they say as gospel. They are a trained professional but they may not have come across a case exactly like yours before so it is a journey you take with them; sharing your side of the story so they can adapt their professional approach to suit you.
Well I hope that helps. Let me know if you have any questions for me or if there is another topic you would like me to cover.