Doctor, No

I just walked in the door from my medications doctor, and I am so filled with impotent rage that I've been looking for something to break. Now lest you think this is just going to be another rant like the last entry, stick with me here, let me tell you a little story. 

When I was a child, I idolized doctors. My grandfather was a pediatrician, and I thought doctors were gods, with their gray hair and their strange instruments and usually gentle touch. I was lucky enough not to have any bad experiences with doctors until my late teens, or at least none that I can remember, so doctors were always deities in my mind. 

Then came my first interaction with a psychiatrist in an emergency room. Desperate not to self-harm one night my sophomore year in college, I called upon my Residence Assistant to just, please, talk to me, I just want to talk, please, I don't want to hurt myself tonight. 

She flipped out and the next thing I knew, I was in a locked room at New England Medical Center all alone in the middle of the night under psychiatric observation. I couldn't call anyone, not even my parents, and I had never in my life felt so alone and scared. It was a night that scarred me for life. It was also the night that I stopped looking at medical professionals as higher beings. Quite the contrary, now they were something to be feared and never, ever to be trusted. Once someone became a doctor, they changed, became soulless. I knew that my grandfather was not the norm, but the exception. Doctors were evil.

Was I making grandiose claims and sweeping generalizations? You bet your ass I was. Was that kind of ridiculous of me? Hey, you know what? There was only one person locked in that observation room that night, so this is one person's opinion. If you are a doctor, or feel the need to defend them, I understand, but you know what? I'm just not in the mood right now. 

After that night at NEMC, I was finally released, got back to the dorm, took a shower, and went to my 8:30 class the next morning. I didn't tell anyone about what had happened until a long while after the event. I didn't tell anyone because that was not only the night that I stopped looking up to doctors, it was the night I stopped asking for help. After that event, I would associate asking for help with being locked up or punished until I was in my 30s.  I still have a huge issue asking for help in any way, shape or form. It stems from that night alone in the white room, interns taking notes on me from outside the little window on the door. Watched like an animal in a cage. 

And no, I never got over it, not with over a decade of therapy under my belt, not with a masters degree in social work, not after working in an inpatient facility WITH doctors every day, oh no. I'm not over it. In fact, working WITH psychiatrists did nothing but confirm my fears, paranoia and suspicions. I've seen them on the other side, fellow "crazies." And yes, they do look at you as a blood sample, as a medication tester, as a pain in the ass, and most of all, as a paycheck. 

So what's my bloody point?

I shouldn't be surprised that every time I get back from my meds doc I'm full of impotent rage. He sits there for a scandalous amount of money every month, putters around his office, opens his mail, wipes his face with a Handi-Wipe, and rifles through his papers while I sit there, sullen and withdrawn, and try to talk to him for 20 minutes. I've been going to him for two years and the only advice I've ever gotten from him has been "talk to your therapist about it." 

So I shouldn't be surprised. He IS a doctor. 

When I was in ICU, after I came out of the coma, I saw how medical doctors were just as bad as the psychiatrists, even worse, if that's possible. If it weren't for nurses, therapists, social workers, and one med student that night at NEMC, I don't think I'd be here today. Because doctors don't care. They're not paid to care. They're paid to fill you with pills like a Pez dispenser and study you like a rat. And if this sounds like the insane rantings of an unstable person, that's a damn shame, because I'm thinking extremely clearly right now. 

Today I said "I've been so depressed, like it's always going to be like this. I'll always be alone, the crazy one, I'll just take pills and take care of cats, and be miserable and unloved forever. And when I don't feel like that, I feel such an unbelievable wave of rage that I can barely contain myself and rationalize my way out of smashing all my windows out."

He said "You know what your problem is? You can't live in the present. You torture yourself about the past, you agonize about the future, and you never let yourself live in the moment."

How profound, I thought. How accurate! So what do we do?

"So what do I do?" I asked, a spark of hope inside me. 

"Stop thinking like that. Here are your prescriptions, see you in a month. I'll need that check now."

I hate doctors. I hate being a lab rat. But most of all, I hate feeling like I'm nothing but a nuisance with a yapping mouth, an annoying bug that a doctor has to slap away in order to get paid. 

I'm not a paycheck, I'm a person. And I loathe every single doctor who has made me feel like less of a person, who has ever made ANYONE feel like less of a person because of an illness, a disability, a disorder of ANY kind. 

I wish they made them like my grandfather these days. But I've yet to find one that even begins to come close. 



Doctor, No — 16 Comments

  1. My grandfather was a Freudian psychiatrist. So I don’t wish they made them like that.
    But my absolutely lovely peach of brother is in his second year of medical school, and he’s going to be so good.
    I’m not just saying that because he’s my brother.
    @superjules’ dad is a lovely compassionate MD too.
    They exist.
    Although I worked in the medical field for YEARS. And yes. There are quite a few asshole doctors out there, too caught up in the medicine to look at the person.

  2. Ohmigosh, I so agree. I haven’t been in your situation, but so many of the doctors I’ve gone to have made me think that they really think “if it weren’t for the patients, this job would be great.” The rare few who treat me like a person are so valuable and amazing, and they always seem to move away to bigger places where there is more money.
    I see nurse practitioners a lot these days.
    I go see the doctor when I already know what is wrong and what I want to do about it, and I just need him to sign the script or something.

  3. I have a hard time trusting doctors and yes, I work with them every single day, though fortunately not in a clinical setting.
    I love the “stop doing that” approach. Wow, that’s helpful. I got the same thing because I have a mild/moderate OCD – I pick my skin until I am all scarred. My dermatologist acted like he had never seen it before (when it is actually kind of a common form of self-harm) and kept asking me if it “itched.” When I insisted, no, it does not itch, but I can’t stop myself, he said “You should really try to stop that.” OK THEN! DO YOU NOT THINK I HAVE TRIED TO STOP ONE MILLION TIMES AND I CAN’T?? BECAUSE THAT IS WHAT I AM SAYING HERE AND YOU ARE NOT LISTENING.
    Gah. Sorry for the yelling. But I feel you on this one.

  4. I hate to generalize, so know this is from my own experience — I now, when given the choice, *always* choose a woman doctor over a man, because I have had too many doctors like the ones you describe, and they have almost all been men. The women doctors, PA’s, nurse practitioners, and nurses have most all been just the opposite — the kind of caring individuals that one needs at those times. Obviously there are exceptions in both genders, but this rule has worked well for me.
    Oh, by the way, I also had severe OCD, and one doctor actually did say “Just stop!” Good grief.

  5. I don’t care for doctors either. I don’t like being poked, prodded, or examined.
    And they have this dismissive, god-complex air about them.
    I remember my mother being in the hospital for pneumonia and the doctor seemed like the only thing he cared about was the fact that my mom smoked, and hence it was all her fault and she was unworthy of compassion or care.
    I have that same problem, the one about torturing for the past and agonizing for the future. If you ever figure out how to fix that, I hope you’ll post the recipe.
    BTW the short hair looks uber cute on you.

  6. I am so, so sorry. It breaks my heart that you have been through so much of this. I feel every word of this so much. “Impotent rage” is the best way to express it too. I have been through years of doctors telling me to deal with it or get over it or that it’s nothing.
    They really don’t care. I finally, after YEARS, found a GP who gives a damn, which is hard enough, but to find a psychiatrist or any kind of specialist who cares is virtually impossible, I’ve found. I’m sorry to sound so negative in this comment, but I just want you to know that I agree with you, and that I’m there with you. I really hope things get better for you soon.

  7. I hate most MDs too (not to be confused with the other PhD doctors who I typically like) Whenever I go to the hospital for an asthma attack or major poison ivy allergic reaction, I feel like a a specimen. That said, I really like the pediatrician for my new kid. She has been really good so far but let’s see what happens in the future…

  8. I don’t know if this will help, but I always (now, but not when I was younger) think of my doctors as my employees. Because they are. I have hired them to perform a service, which I pay them for, and if they don’t measure up to my expectations, I fire them. (This is not to say that I want my doctors to blow smoke up my ass. Ricardo has that job, on an as-needed basis.) There are other, better, doctors out there.

  9. I really don’t understand why people who absolutely don’t care about their jobs still do them. What happened to compassion? What happened to caring if someone else is hurting….ESPECIALLY when they can’t help it? I’m sorry you are going through this and I really wish you could go to someone else.

  10. What an asshole. (Him, not you, obvs) You deserve better. We all do. As far as living more in the now, all I can share is what I try (not always successfully) to do. When I start feeling badly about the past, or future, I make myself think about where I am in my lift RIGHT NOW, and what makes me happy or what I’m doing well. I have cats who love me and make me smile. I’m doing well in my classes. I cook sausage gravy REALLY damn well. My family loves me. I make a list, and try to add to it every time. Sometimes it’s really damn small – I put my laundry in the hamper like a grownup – but sometimes that’s all I have. Sometimes it’s even enough.

  11. I’m so sorry, and I hope things get better. You have a terrific writing voice, and I love reading your tweets and blog. On today’s subject, I think you’d agree that doctors seem work from a limited tool box: surgery, tests, drugs. They tend to see every problem as one that should be addressed with those tools, and they offer only those tools. Those tools are undoubtedly powerful, and I’m grateful they exist. But if I want/need something more, I’ve learned I have to go elsewhere. Also, in my experience, docs start to get annoyed if what I need or what I’m asking for is not among their tools.

  12. Amen! I was almost killed twice in a month by my doctors and it all started because the intern in the Urgent Care looked at me all cross-eyed and asked why I was crying? He basically told me gastro-intestinitis is nothing to cry about. Sure it probably isn’t, however having a BURST APPENDIX is…yep. I went in to the doctor on a Monday and sat with a BURST APPENDIX until Thursday. Even though they admitted me to the hospital Monday until Tuesday they never ran any tests never did anything just treated me for dehydration. The story goes on and on and gets worse – but the bottom line is I’m still in shock and it was two years ago this happened. Now I have an autoimmune disease and a pending lawsuit. Doctors – super awesome 🙁 ugh.

  13. Not being able to live in the present in kind of a product of the modern world methinks — I don’t know anyone who doesn’t struggle with that. But it’s pretty flip of him to say that as though THAT’S your “problem.” Ugh.

  14. I completely understand the feelings… It took years of sadness, disappointment, and anger for me to find the right Psychiatrist/prescription doctor. However, I now believe that you don’t have to put yourself through this, you shouldn’t settle for a doctor that makes you feel that way. (Of course, having said that, I must admit that I put up with crappy prescribing psych. doctors myself for a ridiculous amount of time.) I know it might seem like a tremendous headache or a waste of time, but please, please, please thinks about maybe changing med doctors. You need and deserve someone who will listen to you, understand you, be there for you, and really help you feel better. Too bad you don’t live in NYC (you don’t, right?), otherwise I would be ecstatic to recommend my current prescribing psychiatrist — she is truly AMAZING.
    Good luck! But please promise me you’ll think about changing doctors, yes? Pretty please, with a kitten on top.

  15. I have read your blog for a while now and I am moved by the things I have read. There is hope out here and, as you have discovered, it doesn’t come in the form of a pill. Have you found that the “professionals” don’t believe there are voices? If they don’t believe what you say, how can they help? I have suffered from depression but found out how to overcome it and now my “down” days are higher than my “up” days ever were. If you’re at all interested in how I got out of the mess I was, write to me. I’d love to offer you hope. revrndmother@msncom

  16. I just don’t even know what to say.
    I’m so sorry you have to deal with such horrible “professionals”. I’ve had my share of bad doctors… and have also been lucky to find a couple of good ones.

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