I saw my shrink today. I call him “The Duke.”
We had a perfectly fine half-hour meeting. He wrote me some scripts and listened to my current take on my life. Mainly, we talked about my son Tommy’s fear of entering sixth grade. The Duke warned me that the junior high years are awful and to brace myself. The Duke is a straight shooter. At the end of the appointment, I asked him how he thought I was doing.
“Fine,” he said. “You’re doing fine.”
“I think I’ve licked bipolar illness,” I said.
“Don’t say that,” he replied quickly.
Perhaps he was worried that I wasn’t taking my illness seriously enough. On the other hand, he’s always seems a little superstitious. In hindsight, I think he just didn’t want me to call down the evil eye.
Actually, I found his comment ironic. Here is an accomplished medical doctor, the finest psychiatrist in town; here is a scientist of the highest caliber, and he still seems, again, a little superstitious, as if mental illness is still caused by demonic possession or something similar.
It seems as if mental illness, despite all of the scientific research and effective medical treatments, will always be linked to mysterious, inexplicable causes.
The Duke has a statue of St. Dymphna, the patron saint of mental illness, on his bookshelf. He seeks help from any place he can get it. He also has a statue of Sigmund Freud. (Funny, The Duke looks a little like Sigmund.)
I love The Duke. It’s a classic case of falling in love with your shrink. This phenomenon has a name; it’s “transference.”
I used to have fantasies of flying to tropical islands with him. But I’ve gotten realistic.
The Duke has been with me since 1999. He’s seen me through some horrific times.
I truly don’t know if I would have survived all these years without him. These are his strengths: his humor, his terrific knowledge of how mental illness works, and his incredible fluency with prescribing psychotropic drugs. The Duke always knows what to prescribe for whatever is ailing me. He has a 100 percent success rate for fixing my mental (and physical) aches and pains.
For instance, when lithium was bothering my kidneys, causing me to pee my pants, he switched me to Depakote. When an antidepressant was making me manic, he quickly took me off it. When I couldn’t sleep, he added a touch of Imipramine. And then, when I got slightly depressed again, he put me on the mood-“brightening” Abilify. All of the subtle medication changes worked brilliantly.
I’ll say it again. I love The Duke. And I can’t help but think that The Duke loves his patients in an objective kind of patient/physician, “Do no harm” way. Maybe not all of his patients, but maybe he loves me.
I suspect some patients are absolute pains in the rear. The ones who won’t take their meds; the ones who keep making awful, possibly suicidal choices. Maybe the ones he can’t seem to reach. Or maybe he loves the unreachable folks more.
I am a good patient. I am completely compliant. I never miss an appointment or forget to take a pill. I follow The Duke’s advice to a T.
How could The Duke not love me?
I thank God for The Duke. He is a gift of the finest kind.