Replacing the Irreplaceable: On Finding a New Therapist
Some are between jobs. Some people are between husbands. I’m between psychiatrists. Last week, I saw my psychiatrist of 19 years for the very last time. Unfortunately, he was retiring. Next week, I will see my new psychiatrist. I have to admit, I feel untethered.
Something funny happened on the day of our last appointment. I was sitting in the waiting room, minding my own business. I was wearing a pair of extremely loud green, flowered pants.
A woman who was also waiting in the waiting room, took one look at me and rolled her eyes dramatically. Her harsh judgement of me made me mad. This is what I wanted to blurt out to her: “Many people of all kinds have rolled their eyes at me, but you are the most odious.” And 19 years ago, back in the day, I would have retaliated with this statement. But that Wednesday, I simply held my tongue. My psychiatrist had helped me over the years to get rid of erratic, impulsive behavior. I was bipolar, but I was not a bitch; I’d developed control and stability and a belief in myself despite what others thought.
That Wednesday, I said goodbye to a man who had seen me through difficult times in my life: marital problems; the international adoption of my son; my son’s autism diagnosis, and issues in school; two bouts of cancer; not to mention the ups and downs of dealing with manic depression. This man also helped me contend with the fortuitous things that happened over almost two decades such as my successful teaching career, my blossoming freelance writing life and eventual marital happiness. Let me tell you, saying goodbye was not easy. I cried. I didn’t think I would cry, but I did. My doctor asked me if I was crying because the woman in the waiting room had rolled her eyes at me (of course, I had told him the story) or if I was crying because it was our last meeting.
“It’s because it’s our last meeting,” I had said, looking around at his empty bookshelves and bare desk. Even the statue of Sigmund Freud; the statue of St. Dymphna, the Patron Saint of Mental Illness; and the mini desktop Zen garden with its little rake were gone.
Then, the doctor went over the results of some blood tests and wrote me the prescriptions I needed. He told me his future plans; he’d be working as an administrator at a local mental health clinic two days a week. Actual retirement would come in a few years.
Goodbye, old friend.
So now it’s onto new horizons with a new doctor. I have to be at his office at 9:45. I hope I like him. I hope we click…
After I saw my new doctor, and I can report that I like him, at least on first blush. He seems to be the total M.D. package, and there were no red flags. He asked all the right questions and appears to know precisely what he’s doing. I think we clicked.
I not only like him, I like his support staff. His receptionist is kind; his nurse, very competent. The whole practice seems extremely well managed.
And perhaps, this is the most important thing of all. I like his sense of humor. In response to our first meeting, I said, “All systems go.”
He replied, “Lift off.”
What more could I ask for?
At least, now, I don’t feel cut loose, untethered and floating around the stratosphere. When you have a chronic condition, you want a doctor around who knows what he’s doing.
I think I found one, but will he ever replace 19 years of dedication?
Only time — years, decades — will tell.
Yeager, L. (2018). Replacing the Irreplaceable: On Finding a New Therapist. Psych Central. Retrieved on March 31, 2020, from https://psychcentral.com/blog/replacing-the-irreplaceable-on-finding-a-new-therapist/