[Two Pronged] Traumatic session with psychiatrist
Jeremy has a master's degree in law from Oxford University. A banker of 37 years who worked in 3 continents, he has been training with Dr Holmes for the last 10 years as co-lecturer and, occasionally, as co-therapist, especially with clients whose financial concerns intrude into their daily lives
Together, they have written two books: Love Triangles: Understanding the Macho-Mistress Mentality and Imported Love: Filipino-Foreign Liaisons.
Dear Dr Holmes and Mr Baer,
Among other reasons, your suggestion led me back home to consult with a psychiatrist. I prefer to express my feelings in Tagalog. (READ: [Two Pronged] Living abroad, feeling alone, looking for help)
After tearfully telling him about my anxiety and angst, he told me: “You’re just spoiled. You should be content with what you have. In fact, you are so lucky that you’re there!"
Me: I am aware that there are countless Filipinos wanting to be in my position. That is why I am getting this consultation. Remember my anxiety?
Psychiatrist: Everyone has anxiety—you, me, all of us, right? Your problem is your attitude. You don’t want to adjust. You should have adjusted by now, you have been there a long time already. YOU are the problem. You have an ‘I don’t like’ attitude.
He added in a tone that implied I had no right to be: “You seem angry”
Me: I know something is not right—yes, I am living the dream with an ideal husband but I still cry myself to sleep because I am sad. I just want to know what’s wrong with me. I know this is not me. I am not looking for prescription medicines. There are known side effects of medicines for my nerve pain cause anxiety, depression and suicidal tendencies. I take it ONLY if the pain reaches 9.5/10.
Psychiatrist: Even if you are depressed I can’t diagnose you as depressed.
Psychiatrist: If I give you a diagnosis, I have to give you a prescription. But I can’t monitor you, especially whether you are taking your meds or not.
I am a very private person. Sharing my pain and struggles are not easy. This experience was absolutely traumatic. What if I killed myself over his comments? How about the other people who believe UST is one of the best hospitals here? How about those mentally unhealthy seeking for help? Will they be brushed off too? What if we are now too afraid getting a second opinion?
Am I being too dramatic? Imagining things? Stupid?
I suggest that your first priority be safeguarding your own mental health and only after achieving that should you consider whether saving fellow sufferers from the clutches of your UST psychiatrist and others like him is a worthwhile task or more akin to tilting at windmills.
So the next step is to decide whether your desire to speak Tagalog is such that you need to find an alternative psychiatrist in Manila or is it a case of “once bitten, twice shy," which would suggest you seek out someone where you now live. Certainly, if therapy will require multiple sessions and prescription medicine, a psychiatrist where you live will make life infinitely easier. And from a purely pragmatic point of view, as you live and work abroad, if it were not for your preference to express your feelings in Tagalog you would never have returned to Manila for treatment in the first place.
On the other hand, just because UST psychiatrist # 1 was bad does not mean all the rest are bad, even at UST, much less in the Philippines. One cautionary note is however worth adding.
Practitioners generally, and logically, concentrate treatment around drugs that are available locally. As there may be drugs suitable for your condition that are unavailable here, you may wish to seek treatment where you live.
However, given what you say about prescriptive medicine, this may not be an issue.
Finding the "right" therapist is not easy, as you have discovered.
I wish you the best of luck,
I could be facetious and say: “Thank God for your incompetent psychiatrist! It makes good psychologists stand out even more!” but then that would make me as clueless, judgmental and self absorbed as yours is. Because clueless, judgmental and self absorbed he certainly was—and maybe is with everyone else who goes to him.
I am thankful that, even if you were depressed when you saw him, you still had enough fight in you 1) To realize what an idiot he was; and 2) To disagree with his “analysis”—if one could even call his knee jerk reactions a thought process.
But there are limits to how long I can denigrate your psychiatrist. I hope that my (and Mr Baer’s) agreeing with your analysis (with the word used accurately this time) is enough to encourage you to keep trying until either you find a professional you can work with or you get through this depression.
The latter is something that can happen—because research has shown depression goes away in time. However, it takes so, so much longer and is much more painful without professional help and, if you will excuse me for presenting anecdotal "evidence," I know this for a fact, based personal experience with both, so I always choose the former now.
Finally, rationalizing that my continuing in this anecdotal manner is the most helpful way in this particular situation, I, too, got depressed whenever I realized I had to live abroad for the rest of my life. In other words, hindi ka nag iisa (you are not alone), PLUS, it is perfectly understandable, especially if your life in the Philippines was pretty damn good anyway.
Different people in similar situations will find different ways to cope with this. Knowing you have a supportive husband who loves you so much can ease the pain tremendously, but it is usually not enough. I hope you find a solution fairly quickly, but even if you don’t, hang in there.
If you need more specific suggestions in how to at least alleviate the angst, please write to us again? Next time I promise to be less personal and much more objective. With healing hugs across the miles which, hopefully, you can feel (and if you can’t, it is totally not your fault).
Need advice from our Two Pronged duo? Email email@example.com with subject heading TWO PRONGED. Unfortunately, the volume of correspondence precludes a personal response.