How to make sure your Therapist or Psychiatrist is a right fit for you

I recently went to see a new psychiatrist. I’m not always keen on seeing someone new, as it usually takes a lot out of me going over what has happened in my past. Even though I don’t feel those emotions today, reliving them bubbles up how I used to feel, and I generally become overwhelmed with emotion and completely drained. I initially put in a referral for this psychiatrist when I was 6 months pregnant and feeling incredibly low. Unfortunately, the earliest appointment that I could get was the last week of October, almost three months postpartum.

Why haven’t you seen me sooner?” was her first question, and I scoffed. I reiterated that I have been trying to nail down an appointment every time I saw my general practitioner and my OB, but no one from her office contacted me. She apologized and said referrals get lost, but I brought along a note from her office, dated in June. I knew it wasn’t lost, but I was waiting for my turn, getting a free service in Canada has its downfalls.

After 40 minutes of talking to her and putting my heart out on the line, she was quick to judge that I was misdiagnosed years ago, and I may be bipolar. She rushed through different dates to come back, what type of things I should expect from the next appointments and briefly touched on medications. I left the office feeling deflated and cried my way to McDonald’s, where I ate my feelings.
After discussing it with my husband and some family, I figured out the reason I was crying was not due to a misdiagnosis but due to her lack of empathy and arrogance over knowing me after 40 minutes. When I talked to my friend (who I know was diagnosed bipolar years ago), she mentioned I should go to CAMH  – Center for Addiction and Mental Health – for a second opinion. After my appointments in November, I will. I don’t agree entirely with her on this quick diagnosis, and if I am genuinely bipolar, I would preferably someone there give it to me straight.

I’ve been festering with this information for a week now, and it made me think of all the times that I went to seek out professional help and how upset I was at not finding the right person for me. It took me over 5 years to find my last therapist!

After talking with some friends and going through my own history, I’ve made a list of reasons why we stopped or changed our therapists/psychiatrists:

  1. They try to push their values onto you or sell things, like herbal remedies.
  2. They get upset when you don’t take their advice as if you’re personally attacking them.
  3. They keep agreeing with every word your saying and not giving you constructive criticism or being objective. Good ones will call you out and hold you accountable for your actions
  4. They call you by the wrong name. (This has happened to me, and I lost all faith in her)
  5. They’re barely attentive and/or keep yawning during your sessions (or even attempt to fall asleep!)
  6. They believe that all of your struggles are due to your sexual orientation
  7. They’re affectionate and want to end sessions with a hug. This is a HUGE red flag. I don’t even shake hands with any practitioners – this is just my general rule and should be there’s too.
  8. They’re too cold/impersonal. A good doctor will provide an empathetic environment
  9. You feel like you’re not progressing. It’s important to establish measurable goals!
  10. They disclose private information to others, including people you know who see the same therapist (IE Family Members or other Doctors)

Even though I’m unsure if she’s the right fit for me, I will still go to those appointments in November. I have no problem revisiting my old trauma and going over my behavioural patterns; I would just rather fully immerse myself in a doctor I know I can see for an extended period. If I am not fully satisfied by the end, I will definitely put in a call to CAMH and get a second opinion.

If you happen to go through any of those issues listed above, I do recommend seeing a new therapist. Just remember, if you do feel stuck in divulging your past or present, changing a doctor will not likely help. Reliving things are uncomfortable and can hurt in many ways, but it’s the only way you can potentially move forward and heal yourself.

I’ve had a handful of people come up to me and ask me why I started this blog. It’s hard to pinpoint the correct answer as I can talk about this for hours – however, I do not shy away from the fact that I am proud to share my experiences and be a voice for others who cannot find their own.

I do this for the people who think they are alone navigating their anxiety, who believe that this is a burden they will never get rid of, who hide within thinking that if they pipe up no one will care.

Anyone who lives with anxiety will be able to agree that it is not easy. We’re in a constant state of worry, so it’s hard to find the positive side sometimes, but trust me, it’s there. Over-worrying is a blanketed term that touches all types of anxiety, and even though it can be a vice, I can see it in a favorable light as well. As the year’s pass, I feel my anxiety evolve, and my worrying has become more ‘reasonable’ to me. Sometimes I feel as if It’s a test or just my body needs to be on the ball. Dr. Jeremy Coplan, a study researcher of psychiatry at State University of New York Downstate Medical Center, explained that although most people tend to view anxiety as a negative thing, it is linked to intelligence. He goes on to suggested that even though anxiety can be disabling at times, there are some situations where there is a dangerous situation and that excessive worry becomes useful and adaptive.

Aside from intelligence, I tend to think that anxious people are also the most creative! My imagination runs wild at times, and I’m pretty sure that it’s associated with my over-worrying. I can find myself in a creative state, and like a flip of a switch, I am taken through my anxious roots almost immediately. I find it hard to channel sometimes, but I know that I can – the only issue is trying to navigate it and I’m still in that learning process!

The last and final thing that I love about my anxiety (Yes, I just said love!) is that I have gotten so good at reading people and my empathy has grown so incredibly much! So much so that I can now take on anyone’s emotion that is standing around me. It can get confusing at times because I don’t know if what I’m feeling is, in fact, MY emotion but the fact that I can tune in to specific energies almost makes me feel like I have superpowers!

I love helping out others and the fact that my anxiety gives me these positive outlooks makes me realize that overall, it’s not so bad. You need to learn how to adapt & overcome as the years go on, or of course, just be Batman.

My heart breaks.

Mental health is not a joke, and we should not look down on it. We need less judgment and more compassion. More check in’s and fewer shares of one meme “suicide hotline.” I urge you to check in on all of your friends, correctly.

In a week, we lost two celebrities to suicide, but there are many others that we’ll never hear about who did the same. Trying to place yourself in both Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain shoes are hard. They both genuinely believed that their children would be better off without them – Can you imagine how much pain they were in to think that?

We lose, roughly, 2160 people a day to suicide and it’s heartbreaking to keep seeing these rates go up. When we want to reach out to someone we need to stop looking down on them. From your wealthiest to your poorest friends, we all struggle with life. Instead of judging each other on which platform they stand – why don’t we encourage and lift others up? Where have we failed as a society to lack such empathy?

While undoubtedly chemical antidepressants have some value and should remain on the table, we need to radically expand the menu of options for people who are depressed and anxious to deal with the grave, underlying reasons why we feel this way.

For those that are struggling with depression – I urge you to hold on. If you’re depressed, if you’re anxious, you’re not crazy. You matter. You’re loved. This is not your fault. You won’t be able to cure this on your own, but, there is hope. Your presence on this earth makes a difference whether you see it or not.

Save Paragraph. Read Again. Repeat.

Roughly five years ago my then supervisor sent an e-mail to our team with an MBTI test. For those of you who are not aware, MBTI is Myers-Briggs. It was defined by a mother-daughter team based off of Carl Jung’s theory that humans experience the world with four functions: sensation, intuition, feeling and thinking.
I was always fascinated with these types of tests, so I dove right into the questionnaire. After answering all of my answers honestly, I was given four letters: INFJ

I = Introversion (preferred to extraversion)

N = Intuition (preferred to sensing)

F = Feeling (preferred to thinking)

J = Judging (preferred to perception)

A lot of my co-workers came back with EXXX types of personalities but I was quite similar to my supervisor, and that made me quite thankful to know I wasn’t the only introvert in the office. The test came with a comprehensive assessment, and I was blown away by it all. I felt as if I was being described perfectly about how I handle situations.

So what does it mean being an INFJ? I can get exhausted and overstimulated from social interactions and prefer interacting with a handful of people or alone with a book. I am very open-minded, imaginative and curious which can be an asset when looking at the bigger picture. I am sensitive and have a lot of empathy which makes my competitive nature almost non-existent. I have no spontaneity whatsoever – I prefer predictability, structure and am quite organized. Some negatives include; being self-conscious and sensitivity to stress. I experience a wide range of emotions and call myself a “Monica” because of my perfectionistic drive.

I was hooked, this test gave me so much clarity! When I got home later that evening, I tried to soak up as much information as I could. If this summary was completely on point, there must be MORE information that I can gather to make sense of myself.

Guess what? Anxiety ties into INFJ just like PB&J – for years I was led to believe that my personality was “wrong” and always had self-doubt creeping in the back of my mind. Now that I was down a path to learn more about my perception I started to love myself in whole other light. All of those negative opinions of me being “too emotional,” “a loner,” “not trying” seemed to wash over me. If Mother Teresa was an INFJ, it can’t be all that bad!badass