The Ponzi Scheme of Psychiatric Care

I’m not even sorry for the melodramatic title of this blog post.

I’ve had a bit of depression and minor anxiety for as long as I can remember. My young life is marked by times when I have neglected taking good care of myself, wasn’t aware of my depressive symptoms, or didn’t realize the panicky feeling in my chest was even anxiety in the first place. Now that I’m a little older, I’m not ashamed of experiencing a loss of interest in butterflies (cheap joke for those of you that have seen the Zoloft bubble commercials).

Things are good now. I am good, sincerely. I am balanced and happy in my life. In order to stay on this track, I do take a small dose of anti-anxiety medicine every night and have been for the past year or so. I was seeing a therapist for a few months prior to getting the prescription and I think she was tired of watching me cry on her couch and use all the Kleenex so she eventually referred me to a psychiatrist.

My issue with the psychiatrist… Where to start? My first appointment with her, she strolled in forty minutes late carrying a take-out lunch and ate in front of me. I had been telling her assistant practitioner about my issues for the first half hour but got billed at the psychiatrist’s rate for the full hour, nearly $200.00 even with insurance. She only wrote my prescription in three month chunks, forcing me to return to see her regularly for updates which would not be a big deal if she ever remembered who I was which brings me to– she didn’t. Remember who I was. During my second appointment I had to walk her through her own notes about me and she put her hand on her desk, gently leaned in, and asked me if I ever thought the radio was talking to me or sending me secret messages.

Hi. I’m B. I’m your patient with mild anxiety, NOT A SCHIZOPHRENIC. Read your damn folder before I sit here and pay you $200.00 to tell you the dosage is still working great for me.

It was so infuriating that I ended up changing doctors. I still have a bill coming in the mail for probably a little over $500.00, the remainder of what I owe her for her half-assed advice. I really like the woman I see now and am happy to pay her rate for her excellent care and attention. She talks to me like an adult that’s just doing the right thing and taking care of herself, which — SPOILER ALERT — I AM. The lesson here for me is: if you’re going to pay a lot, you’d best be liking or at least able to respect what you’re buying.

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