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  • Writer's pictureAlex Rathbun

What it's like to see a psychiatrist

What it's like to see a psychiatrist

Hello there, friend! It's Monday so that means another Brightly Alex Mental Health Monday is here. Today I want to talk about something floating around in my brain: the experience of seeing a psychiatrist. I'm guessing a lot of you haven't had this experience so I wanted to share what it was like for me.

The referral

When I first found out my PCP was referring me to a psychiatrist, I felt a lot of shame. I thought "my mind is so broken that my regular doctor can't even figure out what medicine is best for me", "I'm never going to find medication that works" and "I'm never going to feel 'normal' again". I'm learning that anxiety tends to make small worries big and it blows up small problems into emotional disasters.

To back up, I had already been on anxiety medication for a couple months prior (read about that experience here if you missed it). It was working okay, but I was still experiencing anxiety bouts so my doctor wanted me to see a specialist. And I later learned that that's exactly what a psychiatrist is: a specialist who is trained and experienced with prescribing mental health medication. They're not actually even that scary!

The visit

When I arrived at the psychiatrist's office, one of my first thoughts was "I wonder what's wrong with all these people! I hope they don't assume I'm crazy because I'm here" and then I stopped myself. I was letting shame creep in for getting the help I needed. I was judging other people for needing the same help I needed. Why did I do this? I would never judge someone for seeing an allergy specialist or a foot specialist.

Anyways, this is how the visit went: the doctor was very kind. He asked me a lot of questions about how my anxiety had manifested, how the meds I had been taking were affecting me, etc. It almost felt like a casual job interview. Then, after evaluating me he walked me through multiple courses of action that he recommended and asked which one I preferred! I was relieved to have a say in this matter.

At the end, he prescribed me medication and I went on with my day. I returned back to see him after a few weeks on the updated medicine for an evaluation.

The result

Now I think I'm on the appropriate medication and doses of it. It's a good feeling to get the help I need! Of course, I'm not totally over my anxiety and I'm sure healing will continue to be an ongoing process, but I'm grateful for access to the resources I need to help me heal.

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