Abuse is present in all kinds of relationships: from personal to professional, from sexual to medical, where ever there are humans, abuse exists. Unfortunately, no one is safe from experiencing it in any of its forms, especially in regards to mental health. In my own mental health journey, I have been fortunate with my connections, but I know so many out there have not. I know no two instances are alike, and abuse can take many forms in this world. My most recent experience with it has prompted me to bring this story to light. It is raw, and possibly chaotic in nature, but it is where I am at right now.
I am a young woman, a wife, and a mother, who just so happens to be diagnosed with Bipolar II. This diagnosis has been following me around for over eleven years, and it is not something I take lightly. I want to feel okay and happy. I want to feel normal, and if medication and therapy are required for this to happen, then so be it. I am worth the extra effort. It hasn’t always been smooth sailing, but I have never felt as if my team against me…until a few weeks ago.
Back in August, my husband and I agreed we would start trying for baby #2, but I knew this meant I needed to get things prepped for my mental health ahead of time. When I was pregnant with my son, I struggled – because there was no safe medication for me to take at the time. Last year, my then psychiatrist told me if I was going to get pregnant again, there were options this time around. He knew me and knew intimately about what happened to me when I was pregnant. No one wanted to go through that again.
Unfortunately, due to family circumstances on his end, he left, and I was given to someone new. He seemed nice and agreed to go off my previous doctor’s notes on my condition for starters and adding his own as we got to know each other. I saw no problem with this sentiment and was willing to give him the chance despite my hesitation because I was thrown to someone new so suddenly.
As time progressed, I tried to trust him, but something always felt off and awkward with him. Sometimes a comment he made drew question marks in my head, but I brushed it off because we weren’t sitting face to face because of COVID. We only talked on the phone. Sometimes it was a ten-minute call, sometimes it was three minutes, but I felt we were on the same page.
Before my husband and I talked about getting pregnant, I knew I wanted a game plan in place. I wanted time to get used to new meds and adjust as needed. My psychiatrist was an instrumental part in this plan, so setting up an appointment to discuss my options non-negotiable. Per instructions by my previous doctor and my own research, I already had an idea of what I needed, but I had to bring it up with my prescriber to get it. Simple and straightforward, right? WRONG!
When the words of “trying to get pregnant” and “what are your suggestions” left my lips, the atmosphere of the conversation changed. Keep in mind, I have been diagnosed by four different psychiatrists, over the course of about sixteen years, that I have Bipolar II. I have been on the appropriate medication for that diagnosis for eleven years, and when I am consistent with taking the medication, I am stable.
This man had the gall to let “Bipolar II is just a theory” and “many women find the symptoms go away during and after pregnancy” leave his pathetic lips. Despite me bringing up the recommended medication and explaining what happened the last time I was pregnant, he ignored me. Now, I refused to leave this session empty-handed, so he gave me two medications for “as needed” irritability and depression, low dosages with the possibility of increases. I am Bipolar, not irritable.
I assumed this was better than nothing and began tapering my medication as designed and filled the prescriptions. After several days, I found I had to start taking more than the ‘low dosages’ to have any sort of effect, and I hit a major side-effect wall. I could either feel like I was drunk all day or be depressed. Since I work full-time and must be mentally sharp, I stopped taking the meds. I gave them less than 2 weeks, but they were not working in any capacity as he said they would.
My therapist was appalled at his words but brushed them off when I spoke to her about it. She looked up my file and found he had not written anything he said to me, in my file (why would he?). Though she did not convince me directly, I put in a request to transfer psychiatrists the next day. Never have I ever been invalidated by a medical professional to my face like that, and even though I am struggling now because of him, I won’t let him win.