Sunday, April 27, 2008

don't keep me waiting... it makes me anxious, but mostly impatient!

Dear Psychiatrist,

I met you for the first time at that appointment. Overall the appointment went well, I think. You seemed kind, energetic, motivated, and most importantly, caring. I like it when people are caring, because it means that if the proverbial shit were to hit the proverbial fan, then you would be there to help or at the very least, to offer guidance.

Honestly, I was a little nervous to meet you, considering the potential implications of a visit gone wrong. I mean, your sole job is to judge the status of my mental health; that kind of scrutiny is pretty intimidating, you have to admit.

(Remember all those years ago when you defended your thesis? That's almost how it feels to meet a new psychiatrist.)

I knew that the first thing you would analyze was how I was dressed, and how well I was groomed. You would then look to see how I responded to conventional greetings, whether or not I made eye contact, and whether or not I responded to your outstretched hand.

As we chatted, I know your brain would tick away to make sure that my time sequencing was correct, that I was aware of my current surroundings and relevant current events. I knew you would also look for signs of anxiety in my body language, signs of thought blocking, and I knew you would be analyzing my ability to relate concepts and ideas into a unified and coherent dialogue. You would also continue to make sure that my body language was appropriate and that my affect related to the content of my speech.

Yes, you had a lot to do in those 20 to 30 minutes we spent together. So I sat in a hard little chair, waiting; reading to keep my mind off the intense scrutiny I was about to fall under.

I have to admit, I was a little pissed that you kept me waiting for 30 minutes while you discussed your latest research project with that guy. And yes, I could hear every word as I sat in that dark little hallway that doubles as a waiting room. Your walls are very thin; therefore, you may want to consider keeping your voice down the next time you proclaim that "it's okay" to keep your patients waiting after your coworker asks if he should meet you later to talk more.

For thirty minutes I sat in that little chair, my bottom growing numb, reading, looking at my watch to note the time, and occasionally squeezing the tissue I was holding. For thirty minutes, that lowly little tissue soaked up the evidence of my anxiety and allowed me to offer you a dry hand when you came to greet me for the first time.

I really did not mind waiting. I didn't really have much to do that day.

The next time it happens though, I might actually have something to do, and I may feel compelled to remind you that time is money, and I'm not getting paid by the hour for these appointments.

Your anxiously impatient patient,


scarlettcat said...

You have such an amazing talent for writing in a way that could help someone who's never experienced any form of mental illness understand some of the anxieties it causes. Thank-you, thank-you, thank-you. xxx scarlett

PS. That feeling of having to 'pass a test' when you see a psych is very familiar to me. It's really very nerve racking.

Occupant (aka Olivia) said...

scarlettcat, thank you for the props!

and yes, "the test" sucks!

I will keep writing. I hope you keep reading!!! You are very welcome to pass along anything I write, if you think someone would benefit from reading it.