No one, including medical professionals, can be a perfect fit for every patient. Some, however, are a worse fit than others.
She was 30 minutes late. I know psych offices have to be flexible in case of emergencies. I understand that. But no one mentioned she was running late, no one said a word about my 1:00 appointment being pushed back to 1:30. When I finally got in, there was no apology for her tardiness. In fact, she didn’t say a word.
Counselors are listeners. They read the files, listen to the patient’s words and feelings, interpret the information and guide the patient. Listeners. Interpreters. Guides.
She assumed. She saw that my “official” diagnosis of depression had come in late November/ early December. “Ooh, you should be taking vitamin D!” she exclaimed. She assumed within seconds that the timing of my depression had everything to do with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), and I should have been on vitamin D all along.
She didn’t listen to or read my recent medical history. If she’d done her homework, she might have known that my exhaustion and anemia dated back to last July. If she’d listened, she may have found out that the December diagnosis had been building since a student hit me in September.
She had no knowledge of education – in fact, she made at least one statement that was downright ignorant. It’s not my job as patient to educate the doctor or therapist.
She didn’t listen to how I was feeling, either. After an extremely brief discussion and the suggestion of vitamin D, she pointed out a poster on the wall illustrating various emotions. She singled out three of them, defined them very narrowly, and then tried to put me in my boss’ place and interpret what she must have been thinking and feeling.
What the heck?!?
I came in for counseling as part of treatment for my depression. I left the office feeling worse than when I’d arrived.
- The unacknowledged 30 minute delay
- Presumption of vitamin needs based on too little information
- Lack of empathy, minimizing my illness to the level of a poster on the wall
- Unrealistic expectations: attempting to put me, in the depths of clinical depression, in someone else’s shoes.
It took me a while – the entire drive home and a stop to buy litter, to be exact – to realize that this simply wasn’t going to work. Coming back to this clinic and counselor was not going to be effective. In fact, everything about the first session led me to believe that a second would be a complete waste of time.
Making decisions while depressed ranges from difficult to darn-near-impossible, but this one came fairly easily. I gave myself overnight to avoid over-reacting, and then called to cancel the appointment.
Then I took a deep breath and made coffee, and life went on.