No One is Choosing For You – Know Your Choices For Health

Yesterday we asked some pithy questions re: Why Psychiatry?  Your responses were received with gratitude and humility.  It takes courage to understand our connection with psychiatry considering ongoing stigma.  Today we’re reviewing that some and taking it one bit further.

When referred to a psychiatrist for medical care, we can feel confused.

Why is my physician sending me away?  Does this mean I’m at my last resort?  Does this mean I’m that sick?, or,

Does he think I’m crazy?  I’m not insane!, or personalizing with,

Does my physician not want to work with me?  I’m that bad of a patient?  Cast off?

Our expectations when we first see our psychiatrist are often also similarly reactive.  Maybe,

I’ll give this one chance but if she doesn’t fix whatever it is that’s going on, I’m out of here. 

I am not going to be dependent on medications!

I do not want to be made into a zombie!

Are we looking for a cure?

Also, we might be confused by the amount of time that she spent with us the first appointment as compared to our follow-up appointments.

I need to talk about my problems!  I need time!

There’s a lot to take in.

Unfortunately, when we are referred to a specialist, often our referring physician hasn’t effectively communicated as to why we are being sent there.  This is for many possible reasons, including Me not hearing him.  Many other reasons are also understandable with insight but we aren’t always given the opportunity to hear the inside story of why our physician does what he does.  That doesn’t mean we have to accept it.  But if we do, we did and it’s our choice.


Image by Scarygami via Flickr

We have choices.  Before accepting the referral, we can ask, Why?  Keep asking why until we are satisfied with our level of understanding.  Schedule a follow-up appointment with the referring physician if necessary to gain more time if we think we need it.  Sometimes, despite our physicians best efforts, we won’t understand as well as we’d like and we have to make our choice with the information we have.  We can read up on our symptoms ourselves.  I read in Twitter from @NathanBransford,

The 11th Commandment: Thou shalt not ask someone a question thy could easily Google thyself.

That’s ridiculous although I cracked up.  The World Wide Web comprehensively and including Google or any other source within that World Wide Web are not designed to practice medicine.  When we read something, we need to ask for qualifications behind the author of the print, references and so forth.  The Internet is a tool worth our attention but you decide how far you are willing to take what you read before you consult with your own physician.  I think if Doctor Seuss were alive today, he’d write a book (or many) about health care; Oh The Tools We Can Use!  (Maybe Carl and Thysleroux will do a series or a post on this?  Should be fun.  – Asking, “Why?”  Becoming our own friend.  Connection.  Going towards shame, pain, anxiety.  Growing bank – and more.)

And so that brings us to today’s questions:  What choices do you perceive you have in referrals like these?  In your continuing medical care?  In your ability to collaborate with your physician?  In obtaining an understanding of your illness(es)?  Please tell me your story.

Self-Care Tip – Grow your understanding of your choices for your health and medical care.

Related Articles:

  1. Stay Connected For Your Sake and For Theirs
  2. Connecting To Others Is a Condition of Freedom
  3. Safety in Connections

8 thoughts on “No One is Choosing For You – Know Your Choices For Health

  1. Unfortunately, myself included, we wait until we are at our wit’s end before we seek assistance from a mental health care provider. I think that for the most part the stigma is gone these days and is a matter of considering reaching out as personal failure or inadequacy re our own self esteem, not societal ridicule or contempt.. Foolishly we wait until our way just is not working anymore. That is why AA calls this a gift: the gift of desperation. As we gain insight in therapy we see accepting a suggestion about this or that, redefining a thing or two, a modification here and there can be astonishingly therapeutic. For many, the depths into which we have succumbed are now found not to be so deep at all and in fact, ladders are readily available if we use them in recovery. The mental health provider supplies the ladders and hopefully we learn to manufacture our own.


  2. In answer to your question, one reply might be, “There are plenty of fish in the sea!” although that should never be the snap decision. Physician (of any specialty)-shopping can be very dangerous, mainly because it often involveds looking for someone who will simply give you what you want, tell you what you want to hear, whether you need it or not.

    I have had two psychiatrists, among several, who treated me over an extended period of time. (They were, fortunately, in succession. I did not think I would ever find another as great as my previous, and would have to spend a long time finding one!)

    The many in-house Psychiatrists and psychologists, and those I “interviewed” out of the hospital were definitely a hit or miss proposition. Usually miss. I am not looking for what I want, but what I need, and I do not believe that any physician can give me what I need without listening to me carefully, reading my past records, all the while making it clear to me that s/he understands that what I might say on any one day or whatever is in my records, is not the sum total of who I am.

    Whenever I was approached by a Dr. of any variety who did not take the time to listen to what I had to say, but referred only to what someone else had written about me (which many many times were discovered to be SHOCKINGLY erroneous!), then I smiled and said “Good-bye! And good luck!”

    I’m also amazed at the number of physicians who see referrals with a diagnosis already made in their minds before even talking to the client! 🙄


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