I’ve had a psychiatrist ever since I was in high school, but most relationships with these clinicians have been rocky. I’ve been in the process of trying to find a new psychiatrist (lucky number 5) for months after going to therapy to overcome by fear of them after I had a horrible psychiatrist whose inability to listen to my feedback about meds nearly cost my life.
I can navigate the healthcare system pretty well. I’ve been able to find my own primary care physician/general practitioner, pulmonologist, etc., but it’s been a battle to find a psychiatrist. In a world where 1 in 5 people live with a mental health condition, it shouldn’t be this hard. So here are the hilariously frustrating things I’ve experienced in the past month:
- Came to the conclusion that I want a psychiatrist (huge breakthrough for me), called my insurance company and they tell me I can see any psychiatrist (something I already knew, but still awesome!) I decided to look up doctors on my (prestigious and world-renown) healthcare system’s website to keep all my medical records in the same system.
- Spent hours looking up doctor reviews on various websites (if they’re available) and try to narrow down a list of names of doctors to call. (Had about 20 before this point, and narrowed it down to 5)
- Called the behavioral health services number to ask to be connected to a specific doctor’s off. Got connected, but had to leave a message.
- Get a call back from the office and they asked me how long I had been experiencing postpartum depression (postpartum depression? I have never even been partum. Me having had a baby is news to me!). I quickly realize that the psychiatrist I asked for specializes in postpartum depression and is not a general psychologist.
- The laughing ends and I get angry because the only specialties listed on the doctor database website are geriatric and child psychology, not postpartum depression. (Great job healthcare system!)
- I call the behavioral health number and they tell me they can’t give me names of psychiatrist, but they can schedule be for inpatient services. (Great to know, but not really applicable)
- Have a visit with my new primary care physician (who is super cool!) and she tells me that she no longer has a list of psychiatrist names since the healthcare system thought that removing referral requirements would increase accessibility for patients. (Haha, riiight? Oh wonderful healthcare system. How I loathe thee.) She told me she feels awful about this and wished me luck.
- Called my insurance again for round 2 (*Ding ding*) and they repeat that I can go anywhere. I explained how I am well aware that I can go anywhere but was looking for a specific list of psychiatrists. They give me an number to call.
- Call the number and once I dial the right button to connect me to a representative, I wait for 10 minutes while the phone rings and rings and rings. I decide to call back and someone answers!
- We talk, the rep gives me doctor names and numbers to call. I look up the doctors to see if they’re in my system (there are 2 healthcare systems in my area) and most of them are not. I call the number the rep gives me for one office to talk to a receptionist and it connects me to the same behavioral health scheduling woman I talked to before who connected me with the postpartum doc.
- I tell her the doctor I want to connect with and she connects me with the doctor’s personal voicemail! I quickly end the call and dial the number to the office that the doctor included in her voicemail. I get connected to a mental health service organization and not the office the doctor is a part of. (I feel like I’m in the Twilight Zone or someone is going to pop out with a camera and say “Gotcha!)
In all seriousness, I’m thankful that I’m far enough in my recovery process to know that these problems are due to our failing national mental healthcare system and not a reflection of me, but it’s still pretty damn frustrating. I will continue on in my journey and won’t give up hope!
Until next time,