Friday, July 11, 2014

Minimizing the Madness

When my wife Jane had a consultation with a psychiatrist, I went to the doctor's office with her. I planned to wait in the reception area while she talked with the doctor. When the doctor greeted my wife I was surprised that she invited me into her office, too. I was a little apprehensive because I did not know what the session would be like. I thought Jane might feel uncomfortable with me in the room and find it difficult to speak freely if I were there.

When the doctor asked us to sit down, Jane sat directly across from her and leaned forward as she answered the doctor's questions. I sat next to my wife and settled further back into the couch. It was my way of making myself less conspicuous and keep out of Jane's line of sight. Since this was her appointment, I wanted her to be the center of attention. I felt as if I was a fly on the wall trying not to be noticed.

At first, the doctor asked Jane basic patient history questions. When she asked why my wife was visiting her that day, Jane told her that she recently took an abnormal psychology course and felt that she might have bipolar disorder. She asked my wife more personal questions and wrote down Jane's responses on her note pad. It seemed as if she was marking off a checklist as she asked specific questions. She asked Jane about her sleeping habits, how she acted when she was happy, and what she did during her depression phases. After a few questions, I noticed that after the psychiatrist asked Jane a question, the doctor would look at me for my reaction. I would nod or shake my head as Jane shared her thoughts. Although Jane was honest, I felt that as she responded to each question she minimized the details about the situations most of the time.

Towards the end of the session the doctor asked Jane if she had anything else she wanted to say. Jane began to talk about her bad experience while taking Chantix to quit smoking. As soon as the psychiatrist heard the word Chantix she put her pen and notepad on her lap and her face lit up. The doctor asked more specific questions, mainly about her behavior while taking the medication. Jane answered several questions and began to cry. As the psychiatrist offered her a box of tissues, Jane explained that she had said some horrible things and treated me badly while on the drug. Jane was very upset. The doctor tried to reassure her that things would be alright. She pointed to me and said, "Look...he's still here".

It was about his point in time that I was worried that the doctor was going to say that there was nothing wrong with Jane and she was normal. Instead, the doctor confirmed that Jane definitely had bipolar disorder. She said that she had bipolar type II, but felt she was bordering towards bipolar I. Bipolar type I is the more severe form of the disorder.

Before we left her office, she asked my wife if she needed a sleep aid. People with bipolar disorder usually do not sleep very much when they are in a manic phase. Jane said that she did not need one. As the psychiatrist wrote a prescription for a mood stabilizer she asked about her state of mind at that moment and asked Jane if she felt like she needed an antipsychotic. They had samples if she wanted some. My wife's eyes turned big as she told her no.

Overall, we had a good visit with the psychiatrist. Our suspicions about Jane having bipolar disorder were true. We were happy to finally get a formal diagnosis. This was only the first step in her journey with knowing that she had a mental illness. As time goes on, there will be many more steps to take as she continues to learn about and cope with her disorder.
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