I finally wrote what I thought was a reasonable letter to the shrink, since he never seemed to hear what I said…about how I can’t live in the dark about what is wrong with me or how to fix it, that I was deeply hurt and concerned about the borderline thing, etc. I hoped that we could work something out.

But today, we met. True, I knew I was in a bad mood going in. But on the other hand, he claimed I had nothing to be upset about, accused me of splitting between him and the GP (I knew from the minute they started “coordinating care” that sooner or later I would be accused of this and tried to be so careful not to say anything negative about either of them), said he couldn’t understand why I would be upset, that he was so sure I’m just trying to push away. It felt like always – I say and mean one thing, and he sees it through his filter. Refused to tell me why he thought I was borderline (and then later, when I was angry, said, “See – that’s classic borderline. You’re upset, so you’re trying to make me upset.”), what he thought my problems were, or how we planned to work on them together. (“Part of your problem is needing to just trust me.”) In short, it was the classic psychoanalytic bullshit – the shrink is always right and the patient is always crazy.

To top it off, I requested my medical records and was refused.

The whole scene was incredibly upsetting – to be so totally invalidated. But I had spelled out that I just am not interested in paternalistic care, where my problems and how they will be treated are hidden from me. That if this is the care he gives, I’m not interested…not interested in his diagnosis and not interested in buying a treatment that can’t even be explained to me. That I need collaboration, I want to change, but need the direction on how.

No good. “I can’t understand why you are so upset.”

I left, finally. It was sad, and it was scary. I’m now without a safety net and badly medicated, though I did meet a hippie clinical psychologist I sort of liked (woman).

I drove home and cried a little, felt like throwing up. It was so humiliating, invalidating. But – I also drew my lines in the sand. I can’t say I was totally calm; in fact, I was angry. But I spent months examining myself closely to see if what he said could be true, if there was justification in my anger. I decided there was, and that I needed some acknowledgment of that. I really didn’t expect not to get it at all. But I didn’t.

And that’s just not ok with me. No matter how sick I am, how bad I feel, how much I need help…I don’t need it that bad, bad enough to believe that I am so crazy that I am totally out of touch with reality.

So, through my tears on the way home, I reminded myself that I can save myself, that maybe only I can save myself, that I’ve done it before, and that I can do it again. That I’m somehow going to be ok. That I am a decent person, despite how broken I may or may not be.

I might go re-read The Color Purple. I think that is the message that I need to hear – remember Celie? Raped as a child, beaten, cast-away, unloved by anyone, half-literate…she knew somehow that she was a human being of intrinsic worth, one of God’s creations, one of the things that is included in the phrase “God love everything you love–and a mess of stuff you don’t.” That even if she was poor and ugly and a woman…the universe had created her with love. That God loved her, even if nothing and no one else did. That she existed, just as lovely as a wildflower.

I may suck at being happy. At being patient. At controlling my temper. I even may suck at loving the people I love. But I can do some things – I can comfort people and I, on a good day, can write words that mean something, that capture something real that happens to people. I can forgive. On a good day, I can be grateful, and on a great day I can pray, or at least I used to be able to. I can be part of the universe sometimes, and of the human race when I am not sick. I can overcome my fears. I can see the color purple. I can survive the dark night. I am a living, breathing part of the universe, and sometimes, that is enough.

I just need to remember that, to remind myself that during the moments when it seems like everyone is trying to tell me to the contrary.

  • * *

Note to self for next post – remember to post the thoughts about chronic depression, the idea of depression as an addiction, why some people can’t seem to give it up, and the Buddha.



  1. Keep fighting for yourself and stay strong!

  2. Can’t wait to hear about depression and Buddha. I am sorry that it has come to this, but am proud you took a stand for your own well being. While it is easier to stay with what is familiar, it takes strength and courage to recognize that what is familiar isn’t working and you deserve different, and better. Good luck.

  3. I think you are perfectly sane.
    F**k the psychoanalytic bullshit. (is it ok to say that?)

    Buddha has really piqued my interest.
    Am waiting to hear more….

  4. I’m glad your back.

    I agree with Kahness, I think your sane. I just feel you haven’t found a mental health worker with the right (open) approach for you.

  5. How on earth did he justify denying you your medical records?

    You can save yourself, but you shouldn’t have to do it without any help. I’m angry, too, and scared for you. Damn.

  6. Sara, i get along with my GP much better than my psychiatrist. I hope things get better for you soon. your pdoc doesn’t sound like a nice man either.
    love you heaps

  7. Hi everyone. Thanks so much for your unwavering support.

    Dom – nice to see a picture.

    Milo – he is a nice guy, he’s just been ruined by a shitty profession.

    Jay – I put down the argument that medical records legally belong to the patient. He argued that he would gladly give me a list of what meds I’d taken, etc. but that the records were not “medical records” but rather “personal notes.” That the most he would do is a summary of treatment. I tried to explain that I wanted it for some kind of closure, peace of mind for myself. Technically, the law in our area and policy says that they can only be denied if it can be shown that giving the information would cause a grave risk to the patient, and that has to be in front of an ethics board. But if he stonewalls me, what can I do? I can have a lawyer write a letter (which I may do), but I doubt I’ll see the original record. I think it got into a sort of stupid power struggle.

    At least all of this has gotten me angry enough to write again. Once I wrote this, I can now go on to write about that other post, the Buddha thing.

  8. Hi Sara,

    I just stumbled across your blog, and I’ve read a couple posts. To address the most immediate issue, good for you to leave a psychiatrist who refuses to work with you and just wants to “treat” you. In my mind, treatment of any kind automatically involves both sides: patient and therapist. Secondly, you seem like a strong, eloquent, wonderful person, please remember this when the world (or your own mind) decide(s) to be down on you, I know it’s difficult sometimes.

    P.S. You’ve probably just gained me as a reader, as my best friend of several years is bipolar, and I’ve got depression (I am *not* depressed…it does not define me). Plus, your writing is lovely and genuinely fascinating.

    Take care of yourself, -Nick

  9. Correction to the above: my friend *is not* bipolar. He *has* bipolar. He *is* amazing. I only caught that thought process by the time I had moved onto myself, and as I’m currently also trying to do homework, I only realized now that I left him out of that equation.

  10. Sheesh Sara, that doc is a power freak. A female pdoc seems so much better when you find one you can mesh with.I think that guy is the majority of your former downfall. Really.

  11. Sara, this guy is an ass who’s playing power games with you, and that’s wrong on so many levels I can’t begin to articulate them. If all he has are “personal notes”, then he’s not keeping appropriate records. If he is keeping appropriate records, then he has to give them to you.

    I understand that there’s little to be gained by engaging with him, but it just makes me so damn angry. Grrrr.

  12. Hi Nick. Thanks for dropping by and for your lovely comment. I hope your friend is doing well.

    I know there’s a huge thing about “is bipolar” versus “has bipolar” – I actually say I am – it’s as much of me as being right handed or female or any number of other things. Though I guess it is different for some people. For better or for worse, I can’t imagine myself without it.

    Jay – thanks for the reality check. I needed to be reminded that.

  13. Yeah, I realize that bipolar is a bit more integral to one’s personality than my depression is (which is primarily learned thought patterns), but I like to think that in a perfect world, bipolar people could still be themselves, just without having to go through hell…

  14. Hi,

    You are doing really well. I get where you are coming from. I had just finished reading The Reader, the one that was made into a film. There was one chapter that really got to the crux of what you are saying. It is a line about treating people as an subject and not an object, that if you do, then you are taking away someone’s freedom and dignity.

    Well done.

  15. Hello Sara,

    I see your comment that you think you suck at being happy.

    But really it is not that hard to do. You are well aware of my views on giving your blog a make over. I see that you are not yet ready to alter the color scheme, so how about changing the photograph at the top. It seems safe to say that ruins are not a good look if one wants to be successful at being happy. How about a smiling face or something of a similar disposition? This is not some deep psychoanalytic directive but a simple CBT behavioral contract which I note you are much more partial to.


  16. Sara,
    I’m glad you’re back to writing – I’ve missed you here and on the other place. As for your records, I suspect you would find them extremely upsetting. You don’t agree with the dx or the man’s methods, why would you want to read what he wrote about you? I doubt he’ll have written much of an explanation for the dx he gave you – he knows his reasons for it. I never want to see my records from the hospital – I was at my lowest point and don’t want to be reminded. Nor do I want to see how someone interpreted my behavior. You and I got the same BPD dx and we both disagree with it. We know ourselves better than anyone, let’s just validate
    ourselves for knowing the shrink got it wrong. We don’t have BPD!
    I never mentioned the BPD dx to my new pdoc and he’s never asked or even hinted that he thought I was. He dx me with PTSD which should be ruled out before dx someone with BPD. Your pdoc, and mine, skipped that part. Getting a new shrink would give you a different perspective about yourself. Why not try it?
    P.S. changing the background color here would make it much easier to see the cursor. I have a lot of trouble finding it on this dark brown.

  17. Breaking up is hard to do. For the patient and the doc.

    Check on this, but I do not thing personal notes are covered any more unless they are kept in a separate chart from the chart – if you can follow that.

    I think that finding a doctor patient relationship that is respectful and helpful is a completely reasonable expectation.

  18. Hello Sarah

    I’m sorry about the experience you describe in this post. I can imagine how frustrating it must have been for you

    I have also found this post very interesting for personal reasons. I have a similar experience with my psychiatrist. Well, it isn’t exactly the same, but there is the following resemblance. I feel she decided way too early what I have and that now she is treating me for it. I don’t share her diagnosis and she is certainly not working “with” me. I also feel she does not listen to me.

    I would also like to tell you, along with other readers, that you seem sane to me. I have a borderine brother, and well… I just see no resemblance whatsoever. Well, don’t take it as serious evidence, because I am not a professional. It’s just my intuition and experience here.

    Warm wishes

  19. I would like to add that I am curious too about your next post on the Buddha.

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