The psychiatrist who diagnosed me with Bipolar II back in 1999 is retiring. I made an appointment with a psychiatrist highly recommended by a friend. Naturally I was a little bit nervous after 13 years with the same doctor.
I prepared for the appointment by updating my medications list, which I keep right on my PC's desktop, and printing it out. Then I made two new documents. One was my mental health history in brief - it ran to a couple of pages - and the second was about my current mental state - my mood and the things that are bothering me.
The new doctor was easy to talk to and asked me pretty thorough questions, including a lot about whether I'd ever had manic symptoms. (I realized finally that I'd never put my diagnosis on the documents I'd written.) We discussed my medications and what they are doing for me.
I felt like I answered "wrong" at times. For example, it felt wrong to say that just about all my hypomanic episodes have been triggered rather than spontaneous. Would that make a difference to the diagnosis?
Apparently not. She, too, diagnosed bipolar II. We made a couple of med changes. I had run out of bupropion (brand name Wellbutrin) several days ago without any drop in mood, so we are going to discontinue it for now. And she is raising my dose of lamotrigine (brand name Lamictal) from 300 to 400mg. She warned me, as she should have, to watch for a rash after the dosage increase.
What's going to be new for me is seeing a separate psychiatrist and psychotherapist. My old doctor also did talk therapy, but the new one only handles medications. I know that's the common way things are done now, so the change didn't take me by surprise. It's just that it's going to be so very different.
I felt comfortable with the new psychiatrist. And she told me how very helpful the documents I'd given her were. That made me feel good.
That's the advice I want to pass on to you. Whenever you see any new doctor or therapist, medical or mental health, write the information out ahead of time. You'll save time and be far less likely to forget anything when you get there.
I'll be sure to give the same documents to the psychologist when I have my first appointment.