May 19th, 2011

pencil

In which yes becomes no, or oh-no-not-again

My primary care physician gave me several follow-up tasks. One was make an appointment with a psychiatrist, which appointment is scheduled for mid-July because that was the earliest opening. Yes, mid-July. I'll give you a moment with that one, considering one generally makes appointments with psychiatrists when one is at least theoretically in crisis, probably acute.

Another was go in for what I was under the impression was a mental health/chemical dependency screening at a partner clinic to the one at which my PCP practices. The result of this - during which I repeatedly stressed my current mental health needs - was a recommendation to attend that clinic's intensive outpatient program. Okay, I said, again attempting to make sure I was being clear about the need to be clean and sober in spite of my psychiatric issues; that I needed a dual-diagnosis program.

However, upon attending my first session of IOP it became abundantly clear that there was no mental health component, they were not trained or equipped to address any mental health component, and that basically everything I had said about my psychiatric needs and concerns had been dismissed and ignored.

When I brought this up today during my one-on-one orientation session with the IOP counselor, he confirmed that neither he nor the program in general had the tools or training to deal with mental health issues or dual diagnosis patients. So I withdrew from the program, because I need things they can't provide, and because I don't have the money (even with insurance) to waste my time in another program that doesn't have the scope to address my issues.

What I've learned from this? 90% of medical providers really get stuck on the label 'alcoholic' and trying to get help for anything else (especially mental health related) becomes subsumed under that issue. It is eerily like being overweight in that sense. Trying to get providers to look past either of those diagnoses can be next to impossible. "You know, those hang-nails would clear right up if you'd just stop drinking and lose some weight."

As my brother said, when your primary tool is a hammer, most problems look like nails. Woe betide the screw in that scenario.

And at the moment, I'm feeling pretty screwy, and screwed.