I keep running into roadblocks when it comes to finding a new therapist. First it was insurance hurdles. Then it was transportation issues. MassHealth sent me a list of therapists and psychiatrists who take MassHealth, but I have other insurances that also need to be accepted. Some providers accepted one of my insurances and not the other. Some of the therapists listed were no longer practicing. Some of them were no longer MassHealth providers. Some of them weren’t accepting new patients at the time. In a last ditch effort, I tried to switch my primary care to a doctor in Boston so that I could get a referral to one of the therapists in his unit. It worked, but transportation issues reared their ugly head again – I can’t afford to travel to Boston on my own for therapy, and despite the fact that MART (the transportation provider for disabled persons on MassHealth) assured me that they’d be willing to provide a ride from where I live to Boston, filling out the paperwork presented challenges. As it stands, they have only approved one visit per month, and I need to be seen at least every other week, if not every week. Thus far, I love the therapist I’ve been assigned to but I may not be able to do any work with her if I can’t actually get there. And so even though Boston isn’t that much farther away than the current therapist I’ve been seeing, I may be stuck with a therapist who I feel is not a good fit at a clinic where the unit director thinks I’m not taking my therapy seriously.
I thought I was trying to do the right thing by finding a new therapist at a clinic that is a better fit for my therapy goals. And even though others have assured me that this is not the case, I can’t help but feel that G-d is punishing me somehow. Am I really crazy? Was the whole sexual abuse thing just in my head, as was suggested by my psychiatrist? When I confronted him later on that statement he rescinded, but the memory of that diagnosis still haunts me. I still feel the sting of tears and shame from when the director at the center where I’d been receiving therapy told me that it’s not OK to want a cheerleader in a therapist and that it was my fault that the therapist wasn’t a good fit. I’m terrified that I’ll have to go back to that clinic and face the unit director once again, attempting to explain what I’m looking for and having him be rude and throw it back in my face. While I personally think that it’s debatable whether or not I need medication to function, the fact of the matter is that if I choose to stop medicating it should be a choice brought on by careful thought and discussion with a provider who can taper me down. It shouldn’t happen because I can’t find a provider and all of a sudden have no one to write the prescription. My eligibility for disability is also dependent on a doctor, and it’s going to look mighty funny if all of a sudden I have no therapist or psychiatrist to provide me with support for a psychological disability.
I know there are many people – even people I would have, in the past, considered friends – who would think that I am in the wrong here. That doctors are always right because they have training and there’s no need for seeking out a second opinion. It doesn’t matter that doctors are human beings with flaws and prejudices and biases – they receive elevated status because they have a degree that supposedly gives them the right to trump everyone else’s opinions. It’s maddening, saddening, and embarrassing, all at once. I wonder if I would have been treated the same if I was a cancer patient seeking a second opinion after a terminal diagnosis, or a car accident survivor who sought a second opinion after being told they would never walk again? I know of a former coworker who recently quipped on Facebook about her experience “firing” a doctor; if only I had received the same support from the people in my life.
I hate feeling like I’m trapped, and I hate feeling suffocated by a therapist. For years at the aforementioned clinic (because I’ve been a patient there since I was 14), I drifted from therapist to therapist, knowing they weren’t a good fit, but not caring enough to advocate for myself. I followed the unit director’s advice, and I stuck with therapists for well over six months and even more than a year, wasting time in therapy until the various therapists decided to retire or seek employment at a different clinic. The only time I fought to switch therapists was when the woman I was seeing was frequently 30+ minutes late to our appointments and tried to have me dropped as a patient of the clinic after I explained to her that I missed an appointment because of scheduling conflicts at my newly acquired retail job (if you’ve ever worked retail, you know they are proponents of a varying schedule that makes scheduling regular doctor’s appointments very difficult). I thought I was doing the right thing by being “outspoken” and advocating for myself. I thought that a month of appointments was more than enough time to determine that my therapist was judgmental and harsh and not a good advocate for my healing (nor was she adequately trained in trauma, PTSD, and childhood physical/sexual abuse). I switched from the first therapist I had been reassigned to after my old therapist left because she didn’t have the necessary training to deal with trauma. We both agreed it was the right choice. I tried to switch from the new therapist I had been assigned to because I didn’t think she was a good fit for my therapy goals. These are two completely different reasons for asking to be reassigned, and yet I was told that it was my fault that neither of these therapists worked out for me and that if neither of them worked out for me, there was no other therapist at the clinic who would be a good fit. And so, I felt trapped. Suffocated. Stuck in therapy, not getting any work done, because I couldn’t trust the woman to whom I’d been assigned. Knowing that my very existence depended on my ability to play ambassador, to smile and nod, so that I didn’t get kicked out of the clinic and get a black mark on my record that prevented me from seeking help somewhere.
Everything is up in the air now. All that’s left is to pray and to hope that this works out.