I came to you back in March 2015 when I was in the throes of an episode of crippling anxiety mixed in with depression and despair. When we first met, I felt so relieved to have met someone who could really help me. You changed my meds and I was hopeful things would improve. I liked you and I trusted you.
I was drinking too much. I told you it was 4 bottles of wine a week max. In reality it was more than twice that much but I wasn’t ready to face up to the truth let alone share it.
As I started to feel a little better I could see that I had a serious problem with drinking and I knew I needed help. I decided that at my next appointment I would reach out to you.
I planned what I was going to say and as soon as I entered your office I blurted out “I need to talk to you about my drinking”. There, I had done it – the words were out.
You asked me lots of questions – How much ? How often? Wine ? Where? When ? I answered as honestly as I could. I admitted to a bottle a night, 7 nights a week. And your response ? You said in a sarcastic voice “Well what do you want me to do ? Send you to rehab ?” You made me feel as if I was wasting your time, exaggerating, attention seeking, making a fuss about nothing. You told me to get a cleaner to help me keep the house up together. You even suggested I look for someone from eastern Europe because they worked hard for less money – you gave me the name of an agency – really ??
It had taken real courage to ask for help and you belittled me and sent me away feeling ashamed and broken. Even as I write this now, over 18 months later, I can’t prevent the tears.
I didn’t see you again. I spent another 9 months drinking, drinking, drinking. All on my own. Until I hit my rock bottom and reached out again. This time, thank heavens I have been fortunate enough to find others who have offered me genuine, compassionate, unflinching support. If you could see me now I think you’d be quite surprised. If I saw you I don’t know whether I would be able to bite my tongue or if I would have to say something.
As a psychiatrist I imagine people reach out to you all the time, sharing their most excruciating secrets. I hope that the way you responded to me was a one off rather than your norm but I have a feeling I might not be the only one.
Your former patient