“Somebody, please, tell me why am I dragging myself into my psychiatrist’s office every month and swallowing all these pills when it’s not helping!!” Tragically, when this plea finds no insight, treatment is either abandoned or the patients doctor hop. Patients scour physician directories hoping to discover that one unicorn MD with the magic elixir.
The abandoned truth is that even though imperfect, psychiatry, with physician and patient persistence, can be effective. Sticking it out can mean a breakthrough. The physician doesn’t even have to be a unicorn to make a difference in a patient’s life. For people like myself, treatment can be restorative and it is often our last best hope to conquer complex and lethal illnesses. This may be unpopular to say, but psychiatry just does not get enough credit for all the human triumphs, big and small, it cultivates.
It’s easy to harshly criticize the field’s painstakingly slow methods and very public failures. However, in hospitals, medical arts buildings, and private offices, quiet victories occur with stunning regularity. The delicate work of Drs. and patients too often go unnoticed and uncelebrated.
It is appalling that there are so few published personal accounts of these psychiatrist-patient expeditions. If a struggling human being thinks that they travel alone, where does the inspiration to swallow one more pill or share one more symptom come from? This book is remarkable, not just because it shines a light on the hope embedded in psychiatric treatment, but also because the odyssey it details is unique.
My story chronicles the birth, nurturance, and maturation of my two decade long therapeutic bond with my psychiatrist. This journey begins at the precipice of madness and continues through to the resurrection and redemption of a brutalized psyche. Our psychiatrist-patient relationship isn’t perfect but it is enduring and transformative.
We’ve hung in there with each other against some pretty overwhelming odds. Along the way, we’ve learned a few things about converting treatment failure into triumph.
It has been by facing our faults and celebrating my many conquests that we continue to sojourn together. To the person struggling to stay in treatment, my odyssey is meant to be a glimpse into the possible. My profound regret is that more of these healing journeys are not shared.