Friday, August 8, 2008

Why I Am Well (Part 2)

When I met with my doctor of integrative medicine, whom I'll call Dr. Michaels, it was a genuinely pleasurable experience. First, I liked it that her office was located in a major medical center, and it was for "regular" patients, not psychiatric ones. Second, each time I went, her nurse took my blood pressure and weighed me, which should probably be standard for all patients. Third, because she is a "regular" doctor rather than a psychiatrist, my insurance policy (which I no longer have) paid for 80 percent of the total, rather than $30 for a half-hour $100 psychiatric visit.

In our first meeting, rather than asking me questions that had no value whatsoever, Dr. Michaels' questionnaire was medical in nature. When Dr. Michaels and I met, rather than sitting across the room from me, she sat on a chair right next to me. Rather than taking notes while I talked, she looked right at me. And rather than feeling that I couldn't get well, I knew she believed I could.

What I knew about her before I went was that most people who found her were dying, she isn't a psychiatrist, and she believes medical problems--psychiatric as well as physical ones--are caused because our lives are out of balance.

When we talked, I learned she helps the dying achieve wellness or helps them to die more peacefully by coming to grips with life problems. I learned she would read all the research on bipolarity that I provided her. I learned she would treat me as a colleague in the process rather than a supplicant. And I learned she felt there wasn't any reason why I couldn't achieve wellness.

(to be continued)

21 comments:

Mariposa said...

First off, I find your title is very striking! I have not been well and while trying to tire my mind...I come here and boom --Why I Am Well...and yeah, why not?

We all have our right to live healthy...normal...happy. Reading the first part...and this...I'm smiling, because I am able to relate in some ways. I'd love to read more on this!

Thanks for all the well wishes!

Wellness Writer said...

Dear Mariposa,
I know you have not been well, but I love your attitude toward seeking wellness.

Yes, I do believe "We all have our right to live healthy...normal...
happy lives." And it took me a long time to figure out how to do it for myself.

I'm just hoping that what I learned will have application for others.

Again, my best wishes for a speedy recovery!

Susan

Bradley said...

Sounds a lot like my doctor who I consider wonderful, though she is a psychiatrist in a mental health center. We're both lucky because you hear so many horror stories out there regarding doctors.

Keep that attitude towards overall wellness.

Wellness Writer said...

Bradley,
I'm always glad to hear about "wonderful" psychiatrists. I had one I truly liked although he still never believed I could be well for life. The other four were dismal!

Susan

Nancie said...

Dear Susan,

I am so thankful you have Dr. Michaels and the impact she has on your recovery. I am much blessed too to find a Good Doctor. I found this to be very crucial in our recoveries.

As I struggle to cope with my relapses in the last 2 years, I have many discouragements. But whenever I sit in my Doctor's office, her smile and confidence that I will get better and triumph never fail to lift up my spirit. No matter how down and hopeless I feel, I always leave her office feeling much assured and refreshed to fight on.

Like you, my Doctor also treats me as a co-therapist and is confident that I can learn to achieve wellness. This gives me the courage to press on and to continue my wellness journey.

Thanks again for all your encouragements and for sharing your precious journey of wellness with us. Take care!

Fondly,
Nancie

Wellness Writer said...

Dear Nancie,
And thank you for your candor in sharing your story. Yes, I believe that having a doctor who believes you can get well makes all the difference.

And then it's just a matter of figuring out what is making you ill, and what you need to change in order to get well!

As always, all my best!

Susan

Gianna said...

I'm profoundly grateful I not only found a doctor who believes I can recover, has the skills to treat me and who KNOWS that psych meds are what made me sick.

There are virtually no psychiatrists that realize that the drugs are neurotoxins and that they make many many people much worse...

to find someone who understands that and also understands how to heal my beleaguered body I see as a miracle.

But the reason I found her is because I always knew somewhere deep inside that health was calling me and that it was not my fate to be sick for the rest of my life. I never stopped seeking wellness...and hence I found her.

my brother, who died, told me he had never met someone with such optimism in the face of such suffering. I loved him for seeing that in me. And I hold that image of myself in my heart much because he placed it there.

Wellness Writer said...

Gianna,
I believe the most important quality that those of us who are getting well have in common is that we won't give up.

It is a testimonial to your brother that his belief in you propelled you on to begin achieving wellness. And I'm sure he's looking down and feeling so proud of you.

It is a testimonial to my mother (who's looking down on me), my husband, and my son that I am well. They continued to love me and support me throughout my illness. And there were a few others as well.

And I feel that those among us who have found supportive doctors are truly lucky (or in your case persistent) to have found people who are supportive, who give us hope, and who believe in us!

Susan

kara said...

Susan...

It's so encouraging to see this post's title. From day one, six years ago, my pdoc has been great. He has always encouraged me that I can be well and been quite firm with me when my attitutde slips into thinking I cannot. One thing he stands firm in is to be careful what I put into me, meaning many people would rather focus on their illness instead of getting well and he doesn't want me falling into that trap.

I've had maybe one season of wellness since I was diagnosed 5/6 years ago. Frustrating. Maddening. An array of emotions, but I kept seeking stability. I am hoping I am on the very beginning stages of wellness now. Spent all summer with ECT. My meds are reduced. And I get to return to work on Tuesday. I am scared and nervous, but oh so hopeful.

Thanks for your blog and letting me share a bit in my comment. Keep on typing...
Kara

Joe said...

I need a doctor who cares and wants to help me be well. Too bad most of them are as your description of your P Doc. Life is getting better and I have not had a test to see what nutrients my body is missing. What do I ask or look for to have that done.

Thanks, you are wonderful.

"Dootz" said...

I like this doctor's approach. In fact, she seems to achieve what most psychiatrists try only ostensibly to: she bridges the gap between psychiatry and general medicine by approaching us as patients with lives out of balance and not as people with a silo-ed condition known as bipolar. She is holistic in her approach, and collegial instead of patronizing.

KJ said...

Wow, that is an amazing story. I can't wait to read the rest. I agree that our health issues can be a result of imbalance. I had a horrible experience with a doctor this week. I went in hopeful to discuss some weight and anxiety issues and left having him address neither. So disappointing and I hate trying to find a good doctor. It is exhausting!

Wellness Writer said...

Dear Joe,
I have to get back to you on this. I'm leaving this morning and won't be home until this afternoon. A few years ago I read a lot about this and have a book to recommend to you. I just need to find it.

Susan

Wellness Writer said...

Dootz,
I couldn't agree more. What was so interesting was that by the very nature of being in the office of a "doctor of physical medicine" rather than a psychiatrist's office, things felt different from the get-go.

And I never felt that any of the psychiatrists who treated me, saw their discipline as a problem-solving occupation with the goal of achieving wellness.

That's always been my objective in receiving medical care, and was clearly hers in providing it.

Susan

Wellness Writer said...

Dear Kara,
The key question is: "Were you sick all the time before your diagnosis?" I sure wasn't. But the moment I started taking medication I went from two six-week depressive episodes a year in April and October to being sick for the entire first year (every single day) on medication.

That should have been a warning signal to me, but given that psychiatrists try and make us believe this is a lifetime illness and that we will only get well if we take medication, I was made to believe that if only I could find the right medication I would get well. Well, it never happened for me.

I think that's great about your doctor and your job. I would suggest that you take a meditation or a yoga class as soon as possible. Both will help ease your anxiety and both will help control your emotions.

I believe that one of the primary reasons people who are bipolar "fail" in their quest toward wellness is because they become so fearful and anxious that another depression or mania will hit.

But that's not necessarily true. And the sooner we learn to control our emotions in other "better" ways, the more chances we have for true wellness.

Susan

Wellness Writer said...

Dear KJ,
Isn't that a bummer? At the least, we expect that our doctors will listen to us. At most, we hope that whatever they suggest will help us find wellness.

Personally, I'd recommend exercise (preferably yoga) to ease your anxiety. Everyone I know swears by it (particularly for anxiety). I'm starting a class in a few weeks as a wellness activity for keeping my irritability in check.

I've lost 13 pounds in the last two months because my 40th high school reunion is coming up in two months. I achieved that by cutting back on my portions and substantially increasing my level of exercise. In two weeks, I'm beginning a badminton class (smiling face) at my local community college. I figure it sure beats going to the gym!

Susan

Wellness Writer said...

Joe,
The man who's written all about the is Dr. Abram Hoffer. His home page can be found at http://www.islandnet.com/~hoffer/

Gianna from Beyond Meds is going to an Orthomolecular psychiatrist in Maryland. You should look at her posts on the topic.

While I can't validate that this kind of approach works, Duane Sherry from Discover and Recover might be able to. I've asked him to respond to you as well.

And it is the method that Margot Kidder used to "cure" herself of bipolar disorder. Her story can be found on the Safe Harbor page (as I recall).

Best of luck with all this.

Susan

Merelyme said...

wow! you sound great. i am glad you have a good doc. sorry i have not been around to comment in some time. i have just been riding the rollercoaster.

Wellness Writer said...

Dear Merelyme,
Sorry to hear you've been riding the roller coaster. Actually, when I continue with the story, you'll learn that my doctor had her downside, and I stopped seeing her years ago. But, what she did do--and she was the only one--was provide hope, which was in short supply at the time.

Hope you're feeling better!

Susan

discoverandrecover said...

Joe,

I've done my best to make my blog easy to navigate, and to make it an informative site for people looking for answers.

The blog url is
http://discoverandrecover.wordpress.com

On the blogroll (right-hand side), you can find categories on 'Orthmolecular'. Please spend time there - reading such things as articles from the Journal of Orthomolecular Medicine.

There is a section called 'Find an Alternative Health Care Practitioner' that will guide you to finding a doctor in your area.

Also, under the 'Search by Category' scroll bar - you can find information on Orthomolecular Medicine - some good posts on specific nutrients are those by Hyla Cass, MD; Alice Lee-Bloem, MD; Abram Hoffer, MD, PhD; along with research by Bonnie Kaplan, PhD of the University of Calgary (with colleagues from several other Canadian and U.S. universities) in the area of nutrition for "bipolar" - a few have been published in PubMed.

You can find posts on these doctors by using the 'Search' engine on the site and typing in their names.

Also, please spend time reading about Environmental Medicine - many people have 'sensitivities' to specific foods, chemicals.

Other areas that are often helpful are Traditional Chinese Medicine (acupuncture), Cranial Osteopathy (cranialsacral manipulation), and Neurofeedback (very helpful for many) - as is "mindfulness" - yoga, tai chi, many forms of meditation.

Safe Harbor is a good source of information as well -
www.alternativementalhealth.com

If you are attempting to taper off psychiatric medications, please read the 'Warning' section on the site, and go to Gianna's site for the best information on this subject -
http://beyondmeds.wordpress.com

Lastly, you may email me off the blog - email address is in the 'Contact' section.

Sorry to make this such a long email Susan, but many people are not aware of anything outside conventional psychiatry.

My best to you Joe,

Duane

Wellness Writer said...

Dear Duane,
Thanks ever so much for this--on behalf of Joe--and everyone else who is seeking other options.

Susan