Surviving Psych Waiting Rooms
“I hate wait.” – Inigo Montoya, The Princess Bride
I hate waiting rooms. I know this hardly makes me unique, but I suspect my hatred is more pronounced due to the amount of time I spend in them. Stale magazines. Old furniture. “Art.” Institutional beige walls.
Ick, ick, ick.
I have had chronically on-time doctors and chronically late doctors but no matter what, somehow, in a waiting room, it feels like your life is wasting away.
Hospital Waiting Rooms
Now my psychiatrist's waiting room happens to be in a hospital’s Mood Disorder Clinic, although I think people of any disorder wait in the same place for their doctors as well. We are the people who have stepped past the average doctor and the average psychiatrist up to the specialists. So basically, we are the craziest of the crazy, all trapped in a room together.
And if there were any doubt that we are scary, it is confirmed by the fact that the receptionist sits behind glass. Really, it’s rather creepy.
So all of us stare at our shoes and shuffle our feet, waiting for the next guy in a button-down shirt to call our name.
Surviving Psychiastrist Waiting Rooms
So the obvious answer is to plan ahead. When heading to a psychiatrist appointment bring a book, magazine, newspaper or one of those new-fangled tablets with you. Hopefully this will distract you from all of the unwanted waiting.
But oddly, I don’t find that suggestion very helpful. Maybe it’s because my discomfort with the situation doesn’t allow me to engross myself in another media. Maybe I just feel like I’m on heightened alert sitting in a fishbowl of crazies. I’m not sure.
What I do like though is coffee (or the beverage of your choice). Somehow, when I’m drinking coffee I can distract myself just enough to feel OK. It’s like there’s a wall of recycled cardboard and caffeine between me and the rest of the world and that’s enough to keep me safe. I can delude myself into thinking I’m in a Starbucks rather than waiting for yet another appointment where medications I hate will be adjusted.
Plus, the coffee acts as a reward. Yes, good little crazy girl. You made it to the doctor, once again Have a cookie.
Because, in the end, I have to go to psych appointments and anything that makes the whole thing more survivable is OK with me.
PS: Yes, I realize this piece uses the term “crazy” rather liberally. This isn’t to offend, it’s a stylistic choice and not one I find offensive. Read this.
Tracy, N. (2012, August 30). Surviving Psych Waiting Rooms, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2019, August 19 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/breakingbipolar/2012/08/surviving-psych-waiting-rooms
Author: Natasha Tracy
The first few times I was held in a room with a plastic bench. Nothing on the walls, a locked door, and floors the colour of vomit (I KID YOU NOT). I started to panic in that room so easily.
However, when I was admitted in the company of a friend, I was sent into the family room. It was very homey, with a couple ugly floral couches and a leather recliner. No vomit coloured floor, and semi-decent artwork on the walls. Plus this time, he was allowed to come in with me, instead of me going in alone, which really eased my anxiety.
I don't have a problem with waiting rooms. The one where I go has comfortable seating, it's never full, the other patients are quiet and even the decor is ok ... avocado green walls with accent walls of rusty red giving way to aubergine in the consulting rooms. The secretaries are friendly and sit behind a normal counter.
When I'm feeling OK I either read (book, e-book, tablet), play on my phone or listen to an iPod. When I'm not feeling good I just sit and try to get my thoughts in order.
Being at the A & E for emergency psych admission was a whole different story!!
It's been my experience that the different psych doctors I have seen all try to keep the appointment times and I have discussed this subject with them, I was told that it was not uncommon for mentally ill people to experience this.
Just another little thing we have to adjust to in our lives I guess.
My old psychiatrist was chronically late, so I'd bring a music player and my phone, just to try to distract myself from where I was. I have done the coffee thing as well.
Since I've moved, I got a new psychiatrist whose office is in the hospital. The receptionists aren't behind glass, and it's just steps away from the inpatient ward. I find it much more comfortable, for some reason.
One time, an (obviously unwell) elderly man sitting across from me glared at me in disgust and said loudly to his carer, "What's she doing here? She's too young to be depressed". I loved his carer's simple response: "Depression doesn't discriminate, you know". Everyone else in the room looked decidedly uncomfortable!
The best part is catching up with friends from hospital. (Like you, the outpatient clinic I go to is attached to a hospital).
In the outpatient waiting room, several things are predictable. The wonderful ladies behind the glass, who call you by your name. The smell of urine from the inevitable incontinent patient. The loud voice of the social worker discussing concerns with her patient in the public area. And the very, very, long wait. At least there is a drink machine. And if you walk further, a chocolate machine.
The worst inpatient experience I had was when I was really unwell and needed to be admitted. The emergency centre was overcrowded, with people sleeping on the chairs. My mum brought up some bags of clothes and snacks and toiletries for me. They kept them behind the glass, until they had got a chance to look through them for potential dangerous items like razors and plastic bags. Fair enough. I wasn't a danger, but perhaps other patients were. About an hour later, I tried to get my bags and did my best to behave like a sane human being with my insane mind in this insane place where people didn't answer when you spoke to them. I finally got the attention of one nurse. He gave me my bags. I asked him if he had looked through them. He replied "I don't care if you cut yourself". This is offensive on several levels, and shows a distinct lack of knowledge and ability on his part. At least I knew that there was nothing dangerous in there.
Yes, waiting rooms have always been interesting.
As for coffee, one of my docs has a single serve coffee maker, it's a great and I avail myself of it.
Goes great with the music player.
One more thing, is it just me or do all waiting rooms seem to have neutral beige on the walls ?