Making 'Friends' With Your Psychiatrist

November 8, 2012 Natalie Jeanne Champagne

Let me stress that by "friends" I do not mean you should ask he or she out for coffee or maybe to a movie. Refrain from a discussion focused on the new recipes you thought up and the shoes you found half off on the weekend...

My Experience With My Psychiatrist

Has not always been pleasant. In fact, I have spent a few years really disliking her. I have ground my teeth as I hear her high heels click-clacking as they lead me to her expansive office. I have felt inferior. I have glared at her across the small table. I have harbored great disdain for her--to say the least. I have nearly growled when she has told me I need to make changes in my life in order to stay well.

I have disliked her because she has usually been correct.

Yesterday, I had an appointment with her. As usual, I felt like asking her how the hell she manages to grow her bamboo plant so quickly. Seriously. This plant is at least twelve inches high and seems larger every single time I am in her office. Mine keep dying. What a piss off.

But I have realized--now that I have been her patient for five or so years--that she has really tried to help me. Her advice, once seemed trivial (aka take vitamins and try yoga!) really does help in my recovery. When I become depressed she listens to me describe my symptoms, or if I cannot muster words, she musters them out of me. Leaving her office, I realized that, well, she isn't so bad and it was my notions, my belief that I knew more than she did about my illness that hampered my recovery. Arrogance isn't attractive.

What Do You Mean Make "Friends?" With My Psychiatrist?!

Some ideas:

>Allow yourself to listen.

>Try not to 'tune out' as he or she speaks. This can be difficult. This explains why I have memorized every detail of her office--She has a large picture of her dog framed. It has dark shaggy hair and smiles with its large tongue. But I cannot tell you what she looks like, even after five years, I've sort of avoided her. The situation.

>Remember that he or she are rooting for you to become well. They want us to walk into their office and tell them that, yes, we're doing pretty good. It's hard work recovering from mental illness! We don't need to do it alone.

>We are lucky to have a mental health team, people that listen, and family and friends.

I left her office, prescription in hand, with a new feeling: If we work together, if I allow myself to work with her, recovering from mental illness is easier.

Allow yourself to accept help--we all need it from time to time. Even the psychiatrist that sits across from you. Heck, they might even have their own psychiatrist.

APA Reference
Jeanne, N. (2012, November 8). Making 'Friends' With Your Psychiatrist, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 19 from

Author: Natalie Jeanne Champagne

Dr Musli Ferati
November, 20 2012 at 8:57 pm

Clinical psychiatrist as crucial subject of psychiatric treatment team should be competent and good-hearted person.But, its place and professional performances depends mostly of readiness of psychiatric patient to accept the psychiatric help, in order to recover from mental illness as chronic and tedious personal suffering.Indeed, the quality of relationship between patient and psychiatrist has great impact on the course of treatment process of any psychiatric patient. For me, as clinical psychiatrist the place and role of psychiatric patient is also decisive in successful management of respective psychiatric illness. In this direction, I usually employ this expression to my patient: I can to help you if You accept my assistance. It is simply to said this objection, but it should to be consecrated as therapist on the treatment of any psychiatric patient. If this engagement didn't admit the patient the outcome of treatment would unsatisfactory. In consequence , I support your recommendation which ones the concrete psychiatric patient should to apply along treatment process.

Paul Winkler
November, 12 2012 at 5:35 pm

I don't know where your psychiatrist is, but mine was at the Jube when I lived on the West coast. Aside from an odd prejudice against lithium, he was absolutely amazing! I have had lots in other places, and have tried to work with them, but none were so kind, intelligent, perceptive, and easy to talk to. Once, when a med was new in Canada and the cost was astronomical, he gave me office samples for months and months knowing I could not afford to buy them on prescription.
Some psychiatrists are very good, and some are not. One usually doesn't get any choice in who gets assigned, so all you can do is keep your fingers crossed and hope for the best.
I really think it would be cool if they all could be trained to truly *listen* to patients, and realise patients don't bitch over nothing - sometimes it's hard to describe what's wrong with your mood, say, but you know something is wrong.
Anyways, thanks for the blog Natalie. Very thought-provoking!

November, 8 2012 at 3:23 pm

I have found your blog & tweets to be insightful. I am one of those weirdos that has been on both sides of the couch. I have Bipolar Disorder and after getting some recovery got a Master's Degree in psychology and work in the mental health field. My daughter is only 15 and going through her own recovery. Damn genetics! I shared your blog with her and hope it helps her find her way. Thanks for sharing your experience with the world!

November, 8 2012 at 7:01 am

Natalie,thank you,this made me smile.I am in the UK but well mental illness does not care,where you are in the world,it seems to like visting other places,and check people over.My own illness I have suffered with for some 30 years now,and well,my shrinker,is now almost a friend,well sort of,as in he sections me far less now,therefore,this thorazine queen,has come to understand him,as he attempts to understand my mad meanderings,and so on so forth,we once had a mutal respect,called denial,he said I was ill,and I replied push off Spock and get back to the bridge,or I shall nip your vulcan ears so hard you will need thorazine for a month ad continuam..In the begining I was sent to him with what was thought to be post partum depression,but the got my diagnoisis in correct,and I had more labels,than on a pickle jar.I was given the most horrendous treatments,and ways of being were told to me until I choked on them.They passed me as Manic with a hint of schizophrenia after 12 months of meddling about, and that is who I am today.No matter what has transpired between he and I,and now he is retiring,then it is the end of what could have been a rather beautiful nightmare,but my point is to say yes indeed they are people also, with thoughts,feelings, and so much more,so therefore by default,then one has to say thank you to them for at least trying.I used to ask mine was he a failed Dr of something else,that lacked skills in human kindness and a heck of a lot more,to which 3 days extension to my section would be added,he replied no I am qualifed to assertain,even though no Dr really knows what go's on inside the mind of some one with a severe mental illness such as yours,so it is a question of observation,and trying to help.Even if most of the time you do not make sense.Charming I replied well neither do you actually, so touche.I have battled this illness alone for so many years,but my lil shrinketter has actually been there when I have been riding on a magic carpet or whatever may come at me.Ok time to stop this waffle, and go try to cook something,as now I am an unhinged domestic goddess,who is also a muddle maker extraodinaire,coming here in peace, and meaning no harm.Thanking you most kindly,for this post it made me chuckle.All of us seem to have similar expericences with the shrinketters do we not,but in my case sheeeesh..the poor chap had to have counselling.. Fabbby..Bless him..Peace always, and wishing you contd wonderful mental health..

Leave a reply