There was a period of a few months in 2014 when I had some sort of appointment booked every week. I was lucky if I only had one appointment a week. I was seeing my doctor every other week, my Psychiatrist every other week and my counselor every week. This is what getting help looks like; a lot of people checking in on you, every week. My doctor gave me her cell phone number, in case something happen in between our visits and I needed to get a hold of her. I was offered a variety of strategies to cope with my suicidal thoughts. I spent more than one day in the ER waiting to see someone who would maybe make me unsuicidal, but that’s a story for a different time.
This is the story of my psychiatrist. His name is Dr. Okoye. My first visit to him was after a suicide attempt. I was not in the best shape. I’m pretty sure I was late to the appointment, which at the time did not help my anxiety. Dr. Okoye says “okay?” at the end of each statement, I guess to make sure he’s being understood. He has a thick accent (I believe he’s from Nigeria but I’m not entirely sure). Every time he speaks I have to take a minute to process and decode what he’s saying. During our first appointment I remember him being particularly jolly. I might have just been projecting this onto him because I despised anyone who was happier than me, which of course was everyone. Dr. Okoye was way to happy for my liking. I was suicidal and I was sent to an african Santa Claus.
For some reason for every single appointment I had with Dr. Okoye I kept writing down the time of the appointment wrong on my calendars. It was like a cosmic joke on me; I was cursed to arrive late for my psychiatric appointments, which gave me anxiety, which was one of the reasons I needed the psychiatric appointments. I kept wrongly writing down the appointment times, every single fucking time. For one of those appointments I almost missed him. He was already in the elevator on his way out. And despite all the precautions, of writing down the appointment in my phone, on a card, on a calendar, I somehow always got it wrong.
Psychiatric appointments are different than counselling. During counselling sessions I would spend an hour unpacking my experiences, my traumas and my grief. Appointments with Dr. Okoye were about 15 minutes long. He would check my blood pressure. He would ask me pretty much the exact same questions every time; how would I rate my overall mood on a scale of 1 to 10, was I still doing photography, how was my life at home, was I finding interest in SOMETHING, etc. Then he would write me a prescription and make an appointment for two weeks later. Then it became a month later. Then two months later. And eventually we reached a point where I would see him twice a year. My overall mood rates went from 2 (when I was suicidal) to 8. My interests in photographing, writing and creating returned.
My last appointment with Dr. Okoye was a few weeks ago. This time, by some miracle, I was on time. Ben and Lacy waited in the car, since I knew it was going to be a quick appointment. We went through the same questions, although he didn’t check my blood pressure this time. And at the end we didn’t book another appointment. He wrote me a prescription and suggested that I didn’t need to see him anymore. I was a little surprised by this, although, I don’t know why I didn’t see it coming. It has been three years, and I’m kind of okay now. My mood stays at solid 7 to 8, regardless of the shit life has thrown at me in recent months. When he said that I didn’t need to see him anymore and asked how I felt about that, I had a deep sense of relief, and also a small inkling of fear. It’s a bit frightening, entering this unknown stage in life in which I have to be a big girl and deal with my life on my own. Kind of on my own. I still see my doctor more regularly than some others. I still take the highest dosage of venlafaxine and mirtazapine. But I don’t have to see my psychiatrist anymore.