Schizophrenia: Seeing a New Psychiatrist (Edited and Updated)

The first time I visited the office of Dr CLB I had good feelings, even though, as a new vegan (more on that in another post) I noted that his waiting room chairs were all upholstered in leather, even though they were “just” upright chairs, not armchairs, which is where you usually, which is to say, often, find leather being used. In point of fact, the entire building was much more opulent than I was used to, being in a part of the country that once had the reputation for being one of the wealthiest communities in the U.S. or at least in the state. No more, but its past showed there.

I walked in, and due to what I think is my continuing lack of depth perception, I mistook a central large planter in an atrium-type room on the first floor for an island in the middle of a large pool, adding to my initial impression of opulence. The elevator was, whoosh, silent, and took me to the second floor as if without moving, in contrast to the one in our building, which makes each floor a noticeable journey. (Since then, having discovered the stairs, I take those instead, finding a two story elevator trip rather silly.) It then opened on a thickly carpeted hallway, overlooking the pool/atrium, lined with what to me, being there the first time, appeared to be huge, expensively appointed wooden doors. Not just your ordinary run of the mill painted ones, mind you, but heavy imposing grand ones indeed, of stained wood that look like mahogany or cherry. The carpet is a deep rich color with an eye dazzling pattern that I find I cannot look at without getting upset. I easily found Dr B’s office, entered through the outer door, then the inner one to the waiting room, where I sat in one of the leather chairs mentioned earlier.

I knew Dr B vaguely, or knew of him, since he had been a resident or chief resident once at a hospital where I had often been a patient in the 80s, though he had never treated me, nor had he had any individual interaction with me. He has so far never given me any indication that he knows or remembers me, and so I have not asked, though he did say that he had heard of Divided Minds and had seen Lynnie and me on public television, though did not make the connection until I mentioned that I am a twin, and that my sister is a psychiatrist.

Anyhow, that first meeting went well, largely I think, because I felt very well, and because I feel comfortable answering questions, which he asked in abundance, that being an initial, Getting to Know You, session. After that, he has stayed more quiet, which is difficult for me, as I am much more used to Dr O’s directive style, wih her taking such an active role in therapy. It is hard for me to start each session, or take charge of my own therapy. I am so used to simply talking about the previous week, which always worked well for me with Dr O, because it always brought up enough “other stuff” to discuss that we were never ever at a loss for subject matter, not once. But I find that without L’s direction, and without his asking me questions, I feel, I dunno, that I don’t know what to say. I am  so used to Dr O in some sense picking out from my initial answer to the question about my week or even from, How are you, what exactly is most important, that I am simply flummoxed.

I told Dr O that after she left I would most want to work on 2 things in therapy now 1)  gaining “real self-esteem” about who I am, not just for what I do — self esteem meaning, not feeling evil and worthless and to blame for, well you know about all that… and 2) learning not to be or to feel paranoid in life, as well as about specific things. But those seem such tall orders and indeed so intertwined…and I do not know how to work on them, esp with someone like Dr B — L, as he said I could call him. He does not know my history or how deep these things go, how persistent they are and have been.True,  I gave him both of my books, but fear that he is not a reader and in any event has way too much to do to read either one any time soon. He has not even taken the time to call Dr O, or perhaps doesn’t really want to, I dunno. All I know is that he keeps telling me he will, but never does, never did before she left for her trip to Bhutan. She is leaving for good on the last day of July, and I am beginning to doubt that he will manage to speak with her at all before then. It is possible that he does not WANT to, but he ought to say so, and tell me why, rather than simply ignore my request and pretend that he simply missed her by accident…

The introduction to my poetry book gives some idea of my history, and I know he read that, so he has a very small idea of some of what I have been through…snuck in through the back door. But unless he actually reads Divided Minds, which is only part of the story, or talks with Dr O, which is itself only another part, he won’t understand those parts of my history…I understand myself that he might want to make his own assessment. But he needs to really grok that I am not the same person that I was for 35 years, and that he cannot judge my illness or anything about that from me now…I so resent people who discount my past because of that, pretending that it somehow doesn’t matter or didn’t matter, because of where I am now. FOr example, he keeps saying things like: you have this condition that occasionally makes you…As if this is some minor inconvenience or has only had minor consequences for me in my life, rather than having deprived me of 35 years…When it was, as you all know, horrendous, and took so much away from me…Only you guys can really appreciate that. Only you people can truly appreciate the magnitude both of what I have been through a well as the journey I have taken to get to where I am, and I appreciate that no end.

Anyhow, one of the problems with seeing L, apart from whether I can work with a man (which I do not think by itself is any problem at all, though whether I can work with him might be) is that — well, let’s just say that I both felt terrible last session and left there hating myself, hating him, and feeling that I had to leave and find someone else. Feeling like I was contaminating him and that simultaneously he wanted to get rid of me, was laughing at me, and was, I dunno, bored with and sick of me. I also detected what I felt was a note of falsity in his voice, something that sounded like it was using “tried and true technique #2” on me rather than being human and honest…

No one can know, despite my cheery and busy exterior, the depths to which my self-hatred plunges me at times, and frequently, though often without warning…It is not a mood, not at all. It is a building up of thoughts that tip me over a precipice that I need to watch out for. Because it is that precipice of guilt piled upon guilt, and thoughts of how evil I am, piled on top of all that — even without command hallucinations to spark it, OR perhaps it is that missing factor that has so far stopped me? — that lead me to impulses of wanting again to self-immolate, or at a minimum set part of me to the flames. I cannot tell you how often those thoughts arise, and how easy it would be to give in…What good I would feel I was performing for the world, by exercising myself to make such an ablution and atonement!  At the same time, I would be exorcising the evil in me, and if necessary, preventing such evil from infecting more of humanity. But I don’t follow the impulses, nonetheless. Why? Largely because I fear the real time consequences, which I so far manage to remember in time. Consequences? I imagine you think I mean, the burns themsevles, or the pain or soemthing immediately consequential  like that…, no? But it is not that which I fear, only the potential for being locked up if anyone found out that I would dread and which prevents me from acting on my wishes…Otherwise, I would pay no attention. And I refrain too, more easily, because there has been no extra urging or push to do so in the form of those command hallucinations that are so hard to ignore. Thank god for that.

In fact, I have heard NOTHING in the way of voices since February, not that I know of, or at least, nothing that I recognize as “voices” except the occasional name calling, which might in fact have been real.

I am exhausted at the moment, and having trouble distinguishing dreams from reality again, dunno why. I do not for example recall  when I last saw Lynnie, but am convinced that it was recently, and that there was something going on…But my dreams are so realistic and I also remember that my touchstone was always IF you have to ask if something is a dream or real, it is pretty certain to have been a dream! Nevertheless, this is an unnerving development, as it has not been a problem for some time…

I have to write a poem on the word “beach” for the writers group on Tuesday on top of a thoussand other commitments, so I’d better quit here. But there is much more to say and I hope to get to some of it in later days, including my depth perception, veganism and how that is going, and the developments with the book.

*** WE MAD CLILMB SHAKY LADDERS: if you have had trouble ordering it from Barnes and Noble, It IS AVAILABLE. They only tell you it isn’t, because they may not carry it. You have to go to the store and ask them to order it. But I suggest you get it from Amazon for a discount or from  to support the press and pay full price at only 4 dollars more. Either way, if you could write some sort of review or at least put your opinion of the book in stars at the site, it would be great. Also at  THANKS!

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