I pull into the medical center parking lot, and stop in the last empty parking spot. The car parked in front of me is impossible to ignore. Flaming red, with a starting ticket price of $70,000 (yes, I Googled it, so what?) you could almost just roll your eyes and move on, except for the vanity plate that reads, “SHRINK.”
The audacity and exorbitant price of the whole thing make me laugh – as if I needed another reminder that my 30 minute visit here will be costing me a quarter of my paycheck. A QUARTER OF MY PAYCHECK.
I head into the office, check in with one of four emotionally distant secretaries, find a giant leather seat to wait in, and then (a good 15 minutes past my appointment time) my psychiatrist finally appears and waves me toward her office.
And it is then that the cliché shifts. Dr. R apologizes sincerely for my wait, explaining a personal situation that caused her schedule to fall behind. She notices the book I’m carrying (always take a book to waiting rooms – always) and asks me about it. She listens intently as I tell her about the leadership growth group I’m a part of, and the homework I’m doing. I settle onto comfortable furniture as she asks me about my day, making eye contact, laughing together about life’s weird moments.
Dr. R is kind, compassionate, completely normal (probably just a few years older than I am), and only charges me for half my appointment because she was running so late. She asks me what I think of everything she says, and tells me to call her office if I need anything. She’s the opposite of the distant, strange, and condescending psychiatrist of familiar clichés.
I have two points here, in case you’re wondering where I’m going with this.
- For those of you who have had negative experiences with psychiatrists, psychologists, counselors, therapists, or whoever you’ve gone to for help, I want you to know that there are good ones out there. They exist. Keep looking, and don’t give up. There are people who genuinely want to help you and who care about your health.
- For those of you who have not had those experiences, either because you were gifted with “one of the good ones,” or because you simply have not needed to seek this kind of life help, I want you to count yourself blessed. I genuinely want to remind you to enjoy that reality, and to be grateful.
I’m sure a lot of you could tell me horror stories – but I’d love to hear any positive experiences you’ve had with members of the “helping professions.”