Finally, after seven months of moving-house-related chaos, including various insurance SNAFUs, I now have a new psychiatrist.

As most of you already know, I moved from the US to The Netherlands last summer. After all the hubbub in the US media last year about the supposedly poor quality of the healthcare system in the UK, I am the first one to admit I was very nervous about having to find a psychiatrist in my new country. Yes, I know The Netherlands and the UK are miles/kilometers (and a sea or two) apart, but the US media does make it sound as if all European healthcare was spawned from Beelzebub himself. I am very happy to say that in The Netherlands, for me, this just isn’t so.

Unlike in the US, there is not a shortage of psychiatrists where I now live. After seeing my GP, I was given an appointment at GGZ to see a psychiatric intake nurse almost immediately, and the appointment lasted for a full hour. The next appointment, a mere 3 days later, was an intake with the psychiatrist. Imagine my surprise when that session lasted 1.5 hours (with my last two American psychiatrists, each spent only half an hour with me during our first appointment). Within the first week I spent a total of almost three hours with my new team, had thoroughly (and I mean thoroughly) reviewed my history, had my present concerns carefully addressed and left my appointment with a battle plan to manage my Bipolar.

This efficiency frightened me to the point I almost needed a Xanax.

Now, you can’t spend all of this time with nurses and psychiatrists without a few new items emerging. One thing that did change was my diagnosis, from BP II to BP I, and I am comfortable with that. Especially after all the care and attention that was paid in documenting my history. I have long suspected this to be the case, and even wrote a post questioning my BP II diagnosis last October [Hypomania or Mania – Which Was it?] Another reason I respect the change is at no point did I relay my original diagnosis nor did the nurse or psychiatrist ask, “Which flavor of bipolar are you?” Instead they allowed the history itself to reveal the diagnosis.

It also seems that my new Dr and I are on the same page, thank goodness, when it comes to antidepressants. My weight gain is out of control due to the Wellbutrin and with diabetes running in the family, I thought I’d give it the old college try to dodge that bullet a little while longer. I came away from my appointment with the elimination of Wellbutrin in very gradual stages (it has always caused me to gain weight) and a minor adjustment to the very low dose of Abilify I am already on (which never made me gain one pound). So, with that said, I am going to indulge myself with a bit of whining. Because coming off an antidepressant is like wallowing in the fifth circle of hell. All of the withdrawal symptoms make me extremely angry that I ever had to go on the stuff in the first place. I can’t wait for the nausea, stuttering vision and inevitable migraines! Ah, just talking about what I have to look forward to…I can feel my blood beginning to boil with fifth circle rage already.

So, in the spirit of a right and proper free-for-all, I open the floor to all of you. Share your horror stories about the nightmares involved when trying to find a new psychiatrist – about going off of antidepressants. Or, what the heck! Let’s talk about the unpleasantness of titer-ing down / going off of any psychiatric drug.

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