We had to kiss a couple frogs (or something like that) before we found a psychiatrist that could and would help us. Actually, considering Taz was only three, and we only spent a period of a few months looking, we are incredibly lucky. I've heard from other parents finding the right psychiatrist took years. We started off with a psychologist, who we still see once a week for play therapy. Dr.B didn't want to diagnose anything but believed Taz could have bipolar disorder. Then we went for some testing at a well-known hospital. I had high hopes for this clinic, but was quickly disappointed, and even irritated at the clinician. I understand my child is young. And I understand that mental illness isn't usually diagnosed in preschoolers. But it's pretty clear that I'm a desperate, exhausted parent at the edge of my limits and resources, and I just needed help.
One of the problems I face is the matter of people not believing me. Actually, I'm pretty sure some of you are thinking that there's something wrong with me for allowing my son to be medicated with psychiatric substances at 3 years old. Or for allowing a psychiatrist (who is dictated by drug companies) to diagnose my son with some (made-up) condition just to make money. I am faced with this everyday. In fact, when I am in public and have to explain my son's behavior, I find myself very tempted to say he has autism. Why? Because there is so much awareness about autism that there is no look of confusion on strangers faces. Actually, people embrace autism. They feel extremely empathetic towards autistic kids and their parents. We would maybe even get special treatment if I stated Taz was autistic. But if I say he has bipolar disorder, people assume I'm either being naive and controlled by the psychiatry community or that I'm one of "those" parents who drugs their kids because I'm lazy and don't want to deal with typical rambunctious children. Well, I am telling you now, I am neither! But how do you explain that to the public? How do you explain that to your friends and family? Unless they've known someone with a mental illness, most people can't possibly understand, which leads them not to believe.
So, in talking with professionals, I run into the same problem. At least with those who are not experienced. And that's what happened with this particular hospital clinic. I didn't stay long. We did a few weeks of developmental testing but I didn't get a good feeling about this doctor so during that time I also started looking into other options. I was right. After the testing he didn't believe my concerns were serious. He didn't have anything to offer except therapy. Not even for sleep. So I thanked him for his obviously wrong opinion, and moved on. I must have called at least a dozen clinics, private doctors, and hospital programs looking for someone who would see a child so young and who takes our insurance.
Finally, when I almost lost hope, our pediatrician recommended a colleague who he trusts and who has years of experience working with very young children. So I made an appointment last November. I brought in lots of paperwork, accounts from his preschool teacher, mood journals, sleeping charts, his OT eval, etc. And there he was. Our prince. Dr.S immediately saw the severity of what we were dealing with. He diagnosed bipolar disorder so that we could start meds and get the services we needed. But he also clarified that he can't be 100% positive until Taz is a little older. But he does believe that Taz should be treated for bipolar disorder, sooner rather than later. And I've been very grateful to have found him.
So...then comes the medication trials. Or what I like to call, the guessing game.