I think we make it too complicated sometimes when it comes to psychiatry and mental health treatment. We try to ascribe labels and diagnostic codes and levels of care.
What if, when you are in front of me, I just listen to your heart?
When I’m meeting with a patient for the first time, I think it’s a pretty simple breakdown.
I want to know:
1) What are your stressors? These can be big or small. Think about anything that is interfering with your ability to be happy in the present.
2) Of all your current symptoms, what are your top five or ten that are most troubling to you?
3) Trauma is something we all have. I define trauma as any event that you perceived to be negative or unexpected that left you feeling confused, overwhelmed, frightened, or helpless. After giving this some thought, please list any history of trauma that might be affecting your ability to be happy in the present.
4) Considering all of our stressors, symptoms, and trauma, it’s only natural that we would find a way to soothe ourselves or numb any negative emotions. I’d like you to list your current ways of coping below– the good stuff and the bad stuff. What do you do to get through the day? Honesty here is key. I promise, no judgement on my part :) This includes some tough self-insight.
Are you using alcohol, caffeine, food/sugar, shopping/gambling, any form of self-harm, pornography? What’s your average daily screen time? What are some toxic relationships that you can’t seem to give up? Are you taking care of yourself physically? Are you sleeping to escape? Are you involving your spiritual side?
These are tough questions. It took me a while to learn how to ask them without being too clinical or checklist-y.
Still. They need to be asked.
Feel free to comment below or DM me with any insights or comments, friends!