Good-Bye, Duke: When Your Therapist Retires

Posted on February 27, 2018

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The Duke is retiring. “The Duke” is my nickname for my psychiatrist of 19 years. I’m a little nervous.

I’m looking for a new doctor, but I know that finding just the right one might be difficult.

I went through this predicament three years ago when my psychologist retired. The first therapist I auditioned was too hoity-toity. I felt uncomfortable around her. I wanted someone more down-to-earth.

I told her it just wasn’t working out and tried another one. The next doctor was in her 70s, which is what I wanted. I desired someone older and wiser than me. We got along great. She gave terrific advice, but then my insurance changed, and I could no longer go to her. Good bye to number two.

I went to a new practice that took my insurance and tried number three. This woman was too down-to-earth. At my first appointment, she talked more about herself than I did about myself. I felt a little wiser than that therapist. We didn’t click.

On to number four. And number four was perfect. She has got great common sense, a PhD, is not pretentious, is not too down-to-earth and I really like her. I trust her, which is more important.

So I realize that finding the right mental health practitioner can take years.

I’m going to audition new psychiatrists methodically, as I did with psychologists. I’m not going to settle. I want smarts, empathy, pharmaceutical know-how, sense of humor, accessibility… I want it all.

Before I move on, I want to pause a minute and remember the greatness of The Duke.

What will I miss about The Duke? His voice, which instantly calms me. I don’t know how many times I’ve called him over the years in a bipolar panic. He’s always been there and known what to do. He’s a pharmaceutical genius. His sense of humor. His ability to relate to me. We’re close in age. He’s about 60, and I’m 55.

Truth be told, I love The Duke. Not in a romantic way. I love him like a friend. He knows the best and the worst of me.

He once told me that if I wasn’t as “smart” as I am, I’d be “living in a group home, addicted to cigarettes.”

That’s just the kind of guy he is. He tells you the truth.

I believe him.

He’ll be around until August of 2018. I’m safe until then.

The good thing is that I’m stable at the moment. The cocktail of meds is working; my home life has evened out; my child is happy in school; my husband and I enjoy each other; I have a lovely family, with whom I live peacefully.

So I guess this is a good time for a change. It would be terrible if I was out of control, and The Duke was leaving the building, so to speak. What would I do then?

I might end up living in a group home, addicted to cigarettes.

And if that happened, I’d find a way to make that work. I’d have to. One thing, a good thing, about having a major mental illness, is that it teaches you resiliency. There’s only one way up.

And so Duke, I bid you good bye. I pray that you’ll enjoy your retirement, that you won’t be bored, that you’ll do everything you’ve been wanting to do for the past 35 years, but haven’t been able to do.

I pray that you know how much you’ve made a difference in my life and the lives of many others.

You came to this earth for a reason—to be a damn good psychiatrist.

You succeeded.

Happy trails, Duke…

Remember us when you enter paradise.

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Author: Laura Yeager

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