There’s no parking available at psychiatrist’s office

Published 7:18 pm Wednesday, April 18, 2018

As most of you are aware, I never shy away from writing or discussing the frailties of my personal life. Most of you have read my articles regarding my journey with depression and anxiety.

Many readers, as well as friends, will often say, “Lynn, you are so brave to tell your story!”  Others will ask, “Why do you share your struggles?”

My answers are simple: There is no bravery involved because I am not ashamed of the crosses I bear.  If we do not share with others our travails, then how do others understand their own?

Several weeks ago, my answering machine recorded a message from an old friend of mine.  “Lynn, it’s Dr. McLarty calling.  I haven’t seen you in a while, and it’s time to check in. Call me.”

Dr. McLarty is the psychiatrist who first treated me in the late 1970s. He is still practicing, still my doctor and still provides the medicine I require to combat clinical depression. We see each other every two years, but this time we both were past due for a check in and checkup. 

For 40 years, this healing man has guided me through some horrific storms and believed in my strength, my faith and my desire to ease the illness I have carried since age seven.

Last week I drove to Ridgeview Institute in Atlanta where my good doctor has kept his office all these years.  It had been more than two years since I parked my car in front of his building; except this time, there was no parking available.

“Lynn! Finally, I get to see you!” Dr. McLarty greeted me with a big bear hug and accompanying smile.

“What is with all the cars out there, buddy?” I immediately asked. “Ah, just folks needing help,” he replied in a noticeable reticent tone.

Our meeting lasted the usual hour, finding my brain is normal for my mind, medicine stays the same and checkup finished. I was overjoyed to see my friend and was astonished he was continuing to offer a healing hand to those who suffer from depression, bipolar disorder, addictions, anxiety, all other personality abnormalities and suicidal tendencies.

Dr. McLarty and those who could have retired long ago are still practicing because they are desperately needed.  Right now, there are six times the individuals who need help to one mental health care worker including all psychiatrists, psychologists, counselors, psych nurses and social workers combined.  More than 56 percent of adult Americans who have a disorder receive no or inadequate treatment. 

Youth with severe depression rose from 5.9 percent to 8.2 percent from 2012 to 2015 with 76 percent of those young folks having no or inadequate treatment.  Teen and youth suicide rates are rising fueled by pressure from peers, parents, society, social media, abuse and a myriad of other issues. We often have the tenacity to put out heads in the sand when faced with uncomfortable subjects we do not understand.  Mental health is one of them.  However, it shouldn’t be since one in five people suffer from some form of psychological disturbance. I often ask myself why so many do not ask for help.  It is perplexing to me that when we suffer from pain anywhere in our body, we run to the doctor, but when we suffer from pain within our soul, we run into a closet.  How sad is that? 

So many stay quietly in despair because they do not want to trouble their family or friends,or their false pride is killing their truth. I understood long ago the only way to unburden those I love was to seek help, so they no longer had to deal with the mess in the closet. 

It took work, patience, God, a doctor and a loving family to transform me into being all I was intended to become. Long ago the medicines offered did not work for me, but the help I received through therapy saved my life.  There is no bravery involved or embarrassment to tell my story.  I choose not to hide in a closet or look for a sandbox to bury my head. My earnest prayer is that you don’t either.