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First appointment with clinical psychologist; what to expect moving forward

TallTree

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I'm an 11 year active duty pilot with the Air Force. Two years ago, I began developing what I now know to be manic episodes that lasted about a month each. Six months ago, I drastically cut back my alcohol and caffeine consumption, and eventually quit completely, but now I experience severe depressive episodes that has led to some frightening behavior and experiences both at home and on the job (including in the cockpit). It reached a point where I decided I was a danger to myself and the mission, called my flight doc, and told him I no longer trust myself in the cockpit. I confessed to him most everything, including my self medication with alcohol and subsequent sobriety, and he referred me to the resident psychologist on base.

We just had our first meeting today and it went well, I think, given I was in tears for half the session. I don't think it's relevant to post the specific details or symptoms here, but she gave me some pamphlets for depression, anxiety, and breathing techniques. We'll be meeting once per week for a month and then we'll decide what to do from there.

What really precipitated this was that a family member, a few years older than me and who was diagnosed with bipolar disorder (I don't know which type), recently hung himself. I didn't know his diagnosis, and I see a frightening similarity between his symptoms and my own. I will let the psychologist determine the diagnosis, but what can I do to help her help me? What kind of outcomes can I expect from meeting with her and how will this affect my future career? It is more important to me, at this point, to get the help I need than it is to keep flying in the military, so I am prepared to be brutally honest even if it means an end to my dream job. Any help or advice or pointers on where to look or what to search for are greatly appreciated.
 

Oleboe89

PEB Forum Regular Member
Registered Member
Have they mentioned inpatient to you at all? I went twice and especially the first time seemed to help. I went to Laurel Ridge and Chris Kyle. Laurel Ridge I think could definitely help you out if they haven’t mentioned this to you.
 

TallTree

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Registered Member
No. I do not believe I'm a danger to myself or others or am at risk for spending stupid money. They did mention something about medications, but only after we meet for 3-5 weeks. First we're going to try a few other things. I've read conflicting guidance about medications, though, and some sources appear to say that so long as the medication works for at least six weeks, then you can get a waiver for flying. I guess we'll see.
 

Oleboe89

PEB Forum Regular Member
Registered Member
Well best of luck to you and hopefully everything pans out as you are wanting. This page seems like a good resource so thanks for your post and hopefully someone me can offer some helpful insight.
 

chaplaincharlie

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I suspect you are DNIF. If that continues it should drive a MEB. I applaud your seeking help. Manic symptoms are best treated with professional assistance.
 

oddpedestrian

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You just have to keep going to sessions, bi-polar usually will result in many serious symptoms that affects your ability to perform your duties. Professionals look for many "markers" to substantiate your self reports this is why someone mentioned intake adverse actions and poor evaluations are some other markers. If you feel the therapy is insufficient you have to request to see a psychiatrist and that usually results in a MEB if serious mediations have to be prescribed.
 
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