Compassionate Love:Displaying compassion for those who struggle with mental illness (c)2014 Nancy Virden
What I hope is coming of this series is how each of us matters- yes, you too- and we have the right and the power to get our needs met. Sometimes it seems difficult. That does not mean we have to stop choosing what is best for our physical, mental, and spiritual health.
I was hospitalized twice in 2005, following unsuccessful attempts at finding professional mental health care (stories 1 and 2 of this series). After my first short-lived stay, the psychiatrist who met me only for a few minutes told me I could go home and be happy. No meds, no follow-up.
Not having ever faced this facet of medical care before, I did not recognize the flaws in that approach. I blamed myself for not feeling better, and within a few weeks began a second hospitalization in a different medical center.
This psychiatrist asked me why I was there. I told him some of how I felt. He said clearly, although I will not quote him for privacy reasons, that my feelings were invalid. He went on to compare me to other patients saying, “there are people with real problems here.”
He never heard my whole explanation. Seven days later, seeing me for only the second time, he said, “I’m going to ask you one more time. Why are you here?”
I was afraid. He intimidated me, and my own anger scared me too. In a fragile state of mind, I did not answer his question.
The man screamed. It was not only a yell; it was a loud temper tantrum. The intern standing next to him looked like she would go through the floor. He said I had better come up with a story other than had been shared with him the first night. “Are you being abused? Did someone beat you? Is there something you are not telling me?”
Of course there was. Plenty. But I was not caring anymore whether he heard me. He was possibly more in need of psychiatric care than I was.
One good came of meeting him; I was given medication for the first time. A behavioral health patient who is taking medication has to have an outside psychiatrist before leaving the hospital. The one I met was gentle and patient. She also apologized for her profession and told me I was not the first to complain about the hospital doctor.
Sadly, those who refer to psychiatrists as “quacks” are sometimes right. This gives anyone fuel for avoiding professional mental health care altogether. Maybe you are questioning the wisdom of finding a psychiatrist.
The “quack” accusation is most often not true. Finding help does not have to be this difficult. I was a newbie at it, and now know what to look for.
- Licensure. (does he have it?)
- Reputation (does anyone else recommend this person? Does she have any suspensions?)
- Personality (is this the kind of person you can trust and work with?)
- Experience in the areas where you need help (how long has this person been in practice, and does he/she have a specialty?)
They are there! They are there! And you are worth it!
There is still MORE to this story, stay tuned.
NOTE: I am not a doctor or mental health professional. I speak only from personal experiences and observations of mental illness. In no way is this website intended to substitute for professional mental health care.
If you are struggling emotionally today or feeling suicidal, or concerned about someone who is, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Hope and help can be yours.
*picture from qualitystockphotos