Hopefulness

11 Mar

Daffodils at the allotment

I’m a little bit in shock. I’m still not sure how to put it. It seems too good to be true. It’s taken nearly 3 years to be able to say this:

I’m being seen by a psychiatrist who seems to relate to me as a human being, wants to get to know me as a person and work with me in partnership.

What’s puzzled me so far is why all the psychiatrists I’ve seen haven’t been like this. I know they’re intelligent, caring professionals. So it’s been a genuine puzzle to me why the mental health care I’ve received so far has been so bad or inadequate, and in so many different ways. It’s one thing having one bad experience of care: it happens. But for it to happen repeatedly, with different professionals? It’s a puzzle.

I had no idea that, two years after joining twitter, I’d still be banging on about bad experiences of care. (It’s not because I like them!). I never thought I’d still be going on about what was done to me in hospital. (I’d much rather have had treatment for the resulting PTSD.) I never imagined I’d still be moaning about my bad experiences of community mental health care. (I thought I’d learn how to work the system to get what I needed.)

In fact, just so you know, I don’t do nearly as much moaning on about my supposed “care” as I could. (It would sound way too negative!) I’d summarise my experience of mental health care as having been brutalised, traumatised then parked on welfare benefits and sedating meds. Mental health nurses & doctors who’ve treated me so far have been akin to veterinary staff: they’ve observed, diagnosed and neutralised me.

Non-medically trained staff have related to me with humanity. But, ultimately, they’ve all had to defer to the doctors and nurses. It’s almost as if mental health training gets in the way, prevents staff from seeing the human being experiencing human distress right in front of them.

Does training prevent health care professionals from seeing that what’s in front of them isn’t a diagnosis but is a human being experiencing distressing symptoms? Is the human experience so broad and varied that mental health staff steel themselves to stick rigidly to assigned roles and designated boxes?

Let’s be clear. When I’m in mental distress, it’s not about mental health staff being “nice” to me. It’s not about them being my mate. I don’t need a new friend.

I need a competent professional who’ll work with me in partnership: I’m the expert in me; they’re the expert in mental health care.

No matter how unwell someone is, they’re still a person with thoughts, feelings, quirks, preferences, friends, family and a life to return to. They’re not a puzzle to be solved, a problem to be fixed. They’re a human being, not an animal.

I want to be able to write about good psychiatric care, I really do. I have a vested interest, after all! It’s just not been my experience. I’d much rather have been able to write about fantastic treatment by great nurses and doctors; and about how much better I was in myself. I’d even have settled for half decent care and a bit of respect, mediocre care with a modicum of interest. What I got instead was damaging.

I have seen excellent psychiatric care elsewhere: caring, effective, transforming treatment and support. (Though still with no talking therapy.) I’ve just not received it myself. The comparison is bitter sweet.

Is now my time? Am I on the threshold of receiving effective help? Can I get excited about it yet? Am I on my way to living a full life? I’m not silly. I’m not going to pin all my hopes on one busy professional “fixing” me. I know it doesn’t work that way. But … I feel a sense of anticipation.

I’m hopeful the new psychiatrist and I can come up with a plan that will achieve good results going forwards. I’m hopeful the plan we come up with will include meaningful support and help going forwards, so I’ll be able to get back on my feet. And, this time, it feels as if my hopefulness could be a realistic. I’ve been getting by on wishful thinking for too long.

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  • Collated tweets (Storify) – My tweets (and some initial responses from the lovely twitter people)
  • Twitter conversations – Responses and conversations with the lovely twitter people (these are really interesting – take a look!)

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6 Responses to “Hopefulness”

  1. manyofus1980 11 March 2014 at 1:56 pm #

    So happy for you. Our psychiatrist is compassionate and caring also. First time in years. Are you in the UK? We are in Ireland. Again hoping it all works out for you. xx

  2. Marion Janner 11 March 2014 at 1:59 pm #

    So pleased to hear that at very long last you’re starting to receive human, considerate, skilful, useful, therapeutic care. I really hope that you are given all the time you need to work through all the appalling experiences you’ve had from other MH professionals. Sounds like a great start to the Spring! xx

  3. J 13 March 2014 at 2:56 pm #

    ‘It’s one thing having one bad experience of care: it happens. But for it to happen repeatedly, with different professionals? It’s a puzzle.’

    I do so like this. It makes my heart sink because it seems that the ‘why does this always happen to me’ phrase I end up thinking doesn’t only apply to me. Yes it must happen to a lot of people. To me m h professionals must leave common sense at the workplace entrance. I sometimes ask did you not expect that to upset me and get a blank look in response.

    Anyway v glad that you have found someone that can give you hope – we all need that to carry on.

    I found that psychiatrist who could understood me but after 2 years he has recently taken early retirement (in disgust I think) because he knew what I needed but couldn’t deliver it within the constraints of the system that he worked with. He became branded a troublemaker because he was outspoken about continuity of care being important and therapeutic alliances and all that good stuff that seems to have been lost in the drive to cut costs

    I now see a psychotherapist (took me 9+ years to achieve that) who ponders whether the service is causing me harm rather than good – a bit like an abusive marriage. Arrrgh he could well be right about that but where do I go now.

  4. savemefrombpd 14 March 2014 at 5:20 am #

    Really happy for you. When you get the right DR you get the right one and it’s so good. It’s taken me 3 1/2 years until I’ve been given a doctor that I like so much. That tells me all the time that first he’s a human being and I am and then after we can talk about the medications together too and work together totally. It’s such a relief and so nice.

    Good luck!! I hope you make progress now… I’m making the first progress too with this new DR.

  5. Judy 19 March 2014 at 1:44 pm #

    Most veterinary care is excellent………

  6. starkinsanity 23 April 2014 at 11:07 pm #

    Thank you, thank you, thank you, for writing this about psychiatric care. I believe the criteria to diagnose most mental health conditions are firmly lodged in the Victorian era still, and I’ve totally given up on psychiatrists as a result. I have written in my Advance Decision that I will not have any psychiatrist involved in my care. All the three I saw decided to give me a label that didn’t fit and shouldn’t still be being diagnosed. I hope that you do have a good psych- they’re like gold dust. x

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