Please note: This piece contains references to self harm.
My experiences with mental health professionals has been... Well, colourful at least.
My story begins when I was 15/16, and I was diagnosed with depression from a child psychologist after I had been self harming for a couple of years.
To begin with, I thought he was on my side. But as I got better at hiding my self harming, and therefore looked less and less like a future law suite, he began to care less and less. He began asking me questions with a short temper; "are you still cutting?"; "have you thought again about killing yourself?"; the usual. But then he started asking things that I knew had undertones that I didn't like: "Did you ALWAYS wear black, or did that start after the cutting?", "Do you always do it on your arms where it will be visible?"...
He was suggesting I cut myself for attention.
I began to loathe the guy because he was always subtly hinting that I did it for attention and there was nothing wrong with me, so I gave him what he wanted- I told him I felt better and that I'd stopped cutting and I knew it was a silly thing to do and I wouldn't do it again.
I cut myself that night. A small cut on my belly that no one would ever see. It didn't feel as good as it did on my arms, but it would have to do.
I concealed my new cuts well over the next few months. I had my family fooled I was getting better, until one day my tshirt went up a little when I was helping clean around the house and my secret was exposed.
I was added to a waiting list (it took 4 months to be seen), and in the meantime I was seeing the school nurse. She had no training in dealing with mental health, but I think my parents just wanted maximum eyes on me.
To be honest, she was nice at first too. Our sessions during school were focussed on trying to find alternative coping strategies as the run of the mill elastic bands and cold baths were not working at all. She had a booklet for us to fill out during our sessions to canvas what things I like to do and what would help in the future, and also to find my own support network so I had people to turn to at my worst. The booklet proved useless, as I didn't and still don't have any clue who the hell I am and I definitely have no support network.
A few months later of weekly sessions, the females in our class were sent to the gym hall to get HPV immunisation injections. The school nurse that I had been seeing was the one who was in charge of making sure everything goes smoothly. She asked all the girls to remove their jumpers and roll up their shirts if need be. I didn't do it, for obvious reasons. She caught my eye and rather than letting it go, she addressed me in front of everyone in my year and demanded I took my jumper off.
Feeling betrayed yet again, I grew upset and just walked out.
First, the psychologist who thought I was an attention seeker, and now the nurse who gave me a stage to reveal all of the scars all over my arms to all of the people I'd been purposefully hiding them from? I was humiliated. The one woman I thought actually understood had betrayed me.
There was plenty of short comings after then from various different people- a doctor who gave me twice the maximum dose of Citalopram and messed me up to the point I was seeing things that weren't there and hearing voices randomly screaming into my ears when I was trying to sleep; an occupational therapist who got a new job and forgot to refer me through to someone else; a councellor who was also seeing my mum and didn't really understand confidentiality; another doctor who kept touching my leg and saying all I needed was a job; a psychologist who forced me to eat crisps in a silent room as part of a mindful exercise, even though I was terrified of eating in front of people for all the reasons she was drawing my attention to (the noise, the way my mouth moved, the saliva, the texture); and much, much more recently- a judgemental psychiatrist.
I should back up a tiny bit and say that at this stage in my life, I do not think seriously about suicide, nor do I self harm. I sometimes find my self "accidentally" injuring myself, for example if I bruise myself, I will hit the bruise a few more times, usually off of walls to make them worse; or if I burn myself with my straighteners, I'll go over it again deliberately to make it hurt more; or if I cut myself at all I'll pick open the wound several times before letting it heal. I honestly don't know why I do it, but at the time it tends to feel like punishment. I need to do it.
I don't think highly of myself at all- in fact I sort of loathe myself. I am terrible at everything, I always hurt people, I'm manipulative and I think if I was hurt enough I could be dangerous to myself.
To save going through a list of symptoms, I'll just say that I believe the depression has been a misdiagnosis all along- I believe I have Borderline Personality Disorder, and I believe I need help.
It was this idea that I approached a new GP with. I did it tentatively as my previous experiences have made me pretty much terrified to admit I need help, and I have no trust whatsoever for the NHS. I explained the circumstances and my symptoms, and after some consideration, she agreed that I was now looking for some long term answers, and help controlling my emotions. I left the GP that day feeling so much better with a referral to a Psychiatrist and a supply of SSRI's, should I wish to take them (I was against them because of my bad experience with them before).
Two months past, and finally my psychiatrist appointment was here. I prepared myself for what I thought would be worst case scenario, that maybe the psychiatrist didn't agree with me and instead wanted to focus on helping with the depression.
I was nowhere near what turned out to be the true worst case senario.
I was greeted in the waiting area by an unsmiling psychiatrist who could not say my name (Louise) and I followed her into a room that was so quiet it seemed to swallow all the sounds in the room, which instantly freaked me out and exposed all of the panic and anxiety and dread I'd had of the appointment. The Psychiatrist advised me she could not help me if I didn't calm down and told me to drink water. She didn't even offer me a handkerchief for my tears; I had to ask once my sleeves had become saturated.
She started our conversation with "tell me your history". Then proceeded an hour of her jotting down bits and pieces and asking me to repeat things over and over. It was pretty laborious, she didn't seem to know what to say when I said things, and how to respond next. After going over a really difficult part of my history with an abusive ex partner in which she kept repeating the word "rape" in every sentence, she finally changed the subject by saying "is your father still alive?" When I answered yes she then proceded to assumptively say "ah, so you never see him".
I felt like she was trying to get at something- like she was trying to explain all of my problems in my past with "daddy issues" like they do in films and TV shows, and I didn't like it.
Once I'd brought her up to date with what has happened, that I could remember off the top of my head, in my life, she shut her book over and concluded the appointment/interview with "why do you even want a diagnosis?"
After explaining it was so I could understand my own emotions, so that I knew what to look out for, so I could get treatment, so that I had literature I could share with my loved ones to help them understand, as well as provide my workplace with a diagnosis that they need to offer any support they can to help me get back to work and manage the stress (I'd been signed off by my doctor after my manager advised I got hell as is spontaneously been bursting out crying in work for no reason).
She then told me there was nothing she could do for me and said that she'd refer me through to someone who might be able to, though she couldn't tell how long that would take and said if I hadn't been seen in 4 months, she'd make another appointment to see me.
My heart was in my throat; that's it, she was wiping her hands of me?
One of the main symptoms I struggle with is abandonment issues, so you can imagine that having waited two months to have given a random woman personal details about my life that I'd only ever told to a small handful of people and have her get rid of me was hell on earth.
It got worse. I couldn't stop crying and she lost her patience with me and demanded I left because she had another patient to see. She told me I could wait in the waiting room and she'd try and see me after her hour long appointment, all because I wanted to know what happened now? What support was available in the meantime?
I was disappointed to say the least, still uncontrollably crying, I left her room (she was holding the door open for me and had been for a couple of minutes) and went and stood in the waiting room (it was so busy there were no seats available). Eventually one of the other people sitting in the waiting room went and got someone from the Crisis Team they have who took me into a room away from the people in the waiting room who were just staring at me to help me calm down.
And now, here I am. About to go back to work in a stressful debt recovery telephone centre with no support in place to help me slowly get back on my feet, or a diagnosis or indeed any proof of any treatments to justify my time off, putting my job in danger.
Honestly, it's one step forward and three steps back for me- my GP doesn't think I should return to work because I am no better and I am no further forward, whereas my work are demanding a return to work date or they'll begin the process of reevaluating my job.
I just feel like I have got nowhere, and no one will help me. I don't know what I've done wrong to deserve this, and I honestly have no idea where and how to get the help I need, because I can't go through another bad experience again, I don't have it in me.
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