July 05, 2010

Getting the trust back

I had an experience recently where I perceived a loved one was not trusting me to take responsibility for my own mental health. They asked my partner to keep an eye on me while I was going off my medication without talking to me about it.

Now, I have never particularly enjoyed people discussing my mental health behind my back, perhaps because I view it as everyone else not thinking I could contribute rationally to the discussion. I have always felt like doctors and other people in my life have whispered about my diagnosis and treatment without consulting me at all.

I remember just over three years ago I was in an emergency psychiatric department. I was suddenly ushered down to another room where two men wanted to give me a physical before I went to the other hospital that day. I had heard nothing about this and I lost my shit. I told them that I had been quiet and had not disrupted their ward or bothered them unnecessarily. I told them that the psychiatrist on call had told me I had been doing "bad and wrong things", had refused to discuss anything with my mother (who was interstate) and had wanted to release me into the care of my 21 year old housemate (who, at the time, was not my greatest fan, and we have since parted company completely). The men looked aghast and told me they would find out for me, left and came back a few minutes later to tell me that they found a bed for me at another hospital and I would be transferred there in a few hours. I thanked them very much, but I still felt angry that no one had thought to mention to me that they were transferring me. I had a mental illness and was admitted because of a suicide attempt, not because I was incapable of being treated like an adult or being told anything about my own treatment.

I have constantly felt like this in my mental health journey. I have felt like decisions were being made for me without it even being mentioned to me, like I had no say in the matter. I was never consulted, and more often than not I was treated like a fake by the professionals in the field. In fact, after I was transferred to the next hospital, they checked with me every day if I was ready to be a "good girl" and get my Borderline ass (yes, they'd just diagnosed me) out of their hospital because there were people who actually needed the facility and I was wasting the bed that could be needed by someone else. Oh, I'm sorry, I didn't realise that being a suicidal Borderline wasn't as important as that crazy tart across the hall that screamed all night or my roomie that was admitted after being taken to hospital for an asthma attack. The fuck, man? As a matter of fact, the only person I felt truly supported by in hospital was a male nurse who had the last name of Hammond (I remember this because one of my friends is named Hammond). This nurse was always supportive, always ready to give me a hug or listen to me cry because I was confused about being in hospital. Compare that to the snobby indifference of the psychiatrists and you can guess who I would have preferred to spend time with!

So enough about my misgivings with the snobby psychiatrists who treat you like a piece of dirt, we were meant to be talking about trust. So let us talk about why I think I can be trusted, shall we?

I believe I can be trusted because I have worked hard to conquer my fear of psychiatry and psychology, enough so that I could do successful therapy with a psychologist. I took my medication, stopped self-injuring, recovered in pretty much every way. Now I have made the decision after three years to end my course of medication, tapering the dosage down over 80 days. I have taken no medication for over two weeks now and I feel amazing.

Now, I don't want you to think that this means that I wouldn't accept help again or go back on medication if I found that I was struggling, but that seems to be lost on the people around me. I am very aware of my moods and find myself monitoring my mental health very closely, so of course I would definitely be the first in line to see the doctor if things all went a little pear shaped. I feel that my family and friends don't believe that, and are constantly afraid I will relapse.

Just because I was well when on medication doesn't mean I won't be well off it.

On a similar note, people are always blaming any blip in my mood on my mental illness. Newsflash, peeps, "normal" people have mood swings too. Normal people cry when they fight with their boyfriend or someone says something hurtful to them. Because I cry in those situations does not mean I am losing my fucking shit, okay? Just because I cry when I'm stressed, haven't had much sleep and then my cat gets run over does not mean that I am about to flip out and commit suicide. In the same way that women hate it when men accuse them on menstruating when she is being snarky, I hate it when people think I am being mentally ill every time I feel any mood other than happiness.

So, what I am trying to say is to have a little faith. Have faith that I am being responsible for myself, and that I don't need people spying and reporting back on me. Have faith that I can take care of myself now and that I can take responsibility to seek help if I need it.

Have faith!