Sexism in The Psych Ward

When I first started on this Mental Health roller coaster at 17 it was a nightmare. We all knew I had issues with depression and severe anxiety. I was self medicating with alcohol and not disclosing this yet. The first three doctors had me fill out a sheet of questions and hand them in. Then I would speak to the doctor. Each one was pretty much the same. “So you are depressed and anxious?” to which I would reply “yes”. “Any abuse in your family that you maybe not telling me?” “NO” “Absolutely not” I would answer. They would shuffle papers not asking anything else write a prescription for an antidepressant and send me to a therapist. That was it. The therapist was always female and also would cling to the idea of abuse. One going far enough to suggest something about my father. My father is the most honest, hard working, modest, unsexual, somewhat boring in a genius way, person I know. No one was going to suggest anything so ugly about him not while I was alive. After the fourth therapist did this I had had enough. And I told her so. I was never molested or beaten by a family member so get over it and move on! And I am not doing written homework that takes hours everyday while trying to maintain a 50 to 60 hour a week job. The antidepressants do not work and I dry heave frequently because of the anxiety. Not one of them listened or asked different questions.

So I kept taking different antidepressants and drugs like buspirone that help with anxiety and social phobia but have to be in your system for a time to work. I was never given a fast acting antianxiety medication which would have made a huge difference if I had been.

In between I had hospital stays in Psych Wards. I don’t reccomend them. Most are locked down co-ed wards and you are placed with people detoxing and the mentally ill of all degrees. For a young girl this is frightening to say the least. You really have no say about when you are released. You do not get any help from doctors. You are their to be watched over and to make sure you do not hurt yourself or anyone else. That’s it. I don’t think I even saw a doctor just nurses.

I was finally diagnosed as Bipolar a few years ago by an excellent doctor that I trust. I needed to go in for ECT, my depressive state had lasted a little over a year and I couldn’t take it anymore. So I went into his hospital to have the procedure done. Small problem. There was a blip on my EKG and they were not equipped to deal with an emergency heart attack. They sent me to the nearest hospital by ambulance that performs ECT so I could have it done there. I thought no problem. I was wrong.

The doctor in charge there didn’t believe in my medications so he witheld them from me the entire time I was there. When I tried to question it a nurse took me aside. She told me not to argue with him because he would keep me longer. My mouth was hanging open. 2 of my meds if you just stop you could have a seizure. Didn’t matter. I kept my mouth shut and watched elderly patients being robbed of food by drug addicts, a very sick man who just stayed in bed moaning loudly that he was in pain repeatedly and yes medications being witheld. I was also made to attend meetings 3 times a day even though I was not there for that. I was only there for ECT and that was suppose to be it. I was feeling the rage kicking in. I had my round of ECT that I will never repeat again.

As the doctor did rounds the next day he got to me. He patted me on the head and told me I was “too young and pretty for ECT and all those meds I just needed some therapy” and then he walked away.

On the day I was finally released I made sure all the paperwork was signed and being held by a nurse I trusted. Everyone sits at a big table, social workers, the doctor, the nurses and me. The doctor repeated what he had said to me. I stood up as tall as I could, made my soft voice as loud as I could, and asked him “Did you even read my file? The five suicide attempts? The fact that I am Bipolar and you are telling me to go off MY MEDS?!” “Where the hell did you get your degree? You are a disgrace to your profession.” And then free as a bird I walked out to hug my father.

I will never be put in that position again. Held in a place against my will, not a threat to myself or anyone else. I will run if I see that about to happen. And it’s sad that I even have to think that way.

If I had been asked a few key questions long ago I would not have suffered for over 20 years and continue to suffer. I at least know why now. The damage caused to my brain and the rest of me might not be so bad. But maybe it was meant to be, who knows? I do know without the love of my mother, who has since passed, and the love of my father I would not be here.

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23 responses to “Sexism in The Psych Ward

    • Your blog concentrates on Self Love, Recovery and Healing. All positive things. I learned a long time ago that you can’t achieve any of it living in the past. Unfortunately I have a brain disorder that leaves me reliving my past like a nightmare I can never wake up from. I wouldn’t wish it on anyone. To actually smell the same smells of alcohol, cigarettes and blood almost daily, to hear the music playing in the background, to feel the pressure of someone sitting on my chest as they punched me repeatedly in the face, the feeling of drowning as the blood poured down the back of my throat, living with that on a constant basis is torture. I don’t forgive and I don’t forget because he’s still the same person. Hasn’t changed a bit and actually bragged about what he did years ago. It’s different when someone recognizes they have a problem and actually seeks help. That means there is still some humanity left inside. I wasn’t perfect then either, I didn’t deserve to be treated that way but I did my fair share of damage to the people around me at the time. Concentrate on yourself is all I can say. We are all here to find a reason to go on, to find something that we are missing inside ourselves.

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    • You don’t know me, and you don’t know my Ex. I can totally relate to what you wrote here. I’m not living in the past.. I sold my home, that he lived in with me, when the court system put him in jail for his 5 domestic assaults. He beat me so bad that my family and my friends hardly recognized me. I hardly recognized my own self at the end. He couldn’t hold a Job, he put me in emotional, physical, mental, and financial ruins. His friend told me about his gofundme and I just couldn’t help myself to look. I was upset to see him playing his same old game with his gofundme and his blog. I said my peace last night, I’ve had no contact with him since May 2016, until he got out of jail in Oct and he Fb messaged me, until last night. I don’t care about him, nor is this sour grapes. I sold my home June , went to Florida to visit my family in august, extended my vacation because there was no reason to go back home, found a beautiful condo, flew back up north, packed my car with what would fit and drove myself 1300 miles to my new life…. so before you judge.. understand, I don’t want him doing what he did to me, and the 3 woman before ever again. You want to talk? I’ll give you my number. He’s a fraud and a phony. I’m glad he’s getting the help with his mental illness and his alcoholism and drug addition and I hope he recovers, but I know if he doesn’t get honest, he’ll never make it and I’m not wishing he doesn’t , I’m hoping he does and that will spare anyone else of having to endure what we have.

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    • It’s hard online because we DON’T REALLY KNOW the people on the other side of the computer. Like I said I can’t forgive or forget what the person did to me physically and mentally for ten years. He still lives 10 minutes away. He was never arrested because his family had influence. I don’t like feeling lied to. Actually none of this is healthy for me. You sound like you got it out of your system and can possibly move on better than I could.

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    • I have moved forward, I got tripped up last night. But today, I picked myself back up again, dusted myself off again and I’m continuing my forward motion. The windshield is bigger than the the rear view mirror for a reason. Full steam ahead! Good luck and may God Bless your journey too! ❤

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  1. Hospitals are just awful. I was in one when I was 17 and was just like you said, with drug addicts and others that had nothing similar to me at all. I got no help. It was just a place to stuff me and shut me up. I was only recently diagnosed with PTSD and am doing Trauma therapy in the form of somatic therapy where you identify with the places in your body that you feel pain when you have anxiety or stress. It is very helpful. I think If I could cross off my list muscle disease and lyme disease, the rest would be much easier to cope with

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  2. It is just terrifyingly amazing – in a horrific way – how some people call themselves “health CARE professionals” or professionals at all, for the love of Sweet Baby Jesus and his yoga mat. It makes me SO MAD that people in positions to help not only DON’T HELP, they MAKE IT WORSE!! (OK, I’m done yelling – it was never at you xoxo)

    I am so sorry you went through that. I just lost my nephew to “self-inflicted asphyxiation” in July and I’m pretty sure he had some deep psych issues – his mom, my sister (the one with 8 that came out of her hoo-ha), was young when she had him and still partying, so he spent most of his young life getting shuffled around and then they moved away when he was 9 and he, well, he got lost. It was devastating to me because I told myself that if only I had made an effort to see him and tell him more often that I love him and I’m always there if he needed anything – needed me. He was only 19. I’ve been researching and putting together some info for a few projects that would involve at-risk kids – and not-at-risk kids, we can’t discriminate, of course – for a while now. My nephew was the kindling and the gas, but it was a post on Pinterest I came across – well, let’s be honest, the Big G put it in front of my face – that said “Be who you needed when you were younger.” Tears started and in the 3-5 seconds it took to read that one sentence, so many things made sense.

    I am so happy that you made it through and that you are who you are. It doesn’t always help in the moment to know this, but I have unwavering faith that you were shown rocky waters that most never dream of because you’re one of the few that the Big G trusts to lead the visitors that come in and to captain that glass-bottom boat. I’ll be that you make people smile all the time – I don;t even know you and you made me smile the other day! THAT is a gift and one that most people hoard instead of sharing. The world needs more smiles :)))))) <— there, we just gave 6.

    My best and warmest ❤
    K

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    • Thank you so much. I’m so sorry about your nephew. I love my own nephews like they were my own. I have to be honest with you and I’ve written about it before, but I’m an Atheist. Some people are uncomfortable with that, some don’t care either way. I don’t try to force my views on anyone. If I can prevent anyone from going down the same road I did or getting help earlier I will. I someone realize the Doctor they are seeing isn’t in their best interest because of something I’ve written then I’m happy too. Thank you so much.

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    • Yup, me too – I had a big hand in raising that one till my sister moved them away. It’s possible the most devastating event of my life – well, thus far, and I’ll ignorantly believe that nothing can be worse. For now. 🙂

      Naaa, I’m not uncomfortable with it. I’m uncomfortable with televangelists that will take some poor old dying woman’s last $50 and promise her that’ll ease her suffering. *STEAMING* I’m not affiliated with any
      “organized religions,” I think they all have it wrong. I have a personal and intimate relationship with, well, either it’s my Higher Power or I need another CT Scan….Just kidding 🙂 I’ve experienced some amazing things in my life that can’t be explained in any other way (trust me, I’m THE most analytical, “but what if” and “why”, of the Peabody nerds, haha!). My higher power is my truth and everyone should have their own truth. You’re gonna love my piece on religion that I’m working on – it’s gonna piss so many of those card carrying hypocrites off. I await the arrows with glee. HAHAHA!!

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  3. I worked in a county mental health aftercare facility where I did intake. Your story strikes a nerve indeed. Dealing with not only intake but scheduling was a nightmare. When I came on board, there was no coordination system and there were 100 unanswered voicemails. Funding was non-existent. One of the psychiatrists deliberately took her schedule from the book and did not tell me, then lied about it when confronted. She was angry at the management staff as they wanted to go on strike but were not successful. She took it out on me for some reason. I was blamed for “missing her bookings”. I quit. So you see, not all places that focus on the patients are necessarily great. The mental health system needs a complete overhaul. Your story brings what is wrong with not only psychiatrists but the whole medical system. I hope you can get the treatment you need without just being a “number”.

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    • Thank you. Sadly it continues outside of the Mental Health system. My kidneys are failing and the Urologist I have to see acts one way when we are alone and a completely different way if I bring my sister with me to the appointment. Alone, I am spoken to like a 5 year old. I am told I have no choices if I want to live and I have to do whatever he says. My twin worked in Human Resources for many years. She got the backbone in the family and pulls no punches. She does this in a professional manor so you don’t know what hit you. I am so glad she started coming with me to those appointments.

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  4. I was a nursing student briefly on a psychiatric unit. It was interesting hearing what the staff, ie. psychiatrist, social worker, nurses, had to say about the patients they were discussing. Sadly it left me with very little faith in the mental health area of health care (this was before I was diagnosed as being bipolar). Ultimately these people were only interested in putting a nice pink bow on each file and then moving on to the next. I have had some major struggles these past few years, but the one thing I hope and pray is that I never get so sick that I have to be sent to the psych ward.

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    • I don’t think any of us want to be “sent” to a psyche ward. I went in voluntarily because I had scheduled ECT and it turned into a debacle. The right place can be beneficial in preventing someone from getting to the point of a long term stay. I do get scared sometimes because I gave permission to my sister for some medical issues and what if she decides I need to be committed? I’m told she can’t but I worry. It can happen to anyone where you feel desperate and alone and need a safe place. Not all of them are bad. The ones located inside a regular operating hospital have a tendency to not care as much. A place that focuses only on mental health and the patient’s well being is much different.

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  5. This is an incredible personal account. I love hearing about the female therapist, asking you to “journal” as homework. I chuckled a bit, because it sounds so dang amateurish. Not everyone gets better by talking about their childhood struggles. Some people are clinically depressed – there are no memories to uncover. They need medication, as the first step of treatment. I mean really – are you going to give a diabetic a writing assignment to bring their blood sugar level down?

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    • Thank you. Unfortunately not everyone sees it that way yet. I still struggle with doctors, male and female, that talk down to me or dismiss me. I only have the choice of doctors in the Medicare network. That choice gets smaller and smaller. I can’t complain too much it was worse without insurance! I can try to use my voice this way so people know that they are not alone.

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