So today I am going to talk about some of my experiences with psychiatry. Like I said in my last post, Psychobabble, my post about Karina Hansen made me recall some of these memories. Unfortunately not very pleasant ones. I have blogged a few times about my mental health and have linked to these at the bottom of this post. I am not ashamed to do so, more people need to talk about mental health to try and stop it from being a naughty word, in the same vein as other invisible illnesses. However as we have heard many stories are negative ones.
My first experience of psychiatry was when I was around 15, due to depression brought on by ill health. I was a perfectly happy and liked teenager, always on the go, I got good grades, was in the top sets for all my subjects, went horse riding every weekend and was a very promising sprinter, competing most weekends. Then all that changed when I was hospitalized with severe abdominal pain, which months later (of course) they found out was an ovarian cyst. I spent those months curled up around a hot water bottle in agony. The pain killers I was given, ibruprofen, also contributed to more long term stomach problems but it wasn't until months later that I found out it was more than likely I had chronic IBS too. Cue more tests. Anyway, long story short I was in horrible pain everyday, my life as I had known it completely changed and I hated it, I grieved for it.
There is a certain saying that people will only let you be sick for so long, unless it's cancer or life threatening, before they start to lack understanding and this is how I felt. On days, or half days that I could manage school, I noticed how much had changed and people had moved on. Not deliberately of course, it is just a fact of life. I was no longer in on the inside jokes or gossip. The places where I used to sit having been filled by other people. I found it incredibley difficult. I was always really embarrassed and paranoid by my condition. It all took it's toll on me and I became depressed and experienced panic attacks. My GP referred me to councelling at NCH, National Children's Home, but when I told my consultant they sent me to a children's psychiatrist.
I remember going there and it was a bad symptom day, which was in part due to nerves. The buiding was old, with bars on the windows and his office was more like an old study or how you 'd expect Sigmund Freud's office to look. A place that did not seem to promote well being, in fact it added to my nerves. Had I been any younger I think I'd have been screaming, thinking I was about to be locked up. As he was asking questions I began to sense that the implication was that my physical condition was being manifested in my head. Something that became very obvious when he said that the way in which I was curled up on the sofa with my hot water bottle, or clenching at my stomach whilst on the toilet in pain was affecting my mood. Well yes it was affecting my mood, but it was not causing me to be depressed. He said that if I sat upright that I would be in a better mood, as though that was all it took for me to feel better. At this point, having the advantage of being able to distinguish sound advise from a load of crock (to put it mildly) I knew that I wasn't being taken seriously, nor was I going to get the help from him that I had wanted. I also asked for my Mum to come into the room, to help give her perspective and also because I kept needing to rush off. This was met with some reluctance. The implication being that if I was away from my parents that I would open up more, that I could talk freely. Because of course all depressed children clearly have abusive parents. It only led to me being more disgused and anxious to get away as well as the effect that had on my stomach.
I remember getting home and breaking down crying, begging not to have to go again. How could someone that was supposed to make me feel better make me feel so horrible? My Mum rang up to explain that I wouldn't be going again. That the session had done more harm than good. However he rang the house and said that I personally had to say that I no longer wanted to go. Meaning that even thouh I never wanted to speak to him again because of how upset he'd made me, I then had to speak to him. The sound of his voice actually made me shudder and my own voice was so quiet from not wanting to speak. For a while afterwards I kept fearing that I would see him somewhere, especially if I had hospital appointments. Of course then because you have refused treatment that was offered you are thought to be uncooperative and do not want to get better. I was lucky that I had the councellors at NCH though to help. There, all the rooms were cozy, and bright and had lots of toys, not that I needed them but as a place that is aimed at helping children this is always a good sign. I would always be offered a drink and my parents were always made to feel welcome not a part of the problem.
I have had other experiences with psyciatrists, which you can read about here and here, oh and here. This was the one experience that reading Karina's story really brought back though. Yet, it is nothing compared to what she is facing. To think that you are safe and in a caring environment and then to literally be snatched away from that is the stuff of nightmares. I dreamed for a while after refusing to see that psychiatrist about him finding me and locking me away but to know it's happening in real life and over and over again is horrific. Again more peope need to believe in Karina an believe in M.E. Please keep sharing my post about her and keep up to date through Facebook and Twitter. It is greatly appreciated.
I also wanted to share another story of misdiagnosis. Where a woman was diagnosed with anxiety and depression, when she was actually suffering from lung cancer http://www.telegraph.co.uk/health/healthnews/9917862/Professor-dies-of-lung-cancer-after-doctors-dismiss-illness-as-purely.
Misdiagnosis and mistreatment of physical conditions as psychological or 'all in your head' is extremely dangerous. Here is a link https://www.youtube.com/embed/j8gABEg-lJs to a video from the Coalition for Diagnostic Rights an organization helping those facing misdiagnosis.
There is a need for psychiatry but we need to make sure that the voices of those with physical conditions are not silenced and that they get the correct treatment. Not only to prevent physical conditions worsening but also creating deep 'real' psychological and emotional problems.
Have you had any experiences of being misdiagnosed? Or with psychiatry good or bad? Please share if you wish.