A Side Effect of the System

girl-hair-looking-away-dream-black-and-white-nostalgia-aliveI got in a yelling match with my psychiatrist this week.

He may chalk it up to me being mentally unstable, but I am not caught in a mood swing 100% of the time. I am a human being with real emotions. They are not erratic all of the time. They are actually rational most of the time. It seems he has forgotten that.

I was being honest with him about my struggle with self-harm and suicidal ideation. It comes with the territory of mental illness. My psychologist doesn’t even bat an eyelash when I sit in his office crying about how much easier it would be to just give up. We’ve been working on strategies to cope with this and that’s all I was asking the psychiatrist for. However, this man…this man decides that he knows best.

His response? I needed to be hospitalized; that I couldn’t leave in this condition. Obviously, I was suicidal.

I was so angry that I obviously cried and, to really help my case, began yelling at him about how I was only looking for coping strategies. I told him the answer is an absolute no, I will not be going to a hospital! I have finals this week, anyway. The audacity.

The point is, I wasn’t a danger to myself. Even in the past, when I’ve been a danger to myself, my psychologist and I have found ways of coping together that have kept me out of the system, continuing to go to work and school. So, what I realized when meeting with the psychiatrist this week, is that he does not really care for my case at all – and he was never trained to. He sits there considering medications and their interactions and at the end of my allotted fifteen minutes he hands me a prescription and says see you in a month. The second he hears about anything related to counseling, his MD training kicks in and he automatically says hospital.

To him, my case was medication. To him, I was a side effect of the system.

That saddens me. He should care about my wellbeing outside of medications and threats of hospitalization. It would be one thing if I was sitting there admitting to being suicidal, but I wasn’t, and he didn’t take into account my current condition before rattling off the threat that scares me most.

So, yeah, I yelled at him – because I’m human and I deserve better treatment than that. I don’t need an old man in a lab coat trying to make decisions for me. Yes, I have bipolar disorder, but I am not handicapped. I am working and going to college and living independently.

I’m frustrated, because I feel like mental illness puts you in a category where you can’t be taken seriously. Others try to make decisions for you because they believe you can’t think for yourself. I thought the stigma wasn’t supposed to exist in the healthcare system, too.

There’s something to be said if you’re successfully navigating the world of mental illness and mental healthcare. It’s a lot to take on. If you need a little help,  I hope you know there’s support available online and in person no matter where you are. Just reach out. You don’t have to be treated like you’re a side effect of the system. There are good providers out there. I’ve seen them before. They can and will help you.

I’m not just keeping my head above water this week – I am riding those waves – because I refuse to let one old man in a white lab coat tell me that I cannot think for myself.



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