If you’ve read my previous post, you will remember that I wrote it while waiting for a doctor to refill my prescriptions. What happened after my post was confusing and upsetting, and after much deliberation I have decided to share my experience. My family doctor is not open on Sundays, and for between-appointment refills I normally go up the street to my walk-in clinic for convenience. I have used this clinic several times, and have never had an issue with getting help from them. I waited for just under two hours, which I expected, and just after I finished my post, the doctor came in – we’ll call him Doctor Bob. (He absolutely introduced himself as Doctor Bob, I’m not respecting his privacy.) Here is a summary of our conversation:
- I told Doctor Bob why I was there
- he read over my chart and proceeded to ask me these questions:
- “Should you really be taking these medications while you’re pregnant?”
- “Have you tried getting counselling?”
- “Have you considered not taking medication?”
- “You’ve been taking all of this for a long time, do you actually need it?”
To these I responded as politely as I could, even though his tone of voice was clearly judgmental.
“Yes, my doctor, psychiatrist and I have discussed the affects of these medications on pregnancy, I have utilised all of the counselling I am entitled to this year, and no, I will not consider coming off of the medications without the help of my actual doctor and a mental health professional.”
Having said this, he told me that I ‘seem unstable’, and should calm down. (I didn’t feel angry until this point.)
“With all due respect Bob, I didn’t come to you for medical advice, I came to you for a prescription. I have a doctor whom I know and trust. If you don’t want to fill these that’s fine, but I don’t need a lecture.”
“Well I better, you’re obviously on the verge of an episode. But I’m not filling your sleeping pills. You need to get off of those.”
With that, he handed me a prescription and left. I know that I can’t portray his tone of voice, or accurately depict the number of times he rolled his eyes at me, so you’ll have to trust me. He left the room and I followed quietly, not really sure what to think. I debated having them filled at all, after a few days un-medicated my judgement was poor at best. I walked to the pharmacy and tried to determine if I felt that he had been unnecessarily rude to me. I have concluded that he was, for several reasons.
- He is not a psychiatrist, and should not be trying to take away anything that has been prescribed by one
- His personal opinion on mental health should have nothing to do with the treatment of patients
- My chart in front of him clearly stated that I suffer from insomnia due to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. He knowingly and on purpose deprived me of a medication that affects my mental health
- His tone of voice projected a lack of respect or understanding, and made the office feel unsafe
What if today was the day that decided it all? His lack of empathy could have determined whether I chose to live or die. I know that that seems like a drastic response to the situation, but if you have ever been vulnerable due to illness plus a lack of medication, nothing is reasonable and everything is drastic. Doctors should be a safe haven for every person, not just someone with a physical illness. Yes, a flu is easy to see and treat, but that doesn’t mean that they should get better care than me. He didn’t need to understand my illness, he didn’t need to agree with the treatment plan that I have, an he certainly didn’t need to make me feel like I’m a faker who could benefit from a little more fresh air.
I question my sanity constantly, I need doctors to guide me and keep me on the right track.
My biggest issue with today is this: every day I fight a battle within myself, and with others, over mental health education. I am honest and open, and want to help people to understand that mental illness is real, just as real as a cancer or a broken limb. I expect ignorance from people that don’t have the resources to know any better. It’s up to me to educate my friends and family, and it’s up to the professionals to educate and inform me. If I can’t trust the professionals to help me and keep me feeling safe, who can I trust? Being mistreated by a medical professional makes me want to slam on the brakes, crawl back into the hole that I had lived in for so long. If they don’t believe me, how can I help anyone else?
I have been a hurricane of emotions today. Did I overreact? Possibly.
Impact, not intent.
I live by that phrase.
Perhaps he didn’t intend to hurt my feelings, but the impact was beyond anyone’s control. The impact of his words hit me like a brick to the face, and I feel like I was set back emotionally by his lack of care. It is my opinion that doctors and professionals should be at the forefront of removing the dark stigma cloud that is hovering over those living with mental illness and addictions. We are real people with real sufferings, and we do not deserve to be treated as sub-humans, liars, frauds, or attention-seekers. Mental illness is real, and if Doctor Bob can’t get with the times, maybe it’s time to hang up his stethoscope.
I’m including the two songs that I listened to on the way home, I don’t live far enough away for a full playlist. They are two of my favourites.
http://youtu.be/mBCm8abnHl8 (The High Road, Broken Bells)
http://youtu.be/HSOtKp4rZHo (The Lines You Amend, Sloan)