I Tried to Get Help Today. This is How That Went.

I suffer from depression. I am not ashamed of that. Nor am I ashamed that I sometimes need medication to help me through darker points in my life. It has taken me many years and a lot of self-reflection to get to the point that I feel comfortable enough to say all of this. It’s taken a lot for me to get to where I don’t judge myself every time I admit that I suffer from a mental health disorder. Which is why I’m still working on not expecting horrible judgments when I talk to others about it.

But there are some places that you can go knowing that you won’t get judged. Today, when I realized I needed help, I went to my local hospital. I thought I’d get the help I needed there. I thought I’d be treated with respect for admitting I had a problem that I couldn’t fix on my own. I thought a lot of things.

Let’s start here: I recently moved to the city I’m living in at the moment, and I haven’t gotten a primary health provider yet. I know. I know. I should have done that by now, but I haven’t. My bad. So the first thing I did when I got to the hospital was schedule an appointment with a regular physician who could work with me from here on out. Good plan, right? However, it turns out that the earliest anyone could see me is roughly a month from now.

Fine, I’ve dealt with worse. At least I can talk to someone here at Same Day Care and get some help with my depression until I can see a doctor in a month. After all, I already know what’s wrong and I know what antidepressants work for me. They’ll help me out.

So I wait for an hour or so until a nurse calls me in. I tell her what my previous prescription was and that it worked and that if I could get back on it I think I’ll be okay until I can talk to a regular doctor next month. She’s all sorts of nice and understanding, but explains that they can’t prescribe anything at Same Day Care. However, she can escort me over to the ER, who will “get me taken care of.” This is her exact wording, and she’s all smiles and reassurances, promising me I’ll be okay, and I know that I REALLY do need to get back on antidepressants sooner rather than later, so I agree.

We head over to the ER and I sit in the waiting room for another 45 minutes. Then a woman appears out of nowhere, leads me into a small room and tells me to start taking off my clothes. Remember, at this point I thought I was still just waiting to talk to someone about the refill on my prescription, but when I try to say that she just says “every PAT has to do this. Take off your shirt, please.” She checks me everywhere while constantly asking “are you sure you don’t have anything on you that you can use to hurt yourself? I’m not going to prick myself on something if I reach in here, right?” She even confiscates my bra because of the underwire. I keep saying “no. I’m good. I’m not going to hurt myself. I just need to talk about my prescription.” But she says I’ll have to wait for a psychiatrist and makes me put on a pair of scrubs that are obviously made for the psych ward.

I don’t know how to explain to you how…demoralizing it was to put on psych ward scrubs. I already knew what was wrong. I knew how to fix it. I didn’t need this, did I? But she tells me it’s necessary and puts me into a very small, very empty room. A security guard is placed out front.

What can I say? I broke down. I cried so hard. I’d come here looking for help. I already knew I was depressed. I already knew “there was something wrong with me.” But I knew what I needed to get better, and so far no one was even listening to me. Instead, I was being treated like… like a crazy person. I thought I’d worked past thinking of myself and others like me as “crazy.” But here we are.

They did eventually move me to a different room when a “more unstable patient” needed the security guard room, which I guess I should find comforting. Apparently I was stable enough to have a TV remote, now. So that was nice to know.

Except I already KNEW that. I already KNEW what was going on and what I needed help with. I just needed to be put back on my prescription. Why couldn’t anyone help me with that? Maybe when the psychiatrist came…

I waited in this new room for FIVE HOURS. In all that time, no one came in. No one asked me any questions. I couldn’t even get my cell phone back so that I could call my husband. I just… sat there. Waiting. In a psych ward uniform. In the hospital. For five hours. Wondering if all people seeking help with depression got treated this way or just the “stable” ones.

After 4 hours and 50-some-odd minutes, a woman came in and said she was going to ask me some questions before the psychiatrist came. I answered them all honestly. Yes, I’ve shown signs of depression. No, I’m not suicidal at the moment. Yes, I have had suicidal thoughts in the past. Yes, I’ve been on antidepressants (“actually, that’s why I’m here.” “Sorry, ma’am, you’ll have to wait to talk to the psychiatrist”). Okay. Yes, I have support at home.

I’ve been through this before. I know to tell the truth and not to be ashamed. I didn’t hide anything. I just wanted my prescription so I could leave (finally) and go on living life. That’s what I’d wanted six hours before. At least it seemed like things were starting to wrap up and the psychiatrist would see me soon.

I never even got to see a psychiatrist. Eventually the woman came back and told me that she knew I was tired of being there (I’d mentioned this several times during our “interview.” Because seriously– five hours) and the psychiatrist didn’t think I was a danger to myself or others, so I was free to go. Have a nice day.

I…just stared at her. Then I told her I KNEW I wasn’t a danger to myself or others. I KNEW that before spending five hours in a psych ward that I’d checked myself into on behest of the Same Day Care lady. I told her (again) that I was only there because I needed a prescription for antidepressants that could get me through a month until I could see a doctor. I just needed to make it a month and I wasn’t sure I could do it on my own.

“Sorry. I don’t know why you thought you could get antidepressants here. We can’t prescribe anything.”

“So… I’ve been here for five hours for no reason? I came in because I know I need antidepressants. I told every person I talked to that.”

“I wish I had better news for you. If it gets too bad, come back in. Until then, you’re free to go.”

“So… No one helped me, but I still have to pay for an ER trip and a Same Day Care trip?” (By this point I was crying again. I was tired. I was hungry. I was still wearing the humiliating psych ward scrubs without a bra on. And for the first time in a long time, I was ashamed of my depression. I think life was worse now than it was when I’d gone in).

“I’m sorry. I REALLY wish I had better news for you. Maybe the hospital can help you with the bills. Try calling them during business hours tomorrow.” (It was past regular hours by this point. I’m still not sure how that’s going to affect my bill).

So… I left. I left with six hours of my life gone, less pride than I’d had upon entering the hospital, and none of the help I’d gone in there for. It was one of the worst experiences of my life. And I wouldn’t wish the feelings I carried with me out those doors on my worst enemy.

I think that, as a society, we need to stop the demonization of mental health issues. I think we need to be less ashamed of the things we can’t control and take more pride in treating people decently no matter what their situation. And, I think a lot of people are working on that. Or… I thought people were. But now I’m not so sure. When our medical PROFESSIONALS can make someone hate themselves more than society does on a daily basis… I don’t know. I just know that this isn’t right. People should be treated with respect no matter what they’re going through. Being treated like lesser beings because of what we can’t control is the REASON that so many people don’t want to talk about mental health disorders. Why they deny the issue and don’t try to get help. Because look what happens if they do eventually put their fear aside and seek aide. And no one cares if they’re treated poorly, because we don’t fight for mental health like we do other things. Which, of course, only makes those with mental health issues feel more alone.

Stop the stigma. Stop making people fear getting help. And if a mental care provider near you is treating its patients without respect, DO something about it. Because no one listens to the “crazy” ones. And they won’t until we, as a society, stop labeling those with mental health issues as anything other than “human.”

 

Hey, thanks for reading. If you or someone you know suffer from depression, I hope your experiences with mental health professionals aren’t like mine. And I hope you realize that there’s always hope. Chin up. Also, maybe read THIS POST.

EDIT : Thing are better now. Here’s an Update. 

EDIT AGAIN: The price for writing this post was more expensive than I thought. Here’s Another Update.

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11 thoughts on “I Tried to Get Help Today. This is How That Went.

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  6. I’ve waited a while to post, because I was quite irritated the first time I read this, but in all honesty, I’ve gotten more irritated by waiting to post. There’s a gaping hole in your story somewhere. I have to wonder – why would you go to an emergency room to get a prescription for an SSRI medication? That’s not what an emergency room is for. It’s poor planning on your part. End of story. Why would you wait until you “need help”? Why didn’t your transfer your prescription to a local pharmacy? You’re very good at blaming Billings Clinic, and also making yourself a victim in general. You’ve got depression because of your student loans? Join the club – there’s a lot of us with student loan debt. Suck it up, buttercup. They mistreated you? What were they supposed to do? You don’t go to an emergency room and/or walk-in clinic to get a prescription for a SSRI. If you’re new to town, there are several family practice clinics in town – we even have a community health clinic that you could have made an appointment with. You went about things a totally backwards way. Quit playing the victim.

    Like

    • You bring up good points. I should have done things differently, and would have had I realized exactly what was going to happen. I didn’t go to the emergency room as a first resort, and definitely wouldn’t have wasted my time or the ED’s time had I realized that it wasn’t what I needed. I had hoped to go to Same Day Care to set up an appointment with a Primary Care Doctor, but when I found out that the appointment was a month away I asked SDC if they could help me. They said they couldn’t and escorted me to the ER, assuring me that they would “get me taken care of”. Again, since this method has worked for me in other cities, it didn’t occur to me that I was doing things “backwards” as you say. I certainly didn’t expect everything to happen as it did.

      If I’d just been listened to or given the information upfront (Sorry, Ma’am, there’s no way for you to get your prescription anytime soon) rather than being treated as I was (which I still believe was completely disrespectful and uncalled for) then I wouldn’t have reacted as I did. As it is, I don’t think I’m out of line in saying I was mistreated.

      As for “sucking it up, buttercup…” Wow. I haven’t heard that one for a while. Most people recognize that depression isn’t something that can just be “sucked up” and it’s something that the mental health community has been trying to educate people about for a long time. Obviously, we still have some work to do.

      I think it’s also important to note that I don’t have depression because of student loan debt–I have depression because of a chemical imbalance that inflicts many people with mental health issues. The student loan debt is often just a catalyst for more severe episodes.

      Either way, thanks for your response. It’s important for people to see both sides of any issue, and you’ve presented the side I couldn’t see. Not diplomatically, perhaps, but at least in a clear and concise manner.

      (As a side note– your ignorance on what depression entails does not lend credibility to your argument. Telling a depressed person to “suck it up” is kind of like telling someone with cerebral palsy to “walk it off.” Luckily, we’re on the internet and I don’t mind much. However, you may want to be more careful when dealing with people in your regular day-to-day. If you have family or friends that suffer from depression, your mindset may be quite harmful in the long run.)

      Like

      • Actually, I’ve taken Zoloft for several years, so I know exactly what depression and anxiety are. I know it’s a chemical imbalance – that’s why I know you don’t take this avenue to get help.As someone who lives with it and who has taken the said medication, this is exactly why I got irritated reading your post. It’s not a medication you you take off and on. It’s not meant to work that way.

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    • Wow. Couldn’t even leave your own name, could you? Tahani puts herself out here all the time, hides nothing and lays her soul bare, and people like you come in and shit all over it while hiding behind an alias. It’s obvious you’re from Billings. Do you pretend to be her friend in real life, so you didn’t want to say who you were, or were you just afraid that other people from Billings would turn on you when we saw how you treat people with mental health issues? You’re an ignorant asshole who has no idea what people with mental health issues have to deal with to get help in this town. I’m glad Tahani spoke up so that people like you could finally stop treating others like they’re worthless.

      Liked by 1 person

    • I work in a hospital and unfortunately we are seeing more and more people who are forced to use the ER as a doctors office because they cannot get an appointment with a doctor for a month or longer. Although we would like for the ER to only be used for emergencies not things that could be treated at a doctors office this is just not feasible 100% of the time. We are the only resort when a patient needs medical care quickly. We have a duty to treat everyone who walks in the doors and Tahani’s story broke my heart to see how poorly she was treated. Depression is a real problem and has real health as well as emotional effects. The ER should have been able to do an assessment and write a script for a months supply of medication until she could get in the see her doctor. You a valid point that yes things would have been easier if she had made a doctors appointment when she first moved and she should have she probably should have planned a little better but your comment that she should “suck it up” is both ignorant and hurtful. Depression is as real as any other medical problem one would deal with and cannot just be brushed away.

      Liked by 1 person

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