The last place one would expect to be dehumanized and belittled because of Mental Illness is at a hospital. Or, at least that’s what I would have thought. Apparently I was wrong. The medical community doesn’t have compassion for people with mental health issues. They’re clueless. And, they’re causing more harm than they’re doing good.
I went to the hospital today. Chest pain. A cardiac case. Until they saw my scars. Then I became “the psychosomatic” cardiac case. Nevermind that I had more concerning stats than the “real cardiac case” next door (they left our doors open; I heard everything).
This is why I was written off:
My scars. Once they saw those it was automatically a panic attack. Generalized Anxiety. Questions about hospitalizations for my psychiatric issues (none, btw; I have never been hospitalized. Not that it is a badge of honor, just that they should think before stigmatizing and stereotyping). Diagnoses for my psychiatric symptoms (all managed by medication). No questions about my actual medical past.
All the other aspects of my labs that could not possibly be caused by my f*cked up brain. Ignored, except for my potassium because it was too low to ignore. I was treated for hypokalemia (my potassium being extremely low is ironic since the labs also still show stage 2 kidney disease, proves how awful my eating habits have been… if I weren’t a healthy weight, with my labs they would have pushed an ED diagnosis). I was given IV potassium, a prescription for an anxiety med, and then sent on my way. All better.
The psychosomatic case. The head case. It’s all in my head. My head created the 190 resting heart rate. My head created the irregular EKG. My head created the elevated creatinine. My head created the increased BUN. My head created the protein in my urine. Pretty sure impaired kidney function suggests at least watching for some genuine cardiac issue. But maybe, if I give them the benefit of the doubt that would be the zebra because low potassium is the opposite of what should happen. Except they never even asked about medical conditions other than mental illnesses. And they never asked for a detailed family history, if they would have then they would know about all the people who have had heart attacks in my family. Sure, I am only 29 and my troponin was only slightly elevated. But, still, am I really that powerfully mental?
If that’s all I’ll ever be, the head case, then why am I even trying to better myself mentally? My fate is sealed. Why bother? If the medical community, the helping professionals, will never see past my scars, then who am I? What am I? It isn’t like society is any more forgiving.
I am a walking billboard for self-harm. Just like one of my former students said. A former student who is going into the medical field, mind you. These are our doctors and nurses. This is indicative of a larger issue prevelent in our society. Do you think they care about the physical health of those of us with mental health issues? Doesn’t seem that way.
Oh, and when I was overweight, I got a double dose. I had to lose 60 pounds before I could get a diagnosis for my kidneys. Before that, it was all because I was overweight. I really wasn’t taken serious then. I had to literally starve myself to be taken seriously. That is our healthcare system. That is our society.
And for all of this grand treatment? $200 Plus the thousands on blood tests and mandatory EKGs that will be coming in the mail. If they weren’t required to EKG every chest pain case, I have no doubt, they never would have bothered. They already knew. Their minds were made up as soon as my sleeve was rolled up.
I’m not a person. I am my mental illness. I am C-PTSD. I am Depression. I am GAD. Maybe I’m Bipolar (verdict is out on this one). I’m not me. I’m not a person. I’m a label. I am labels given to me by people who don’t even know me.
We deserve better than that. We deserve to be seen! We deserve to be heard! We deserve to be more than the labels slapped on us. We deserve to be more than our hospitalizations. We deserve to be more than our scars. We deserve to be more than head cases. We are real people, with real problems. And no one to advocate for us but us. I know I have to fight to stay alive. I have to fight my illnesses. And I have to fight to be taken seriously, to be heard, to be seen. Is it any wonder so many people give up that fight?