I've never written about my extreme and passionate hatred and distrust of mental health professionals. I kept meaning to, but I kept never getting around to it. I would call it a paranoid phobia, because the level of my reactions is that extreme, however I would also argue it's based on fair experience, so it's not completely irrational.
I had to go to the psychiatrists several times as a kid. I remember being about 6 or 7, when I was seeing them because I had rather severe issues with social integration (I know, you're shocked), and them getting me to play games, and they asking lots of questions about why I'd arranged the game in a certain way, or what if 'x' situation hypothetically happened. Even at that age, I found their questions rather contrived. Anyone else who's ever had to deal with the psychs will know exactly what I mean. One of the main reasons why I have such an issue with mental health professionals, is that they're basically they're to judge you. Yes you might have put yourself (somewhat) willingly in that situation, but they eye you with a condemning suspicion, they second guess every motivation or desire you have, ask leading questions that seem to encourage a certain modality, they expect you to tell a complete stranger the deepest and darkest parts of you that you wouldn't even admit to yourself, and let them judge you as a person on that basis. I don't believe any degree has been invented to give someone that right. And the questions they ask tend to be fairly idiotic; honestly, I defy any 'normal' person not to feel despair at some point, to drink because it's easier one night, or god forbid, hear voices (this one tends to happen especially when others are in the room I've found). I know it's actually a matter of frequency, but any evaluation questionnaire I've ever encountered doesn't actually seem to factor that in for some reason.
Needless to say, when I had to see psychiatrists at 10 and again at 14, it didn't go very well for me. Or for them. In the first instance, the prospect of having to see one again made me psychosomatically so violently ill that I threw up all over the reception area. The second time around, I threw a chair at one. I missed. It hit the window. But understandably, even as a minor no-one could get me to go through that kind of ordeal long enough to get a full and official diagnosis.
My perspective on psychs was only further confirmed when my mother suffered from PTSD after a car accident. I was driving by this point so it was my responsibility to take her to her sessions, as she wasn't allowed to drive herself at the time. She got fed up with them and let me fill out the evaluation questionnaire. They seemed a little confused at some of the helpful comments I wrote in the margin to each answer..
I don't mean to knock the work they do, I know they can truly help some people, but my experiences have never been positive; very much the opposite, and the overwhelming majority of people in my life with mental problems of one kind or another (and being me, I know a LOT of people like that), aren't exactly sold on them either, and know all too well what I mean by the above description of judgement and suspicion.
But anyway, through persuasion, begging, coercion, and probably some sick twisted sense along the lines of morbid curiosity, I somehow conceded to go and seek some help in regards to my previous blog post.
After battling my way through the daunting realm of the NHS receptionists on Monday, and finally getting her to let me register, based on the fact that yes, I was in the right catchment area, and yes, I did have ID and proof of address on me at the time, and yes, I did have an hour to spend filling in forms, and yes, I will hand them to her because leaning forward to reach the extra 15cm required to pick them up off the desk once I'd completed them, I spent my early morning ringing for an appointment, and convincing them that yes, it probably was fairly urgent and thus in need of an appointment that day, rather than scheduling one for some time after Christmas.
Appointment time comes around and I spend my time sitting quietly in the waiting room having an internal panic attack and dreading the concept of trying to convince an NHS doctor of ANYTHING, because ultimately, any action on their part involves some form of budgetary spend and they're strongly discouraged from ever actually doing that. Eventually a doctor - not the one I was supposed to be seeing, but I was randomly assigned one when I booked the appointment and it was my first time at the surgery so it didn't really bother me, comes and calls my name and off I go to plead my case.
I basically tell her the symptoms I listed in my previous blog post. She naturally asks me a few questions and tells me that there's a crisis team at the local A&E (which I know is the place to go in dire emergency anyway). She then comments that I seem quite calm, controlled, and together; I've got to the surgery, I've got myself dressed and don't seem malnourished etc. This point irritates me a fair bit. I understand the point she's making, but it also suggests that unless I'm about to jump off the chair with the rope around my neck, or have to be forcibly referred by the police and hospital departments, that it's not a huge concern and they don't really want to get involved. Which, granted, knowing the NHS as I do, I appreciate is completely the case. Not through any fault of uncaring on their part, but again, there are budgets to think of, unless it's an urgent crisis the money to deal with it isn't there. Which isn't a great situation to be in when you've just gone and asked for help because you're feeling suicidal, if not actually on the brink of committing it.
I explained that yes, I'm controlled, it's a skill I've learned from a childhood spent in and out of hospitals, from experiencing acute physical pain at least once a week, and moderate to severe pain on average 3 days a week. I can have a panic attack and I can do it perfectly quietly, so that other people wouldn't notice. I'm used to suppressing the physical signs of my internal struggles, physical or emotional. I further explained that I'm a damned good liar. Chris lives with me, he sees me most of the time, and sure he can tell that I'm down and feeling depressed, but he had no idea how bad I was until I posted that blog post. No-one would . Even Joel can't read everything about me, and if I don't want the world to know something, you'd be surprised at how well I can cover it up. This, combined with her asking if I had any methods in mind, and when I mentioned bridge jumping as one of them, and she asked if I knew specifically, to which I could respond in full detail about the bridge, method of getting there, expense, jumper mortality rate, speed of impact, and the various circumstances of that particular locale that gave an increased chance of a successful plan, seemed to convince her that maybe she should go ask the senior partner what to do with me. (for those weirdly interested, golden gate, obviously a plane, about £500, which isn't really a concern if I'm that committed to it, >98%, ~100mph, solid impact of water at that speed, almost certainly fatal neck, spinal or head injuries at the right point of impact, or failing that, significant bone breakage, leading to severe internal bleeding, organ puncture, combined with strong undercurrent and very low water temperatures, as well as low visibility in fog periods)
Anyhoo, I was deemed not to be at imminent risk (I was having a relatively good day yesterday), and with people around and close to me who knew what was happening, so another appointment is scheduled for next week, and in the meantime they're trying to find me a psychiatrist who can start seeing me before Christmas. Things always happen to me at Christmas, it's the worst time to be needing medical help - last year I had to go through all of Christmas and New Year eating only soft solids because my wisdom teeth were boring holes into the back of my head and I couldn't get them removed till Jan 4th. So begins the long process of diagnosis, should there be any to give, but most people in my life reckon there is. I might not make it through the process, I will most likely get angry about it at various points, things will be thrown, and Joel may be forced to accept a unavenged punch to the face in the name of being a caring friend. I might get therapy. I might get drugs. It might all be pointless. I might not quite be crazy enough to actually get anything; I always seem to miss the bar by a fraction on a lot of things in my life.
However, my friends are not without humour. Sean offered the following :
"...well speaking personally I always look forward to the opportunity to experiment with new psychoactive drugs, so if you don't like them, you can pass them on to me. :D"