I have a hard time dealing with doctors in the mental health field on just about every level when sorting out my medication, as well as, my continued diagnosis about my ongoing Bipolar I Disorder treatment. Most doctors I have come across, whether it be my former psychopharmacologist of twelve years or doctors I encounter for only a small bit of time, while admitted to any given psych ward, seem to act as if they have all the answers. As a patient, I find myself pretty damn disillusioned by the whole process. I don’t understand why these mental health professionals have such a hard time listening to the diagnosis that sits less than six feet away; the actual patient. Doctors get a degree, and suddenly, they know what’s best for their patients without even talking to them. Reading charts is something you have been trained to do, but diagnosing each individual patient by listening to their story is what makes you, the doctor, stand out from the rest of the staff in the hospital.
The problem with all of this is simple; the doctor is always given the benefit of doubt. That means that even if you have a doctor that is a complete whack job, like my doctor was when I was in inpatient care in Swedish Covenant, there is no way around the guy. If you end up going to court over the rightfulness of your own admittance to the psych ward, you are going to lose. The judge will almost never rule in favor of the patient over the word of the doctor. It’s sad that they even let doctors like the one I encountered at Swedish Covenant practice medicine… the horror he put me through. Doctors need a serious dose of humility, for the most part. They need to realize that their patients are people to not only help but people they can learn a lot from.
Therapy is another suggested ritual that I’d rather not take part in. Why? Therapy makes no sense to me. Just like talking to a doctor, therapists offer no give and take in dialogue -- How am I supposed to open up to this person when they won’t even talk to me about their own life. I’m supposed to tell you details of what’s going on in my head, but I can’t even ask you anything about yourself? Therapy has always failed me for this reason. It’s intrusive and untrustworthy. I don’t like going to a person to blow off steam if they can’t even vent in return. I can’t let a person into my life without being let into theirs. This kind of situation is too one sided for me to adopt.
The DSM manual should be looked at as an ever growing manual to be used to help loosely categorize patients with mental illnesses, and not to stuff them in boxes as if every shoe fits. With an ever increasing number of people being diagnosed with a mental illness it is important to understand that there are variances to all these different disorders. It’s just not that cut and dry. And assuming that you have a patient struggling to find the right help they need or the right medication they need, it is irresponsible not to give that patient enough credit to allow him/her the benefit of the doubt to describe their own particular situation. If you take the patients’ voice away from them, you mine as well start declassifying them as citizens… This kind of approach has happened to me and will not be forgotten. Doctors in the mental health profession need to look at their jobs as an opportunity to work with people like me to further advance their own research and research in general.