Rendered Mute

Back in March I had a bit of an anxiety spike. It was becoming even harder for me to leave the house because once I left the house my brain would come up with the most horrid scenarios involving the dogs and danger. Mostly, I worried about a fire starting and the dogs burning up in terrible agony and fear. It wasn’t just an imagination, it was RIGHT FUCKING THERE in my head. These things were clear and detailed, I could hear their whining and barking, I could see them scrabbling and scratching to get out. Every time I left my house I got that or another similarly horrible situation, like the robbers coming back and beating my dogs, or cops who got the wrong address busting in and shooting them.
It sounds silly, I have no reason to think these things could happen. And yet, even as I type this up my chest tightens up, my stomach hurts again, tears are welling up in my eyes.
This happens sometimes when I am away from the house.
But, there were things we could do. My doctor went over the options and Depakote was prescribed. It was added to my pill heavy regimen. We were just trying to bring my anxiety down to manageable levels so that I could do things like go to therapy. It is vital that I get to my therapy sessions every week. This is my religion, I go to therapy, I try to fix my brain.
As you might suspect already, the Depakote was a problem, I don’t seem to be writing cheerful things lately. Yeah, the Depakote was a problem. I took it for a week and during that week I got sicker and sicker. I threw up all the time, my muscles were twitching, I had hallucinations (I’m supposed to call them ‘illusions’ which are different from hallucinations, either way, I was seeing shit I knew wasn’t supposed to be there. I mean, really, a possum does not live in the cabinet and David does not have a bunch of baby arms on his biceps.), I had no balance at all, I was pitching into things and falling over. I kept waiting for things to even out a bit. I’m an old pro at popping pills and I know that the first few days can be rough. It had been a week on the pills, I was still having problems and they were getting worse.
I went to my therapist and freaked out. I knew that this was not normal, but I also know that I’m crazy (not ‘crazy’ but ‘dealing with mental illness’) and I get the opinion of a trusted, non-crazy adult. We documented my symptoms and she called the clinic to talk to my doctor. These were not just side effects, but a pretty harsh reaction. I was told to go straight to the ER, go there! We called David and he picked me up from therapy since I was not even supposed to drive. This was some serious business and I had to get medical attention ASAP. My doctor’s office called ahead to the ER so they would be ready.
We did this, we headed to the ER. They asked me to sit down and wait, so we waited.
And waited
And waited
Then they called me up and I went to the little desk and we talked about what was happening. We went over the symptoms and my history and all that. The lady told me that someone from ‘Behavioral’ will be coming to get me and to bring me to the ‘Behavioral’ ER. What? I don’t…?
I tried to explain that this wasn’t a mental crisis, it was a physical reaction. No, they told me that I needed to be seen by a mental health professional. Nothing I could say would convince them otherwise. They saw my file, they saw that I was dealing with depression and anxiety and that killed any hope at all of being taken seriously.
I was rendered mute. They no longer heard me. I was calm, I was not uncontrollable, I was not yelling or threatening. I had a diagnosis of mental illness, so sometimes I think the wrong things and so that means that all the things I think are suspect or not to be trusted. That’s all it took to be turned from a sick person into someone elses problem. All my words slipped off them and on to the floor, they heard nothing and they cared even less than that.
And again, we waited.
And waited.
And the guy from ‘Behavioral’ came for us. He whisked efficiently down the various corridors, each one more elaborately locked than the one before. We were brought to another waiting room and we waited and waited and no one cared. I was sick, I was so tired and twitchy and nauseous. Occasionally someone would come in with my chart and ask me a couple perplexed question and then wander off again. It was obvious they knew I shouldn’t be there, this was clearly a medical issue not a mental health issue.
Nobody wanted me in their department. I am sitting there, sick and miserable and no one, not one single fucking doctor is worried about me. They’re worried about interdepartmental fuckitude,’She’s not our problem!’
Someone comes in and does a mental health assessment, so I word barf all the diagnoses and issues and problems and she agrees that this is actually a medical problem, not a behavioral problem. Awesome! We’re getting somewhere. Then they have David leave, supposedly only for a few minutes. But he is never allowed back inside. I am sick and miserable, I am in the wrong part of the hospital, no one gives a shit AND they take away the only stable, trustworthy thing I have. But I can’t protest because I’ve got crazy stamped upon my forehead, it’s useless to even try. I did actually ask a few times if they could go get him, they said they would, they never did.
Finally, a psychiatric something or other doctor shows up and confirms that I am in the wrong place, that I have no need of their service. He sets up an appointment for me with a psychiatrist some where else, some day else.
But what about my symptoms? What about the reaction? What should I do? I feel terrible?
“Yeah, that’s a side effect of the Depakote, that will go away now that you are not taking it.”
This happens all of the time, everywhere. People who struggle with mental health issue do not get taken seriously, it’s a built in excuse for the professionals to use. We think wrong thoughts some of the time so we should be taken seriously none of the time. I waited days to tell anyone about my symptoms because I wanted to be sure that someone I trusted would listen to me first. I waited until I went to my therapy session to say anything about my problems because I knew if I just went to the ER they would blow me off. I hoped that having my therapist talk to them first I would be taken more seriously.
But I wasn’t. They didn’t take me seriously because they didn’t have to.
All of the time, every day! People with mental illness are ignored and shuffled off and there is nothing we can do about it.