Today I went to the Community Mental Health, ready to raise hell(unfortunately she wouldn’t let me record the conversation though and I really believe it should have been), as I had been advised to, and got some differing responses than I did last night at the psychiatric urgent care. They claimed to have never told them that they wouldn’t authorize services, only that I needed to go to an emergency room no matter what. If that was the case, I can’t imagine why personnel from Pine Rest, who are in a private and unconnected system from both CMH and Pivot, would have brought up and mentioned that I had been authorized to go to Pivot once and not showed up. He shouldn’t have known that and would have had to have been told something of the sort for that message to get relayed in any way.
I asked the woman I was working with today to imagine what it was like to already feel like you should die, that you aren’t worth treatment, and hearing that you’re being punitively prevented from seeking it out because you’re bad at treatment. The kind of treatment that you need to get better at the things in life that prevent you from being good at treatment.
She said today that if I had called back last night they would have told me the same thing, just go to an emergency room. And that if anything like that happens again(which she called “basically an ‘f you.’”) to call the CMH directly and get clarification.
Last night, no part of me wanted to call and talk to the on call person who had apparently made that decision about me.
I’ll admit that I’m a vulnerable person. I’m fairly easily manipulated. Easily lied to. Every person on this whole process also has their own motivations and interests in covering their own asses and the ass of the organizations they work for. I don’t know who to trust. I don’t know if I should contact the Pine Rest people and find out the name of the CMH on call person from that night. I don’t know where to go from here.
I do know that I’m in a safe(r) place now. The mental health system is fucked and it’s taken me 10 years in it to learn how to see where the problems are, to advocate for myself. For instance, at my intake today, I was asked to sign a blank belongings inventory, before they had even completed the work of looking through my belongings and listing what would be kept on the sheet. I didn’t do it and it wouldn’t have affected me negatively to sign in advance because I have played the hospital game so many times that I don’t even buy pants with strings in them anymore, but let me tell you, when you are a vulnerable individual, all it takes is just one staff member finding something they like in your stored belongings and “forgetting” to put it on your inventory. A pre-signed empty inventory could be a disaster for someone with, say, a sentimental knife or jewelry. I also had the right to be there while they inventoried my belongings and they didn’t inform me of that or ask.
I guess what I’m saying is that I’ve learned enough now to know that I’m giving up an enormous amount of power and dignity when I make this decision of hospitalization. Every time. Every time is a chance to be re-traumatized or experience something cruel or outlandish and it seems like nearly every experience I’ve had in the mental health system has involved that.
I think a lot of it really feels like gaslighting.
Go to the Emergency Room.
Get stripped of all your belongings. Yes, even your phone. You got people worried about you? Well, they get to leave messages to your locker. You’re a danger to yourself and dangerous people don’t get phones.
Get stripped of your clothes. Sometimes even your underwear. Sometimes they’ll have you do a naked squat to show you aren’t smuggling anything. You’re a danger to yourself and dangerous people don’t get clothes.
Depending on where you are, you’ll be watched non-stop either through the window, a camera, or a security person in the room. If you’re lucky, you might be allowed a family member or friend as a sitter. You will have to be monitored everywhere you go. Sometimes this means bed alarms. This always means someone else in the bathroom with you. You’re a danger to yourself and dangerous people don’t get privacy.
You’ll get to re-explain everything that’s wrong with you at a bare minimum of six times. This means what’s happening in your life, medical background and health management you currently are in, meds, feeeeeeeeeelings and “What brings you in today?” You have to hash out your pain, your struggles, your limitations and weaknesses, again and again and again. Get reminded of how much crap you feel like, again and again and again. To strangers. Anytime they ask. You’re a danger to yourself and dangerous people don’t get personal boundaries.
You’re in gown. In a too small bed. You can see the blood spatter on the blah floral curtain. And the doctors and nurses and phlebotomists and social workers all come in and stand towering over you and imply “I’m sorry that you’re feeling this depressed, but it’s wrong to feel that bad and people aren’t supposed to be like that and we can fix you, we can make you better.”
Ending that sentence was the precise moment that I realized I’m in an abusive relationship with the mental health care system.
Maybe more accurately it makes me realize I think I have a process addiction to mental health care but it just makes me feel so good(when it’s not hurting me).