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Mental Health Stigma

Yesterday,  I found myself telling the hospital about my mental health disorder for the very first time while visiting.

Yesterday, I had my mental health thrown in my face.

Yesterday, I was put in a locked down psych room for no reason.

Borderline

 

 

If you follow me on Twitter, you might have noticed I took a trip into the emergency room yesterday. I hurt my knee one day walking up the stairs, and yesterday the pain became unbearable. My husband had an appointment in Truro, NS so we decided it would be best that he dropped me off to the emergency room to finally have it looked at.  It’s pretty hard to adult when you can barely walk.

When he dropped me off, I was so relieved that the waiting room was empty. I had brought all of my medication with me, including my mood stabilizer which was recently added to my life a week ago. I felt really good. I had everything with me that was needed to check in, and hopefully, soon I would know what exactly was going on. I was having a good day with not feeling my anxiety. That didn’t last long.

The triage nurse took me in, she checked my blood pressure asked what was wrong, and she got to the part I was  nervous about. She asked about my medical history. Any conditions or disorders I have. This was a big day for me; it would be the first day I disclosed to someone other than my family doctor and therapist that I was Borderline Personality Disorder. I’ve written about it, of course, on here a bit. The whole redesign of my blog was so I would be able to share my experiences since I was newly diagnosed. Speaking online, to an audience of faces I will never see in person is much easier than facing the facts in real life. None of my family knows, minus one who actually read my blog. This woman, who was taking my information, would be the first person I told face to face who wasn’t my best friend.

I gave her the list. ADHD, BPD, Asthma. Everything went smoothly. I got my wristband and headed into the waiting room. Before I could even get seated and settled, I was being called in to be seen.

The lovely woman, who was a student, came in and checked out my leg. She bent it in uncomfortable positions and did what she needed to do to make sure everything was okay. I made a joke about how I should have shaved my legs before coming in, and she smiled and was amazing at telling me what she was doing, along with how it was excellent that my knee hadn’t bruised. When she was finished, she told me she would be filling in the doctor and he should be around soon to see me.

I got comfortable and sat down with the book I brought with me. I had my water bottle, a great read and just after a few minutes  Jody joined me. The doctor came in, and he sat down and had a conversation with me about what was going on. His thoughts about what it could be, and that he would get an X-ray ordered to take a look. He let me know that the nurse would bring me some more medication for the pain and he left.

After taking the medication, and of course with the drinking, I needed to use the little ladies room. I had been drinking water all day, and I had to let Niagra Falls fall. I went to open the door, and it was locked. I stood there for a few moments wondering if the door was broken, trying to get out to use the bathroom. Jody tried to open the door, but with no such luck. I opened the nurses door on the other side and asked if someone could open the door for me. One woman looked at me and walked away, another completely ignored me, and the woman who previously brought me the Tylenol came and opened the door. I made my way down to the bathroom wondering why I was in a room with a door that locked.

I returned to the room, and it didn’t take long for someone from X-ray to come grab me. She brought me a wheelchair to drive me down to diagnostics, and I mentioned how frustrating it was to not be able to open the door to use the bathroom. She proceeded to tell me that there had once been a psych patient who used a dime ( 10 cent coin for anyone who doesn’t know ) to open the vents and climb out of the room to escape. His girlfriend had used the fire extinguisher to break down the door a previous week.

While on the move, it clicked in. I had been put in the room they use for patients who have mental disorders/complications. I had my X-ray done, and on the way down I watched the doors as my husband pushed me back. A lot of the rooms had been vacant, and not used. No one was in them. Why had I been put in the room, that locks me in?

Upon returning back to the room to wait for  results, I asked my husband if he noticed how empty the rooms were open. He told me no, and went back to his email. I was so angry and so frustrated. Hurt. I wasn’t acting out, I wasn’t rude or ignorant. I didn’t throw a fit. I was a respectful, young woman who had been recently diagnosed with a mental disorder who had been judged without even a reason besides the name of my disorder and a medication.

I laid back on the bed, and I looked up at the ceiling. The story the nurse had told me was absolutely true. The vent system above me had been bolted shut. I remember laying there, looking at those bolts and wanting to cry. I wanted to voice my opinion to someone about how I felt, about how this situation and room made me feel. Could I? Absolutely not. If I came in to have my knee looked at and I got in here because of my BPD, what would happen if I got the slightest bit upset about how I was being treated?

 

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The vent in the room that had been bolted shut.

 

I was in a room that locked, with no way to leave. One they put patients in who truly needed to be rescued. I could not leave if I wanted, on my own free will. I felt locked up, caged. All because of my disorder. It had no bathroom like the other rooms. It was a room with a bed. That was it. A little room that said more than I wanted to hear. I laid there, looking at the ceiling and messaging my best friend about what was going on.

The doctor came in and dropped some not so nice information on me about my knee. ( That’s a story for later. ) Not only had I now felt incredibly judged, but I just had a doctor do what felt like crushing my entire world. Not only did I feel alone, and hurt but I was coming to terms with the information I had been provided.

I left the hospital crying. Not just from the pain and what’s to come for my knee, but also because someone judged me automatically for my mental health.

I went to my therapist appointment today, and when we sat told I told her about my experience. What happened, why I was there and how I felt. She looked absolutely appalled at what took place. She told me that she 100% knew that was because of my disorder, and she apologized for how I was treated. There was no reason to be in the room like that when the help I needed was physical.

I had a great visit with my therapist none the less, and when I left I filled my husband in. This is when he told me that he knew the moment I couldn’t get out that I had been dealt the hand of Mental Health Stigma. He had been hoping I wouldn’t notice, or if I did that it would be after my appointment. He knew how this was going to make me feel, that it would make me question myself and the people I am suppose to trust.

My reaction right now? I am angry. I am so incredibly angry, and if I wasn’t at work I would be in bed crying. My first time telling someone outside of who I fully trust, and this happens. I’m only going to tell you personally or face to face if I feel comfortable with you. I don’t know if this is because it’s a rule or guideline with the hospital, and if it is; I want to completely understand. I really do. Does that make it any less painful?

Absolutely not.

I know there are people with my disorder and many others who can be a harm to themselves and others. I know the fear and worry that someone in a hospital would have when someone like myself walks in. BPD is not spoken of well. I know this because I was not allowed to Google my own disorder when I found out. My therapist told me not to. But this, this hurt. This was uncalled for. I was nothing but respectful. I read quietly, drank my water and sent tweets from time to time. I came in for someone to look at my KNEE, not judge me on the battle that is raging not only in my head as well as in me as a whole.

If you’re scared of what could happen, imagine how I feel. Imagine how someone who is bi-polar feels. Imagine the anxiety and fear WE have inside of us when we need to disclose to you something we struggle with. Struggling doesn’t mean I am going to get angry and break down a door. It means that this is a new layer of skin that has been added to me, and I am finding some way for myself to cope and accept something that has been hidden for some time. THIS is the reason people don’t like to speak to their doctors about anxiety, depression and other mental health struggles.

How can we feel like we have the proper help we need when our own health system makes us feel like we’re a danger to everyone around us? Just by looking at the name of our disorder or the medications we take? Why put a label on us, when you don’t know our situation? This makes me want to HIDE the fact that I have a disorder from you when I walk in. That, in reality, could be so much worse.

I’m hurt. I’m upset, and I want to cry. Is this what I get to look forward to my entire life as someone who struggles with mental health? Is this really the example we want to set for people who may need help, but are too scared to seek it?

No one struggling needs to feel the way I do right now.

Sarah LeBlanc

★ Borderline battler ★ Bookish lover ★ Hunger Games fanatic ★ Jodi Meadows Fangirl ★ Raising Awareness of Mental Health and BPD ★

  • Jacy DeRoque

    I’m so incredibly sorry that you had to experience all of that but I’m so glad you shared this story and I hope it will help others! Love you oodles!

    January 20, 2016 at 3:33 pm Reply

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