mental health, Uncategorized

Sleeplessness and the bureaucrat

I shouldn’t be doing this right now. I should be trying to grab some precious ever elusive sleep but I can’t. My mind is stuck reevaluating with increasing disbelief, the interaction I just had with the front desk of the mental health conglomerate that I go to. Here is a word for word transcript, annotated with my escalating unimpressed thoughts.

Me: Hi, my name is ___. I’m a patient of ___ and I have had insomnia for three days.

X: And how can I help you? (in a tone that said, yeah what about it?)

In my head: wow empathy must not be your thing.

Me: I need to schedule an appointment to see her.

X: Ok. (she proceeded to get the information she needed to look up my chart and schedule) Well your next appointment isn’t until March so how about the 22nd of February?

Me: I don’t think so. I’m missing work I can’t go sleepless until the 22nd .

X: So you’re looking for a med increase.

In my head: what did you just say to me?

Me: I’m looking for a solution. I’m certainly not chasing medication if that’s what you’re saying.

X: How about 2:30 on the 16th.

Me: How about something today or tomorrow with anyone who’s available.

X: Are you available at 2:30 today?

Me: Yes that would be perfect.

During the subsequent wrap up I got her name so I could report her because I don’t take this kind of shit anymore.

So let’s just recap: A patient called and said they weren’t sleeping. She had an appointment open for today and she tried to schedule that patient for three weeks from now. Did I mention she had an appointment open today?! That isn’t just a lack of empathy but a lack of ethics.

While it’s not an uncommon occurrence in mental health patients, sleeplessness in my book and among the medical community in general, is a very big deal. Lack of sleep leads directly to decrease in cognitive function and motor skills, not to mention the fact that lack of rem can lead to suicidal behavior. Here are just a couple articles about the effects of lack of sleep.

“Depressed patients who experience sleep disturbances are more likely to think about suicide and die by suicide than depressed patients who are able to sleep normally.”  From and article from Harvard.

“This study showed that REM sleep has a critical role in facilitating brain plasticity. ” from an article looking at a study of the effects of four days of sleep deprivation.

 

I attempted to go back to work yesterday after finally achieving 7 hours sleep in 48 because I love my job. But my job requires a level of concentration and reasoning skills that I was unable to bring to bear with my head spinning. I was not sharp. I could not focus and I sent myself home after just 3 hours because I recognized that I could not wrap my head around things that I had been fully on top of the day before all this started.

I wonder how many patients without the benefit of my bullheadedness, without my ability to tap into my well of petty wretched spite in order to not cave to people like that, would have taken the appointment three weeks from now and suffered. What if that patient then had an episode. What if they spiraled so out of control that they harmed themselves or killed themselves. What if they fell asleep at the wheel?

Bottom line this type of soulless behavior is not acceptable in any profession but so much less so in the medical world. As bad as my regular doctor’s office is, they have more compassion than that and mental health patients don’t need less empathy they need more because we are often at a diminished capacity to care for or advocate for ourselves. We don’t need anyone else making our lives more difficult and we don’t need someone taking advantage of that state to pass off sub par care. My opinion as of today is that if you don’t have a mental illness and can’t score really high on an empathy test, then you shouldn’t be allowed to be the front face of a mental wellness office.

The chief reason I see the nurse that I do and have changed practices every time she has, is that she doesn’t dole out scheduled drugs like candy. When my previous nurse had continued to up my klonipin to help me sleep without looking at other options until I was on the maximum dose and simply dependent on the drug, it was this nurse who took the time to ween me off it. She found a safe alternative which I was a little shocked to find was an old drug that frankly my other care providers should have been knowledgeable about and I feel should have been ahead of habit forming drugs on the list of possible solutions.

I have specifically chosen with no small degree of difficulty to pursue a course of medical treatment that avoids anything habit forming and the implication that I am some how looking for a fix was absolutely insulting to me in every way possible.

I bring this up to illustrate that what we are prescribed is not our fault. It isn’t within our control that someone we think is looking out for our well being is just handing out the latest thing the drug rep told them was a good treatment. We come to professionals because we don’t have the answers. This isn’t the first time a receptionist has done more than insinuate that I was chasing medication. I’m not sorry that yes, in the same way that I insist on having my blood pressure treated or my Lyme disease treated or a broken leg treated, I insist that I have access to the medically proven solutions for the problems with my brain. I don’t put up a stink that I have to check in every 90 days so they can bill my insurance for a visit that isn’t necessary if nothing has changed. I do however expect that when something does change and I need to come in sooner, as my nurse always tells me to do, that I am treated with dignity and respect. I don’t think it needs to be pointed out that everyone regardless of their medical needs deserves to be treated with dignity and respect.

It is not the job of a scheduling drone to judge what I do or do not need. That is why the professional I see in the office has a degree and she does not. It is not her job to do her level best to keep me from being seen as soon as possible. It is not her job to decide if I have addiction problems or not. Someone who does have addiction issues probably really really needs an appointment asap wouldn’t you say? Someone’s medical needs are not a character flaw and they are certainly not an invitation to make judgments about that person and never an excuse to act on those judgments by doling out your version of the law.

I have observed in myself and those around me as a bank teller that the authority to say no to someone corrupts pretty quickly and a tendency to say no without really considering the situation takes root. This is simply a human failing but compassion is a human responsibility and if you don’t have it you at least need to pretend and if you can’t even do that, then you have no business interacting with people who need compassion which by the way is EVERYONE in the world.

It is my assumption whether it’s a good one or not remains to be seen, but my assumption is that this practice as a whole has a low opinion of people with mental illness and thus doesn’t really require sterling behavior from it’s staff. It’s easy to declare a group of people second class citizens and then have little compunction about treating them as such.

As for my sleeplessness issue I have found that as the light returns I have more and more mania and anxiety at night which becomes a self perpetuating thing. Fear of lack of sleep leads to lack of sleep etc. Needless to say the dark of winter has become my favorite time. Spring and summer mania are not fun. Now I’m off to advocate for myself. Keeping yourself well is bloody hard work.

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feminism, Uncategorized

“What happened to sisterhood?”

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I could not find a credit for this but feel it captures the spirit of this very well.

*******Disclaimer*******

This is a first response to Camille Paglia calling Taylor swift a bunch of nasty things. It has been edited to remove any personal attacks on Ms Paglia. If you find any please call me out and I will find a more neutral way to express the sentiment.

I will not quote Camille Paglia because I will not give her words further reach. Suffice to say she had some inflammatory things to say about a woman in the spotlight and until I have had time to read her entire essay and prepare a piece by piece rebuttal, I’m not going to quote her. It’s been touted enough.

I will only say that speaking to my personal experience, words and ideas such as those espoused in her article, focusing on ripping down another woman, are what drives me away from calling myself a feminist.

Begin Rant

We must not sink to the level of insulting each other if we want to accomplish anything. We must not constrain each other if we ever expect to have actual sisterhood. Competing with each other is integral keeping us enslaved. We don’t need jailers if we will just do their work for them. I don’t believe in a male conspiracy. We don’t need one. I believe in that these attitudes are so ingrained and so pervasive in both gender groups that it perpetuates itself. We fuel it with every cruel thing we say. We advance it every time we judge someone and say they’re not our sister for whatever reason. “They don’t know what being a woman is. They’re not a real woman.”

Any time we define a “real woman” we cut away a slice of the female population that doesn’t fit that definition. For example saying “real women have curves” alienates women without curves. Who are we to decide who’s real and who isn’t? Who are we to decide what a “real woman” does with her life or her body or her style of dress? No wonder they’re so close to banning abortion in this country! We’re shooting ourselves in the foot constantly. We need to stop shaming each other. Stop slut shaming. Stop fat shaming. Stop skinny shaming. Stop religious shaming. Stop saying trans woman aren’t women. Who are we to even think that? A cis woman has no idea what a trans woman has been through. Who are we to judge anyone but ourselves.

If we don’t have room for a freedom of choice then what are we even doing? Who cares if someone’s skirt is too short or someone is have “too much fun” with their friends. Does that short skirt diminish us? No it doesn’t. We need to stop telling each other that being “slutty” or whatever we don’t approve of as “appropriate” female behavior is harming the movement. I put forward that being competitive, mean and nasty is what hurts the movement because it hurts members of that movement.

I think we have to choose if we are going to have a sisterhood or if we are going to be judgers. Everyone one of us has that decision every day, every minute. We choose by how we treat each other every single time we interact.  Every time we DON’T entertain the thought that another woman’s skirt is too short this is micro win. Every time we say something empowering instead that is a positive contribution to the world we want to see. Call them micro-acts of empowerment if you will.

This is the world we want to see isn’t it? A world where women are respected and feel safe to be who they are is what we all wish for right? Don’t we aim for a climate where a woman can do or be anything she sets out to be?

If we oppress each other, news flash, it’s still oppression! I think we all have areas where we can improve on how sisterly we behave. I have only within the last few years learned what slut shaming is or how I played into it. Even now that I realize that these aren’t beliefs I agree with, the jibes and the learned behaviors are still there and rear their ugly heads every so often. This stuff is insidious and it is real work to stamp it out of our thinking and our words. We may not even recognize where we are doing harm but it starts with a choice of how we behave.

To me the movement IS choice. I validate and protect your choice. You validate and protect mine. We thrive on the idea that we can be different and equally important. Come on if we can’t overcome our differences within our own gender how are we going to overcome gender inequalities? If we refuse to recognize the value of each others differences then we are doomed to fail.

There are two parts to equality. I am no better than you and you are no better than me. I only have control over myself. I can only start with the space between my ears. In order for there to be harmony in my own head I must believe both halves. I cannot just go around saying “you are no better than me” but that’s what we do. This is incomplete and it accomplishes little but make us feel slightly better about ourselves temporarily.

You know how I learned this? The hard way by being a self righteous bitch and getting called on my bullshit! My mom sat me down and said “hey, I don’t love you any more than your sister just cause you don’t smoke pot.” Now I have humility and I smoke pot. Win!

“I am woman hear me-” NOT define what it is to be a woman.

I will not go bra-less. This does not mean that I do not believe woman should be constrained. I believe women should wear what THEY want. If you want to go bra-less I will support your right to do so. I WILL shave my legs. This does not mean that I bow to the whims of the fashion machine. I just prefer my legs smooth, sometimes. I WILL wear makeup if I choose. I WON’T wear it if I choose.

I am a heretic, daughter of a heretic. I can do anything I want regardless of what anyone says I should or should not do. I will stand with other woman in their choices whether they are popular ones or not. I say anyone who says they identify as a woman is a woman. I BELIEVE you. Come on in!

What about individuals who identify as “gender queer” or gender neutral? Are we going to leave them out of the discussion? What if they can add a perspective that none of the rest of us can possibly contribute? What if we are losing out every day by excluding people with our ever narrowing definition of a feminist?

I say you can be a sister and be a stay at home mom or a career woman or not a mom at all. I say you can be a feminist sister and [insert anything here that you believe makes you a “bad” feminist.] I will BELIEVE that you have the power to make your own choices. I will NOT try to classify your level of “realness”.

It is not up to Camille P to judge based on what she sees Taylor Swift doing, whether she is vapid or if she is being genuine or not and calling someone a Nazi is something we do far too often. I think perhaps we need to be reminded just how big an allegation this really is. At first glance I suspect this is simply someone who is being triggered by Taylor Swift’s looks and for whatever reason is taking it out on the trigger.

This woman does not speak for me. I don’t care how many books she has published on the subject of feminism. I feel it is likely that she does not speak for most women. Thus I feel that when we mention Camille P and women who write and say similar things that we point out that they may not be a representative voice for women and that they may not be expressing the spirit of sisterhood at that moment. They may come around if they choose to. In the mean time they’re just women like the rest of us. Their word shouldn’t carry any more weight than any other among us.

Let’s “woman up” and stop the pettiness, stop the bullying, stop being part of the problem! I long to see this nastiness fade away in my life time. My hope is that eventually we will no longer need this type of behavior to make ourselves feel better but it’s a choice. It’s a choice and we have to make it ourselves.

My piano teacher taught me something valuable. During my competitions I had to write down one thing that each of my competitors did well in their performances. Maybe we should try that collectively.

I’ll start.

I promise not to bash other women.

Say it with me.

I promise not to bash other women.

Now go out and do it.

If we want to go one better decide that we will actively empower other women in their choices no matter whether we agree with them or not. Say something nice to each other instead.

Then and only then we will have a sisterhood that we all WANT to belong to.

 

Post Script this could relate to some nastiness come from Rose McGowan at this point too. Come on y’all we can do better.

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