5 thoughts on “‘Attention Seeking’ and Mental Illness Stigma

  • October 14, 2018 at 1:38 pm

    You give a real insight into the struggles of anyone with mental illness.

  • October 19, 2018 at 10:56 am

    I mostly just read the articles, but today I felt like chiming in. Mostly because the topic really hits home for me and changed the way forever how I feel about asking for help at all.

    A few years ago I was having a lot of problems with my bipolar. I would become suicidal and taken to the ER by the police. My County doesn’t have a psychiatric hospital so the police take you to the ER to see if you need to be admitted. If you do you wait in the ER 2-5 days for a bed to open up in another county that does have a hospital. Very bad system here.

    We have two hospitals in town and one seems mental health patients as attention seekers. Sadly this hospital is the one police often bring suicidal patients to. So this evening I was brought in and given a ER room. I was asked to put on a gown and give a urine sample.

    The nurse came back and I gave him the urine sample but explained that I have PTSD and that gowns are a trigger for it. But that I am wearing shorts and a t-shirt and I am happy to remove or pull down either so the doctor can do his physical exam. He says ok and left.

    A few minutes later I see the charge nurse walk by loudly saying “get the restraints”. Since I wasn’t being physical or anything I just assumed it was for a out of control patient in another room. I was wrong.

    The charge nurse came in with 4 other staff including the cop who brought me in, she yanked my bed from the wall and began tying the restraints on. While she was doing that she tells me “You either put on the gown or we will hold you down, cut your clothes from your body, cut off the diaper (I am incontinent) and put in a catheter and if you so much as tap us you will be arrested for assault”.

    Not wanting to be physically abused as I was as a kid in psych wards (which is where my ptsd comes from) I put the gown on. The charge nurse smiled and left the room. A few minutes later I broke down crying having flashbacks of abuse from my past.

    A hour later the ER doctor comes in to do his physical exam. But instead he never even touches me or looks at anything. He sits on a stool on the other side of the room and stares at me for a minute. Then he he lets out a small giggle and says “Man, you must like getting treated like this, you keep coming back”.

    I snapped at him and yelled that the cops brought me, it wasn’t my choice what hospital I came to. He says that I knew what would happen if I admitted to the cops I was suicidal. Basically saying I choose to go to the ER so it’s my fault I am there waisting their time. So they make psych patient visits as miserable as possible so they never come back. It worked.

    Finally 4 hours later I was released home. It turned me off to ever calling a hotline again, or telling any cops I am suicidal. If I am asked I deny it and say I am fine. I know being at the hospital is supposed to be helpful. But for me it ended in threatening, being laughed at while they can clearly see I am having issues and told psych patients are only there for attention.

    I have even had the cops tell me not to call a hotline, to just do it and not tell no one and be done with it. My friends are glad I didn’t take the officers advice. So yes, people having mental health problems are not at the ER or hospital for fun, hanging out with the staff or whatever. They are there to get better and get back home. Thanks for allowing me to share this painful time in my life.

    • October 19, 2018 at 12:40 pm

      I am so sorry this has been your experience with the professionals that are supposed to help you. This is horrendous. I myself have had bad experiences with doctors and hospitals in the past, this stigma and mistreatment should not exist. There should be compassion, kindness and understanding at the very least. I hope that in the future, this stigma will continue to be broken down and conditions will be better for those like us. Thank you for reading and taking the time to comment and share this. Sending you love. xx

  • October 20, 2018 at 4:54 pm

    I feel your pain. I experienced a very, very similar case in 2014. The only difference is that I informed the nurse that I have worked in the medical profession ( at the time Manager a Primary Care Office which was a part of the largest group practice in our area), that it is not necessary to change into a gown for a Psych Eval. and that the only reason they ask this of us is to separate us from our clothing as a deferent (in the event they want to admit us against our wishes). She admitted this was the case. However, the police officer who escorted us (my husband and i) to the ER, decided to pop back in and threaten that if I did not put the gown on, he would take my clothing offf and put the gown on me himself. I just stated, “I would like to see you try”. Then they asked me to take my hands out of my coat pocket. I did as they requested which made them very aware that this course of action was the wrong move (as I held my keychain with one key between each knuckle). I already had PTSD and was ready for the fight, since flight was not an option. At that point the doctor rushed in and removed the police officer. Since that time I have read the regulations outlining the officer’s responsibilities concerning what the State of Maryland calls a 5150 (basically forcing us to go to the Er Dept for a Psych Eval.). He/she is to act as an escort, document “that” event and leave the premises. He is not to engage in the patient’s care in any way.
    I’ll end this correspondence by saying this was the better part of that visit (it only got worse from there and I it ended with my being brutalized by an overzealous, quite large orderly nearly breaking my wrist and then the Psych nurse who witnessed this brutality apologizing to my husband (since they administered chemical sedation and my being released to go home within 10 minutes of the injection. Go figure.
    As I mentioned I truly know and have experienced the terrifying feeling of PTSD symptoms and the animosity of medical staff treating mental health patients .

    • November 17, 2018 at 12:32 am

      Hello Boo,

      Thanks for the reply. And sorry for the delay. It’s approaching the date my ptsd started (November 20th-26th 1990). I have been having a lot of flashbacks and nightmares of that hospital stay.

      Anyway, I hear you on the excessive use of force and them nearly breaking your wrist. In 2015 I had my arm nearly pulled out of the socket. I was taken to the hospital and explained I was afraid of the staff. Instead of working with me 4 staff came up to the chair I was in, grabbed my arms and began pulling them behind my back.

      The guy on my left pulled my arm behind my back and began forcing it up toward my neck with such force he pulled all the muscles in my shoulder and used so much force he left a set of his finger prints as a bruise in my upper arm. I was pushed forward and led down the hall with the charge nurse saying “I don’t care how you feel, you do what we tell you or we will make you do it”.

      I tried to file a report and outside my room I heard one of the staff members tell the other staff member who hurt me that I was filing a report. The mean staff member told him “I am not worried, nothing will come of it”. He was right, nothing did.

      During the 4 days I was there I kept complaining of my arm for nothing to be done. It wasn’t till I was released and saw my doctor that my arm was checked out and given a sling for a week while it healed as I had severe pain anytime I moved it. Just went on the long list of injuries or abuse I have gotten in psych wards. It shouldn’t be that way, you are there to get better, not get beaten up by staff who enjoy man handling people. I am sure my hurt shoulder helped my depression oh so much (being sarcastic).


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