Chato: You Okay Doc???
Title: How dare you tell me how you feel! That’s MY job!
The Curse of Mental Health Self-Advocacy
“Who do you think you are coming in here telling me what your diagnosis is?! Do you see that degree on the wall? That gives me the authority to determine a diagnosis, not you! If you don’t like that then you can leave and see someone else!”
That’s what was YELLED at me (almost verbatim) when I got assigned a new med-manager/psychologist at a well-known mental health provider in Sarasota, Florida. I was only “officially” diagnosed for two years when I was already running a DBSA support group in the community. I didn’t quite understand the recovery model back then, but the ignorance of people and stigma just fueled my desire to help others! So, what “grievous” question did I ask that set this glorified med-manager off?
One key factor was…what I was learning from the DBSA and NAMI. They both always promoted being educated about our disorder and how it affects us. Because of that, I was given the lashing (in the above quote) by my new therapist who obviously was threatened by my newly developed education (and that I ran a support group.)
Was I disrespectful when I told him about my past diagnosis? No not at all. In fact, what angered him was that I disagreed with him prescribing me Depakote. This was the main medication that he wanted to put me on… taking me off everything the last med-manager had me on. Essentially, throwing out the last two years of trial and error medications and starting all over – something he told me he does with all his new clients.
While my medication combination might not have been the best, it was working. Apparently, this threatened him. When I said I was familiar with the weight gain side-effect and didn’t want to be on anything that adds to my already out-of-control weight, he went off. I just sat there and took it as he was yelling at me. Knowing full well if I started yelling back, he could Baker Act me and I’d be in the crisis intervention unit before the end of the day. In the end, he did not give me that prescription. Instead, he wrote a letter for me to see somebody else because I was being “difficult.”
I learned right then and there that self-advocacy is the thorn in the side of some professionals’ vanity…
Oh, by the way, my information on Depakote did not come from the Internet or hearsay from other peers. Rather, the information came from when I invited the local Abbott Laboratories (maker of Depakote) representatives to come and do a 2 hours long public demonstration to my DBSA chapter. We had 22 peers in attendance asking numerous questions about Depakote and the new Depakote that was coming out. I also had Abbott bring snacks for the group. They surprised us with a five-course Italian meal! At which we all laughed when I joked, it wasn’t Depakote making us fat… it is was the representatives.
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