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What would you do if you were in my situation?


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First some background information... This is a bit long so I do apologise...

I first started showing symptoms about 8 years ago. Although it could have even been before then. At the time I didn't know they were symptoms and it's only been in the past few years that I have been able to look back and try and pinpoint where it all started. It started off very slowly with my symptoms getting progressively worse over the course of a year or so. 

I was happy with my life, I was attending university and studying to be a teacher. I had no reason to expect anything was amiss. I don't know how or why it started but if people looked at me I'd become suspicious and start thinking why are they looking at me? What are they thinking? Over time this then changed to that person must be psychic they know my thoughts and then it went to that person is stealing my thoughts and putting new thoughts into my head. This happened slowly over a year or so. I started becoming suspicious of people and when I would walk into the lecture theatre I believed everyone was talking about me so I'd run out of the room in fear. My suspicions became even worse when I would hear someone laughing and mocking me and saying they're all talking about you and laughing at you but when I turned around there was no one there. This happened often. Of course this made me even more suspicious and I started to distance myself from people as I believed they were plotting against me. 

I had to do a 4 week teaching prac and on the prac I screamed at another student teacher in front of all the other staff that I knew she was plotting against me with our supervising teacher to make sure I failed and guess what? Yep I failed. I was told by the principal that I shouldn't have failed as my teaching and behaviour management skills were excellent but my supervising teacher was the one who had to make the final decision. Of course this only made my belief that I was being plotted against more stronger. So I put in a complaint to the uni who said I should have failed and when I asked why they said we don't know. So why did I fail? We don't know. That was their standard answer. So in my mind I'm thinking ok there's a conspiracy going on here. Obviously they don't want some people being teachers for whatever reason and have decided that no matter how good they are they will always fail. I thought my theory had merit so I started writing long rambling emails to the head of our course telling her that I knew all about the conspiracy and that I was going to gather evidence and go to the media about it. I was told there was no conspiracy which of course made me believe even more that there was.

There were also other things going on. I had I guess you could call it inflated self worth. I thought I was brilliant at everything. I was able to write 3000 word essays in just a few hours on the day it was due and usually got good marks for them. I once got into an argument with one of my lecturer's over an essay about educational psychology where I wrote about the meaning of life and how I discovered that the secrets to the universe was to do with how letters numbers and colours are all connected. He said my essay was rambling and made no sense. I sat in his office and argued with him for over 2 hours about how my essay was one of the best that had ever been written and that I was insulted that he couldn't recognise my amazing talent. Looking back, he was very patient.

Other things that were happening: I believed I had superpowers because over a period of a couple of months I would be awake for 3-4 days and when I did sleep it would be for only an hour or 2 and then I'd go back to having days of no sleep. I thought obviously I've been given powers because no one can survive on no sleep for a long time but obviously I could so I thought I was special. I was bothering people constantly and always calling people at 3am for long chats and felt insulted when they didn't want to talk to me at that time. I believed the government had put a mind control device in my head and that helicopters had infrared cameras attached to them to spy on me. I was being sent coded messages through the tv. I would often hear people talk about me and make fun of me but no one was ever there. I thought there was a secret radio that was hidden somewhere because one of the voices I heard sounded like it was coming from a radio and I was being talked about on there. I yelled at people in public because I believed they were stealing my thoughts and were plotting to hurt me. One time I was in the supermarket getting something off the shelf and someone came up next to me probably also to get something but I immediately thought they're going to hurt me. So I literally dropped my basket of groceries, screamed really loudly and ran out of there crying. I didn't leave my house for weeks after that.

I was also self harming. I had never ever had thoughts about harming myself before all this started and I was convinced that someone was putting these thoughts into my head because my logic was it can't be me because I have no desire to hurt myself so obviously I'm being made to do it. Funny thing is even though I had all these distressing things going on I wasn't feeling depressed. If anything most of the time my mood was normal or quite elevated. The depression didn't come until much later and it was like a plane going through turbulence and then crash landing without any warning.

 

I finally went to the doctor about the depression where I was diagnosed with it. At the time I didn't open up about everything else going on because I didn't see them as symptoms of anything. I truly believed I was being plotted against and that my thoughts were being interfered with. So I kept quiet about it because I wasn't sure who I could trust.

I was put on antidepressants which helped with the depression but not the other symptoms and then one day I opened up to my doctor about how everything would be ok if people weren't spying on me and interfering with my thoughts and that's when I got introduced to the wonderful Australian mental health system (sarcasm) my doctor had given me a number for the mental health access line and wanted me to give them a call. I did and can't remember what I told them but after I got off the phone they called me back half an hour later and I was told that they had an emergency meeting about me and that they decided I needed to be hospitalised immediately and that I could either come in voluntary or they would have to send the police to get me. Of course I chose voluntary.

When I met the psychiatrist he was very rude to me. He sneered at me and said so you've got depression have you? Well it's your own fault you have depression. You are to blame for that because you're unhappy with your life (I wasn't, I'm a naturally happy person) when I tried telling him about everything else such as the voices and being spied on, etc he didn't want to know about it and dismissed me with a wave of his hand and walked out of the room. At the time I was too sick to put in a complaint about him so I asked to be released. Not surprisingly I was back in there not long after. Had a different pdoc then and was diagnosed with bipolar but when I was released was given no follow up care and was never told what to expect and what is or isn't normal for bipolar. I struggled through the next couple of years not really knowing or understanding if people stealing my thoughts, having mind control experiments done on me and hearing voices was a part of bipolar. I became worse when my medication was changed and then the dosage was lowered. I needed up hospitalised because I was self harming and voices were screaming in my ears and I was hearing voices say over and over again go on hurt yourself hurt yourself hurt yourself. They then lowered my dose even more even though I told them my medication wasn't working since the dose had been lowered but no one listened to me. Instead I was asked questions which I believe have nothing to do with any of my symptoms.

Do you get along with people? Yes I'm a very friendly sociable person who likes being around people but I'm also comfortable with being by myself.

Do you get into a lot of arguments with people on Facebook? No I don't. I have debates with people but not fights. Oh ok, how do you feel if someone disagrees with you? It doesn't bother me in the slightest.

Have you had a fight with a friend? No I haven't and even if I had so what. It's not the end of the world.

Do you trust your friends?

What has any of that got to do with the symptoms I've been having? Baffling.

The last time I was hospitalised the doctor treating me asked if I was just bored and if this was all just in my head. I was told that I don't have bipolar as my mood changes too constantly which is news to me as majority of the time I'm happy and content and could probably count on one hand the amount of times I've had depression. No one had ever asked me how long my moods lasted for. I was also told that my mood changes are environmental which again was news to me as there has never been any situation that has set them off. I was then told we can't do anything for you and was then released.

I have a whole heap of other symptoms going on but I have no one to talk to about them because I feel that when I do ask for help I'm not listened to and I'm treated as though I'm wasting their time. One of my friends keeps telling me you need to find a doctor that will listen to you because you deserve to have answers but I've lost my faith and trust in the pdocs and think what's the point? But at the same time I need answers but I guess I'm afraid to take that step in case I'm pushed away or not listened to.

So what would you do if you were in my situation? Would you try to find a doctor that will listen to you? Or would you feel there is no point?

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Hi there.  I finished reading your entire post from beginning to end.  

I can understand how discouraged you are feeling right now and can totally empathize with it.

I think you should keep pushing to find a better Pdoc who will really listen and treat all of your symptoms.  It's really the pits when you have uncomfortable and paranoid thoughts.  You deserve to be happy.  I suggest you keep trying.  

 

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my advice:

 

1. go first thing monday with bills in smaller denominations (perhaps even the means to make exact change) and request you full psych chart(s). go when you have some time to kill and wait whilst they do it. they can charge you to photocopy them, but must hand them over.

 

2. print out your post in full.

 

3. start looking for a new psychiatrist by the end of this week. 

 

i absolutely would not have a psychiatrist for more than one appointment if i got treated like that. no way. i need to trust that he's actually able to help me and if he said stupid shit like, you gave your schizophrenia to yourself (i don't have depression...so subbing in what i do have)...no, no, no, no, nooooo! fuck that noise. in addition to being a supremely unhelpful thing to say to someone in a mental health crisis, it's factually inaccurate. he may not have bedside manner (and obviously doesn't), but if he lacks that he needs to really excel with know the research and keeping up with trends and being a great medical doctor. he's 0/2. 

 

and then, to add insult to injury, he not only sprang a 5150 on you, but then further eroded your trust by mocking you. 

the guy's a dick. no, you shouldn't stick it out with him believing mental health professionals are just like that. mine's not. he's kind and compassionate and sharp and he listens well and explains clearly. he has sectioned me before, but we've worked on trust and i do believe that when he does it there is no treatment outside of a hospital that is going to help me as much or as quickly as that can. i fucking hate the hospital...and then i also sorta don't mind my home away from home :rolleyes:, but i will admit i've always come out better than i went in so he didn't just hand me over...he was right about the opportunities for better care and coming out to potentially be higher functioning in the future. 

my person is pretty awesome and yours ...is not. there's a whole range in between and i do hope more on my person's side of the spectrum than on your person's. but you'll never know if you don't put yourself out there and be a little picky. find someone you trust to tell everything. who you believe will and wants to give you the best case s/he possibly can. i look for someone with a sense of humour because i feel like, of all things...we need some levity in there at times.

take charge of your mental healthcare and wrap up your business with them asap (don't go without your chart though...and refill anything that's refillable) and then see what your options are and start setting up introductory meetings until you find one you like. 

 

i have kaiser and so i can switch to any psychiatrist. i didn't do that with him, but i did meet with several therapists before landing on the one doing exposure prevention response therapy with me now.

 

you can do this! go out and advocate for the care you deserve :)

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I'm sorry you've suffered through so much and so many symptoms for so long without any head's up as to what's even a symptom.  I get the not wanting to share the more uncomfortable things initially--right now though, you're kind of working with borrowed time in the sense that it can take a while to get in with a psychiatrist and you need to figure out relatively quickly if the one you manage to get in with is worth keeping.  Do you have anyone who can recommend someone good?  (I'm guessing no or you wouldn't be asking, but wanted to check.)

I do believe that better psychiatrists are out there.  I will admit to not knowing the Australian health care system well, so I don't know how great your options are or how things like delay or insurance (?) impact things.  But it can't be that you're forced to live with this kind of mental anguish.  There has to be someone better to work with who doesn't dismiss your symptoms. 

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I want to add my voice to those saying push, push, push for another psychiatrist. I had a really crappy psychiatrist once, and I thought immediately of that psychiatrist when I read what happened to you. I should have filed a complaint but I was too young and scared to do that.

Anyway, the good news is that are a lot of good doctors out there. I wouldn't base my opinion of the entire profession on one or even a few bad apples, Doctors are a group of people, and like any group of people, there are good ones and there are bad ones. You just have to keep pushing until you get a good one, And you will be surprised at what a difference a good doctor can make.

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Yes, I would try to find another pdoc right away.

It is more than frustrating when DRs don't take you seriously.  You have gone through so much and deserve to be helped, unlike what is happening right now.  That is why I would find another pdoc ASAP to help get your needs met.

Like jt was saying, not all pdocs out there are bad/insensitive/etc. 

 

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Thanks everyone. I do have a GP that I can ask for a referral to a psychiatrist but I guess it's fear that's holding me back. If I ask for help there's a chance I'll encounter the same problem again but if I don't ask for help my symptoms will keep distressing me. I feel as if I'm damned if I do damned if I don't. I need to work up the courage to ask for help and to make them listen to me.

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If you want a slightly better chance, ask your GP to start up a Mental Health Care Plan. Usually when a mental health professional sees that, they see that your GP wants and expects something from them as a professional, and that they are rather invested in your general well-being and mental health.

This plan can allow up to 10 Medicare covered sessions per year with an allied mental health professional (psychologist, social worker, mental health occupational therapist) within the public system. 

It also "pushes" the psychiatrist that your GP refers you to, to not just refer you back to your GP with a flimsy management plan that isn't well written, and to bill your sessions with them (if you are a pensioner, not sure about if you aren't) under a Medicare item that makes the sessions free because the psych believes you need more intensive treatment than the standard once every 3-6 months. 

Totally get not really wanting to go through the effort, though. Most of the time its not worth it. And it is very much you are damned either way. 

Edited by Hopelessly Broken
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If you do see a new doctor and still get treated badly, keep looking until you find one that listens to you. There are a lot of bad doctors out there who don't really care about their patients, but there are also some good ones. It sounds like you're dealing with some rough symptoms. You deserve someone who'll actually help you

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There is really only one solution, keep looking. You are not going to change them and their demeanor toward you, you have no control of that. Do you have a doctor you like ? Ask for a referral.  That is how I find my best doctors.

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