Five years ago today I walked into a satellite office of the mega-hospital here in Upper Delaware and asked for help with severe Developmental Trauma from extreme Adverse Childhood Experiences. The embedded psychologist must have thought I said I wanted “hell” instead of “help,” because that’s what I got. Protracted hell! The standard treatment for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) in America nearly killed me. Yet, the system says it’s okay because it’s the standard treatment for PTSD in America.
The psychologist repeatedly blew off my concerns about the increasingly intense suicidal ideations I described, which I thought were from the Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor (SSRI) prescription, a black box medication. He did not speak with the prescribing physician, tho he had initially talked big about the “team approach” in the hospital and reiterated that he would communicate with the doctor. By the time I spoke with her, I was in Week 5 and the ideations were terrifying. The prescribing physician, a resident, listened and told me, “Do not ever take that pill again, go to the ER, and tell them your doctor wants you to have a psych evaluation.” I was terrified into obedience.
The doctor didn’t tell me that in the ER I would be separated from my clothing, belongings, phone, and contact with the outside. I had no clue that I would spend the night warehoused in a cold room with nothing but a chair and coerced into believing that “a few days” at Rockford Center for Behavioral Health would be “a gateway to services” I had not otherwise been able to access. Nor could I know that the staff at the mega-hospital’s psych ED would be so abysmally lacking in training that they would intentionally escalate an incident with another patient so they could call security, subdue, and sedate her, then look at me like I’m crazy when I said it triggered me.
The psych ER person, who convinced me to go to Rockford, assured me that it was not a Cuckoo’s Nest. But it was! At that residential facility, they deprived me of my rights, and abused, neglected, drugged, and further traumatized me. They threatened patients with commitment if they wanted to leave before their insurance benefits ran out. There was no individual counseling and the group therapy was crap. The place was riddled with cockroaches, smelled like old fryer grease, was sorely understaffed, staffed with unqualified personnel, was overcrowded, and employees were pressured to hoodwink people into coming there and bully them into staying.
This was not an isolated incident. This is the standard “care” In America’s largest mental health hospital chain, and apparently pretty much the same across the country.
I was effectively incarcerated for 8 days without medical necessity, without my rights, without actual care, only abuse, when all I needed was to get off their toxic f****** pill and go to a friend’s house for a few days. Somebody who would actually give me some care and real food and all without roaches, bullying, coercion, abuse, and drugs.
But that wouldn’t make money for CEOs and investors! So I got trapped in the Cuckoo’s Nest until my insurance ran out. By the time Universal Health Services was done exploiting me, I was in far worse shape than when I walked in the door.
Is it possible that psychology adds to the stigma by treating traumatized people like animals? Seriously, who’s going to go in for treatment like that? Who is going to go for treatment if they know that’s how they’re going to be treated? I sure wouldn’t have.
I don’t suffer from a mental illness, I suffer from the way supposed caregivers have treated me, including doctors, therapists, psychologists, and psychiatrists, some of whom have caused deep, egregious, irreversible harm. Because I have PTSD I must deserve to be treated like crap. Otherwise, why would they keep treating me like crap when I asked for help? What kind of a system is this? What kind of a culture?
The kind that sparked me to initiate #TraumaAwareAmerica