With a Little Help From My Friends; Paul Curran “The Invisibles” Part 2

While I’m off slaying dragons, some friends have come to bat for me by sharing some pretty amazing survival triumphs of their own. I am so happy and grateful to share them.

This is part 2 of a tale of an amazingly harrowing trip to save one’s sanity along with body by the beloved blog-o-sphere cheering and writing champion, Paul Curran.

If you missed part 1, you missed a LOT… go see it… “The Invisibles, Part 1”

paulcurran2015.-2

I was checked out of the hospital when the internal bleeding had been stopped, and no word on the requested psych eval – it was as if it had fallen into a black hole.

As a dialysis patient a lot of my electronic health records were stored on a server called Oasis – which was a record keeping unit for the dialysis unit. All dialysis employees, including the nursing staff, social workers, etc., had access to Oasis. So when I got back to dialysis, I went to see the social worker to request a psych eval.

She pulled up Oasis and there was the history I’d given to student doctors merely in a psych rotation a few weeks earlier. I was upset; this had only a tangential relationship with dialysis and should not be available for all that staff to view. I objected and asked to see a real psychiatrist – board certified. She told me they did not take patients. This was news to me – after all this was a hospital and they were mandated to provide care and wasn’t mental health as important as physical?

I told the social worker that I needed to talk to a psychiatrist. She hemmed and hawed and said I would have to seek help elsewhere, perhaps with private counselling. I objected and pointed out that the majority of my depression could certainly be attributed to my vast medical treatment and I expected to get help with mental health issues.

After a few weeks the social worker eventually gave in to my insistence and set up an appointment with the dialysis psychiatrist. This gentleman provided services to dialysis patients who were scheduled for a transplant. Such patients were subject to a plethora of tests to make sure they were physically and psychologically fit to receive a new kidney. He took me for a patient just to placate me – it was not his “job” to counsel new patients.

So on the day of the appointment, I decided to be completely honest and open with Dr. Brown as I felt this would be the only way to move forward.

He was very easy to talk to and I made it clear that this meeting was confidential and would not be recorded on Oasis. He agreed. He asked a lot of questions about state of mind and I admitted to drinking excessively, feeling that honesty was the only way to proceed.

He then informed me that he would have to contact the DMV and have my license suspended. I couldn’t believe my ears –  this was supposed to be confidential.

He said that he was required to report anyone who was a threat to himself or others. I was incensed and objected. I told him I only drank at home and never drank and drove.

I told him that I’d come here choosing to trust him and he had broken that trust. I told him that I could never again open up honestly to him because I no longer trusted him; that I was leaving here worse off than when I arrived and I was terminating all contact permanently. At this I left and he looked very guilty.

That was my entire experience with psychiatry. I dealt with the license suspension in a way that caused it to not be a part of the record. That was not easy or cheap and I was angry about every minute I spent worrying about it. But it was done legally and is no longer an issue.

Never again. Never will I trust a ‘professional’ with my life details; never will I seek help or ask for treatment; never will I darken the doorway of a practicing psychiatrist if I have any choice.

Should I ever need medication I will have to break this vow but not until. After 5 years of struggling, I pulled myself out of the depression one little bit at a time.

I am flabbergasted at the complete lack of any help for mental issues; in fact after serious pestering and begging I found myself in worse shape after treatment than before. I am appalled at the treatment or lack thereof offered those who ask for help with mental issues – it is meagre and niggardly and inappropriate and comes with stigma and not as needed.

It actually adds to the problem by being so poor and untimely. Our current offering in Canada to those who ask for help with mental issues is so poor as to actually create stress and a sense of separation and valuelessness.

I am an intelligent, well-educated, middle-aged Canadian with good language skills, personal awareness, former professional manager, local citizen for many decades and hospital connections (social workers, doctors, nursing and advisory and admin staff). I recognized that I was depressed (naturally from illnesses and life changes) and sought mental help to address this situation.

Imagine if someone was not familiar with the system, knew no one, spoke another language, was uncertain of Canadian culture, perhaps with reasoning abilities reduced – how could they ever get help? It is obvious that they could not get help until such time as they ran afoul of the legal system and the situation was totally out of control. At that point so much damage has been done that they would be facing serious consequences including incarceration, a criminal record, serious negative life impact including destruction of family relationships, work ability, reputation, financial ruin, etc.

As far as anyone requesting help for mental issues in Canada – my experience is that they might as well be invisible.

-Paul Curran