Stigma is ever present when it comes to mental health, but I feel that it needs to be addressed. It needs to be addressed over and over and over. I have never been so proud to sound like a broken record. I got into health care to break stigmas. I didn’t want patients to feel like their needs and concerns weren’t heard. I didn’t want patients to feel like they were being judged. Honest to God, I don’t judge a single patient.
I don’t judge you for having multiple partners.
I don’t judge you for being on Medicaid.
I don’t judge you because you are gay.
I don’t judge you for your addictions.
I judge people based on their character and I won’t apologize. Don’t be a shitty human. The end.
I have to say something about my experiences because I hope that it breaks the stigma of health care and mental health. I do not get up before daylight and work a 12 hour shift for the money. I don’t sit and listen to other people’s issues at some of the most vulnerable time in their lives for money. 99% of people in health care are there because they truly want to make a positive impact. We ask the same question to every single patient over the age of 12. “In the past two weeks have you been feeling down, hopeless, or depressed?”
I get so many different answers but few anger me, disgust me, and make me forget why I am in the field I am in. I want to scream at you.
It isn’t funny, don’t laugh.
It isn’t something you can jokingly say, “yes, all the time” to.
There are so many people who burst into tears as they admit that yes, yes they do feel this way. It is okay to feel this way. “I’m glad you’re here today.” That is what I say. That is what someone told me, and that is what I will say to every single person who is strong enough to say what is most certainly a hard thing to say out loud. Today, I had to out myself. I am an open book and if you ask I will tell. I don’t walk around telling people I have bipolar. I pretend. I tell half truths.
“I couldn’t sleep.” And I stayed up until 4 AM compulsively making nonsensical lists that didn’t need to be made.
“I am just not feeling it today.” I barely got out of bed and forced myself to shower after three days of not doing so.
“I’m just not talkative.” I am afraid I am going to explode on you so I am choosing silence.
Today, I did none of that. Today, I told my coworkers that I have a mental illness, I struggle to function a lot of the time, I am just like that patient you called crazy, and I am sick of hearing them talk about people I relate to so much. Your doctor’s office is a safe space. An asylum where you can be open, honest, and seek help. Shame on them, not us. Today, I was someone I do not know. I hope you know that I am honored that you trust me. I am a safe haven. I will never downplay your concerns, symptoms, or feelings. You are someone’s parent, child, sibling, best friend, or coworker. I will treat you as I want myself and those I love to be treated. Without you, I would not have a purpose or a job.
Even the assholes who choose to believe that you are immune to depression.
Please don’t be ashamed. I am at times, but never too ashamed to ask for help.
Forever your biggest advocate,
P.S. I have an appointment tomorrow with a new health care provider. Let’s hope she is one of the good ones.