My Doctor Treats Me Different – Mental Health Stigma

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For the first time since my diagnosis in 1996 I’ve felt that I’ve been treated completely differently because of my mental illness. Perhaps it was because I mostly stable for so long and my few people have ever seen me have an episode, but this came from my doctor.

Since we moved to Tucson 8 months ago I had to get a new PCP (Primary Care Physician), I initially wasn’t sure about her, she seemed a little too friendly, and one of the first things she said was that she wouldn’t write a prescription for diazipam. (I didn’t ask, I’d get that from my ENT anyway), but I gave her a chance. I admit I went in there not expecting much so I felt that’s what I got. The second visit was much better. Every time I’ve seen her she hugged me, until I told her about my mixed mania episode. Now things are different.

I saw her on Friday for back pain. I felt like she dismissed things I said. I tried to talk about the back pain and she asked what I wanted to do about it. I said, “fix it”. “How do you want to do that?” I jokingly said, “I want you to fix it.” and I laughted. She said, “I can’t do that”, in a very abrupt way. She immediately said she would refer me to PT. I tried to say that I wasn’t sure it was muscular, I was concerned it may be arthritis. “No. You need PT”. She normally talks well so I can understand and is friendly, on Friday I had to turn my cochlear implants DOWN because she was so LOUD. She didn’t even want to look at my back, when I said where it was, she said she thought it was my lower back….”well bitch if you had asked you’d know!”, I thought to myself. She touched me and said, “I expected it to be tighter”, in a much lower voice to my husband. I tried to tell her that it feels different, but she dismissed me. I needed to go to PT. Fine, I’ll go to PT and I’ll find a new PCP! (you’d think she thought I was seeking drugs but I’m allergic to opioids, and she knows that, so WTF? I just wanted a discussion and maybe an xray)

I may have made the grave mistake of telling her about my episode, but when my drug list started to change, that would be a pretty obvious clue things were changing. I also mentioned I had back pain as a side effect from akathesia due to a side effect form Latuda 2 years prior, I should not have said that…..WAIT!……………

What am I saying?? I should have been able to say all of that!! My general doctor should be able to be aware of my mental health issues and not start treating me like I’m not able to think for myself.

I will be firing her soon and I will make sure that she and the office know why I am doing so. This is crazy, I’m not!


13 thoughts on “My Doctor Treats Me Different – Mental Health Stigma

  1. Fired!! This infuriates me!! What is it about some doctors? Part of it comes from, I think, so much hype about pain medicines. Just because a patient has pain does not mean they are seeking pain meds, but I think there is an assumption out there that patients, especially with mental health histories or current issues, for that matter, are seeking meds to cure their issues. I know you well enough to know that would not be a Wendy way. You seek alternatives all of the time and practice what you learn to do. One of my joint doctor’s blurted to me that he couldn’t give me pain meds for my knee pain. I was not asking for meds, I was asking for guidance and would have been fine with PT or whatever alternative there was to medicine. Funny this is that after I made it clear to him, he then, after a more thorough assessment, determined that I did need the meds temporarily. That was quite some time ago and I still have leftover meds. And, knowing you, I believe that you are in a similar situation. I don’t know if meds would help or injections or PT, but the doctor should have taken the time to get to know your needs or referred you to a back doctor or something along that line. My back pain was healed with injections. I’m not saying it’s 100% perfect, but I can move more than I did beforehand and I accept that as a win. I would definitely shop around. Keeping you in my utmost thoughts. xo

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I just wanted an xray. Some discussion. Anything.
      And she knows I’m allergic to opioids, so where is her brain at?
      I just put a blurb in the post about that, I felt that way too, so WTF?
      Thank you my dear. I know you get it.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. This is ridiculous. Mental health is part of your overall health. As your PCP, she is the foundation and needs to know about all aspects of your health. G’s doctor and clinic is connected with one of the universities and they are great at keeping each the other doctors and nurses informed through computers and communication.

    Is your doctor in a clinic with others or by herself? Letting them know is so needed because so many people don’t want to say why they are leaving. If she’s by herself, maybe let the state medical association know too. Doctors have to attend courses throughout the year so that they can keep practising. Maybe, if enough people complain, she can take or retake a course on listening to patients.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I know right?
      This doctor is in a smaller practice.
      I havent been impressed with the system connected with the university here….that neurologist is there, and he is fired too.
      The only thing this PCP seems to do is place referrals.
      So much is happening here that stresses me. My BP is rising, it’s always been low before.
      I have a good therapist now, I’m going to ask her is she can reccomend someone.
      xoxo love ya

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Hard to ‘like’ this post. Just confirming I read it. WHo’s afraid of mental health issues? Doctors!!! They are afraid of chronic pain patients too. Many are afraid of hard cases. My doctor told me that. Not my opinion, the truth! In the meantime though… just who the hell are we suppose to trust??? Who do we see for health care? Keep looking… sorry this happened. Glad Stuart was with you.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes!! How do I find doctors I can trust?
      I’m not happy with the migraine dr. So I’m going to see a new one. I’m getting a second opinion on my psych meds.
      Now this! I dont have time for this crap.
      Sometimes Stuart is too nice, but he’s learning. We had Duke in NC, it’s a whole new world here. 😶

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I wish I had answers for you… a USA list of good docs is what we need. Even then, the good ones don’t take on new patients. One thing I eventually say when seeing a new doc is, “I don’t need you to fix me, I want your help with managing it [whatever the issue is].” Seems to work, most of the time. I never say this right way, I let them get warmed up, into their regular mumbo jumbo… you need a stress test, lets try Neurontin, you need to excercise… then, BAM! I spring it on them. “Just help me manage it.” I have seen doctors relieved and I have seen doctors (usually specialists) get pissed off after I say this. Proceed with caution! Thinking of you , Wen!

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Implicit bias. Meta-analysis: Thirty five peer-reviewed articles found evidence of implicit bias in healthcare professionals; all the studies that investigated correlations found a significant positive relationship between the level of implicit bias and lower quality of care. This applies to race, gender, religion, and mental illness.

    Most of them aren’t even aware of it, though it has to be on a conscious level in some of the more flagrantly dismissive and assholish doctors. Calling them out on it, with the help of someone to back you (because we’re nuts, why should anyone listen to us?), might be the first step.

    Things changed drastically for me after diagnosis, just going from MDD to Bipolar, yet I’m still the same person I’ve always been, perhaps with a little more piss and vinegar. I avoided mental health care for years prior because I intuitively knew where it would lead. It wasn’t until ‘opening up’ and being honest about the mental aspects of my disease did my allowance to participate in my own healthcare go down the tubes. A depressed person is still seen as credible because who isn’t depressed in this day and age? But add a “bipolar” in front of “depression” and thhhpffft.

    People with more “severe” mental illnesses (TRD, BD, and schizophrenia) are known to self-stigmatize, which over time decreases functioning due to an unwillingness to seek treatment out of fear, increases disability and makes things much worse overall. In a way, people like me perpetuate the stigma. It’s an endless cycle. There’s a reason this happens; we KNOW what will happen when we disclose this information to certain individuals. Self-fulfilling prophecy? Or acknowledgment that a majority of humans, even doctors, are closed-minded prats. It’s anyone’s guess.


  5. No, you’re not crazy and you should be able to say all of those you deserved far better treatment from her that time than what you got. I’d like to try to give instances like this the benefit of the doubt if it’s a one off, like did she have a bad day, was something crap going on in her life, etc? If it’s down to treating YOU differently, that is NOT on, highly unprofessional to say the least. It’s sad but true that mental health can affect how the medical profession views, speaks and treats us. I’ve had it too, and the consequences can be dire, not just to the patient who feels awful being treated that way, but also because it stops you getting the diagnosis/care/treatment you need when they fob you off like that. I’m so sorry, Wendy, I can imagine how frustrated and crappy you must feel after your appointment 😦
    Caz xxx


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