Thursday, February 5, 2009

Sick, Dirty and Mean

Once again, I’m apologizing for not blogging on a regular basis. I’d like to say it was because life was tossing me a few lemons and I was busy testing lemonade recipes, but it isn’t quite as simple as that.

The Rock Chick had a BAD 2008. I know a lot of people who did. It seemed contagious. I was hoping that the calendar change would make a difference and it didn’t, so, I’m thinking a rant is in order. Since I am not independently wealthy and can not retreat into the hermitlike status I know I would be comfy in, there are some changes that must happen if The Rock Chick is going to be forced to maintain contact with human civilization. It’s only fair, people.

I have HAD it with most of the people I’ve been encountering in the mental health community while trying to receive treatment for my daughter who suffers from Bipolar Disorder, Anorexia Nervosa with Purging and Self-Injury problems.

First, I can’t tell you how many of these “professionals” I have encountered that should immediately have Clinton and Stacy from TLC’s What Not To Wear come ambush them and cart them off for a more appropriate wardrobe and maybe even, oh I don’t know, a bath.

The night before last, I had to take my daughter to the ER to have her admitted to the hospital and, we were greeted by a psychologist, who was just.... filthy. Slimy and dandruffed hair, bloated, cracked and disgusting looking feet and toenails stuffed into some kind of sandal (ummm, hello, it’s below zero outside) and some loose hanging clothing that I think even the stoned beatniks of the ‘60’s would have refused to don.

And, (I know I’m going to get in trouble here, but let me finish first), morbidly obese. So heavy that she could not even sit down without hiking up her skirt and spreading her legs as far as they would go before she tipped herself over backwards into a chair.

I’m sorry, but when I see someone so blatantly unconcerned about their own health, safety and even basic hygiene, how am I supposed to be even remotely comfortable about having them treat my child, who, (let’s be real here), I am admitting to the psychiatric unit for treatment of the same?

This is unacceptable and if it were just a single incident, I wouldn’t be ranting about it as crudely as I am. I can’t tell you the amount of mental health professionals we have encountered in the last two years that appear like they are in need of one much more urgently than my teenager.

To top it all off, the woman wasn’t even pleasant. She seemed pissed off to even have to deal with anyone’s problems. I had brought my daughter to the ER because her purging was completely out of control. Purging is extremely dangerous. Heart failure can easily result from a loss of vital minerals and nutrition or electrolyte imbalance.

After talking to my daughter, she informed me that she didn’t believe my daughter was suicidal at that moment and was not going to qualify for an admission to the unit. I said I disagreed, but would bring her back home and just not let her out of my sight and find another place to treat her. What was I going to do? She just said they wouldn’t freakin’ admit her.

And she said.......and I quote.....

“Your choice. If her purging and the fact she could drop dead at any given time doesn’t bother you, go ahead and take her home.”

Doesn’t bother me? Excuse me, what-the-fuck did I just tell you I brought her in here for? The woman received what I like to call InstaCatboot. I don’t even think she knew what hit her, but I think she got the idea after I offered to wheel her up to the unit because I think she’s on the wrong side of the door.

Which leads me to my third rant of this series...why the heck is it automatically assumed that because a child has a mental illness, the parents did something to them or are falling down drunks or complete incompetent morons or something? WTF?

I can not even tell you how many times I’ve been asked about the number of drinks I have per day. My answer, as always: none.

I always get the eyebrow. None? You never drink? Did you have an alcohol problem at one time?

Ummmmm noooooo, I have a Bipolar teenager and three other extremely active and athletic teenagers to care for 24 hours a day. I don’t have the luxury of kicking back a few cocktails, because Lord only knows what could happen at any given time. Perhaps when they are out of the house and on their own, I’ll consider tequila shooters now and again, but right now, it’s just not a possibility.

Mrs. Rock Chick, do you own a handgun???

My answer: My husband is a police officer and he has his duty weapons.

Eyebrow up. You lock them up, don’t you Mrs. Rock Chick?

Arrrrrrgh!!!!! Of course we freaking lock them! We have not only my four children, but umpteen others in the house all the time. What do you think? My husband just tosses his duty weapon any old place and we just hope to God that nobody, including a bad guy who might burglarize our home, gets a hold of it?

I know they have to ask, but I could do without the eyebrows and the second guessing of my answers. I understand that they probably do deal with a lot of shitty parents, but that certainly doesn’t mean they all are.

And finally...because this is already longer than I expected it to therapy and these freaking mandatory support groups for the parents.

When I say I have no interest in going to a “Bipolar Mom” support group, I get the eyebrow. I don’t need outside support from strangers, I have a fabulous husband and an extended family that would help with anything at any time of day.

And then there’s the “family therapy” to work out the supposed anger issues I have toward my Bipolar teen. Believe me, we’ve been to a lot of family therapy and I’m still not seeing what we’re supposed to be angry about. When I ask, they look at me like I’m a doorknob or something.

Your daughter injures herself, you aren’t angry at her for that?

Ummmm, seriously, I’m not and I think if I were, I'd be getting help for myself. My daughter is ill and what she does are symptoms of her illness. Do moms get pissed when their child has the flu and they get a fever? If their child has strep throat, do they get irritated because it’s painful to swallow? Why on earth would I be angry at her for having a symptom of an illness? I guess somehow this is supposed to be different, but it isn’t.

What I am angry with is what appears to be a complete lack of help out there for children and their families who are having to deal with things like this. It seems even a lot of the professionals have trouble getting past the stigmas associated with mental illness. The way the families are treated, kept in the dark, dismissed as losers, talked to like they are idiots and having no choice but to deal with people who obviously have serious issues of their own is....despicable.

And, there doesn’t seem to be a support group for that.

The Rock Chick is feeling like she needs to put her Catboots to good use and find a way to change this. I don’t know how yet, but there has to be a way.


Anonymous said...

Oh, my Dear. If I lived closer to you I would put on my own catboots and kick some ass with you!
My husband suffers from serious clinical depression. It's often "controlled" but it never entirely goes away. His experience with professionals may not have been as bad as yours, but there have been some doozies - like the time he went to see his therapist for a routine visit and ended up getting slapped in the psych ward under a suicide watch because of a casual comment he'd made during his doctor's visit. He it was one of the most horrifying experiences of his life (I was not able to visit him). He had to make all kinds of promises to his doctor the next morning just to be allowed to leave.

Sorry...didn't mean to hijack your post, but I am simply amazed that so many people who are supposedly there to help end up doing just the opposite.

I never felt like I needed therapy to deal with his depression, especially once I came to terms with the fact that it's not my fault, and nothing I can say is going to make him "feel better."

Sending many, many positive thoughts your way, RC.

Jenny McB said...

Not that this would help you situation right now. I would write a letter to the state medical board and to the CEO of your local hospital detailing your recent experience in the ER. Hospitals will claim to be altruistic, but they are also a business interested in making money. B/c of insurance reimbursements, there aren't as many mental health care providers as there should be.

We did the family mediation one time and it was the biggest waste of my time ever. There are good people out there, I hope that you find someone soon.

This Eclectic Life said...

I'm with Jenny on this one. Hang in there, my friend.

Dustin said...

You know, when I was a freshman in high school, I was convinced that I would one day become some kind of child psychologist/therapist. Sometimes I still wish I had chosen that route, especially when I hear stories from people like you who have negative experience after negative experience. It's just not right that it's so hard to find GOOD help!