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Confessions of a ‘bad patient’

October 19th, 2015

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Like 1-in 4 people reading this, I have mental health problems. Depression & Anxiety, mainly. I have been dealing with these issues by myself for a long time. Recently, I started to feel like I was really cracking up. So, I took the advice of The Samaritans & contacted my GP. She advised anti-depressants & counselling. Trying to be a ‘good patient’, I took the prescription & counselling service phone number & left.

However, when I considered it later, I couldn’t take the pills. I have been on many anti-depressants & found them ineffective, while the side-effects were often very debilitating. Besides, I believe Depression is more complex than the famous ‘chemical imbalance‘ that can only be fixed by these ‘magical’ drugs.1

I made an appointment for counselling. I met the Director of Services for a brief interview. He sat with a pen & pad, asking very personal questions for about 15 minutes. As well as giving him ‘The Story Of My life’, I spoke of my dislike of anti-depressants. I said that I believed Mental Illness was a natural response to a very sick society. I spoke of how I believed our current Austerity policies had hugely increased my anxiety.

The Director put down his pen & pad & exploded into a 10-minute rant about ‘Anti-Austerity parties’ who ‘wanted everything for free’. He said things in this country were good & ‘we’re all not going around with the arse out of our trousers’ (oblivious to the holes in the knees of my jeans). He said I should ‘forget about’ my principles & all I needed to do was have a purpose in life. All he was short of saying was ‘pull yourself together’.

I felt very vulnerable & unable to engage with his political diatribe. I also felt he was hectoring me into accepting his personal approach to life. I thought counselling was about listening to the client. I didn’t feel listened to. I felt shouted at. I thought counselling was about helping the client.  I didn’t feel helped. I felt hurt. I will not be going there for counselling.

While I know this therapist may be ‘one bad apple’, I have had to deal with many like him over the years. At the moment, I do not want anything to do with mental health services. I will have to continue to fight this on my own & with the help of Befrienders Dublin & The Samaritans.

 

 

The author of this piece wishes to remain anonymous. All views or opinions presented in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of Befrienders Dublin.

 

 

Footnotes

1.These were not just my uninformed opinions. I was once a patient of noted psychologist & author Tony Bates. He encouraged me not to think of mental illness as an individual flaw, but to look at the influence of the wider world on the individual. He pointed me at writers like David Smail, Terry Lynch and others. Reading writers like these apparently made me a ‘bad patient’, but also a ‘good citizen’ i.e. not accepting blindly what I’m told by Doctors, Psychiatrists or Politicians.