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When a Doctor Told Me I Was ‘Faking’ My Mental Health Crisis

I’ve struggled with mental illness for my entire life.

Countless specialists, weekly therapist appointments and even being admitted to an outpatient women’s hospital to focus on dialectal behavioral therapy (DBT).

However, recently I finally made my first trip to the ER after going through a mental health crisis.

Protocol for this particular hospital was that all mental health emergencies are to first be admitted under the ER — and then those patients are to be transported and admitted to the psychiatric crisis center. There, they’d be evaluated by a crisis center professional and it would be determined whether not the patient would go home or be admitted and put under a psychiatrist’s care.

The staff in the emergency room were wonderful. They kept me calm and comfortable. They gave me medication to calm me down, and took my blood to rule out anything that would prohibit me from going to the psychiatric crisis center, like if I had drugs and/or alcohol in my system.

After two hours in the ER, I was finally able to be transported to the crisis center. Upon arriving, I was put into a room with nothing but two plastic chairs bolted to the ground and a heavy, roundly table. It was freezing and I had a sheet to cover me in my hospital gown. There was also a TV, which was interesting.

And there I sat. And sat. And sat. Waiting for I don’t know how long until finally, a crisis center screener came in to talk to me — or so I thought.

Before she’d even talk to me, she had me bring my dinner tray (which I didn’t end up touching) to a utility closet to throw it away myself.

She then asked me a series of basic questions: name, social, DOB and a brief overview of my medical history. She gathered the name of my therapist and left to call their office. She was cold, callus and calculated.

She then leaves to go talk to my fiancé who brought me in. She was gone for what felt like forever, and then comes back and asks me a few more questions. She also went over what she spoke to my fiancé about.

Then came what I’ll never forget.

She told me I did this for “attention.”

A woman, with a very brief medical history of me, said outright I did this for attention and had me essentially agree with that in order for me to be discharged that night.

What?!

The only thing that came from this entire experience was she made me an appointment with the therapist —which I would have done anyway.

No suicide ideation check, no asking what I was thinking or how I was. It was basically me, in a room by myself — waiting. Just waiting.

Also, a side note: I want to give a shoutout to the security guard who basically made me the most comfortable in the center by cracking jokes, asking when I was going home, giving me a thumbs up multiple times and even putting on the TV for me.

My point by sharing this story is that this is the stigma that we need to break about mental illness. That we do this for “attention.”

The feelings I felt in that moment of me being brought in and sitting in the ER and the crisis center — of almost breaking the blood pressure cuff from how nervous I was never  having been in the ER before — were real.

Those feelings and thoughts of hopelessness and fright and everything in between…these were real and nobody has the right to take those away from me. Nobody has the right to say anyone with a mental health crisis is faking, bluffing or doing this for attention.

I’m not ashamed that I needed to go to the hospital. If anything, I think it makes me strong. However, I also think some hospitals still need to be updated and informed on how to deal with crisis patients. And we as the people struggling, have a lot of work in continuing to break the stigmas against mental illness.

To anyone struggling — you’re strong. You’re worthy. Your feelings are valid. Don’t let anyone take that away from you.

Photo by Ilyuza Mingazova via Unsplash.