I Recovered From My Mental Illness but Not From My Treatment
I grew up in an abusive and dysfunctional home. The abuse was hidden to some and ignored by others. I was an undiagnosed autistic which led to me being socially outcast. School was painful. I always believed that I would die before I was able to leave school, either from the pain of school or because I would be murdered by one of my family members. Church did nothing to protect us. Forget protect, they did nothing to support us. We were the problem, or more specifically, I was the problem.
I was very depressed and anxious for as far back as I can remember. I started to self-harm when I was 7 years old. I didn’t receive treatment until I was 19 years old. I remember the relief I felt when people suddenly knew I was struggling. I had survived school, well up until year 10 anyway. I hadn’t been murdered yet. Now I was able to get treatment for my mental health. I was safe now. I was in the care of medical professionals. I would be able to recover and maybe even build a life for myself. That’s what I had always believed anyway. Through those torturous years of my childhood and adolescence I had convinced myself that once I was away from home, school and church, I would be safe. That was the thought that enabled me to live through what I had lived through. How terribly, terribly wrong I was!
Throughout my “treatment” many things were said to me that should never be said to anyone, let alone someone in my condition. I was told that I had thrown away any opportunity of joining the army. “They don’t want people like you,” a nurse told me. Another nurse told me that I would be lucky to find a husband. “Who’s going to marry you with those scars?” As far as having children was concerned, “If they don’t get taken away from you, how are your scars going to make them feel? How embarrassing!” I thought that maybe over the years I had come across a few bad eggs in healthcare, I mean, it happens right? People get carer’s fatigue or there might be some things outside of their expertise, but it just continued. When I asked about ongoing treatment I was told, “You are a waste of time and resources. You are taking away time and resources from people who deserve help and can be helped.” My heart absolutely shattered at that point. I was truly alone. After all those years of abuse, the crushing reality that it was going to continue hit me and hit me hard.
Unfortunately, it didn’t stop there. My physical healthcare needs were put down to anything except physical causes. I was attention seeking or it was all in my head, part of my mental illness. Appendicitis? Depression. Hashimoto’s? Depression and anxiety. Irregular heartbeat? Anxiety. Injured in a hit and run? Lying. Seconds away from giving birth? Attention seeking. Who delivered my baby in the hospital full of doctors and midwives? I did. Alone. Apparently pregnant people with a mental illness don’t actually give birth! Who knew?!
It was after delivering my daughter all alone in the hospital that I realized I would never recover from the trauma of the medical care I had received over the years. I told myself I would never seek medical care again, regardless of the severity of the need. I would rather die at home and untreated than go to hospital and receive that kind of treatment. Of course I still encourage other people to seek medical care and advice because I don’t want others to die or be in pain, and I believe in my heart that they will be found more deserving of medical care than I would be. I believe I can recover from almost anything, but I know I would never recover from more medical treatment like that which I’ve received.
Can you relate to Amelia’s story? Let her know in the comments below.
Photo by Eddie Kopp on Unsplash