Mutual Respect

In psychiatric/psychologic treatment settings, it is inevitable to be asked several times, if not more, about one’s background history and current circumstances. I abhorred this part of treatment because there’d be such varied responses, it gets very upsetting and unnerving. But different people comprehend the same information differently, and react very differently. What entails during consultations and sessions would then differ. So i end up telling them what they want to know, but only if i am sure that they will be in my treatment team.

About 2 weeks ago, it was a splash of icy cold water on my face when i had to go through the same process AGAIN. There’s been very little change with my treatment team, and i was growing to be comfortable with them. But because doctor and i agreed that it’d be beneficial to get the opinion of another team, we went ahead with it. I was interviewed by a psychiatric registrar, and i must say it was quite an eye-opener.

It was typical- doctor asks questions, patient answers them. The registrar  (whose last name i cannot even remember because i was so mad at her) posed commonly-asked questions to me, and i replied them all with a matter-of-fact tone. Nothing unusual. But then here’s what happened. She found some of my answers funny, because it was evident that she was trying very hard to stifle her laughter. If she didn’t find it hilarious, then what was it that made her want to laugh? She made pathetic attempts to stifle her laughter, and as i watched her do so, i became very incensed.

“Could you please enlighten me as to what is so funny?” I thought silently.

Several times. She responded to my several answers with stifled laughter. I was incensed yes, but i wasn’t as reactive as i used to be. I’ve seen plenty of such unbecoming behaviour coming from doctors. This wasn’t any different. But it was the last straw when she refuted one of my replies with such blatant condescension.

So to put it very bluntly, you just don’t want to have your eating disorder treated.” She said with a face that spoke volumes.

Right. I was disgusted. She’s just like any of them.

We proceeded to finish with the consultation, and although it can be quite a relief to have the consultant present, he was not going to disapprove of his junior’s behaviour. I’ve said what they needed to know, we’ve got their opinion on my treatment, and that was that. I walked out of the room fuming, and quietly swore that i will never allow a doctor like her on my team. NO FUCKING WAY. I lamented to my psychiatrist, psychologist and even my therapist, and i think they understood my reasons for being so mad at her. My psychiatrist did ask if i wanted my care to be transferred to the other team, and i just NO. Not ever. And he was perfectly fine with it, even though it means that i am way too young for his speciality in geriatric psychiatry.

My point is that i, or for anyone else for that matter, don’t deserve to be treated with such disrespect. Be it from a doctor, a nurse, an allied health professional, or anyone else working in a  healthcare facility. I don’t think i’m being difficult or demanding. If i treat you with due respect, i think i should be treated with respect too.

I understand too well the constraints of a healthcare professional, and i am always willing to accomodate. It’s okay if they are running late, even if it’s by an hour or two. It’s okay if there is a little lesser time for sessions/consultations. It’s okay if we keep getting interrupted by their phones. I’m fine with all of that really, and i understand. It’s an inevitable part of their jobs, and sometimes it cannot be helped. In exchange, i just want to them to do their jobs, and treat me with due respect. Nevermind if empathy is lacking. Is that being demanding or being difficult? I don’t think so.

Because of my belief that there should be mutual respect, i become very annoyed when i feel like the line has been crossed. I don’t say it to their face, but i show it in my actions. I fired my first psychiatrist because she crossed the line many a time by criticising me to the point where i felt that the insults were becoming very personal. Another psychiatrist, who sat in for my psychiatrist when he was away, was very unkind and insensitive with his words and didn’t know when to stop even when i was sobbing away. When my psychiatrst had to be away again and informed me about the doctor sitting in for him, i vehemently objected to his plan. And from 5 consultations, i managed to bargain to see him only once. A dietician i saw criticised me endlessly throughout the consultation which left me so mad, i stomped out of the room screaming profanities. As for some others, i have and still will write letters to express my discontent until it gets addressed appropriately.

Yeah. Anal? Maybe. Difficult? Perhaps. It is reciprocal at the very least, and i insist to treat healthcare professionals with respect until i am being disregarded and disrespected. Fair? Fair.

I don’t like to have such things happening. But if you try to see it from the point of someone who requires long-term treatment(like for chronic conditions), it’s just a way to deal with it. That’s being kind to myself, i believe. I don’t want to always be fighting with the people who seemingly care for me, yet cause me so much grief. That’s not right, ironical even, if all of these is for the purpose of health.

Everyone on my treatment team, from my rheumy to the social worker i work with, are people whom i can trust my health and wellbeing to. I guess i am very fortunate too, that all of them are very kind and understanding.  So very heartening indeed. It makes everything so much better, really.

I may have to see the sickening registrar again coming Monday. I hope she will prove that she is otherwise, and that she deserves my respect. We’ll see.


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