Guest blog from Jen Wilson.
Dear mental health professionals,
After having had met a fair few of you, I’d just like to let you know a some things. These are things that some of you will know, some definitely don’t, and some just need a gentle reminder of. Because, although I appreciate a lot of the care I have received, I would go as far as saying that substandard care is worse than no care at all – that it can do more harm than good.
So, here goes!
I am a person, not an illness, a problem or a disorder. Introduce yourself, and ask what I like to be called. Believe me, repeatedly calling me a name that I hate will not make me feel like talking to you.
I realise that there are a lot of people who require your time, and that you’re a busy and important person, but please do your very best to be on time for appointments, and to call when you say you will. I may not be as busy as you, but I am important. And being made to wait for more than 30 minutes after an appointment time starts to look like you don’t agree.
I have told my story to lots and lots of people. If you could get a copy of my notes where possible, that would really help. Sometimes I might not be able to answer your questions very well, or at all. This is not my choice, and I’m not trying to make your job more difficult. But this is my life, and some things are difficult to talk about.
When I do manage to speak, please be interested in what I have to say. I realise that you probably hear similar stories from people all day every day and so my story will not be anything new to you. But I’m the one who is experiencing it. It is new, and sometimes scary, for me. It is important.
After having lived with it for a number of years, talking to people, and reading a lot about it, I know lots of things about my illness. At times I may lack the ability to think clearly, but most of the time I’m actually pretty insightful. However, having insight into my illness does not mean I will always choose to do the things I should to stay safe and well. Because I am ill. Please don’t tell me off for doing the ‘wrong’ thing sometimes. I know it must be frustrating, but bad reactions will just make me less likely to talk to you next time.
Don’t belittle my feelings. I’ve already been hurt, and you’re supposed to be on my side. Believe me, I wouldn’t be asking for your help unless I really, really needed it. Telling me that I should be better, when I’m clearly still struggling, will make me feel even worse. A kind word will always be appreciated, and remembered. But so will a harsh one.
Treating me like a child is not a way to endear yourself to me. I am an adult. I have been independent of my parents for nearly 10 years now. They treat me like an adult – you can too. Talking to members of my family without me present without asking my permission is not ok. You may think that I should share more with them, but I have reasons for keeping things to myself, and you should respect that.
From, me x