I wanted to share a personal experience I recently had. After determining about two weeks ago that my life was filled with uncontrollable feelings of misery I decided to take my own life. I didn’t tell anyone, nor did I cry out for help. I was found on the floor of my office after ingesting a 90 day supply of sleeping pills. I was rushed to the hospital, my stomach pumped, medicated and subsequently put on the psych floor this past week. I’m writing from my laptop right now.
The first night I was on the psych floor we had a group session. I was still weak and occasionally vomiting from ingesting the pills but my therapist seemed to think it important that I attend, although I told them I was agnostic/atheist when I was admitted to the floor. A preacher came in and sat with a group of about 15 of us asking us to pray for peace and was generally trying to promote feelings of good will among the group. I had only been on the floor for a handful of hours but I already knew sitting amongst me were mentally ill people who claimed that the creator himself spoke with them. It suddenly occurred to me that the preacher was making the same claim as everyone sitting around me… but at least he was getting paid.
The hospital staff and therapists are always asking us if we feel safe, if we feel like we can talk with them about anything concerning us no matter what the topic. I felt an overwhelming sense of concern for myself and my fellow patients on the floor so I asked my therapist for a minute to talk and he sat down. I asked him straight out if it was a good idea for doctors who rely on empirical evidence to make diagnosis and judgments concerning the treatment of their patients, many of whom were convinced they were in touch with invisible beings, to be preached to and have their beliefs ramified by a person of the cloth who claimed to be in touch with those same invisible beings.
Please keep in mind right now that if I had said, “I think Kermit the Frog is my brother” or “Aliens have poisoned the soda cans in the kitchen” I could have carried on a conversation with my therapist for hours and hours. My therapist looked me in the eye and said, “You might want to think about the effect your questions may have on the staff of this floor before you talk about things like that. That’s a very hot button topic and a lot of the staff are deeply religious. You have no idea what other people believe and what you just said could be viewed as very offensive to a lot of people on this floor.”
He then stood up and left. I requested to be moved to a different therapist the next day. That entire exchange has left me shaken and I’ve written to the hospital administrator about this. I felt that the topic of concern wasn’t even the problem at that point, although I do see it as concerning nonetheless. What was suddenly clear to me was that there was a very real chance that even the doctors looking out for my well being could not set aside their personal beliefs about invisible people to hear my concern. I had so horribly trespassed on their personal beliefs that they might not be able to objectively treat me properly. These were not patients… these were doctors. These are people I expected to look on me with some concern for my well being but it seemed that they could not set aside their notions about their religious beliefs to address or at least hear me out on my concerns. I was avoided by at least 6 of the 10 doctors/therapists on the floor this past week.
I was diagnosed with bi-polar disorder and they finally let me have access to my laptop yesterday night. I live in a major metropolitan city, not in some backwater town. Even my father, who is a religious person, thought this was disgusting. Has anyone else on this forum run into something similar with medical professionals?
I was deeply shocked.