I had to write a post to do it!
As you can see, I have been busy, having all sorts of fascinating experiences!
The complaint below was filed with the ACLU and the Department of Justice this morning about behavior that is ethically and morally reprehensible, yet common practice. And it has to stop. Now.
(P.S. You can thank WordPress for its most recent update which took what was working perfectly fine (formatting) and made it impossible to determine where one paragraph ends and the next one begins. Sorry for the broad gaps between paragraphs!)
DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE AND ACLU
As an Advocate for and Consumer of Mental Health Care in the State of Maryland, I have long been aware of the incredible stigma and abuse we experience at all levels of society. However, this past week, I experienced a nightmare when I went in GBMC ER for an allergic reaction.
I had been to the ER on Saturday night, suffering from heat exhaustion. The previous night, Friday night, Paramedics had to pull from my car and they mistakenly thought I had enough strength to stand but I collapsed instead. That night Paramedics took me the Hopkins ER.
On Saturday night, the symptoms of heat exhaustion were still present and my psychologist recommended I go to an ER other than Hopkins and I did.
There the Attending Physician had no idea how to address the circumstances that brought to the ER (another investigation altogether, but part of the same diseased system that metes out mental health services) so he called in the Fellow to discuss my psychiatric diagnosis. That seemed to go well – at least that was my impression.
The next night, however, was when the nightmare emerged and the sadistic behavior of the staff there was clearly visible. I had a systemic allergic reaction and the top of my left hand was swollen.
I’m not gonna go into the details now, however, I will say that I was tricked and escorted without my knowledge and locked in a ward with 2 security guards present and additional nursing staff and told they wanted to evaluate me. I clearly said that was not why I returned to the ER and told them they had no right whatsoever to do this, as it was not the psychiatric diagnosis that was problem, but the allergic reaction that brought me to the ER. THEY HAD INCARCERATED ME AGAINST WILL because I had earlier challenged their treatment of those who had such diagnoses with the Attending Physician who brushed me off and told me I had nothing more than a bruise and refused to give me a thorough examination and I said then there was no reason to stay and left without discharge papers.
A friend who was with me that night returned to the ER and discussed the reason why I was there. The Attending Physician then said, I could come back and be examined by another physician. However that is not what happened.
I will forward correspondence that I wrote about that incident, first to Thomas Insel, Brian Hepburn (now retired) among others.
I have already written 2 letters and I also plan to file a complaint at the Federal level, Department of Justice, Division of Civil Rights.
This behavior and treatment must be stopped. First, a medical diagnoses of Bipolar, etc., is extremely complicated and difficult to treat. Second, we must be treated with respect and dignity, which we are not. It is the diseased social system that is problematic and dangerous. And it’s time to stop them in their tracks.
If you have any further questions, you can contact me …
Betty B Hood
Sent from my iPhone
MONDAY NIGHT LETTER
LOTS OF TYPOS. SORRY. BUT THIS PROVIDES ADDITIONAL DETAILS ABOUT SUBDAY NIGHT INCIDENT AT GBMC
But last night while sitting at starbucks drinking coffee and eating a slice of Spice cake, I absent-mindedly was scratching the top of my left hand. And when I glanced at it, it was swollen. Really didn’t look good. And Ken, an Epidemiologist, said, let’s go to the ER. NOW. And we did. What followed was heinous in terms of outright hatred of people with psychiatric diagnoses.
Because I found the Nurse Practitioner lacking, I requested to see a doctor. The first thing the NP had said to me: I see your Bipolar symptoms are exacerbated. And I looked at her and said: What? Where did tryouts come up with that? And she said: It’s in your chart. Really? I said. Because I don’t recall any mention of that yesterday. So anyway, the gruff physician was inconvenienced because I had requested to see an actual MD. Imagine that. Going to the ER. And requesting that.
I immediately addressed the lack of communication between staff and between staff and patients. And I told him I found it highly offensive that I had come there for a systemic reaction, and the first thing she addressed was an exacerbation of my Bipolar symptoms. Ken had been there when she said, and in no uncertain terms had told her what I had said: That had not been what had happened.
The doctor said to me I am not going to waste my time discussing this (Ken was not in the room at the time when I saw the doctor) and I told the physician, nor did I want to waste my time as my time was valuable. He became increasingly hostile, and glanced at my hand, which was still swollen after they had given me 50 mgs of Benadryl, but now was also Black and Blue.
He said to me: Do you know where you are?
Yes! I said. In the ER! I have had some sort of reaction.
He glanced at my hand and said that’s a superficial bruise.
No it’s not, I said. That’s why I’m here! My friend is an Epidemiologist, and he considered it serious enough that we check it out.
Well I can’t do anything for you, he said.
Well, I guess it’s not to leave then.
Go ahead, he said.
So I did.
Ken had been trying to figure out where to put the key to start the Smart, so he could move it, because we had just parked it by the ER entrance. And I told him what had happened. He asked if I wanted him to go talk to the doctor and I wavered and finally said, ok.
He comes out 10 minutes later and the doctor, he said, was willing to give me another go at it, see another doctor, and Ken asked me if I wanted to do that, and again, I wavered, and finally said ok.
So we go back in and the nurse comes and gets me, and they take me to opposite wing, and she tells Ken to sit on a stool in, and she takes me through a glass door and I knew immediately something was not right, because I see a Security guard there, standing by a door to a room that was completely isolated, and another guard to my left. And I said to them, Wait a minute. What’s going on here? I came back to see a physician because of an allergic reaction and I see an isolation room here. And the fake nurse said to me: you will. We just want you to be evaluated first. And I said absolutely not. I turned and saw Ken on the other side of the door and knocked on the window and she told me not to do that. I tried to open the door and she said, you can’t do that. It’s locked. I demanded they unlock the door and they insisted that I be evaluated first. And again, I said, Absolutely not. The only reason I came back here was to get my hand examined because of an allergic reaction. And I want to leave now.
They unlocked the door and we were escorted to the exit, and she began rattling the usual crap about safety, and asked him if he thought I was safe. And he said, Yesterday, the issue didn’t come up. But today it’s an issue? Of course she’s safe.
If he had not been there, I know my civil liberties would have been violated and they would probably have restrained against my will. Admitted me, etc.
Ken was appalled that the MD had lied to him. And he’s a very quiet guy, soft spoken.
There are tiny details that illustrate the incongruous path of the visit and its development. But essentially they were trying to punish because I had challenged them.
Morally outrageous behavior. Ken said, This is a Nazi operation. And he’s right.
And this is what I sent to the “Spiritual Support.” I was wandering around the GBMC site and decided this was the best audience for the Complaint. Thus they can deal with the Spiritual Consequences of their Behavior!
Subject: Re: Spiritual Experience of ER Drpartment
This letter is for you.
Well, well, well. How interesting that you are joined by Sheppard Pratt in your care of people. Had no idea. However, read the following, multiply that exponentially, and you may reach some insight into the experience I had this past weekend, both on Saturday, and especially on Sunday, when I had a systemic allergic reaction that brought me to the ER – and you may get a glimpse of the sadistic treatment those who have psychiatric diagnoses regularly experience by grossly uninformed staff from top to bottom.
Luckily, I was accompanied by a friend, Kenneth R Berger, who just happens to be an Epidemiologist and who witnessed my civil rights violated in the crudest and most unethical manner, principally because I have a psychiatric diagnosis, which was twisted in such a manner that I was placed in a locked room for evaluation, following a challenge I made to staff there about their treatment of those who have a psychiatric diagnosis – especially, the physician whom I challenged and who through deception and lies invited me (after my friend had intervened) to be seen by another physician regarding an allergic reaction. That’s when they locked me up.
I will definitely contact the Department of Justice regarding civil rights violations that took place there this past weekend.
The people employed by your institution do not belong in positions where they can use their authority to denigrate and dehumanize others and with a vengeance and who consider it perfectly acceptable, though highly unethical, to discriminate against those who have a serious medical condition and to use that condition as a basis for revenge when their authority is challenged.
But since you are partnered with Sheppard Pratt, you should have no problem gleaning the infestation of the medical community with bias and cruelty toward those who do not deserve to be treated in such a manner and who should like any other patient be treated with Dignity.
This system needs to be purged. Immediately. It is a dangerous path to follow – for everybody.
Betty Barkas Hood
Sent from my iPhone
On Jul 22, 2015, at 2:48 PM,
Accidents! Hahaha. Have no idea how it happened, but this piece posted – just the title! So here I am. Back and ready for take-off.
Forget Silver Linings Playbook. I know people raved about that film, but it didn’t do much for me. The depiction of two people, both with a diagnosed psychiatric disorder, their romance, the happy ending, left a superficial taste in my mouth. It was a fairy tale. I suppose it helped bring Mental Illness into the spotlight, but through rose-colored lenses. The happy ending was especially annoying because we know when we have such diseases seldom are the endings happy. Rather, we are caught up in a storm that ruins relationships with spouses, lovers and children and friends and co-workers (If we have any). The scars are permanent on all of those involved. And the biggest challenge is the daily search for equilibrium and minimizing the wounds of the psyche.
So Silver Linings Playbook, for me, at least, was comparable to daytime soap operas – the sanitized version of “life,” which is nothing more than an escape route into sentimentality, presenting perfectly painted faces – no scars, no stained teeth, because who wants to go to a movie and see that, anyway?
Actually, I do.
Films such as Trainspotting, for example, which I can only revisit once every 3 years because of the intensity of the subject depicted there – despite its cinematic brilliance and writing, its balance between the tragic and scatalogical humor, the incredible acting – especially appeal to me.
But then we come across a film like The Aviator, which although now more than 10 years old, more closely approximates the struggle, confusion, and eccentricities of an actual person who clearly is not normal, but this, in no way compromises, the gifts of such a person. And which, if it had occurred in the present climate of psychiatry, the essential spirit of that person would be suppressed until that spark could no longer be expressed because they would be heavily medicated and perhaps even institutionalized indefinitely.
The are the Visionaries – right? Those whose contributions often lead to dramatic and revolutionary breakthroughs, despite their Mental Illness, in any field imaginable, or more precisely … That not yet imagined by anyone else …
They are the fighters, the determined ones who keep going despite adversity, to reach for and make tangible what is intangible. The ones who never abandon or betray their visions.
The Aviator is all about that. And Leonardo, one of the finest actors around, never fails to deliver an exceptional performance.
So if you are interested in a more honest portrayal of Mental Illness, I’d put my money on this film, and not Silver Linings Playbook, any day.
Go there and come out stark raving mad?
Sheppard Pratt Asylum Is designed as a Critical CARE Psychiatric Stabilization facility for those who struggle with medical conditions such as Bipolar Disorder (like myself) or any other psychiatric “diagnosis.” It has an impressive and illustrious history as an innovative facility when it was first conceived and built in the mid-19th century – a refuge, with its concentration on humane treatment.
However, reputation, to be sustained, must demonstrate consistency of those values and principles, rather than regression from them.
Undoubtedly, Sheppard and Pratt are totally turning in their graves.
The isolation we feel exhaustively, all by ourselves, ripens there.
So there are parallels to the real world. Severe Depression, which is just a hop, skip and jump away from Death, actually spikes exponentially there.
The Human Spirit is crushed, until we finally, breath by breath, disappear. This, my friend, is where you go to watch yourself become one of The Invisibles.
Now when you are on the outside, you have some wiggle room. You may choose to remove yourself from the Kingdom of Ignorance, if only for a breath of fresh air, and focus on the brightness of the Human Spirit.
We have choices.
Smell the fragrance of a lovely flower.
Listen to music.
There we have no choices. We are at the mercy of Stupidity, Ignorance and Fools, and we have nowhere to go, locked between two nightmares.
There is this clearly defined and unshakeable and raw feeling that they do not care.
Then again, if you wanna but haven’t yet experienced depersonalization, it’s available there. Think of it as a lean, introductory course on the subject. And since I am naturally an optimist, I feel compelled to plug the positive spin here.
First, your empathy and understanding have grown for those who do experience such devastating psychological symptoms.
This accidental slip, for example, allows you to drift into unknown territory altogether, as you wonder if you really did, in fact, erase your memory of an entire day of your existence, because someone is insisting you did – when you didn’t.
Luckily, there are other patients there who know that you didn’t – just as you had thought. And they are now your salvation.
But this additional drop of uncertainty and confusion has now bloomed in your head.
Shit happens, right?
Be forewarned, however, any heroic attempt to battle the trolls and the slugs just makes you crazier. Totally not worth it.
They follow whatever code they’ve culled and pinned to you from the Diagnostic Statistic Manual, and we all know how that keeps expanding with each new edition.
But that’s exactly when the epiphany occurs …
I had never truly understood what I Am Not My Diagnosis meant until I realized that that is all you are there – a code.
Hey! Look at me. I’m still here.
Sadly, they do not hear or see you. You have disappeared.
So when the object of hospitalization is to support and help you shed the nasty symptoms of Depression, and instead you are fighting to be seen and heard – those are the exact type of challenges we do not need.
The salt on the wound is the absolute isolation from the actual world. This is the abyss. Isolation is not good. They keep preaching that. And then that’s exactly what they do.
So what do you do?
Well, trying to pry open their eyes is futile. They get really, really pissed at you. And that makes them more sinister and deadly, while they sharpen their ignorance from unbelievable heights, as you are fighting for your sanity …
You are too fucking busy to be worrying about Suicide. So in that sense they have met their goal. You have shifted from suicidal ideation to absolute self-preservation. Plus, Existentialism is the only dish on the menu.
Reminds me of a poem by Stevie Smith. An attempt to communicate with those on shore, while being swallowed by the sea …
“Not waving. But drowning.”
Won’t be long before artists become yet another diagnostic pickle for the next Diagnostic Statistical Manual (DSM). Apparently, Psychiatry has been feeding on Art for some time, which is hardly a surprise,
But still …
I recently learned that when an artist focuses on a certain physical feature(s) this is no longer merely Art, but yet another diagnosis (DIssociative Identity something) through which Psychiatry de-humanizes the Creative Spirit into mere Pathology.
Thus, as a writer and an artist, I feel compelled to help provide a palatable title for this diagnosis, and encourage the committee which sits around, thinking up ways to crush the Human Spirit until there is none left – Van Gogh Syndrome – for surely Van Gogh would more than meet the criteria essential to keep psychobabble alive and kicking!
I also humbly submit a few pieces to illustrate this pathology.