I’ve noticed that when you compound being a woman, a minority, poor, or younger with mental illness, all credibility shoots out the window. I was hospitalized (voluntarily) a few months ago and had a small stroke. I was repeatedly dismissed by the staff and doctors as complaining because I disliked the treatment I received there. While I was very put-off by their lack of concern for my confidentiality and their opinion that I was suddenly incompetent because I was on a psych unit, I was not making up the stroke. It was not until 3 days later that the doctor finally offered me a neurology consult, but said that it would likely extend my stay on the unit by a week or more. As much as I worried about the stroke, I couldn’t bare the thought of being there any longer (my discharge had been scheduled later that day and this was my exit meeting with the psychiatrist). Luckily, I have not had a repeat event. It’s sickening that you are automatically considered attention-seeking and malingering if you report any health concerns as a mental health patient. It wasn’t the first time my concerns were dismissed, not will it be the last I’m sure.
Juliann Garey writes in NYT Sunday Review of her experience of her experience of being discriminated against by doctors after receiving a diagnosis of serious mental illness.
Doctors do this – some recognise it and some use a fancy name for it “diagnostic overshadowing”. If you have a diagnosis you likely have been on the receiving end of it and you’ll know it doesn’t feel like “overshadowing” -whatever that would feel like.
What it does feel like is being disregarded as a person and treated as less than human. If it were directed at any other group of people it would be illegal.
Essentially, once we’ve been put in a diagnostic box then everything we do, everything we experience, everything we think, or say, or feel, is taken as evidence of that diagnosis, registered not as important information but as another tick in the box against the list of symptoms, confirming the…
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