The system is setup so that when you are suicidal, you are supposed to go to an ER for evaluation. There is usually one clinician who travels between the emergency rooms (ERs) of several hospitals and various jails. This person decides who gets admitted to the mental hospital and who doesn’t.
The other thing that delays your admission is the lack of beds. I often request a specific hospital rather than taking the first available, because of a service they provide or because of their reputation. This delays your admission further. Because of these reasons I am frequently in the ER overnight before being sent to my hospital.
I have found that many ER staff act as if they have a bias against the mentally ill. One gets the feeling that if you don’t have a bullet wound or a stroke, your illness is not considered real.
Here is one of the bad experiences I have had in an ER. After a difficult night at the ER, I woke up the next morning and asked the nurse for my pills. She says my ambulance is coming and there is no time to give me my pills. A hour or so later, I ask for my pills and she says, “I said that your ambulance is coming and there is no time for me to give you your meds.” I pointed out that I could have taken my meds in the past hour and she tells me there is no time for it now.
Another hour or two pass and I am beginning to go hypomanic because I haven’t had my pills. At this point I must be raging, because she says my bad attitude is no way for me to get my meds. I told her she had it backward because it was the lack of meds that made me hypomanic and rageful.
The ambulance comes and I still haven’t gotten my meds. The entire trip to the hospital, I am on the phone raging at my psychiatrist. Once admitted to my floor, I go to the med window and they don’t have my meds.
Why they don’t order your meds during admissions process I will never know. I rage at the med nurses. Before the night ended, I had raged at every staff member I have encountered.
The next day, I went around to every staff member I verbally assaulted and apologized. Luckily, of all of the hospitals I have been in for bipolar I was at the only hospital that trained the staff to see rage as a symptom rather than a personal attack. They were all gracious and said an apology wasn’t necessary, because I was sick.
This hospital was a small local hospital. McLean could learn from these folks.
©2017 Stephen L. Martin
Painting: Van Gogh Self-Portrait Vincent Van Gogh had bipolar I disorder