“I don’t feel comfortable treating you.”

Image: Clipart family standing near a stethoscope.

Today I had an appointment with a potential family doctor. My midwife and psychiatrist encouraged me to get on as I am pregnant and will also need one for my child’s healthcare. Cool, no problem! I found a doctor accepting new patients at the health clinic just around the corner! What luck!

I was called into his office and he asked me why I wanted a family doctor. I told him that I didn’t have a family doctor and my midwife and psychiatrist were encouraging me to get one due to my pregnancy and the need for my child to have a doctor to go to. He then proceeded to ask me questions about my psychiatrist, where do I see them, why do I see them, what my diagnoses are, if I am or have ever been on psych drugs and if I knew where I could get those health records from over the years. I answered the questions without hesitation. My mental health care is a part of my overall health care history so I assumed he was just starting there and we would get to physical health later, that is really why I was there after all. I told him that I see a psychiatrist through a program at a local hospital to ensure preventive steps are taken against post-partum depression. I said that my most recent diagnoses are major depression and generalized anxiety and that over the years I have been on a variety of drugs and am not on them now. After less than 10 minutes he explained to me that he does not feel comfortable treating my mental health issues and recommended I go to a community health centre in the area (but further away) so I can have a holistic approach to my health care. He explained that it is just him in his practice and anyone he would potentially refer me to in regards to my mental health would possibly cost money.  He also said that there would probably be a wait list but since I’m not due until September I shouldn’t have a problem. He wrote down the name of the community health centre (it’s one I already know) and thanked me for coming in.

I sat there smiling, saying ok, being understanding and it wasn’t until I got to the elevator that it hit me, “Wait…did he just reject me because I’m crazy?”

Image: Health care form with a denied stamp on it.

I do know that doctors, therapists etc. can refuse to treat patients if they feel they are not competent. I respect and understand that. This interaction though just does not sit well with me.

  1. He never asked me about my physical health needs.
  2. He only gave me 10 minutes of his time.
  3. He gave me no choice in having him as my doctor as demonstrated by assuming that I would not like his referrals that require payment and telling me I should have a team of healthcare providers.
  4. He made quick assumptions about the type of patient I would be due to my mental health status.
  5. He dismissed the fact that I have my mental health taken care of and therefore do not need him to do that.
  6. Does this mean that none of his patients have mental health issues? If not then this trend is alarming and if some do then why am I excluded?

The College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario says that will not discriminate based on the any of the protected grounds as stated in the Human Rights Code. This includes disability which includes mental illness. The College’s policy on accepting new patients says,

“It is not appropriate for physicians to screen potential patients because it can compromise public trust in the profession, especially at a time when access to care is a concern. Screening may also result in discriminatory actions against potential patients.”

Was I not screened? I think I may have been. That policy also states,

“While physicians should accept or refuse new patients on a first-come, first-served basis, clinical competence[5] and scope of practice[6] are permissible grounds for limiting patient entry into a practice.

Some physicians’ practices are focused on treating certain groups of individuals, such as female or geriatric patients. Where the focus is legitimately based on clinical competence and a clearly defined scope of practice, this would, in most cases, be an acceptable reason for refusing to accept a potential patient. Refusal on this basis likely would not infringe the Human Rights Code.

Decisions to accept or refuse new patients must be made in good faith. Clinical competence and scope of practice must not be used as a means of unfairly refusing patients with complex health care needs or patients who are perceived to be otherwise “difficult.”

Clinical competence and scope of practice must be communicated to all individuals who inquire about becoming new patients. This will help determine if it is appropriate for them to make an appointment.”

Now, GP stands for General Practitioner. General meaning, not something specific. I had no reason to think that I would not be walking out with a GP for myself as I was not told at any point before arriving at my appointment that this doctor did not treat patients with mental health issues.

It is being suggested to me that I file a complaint. I am looking into it.

Self-harm scars? No alcohol for you!

Have you heard about this?

21-year old, Becci Wain, was at Tesco, buying alcohol for a friend’s birthday party, when the cashier refused to sell her the alcohol because of her self harm scars. According to this cashier it was the company’s policy to not serve people with scars. (WHAT?!) The instance was quickly cleared up since Tesco has no such policy and apologies have been made and accepted.

Check out the Independent article Wain wrote about her experience: “When Tesco refused to serve me because of my self-harm scars, I was devastated – but it’s society’s fault, not theirs”

This is one of my worst fears. Other articles show Wain’s scars and I can admit that in comparison no one would notice my scars unless they were directly looking closely at my arm so the odds of someone blatantly pointing them out are extremely small. Still, the fear is there. I am amazed at Wain’s attitude toward what happened, that she can acknowledge how painful it was and that it will not hold her back!

I do lay blame on the cashier though. We need to be held responsible for what we do and say. I feel, when we say these discriminatory things happen because of “stigma” or “society” we are removing ourselves from the problem. We can’t do that. We are society and we are stigma. In order to change the stigma and society we need to change ourselves. We do that by taking responsbility for our discriminatory thoughts and actions. It is our responsibility to unlearn discrimination.

Suicide is not funny.

A few days ago I saw the same article as many others on social media. Amazon, a popular online shopping website, was selling t-shirts that joke about suicide. I joke about suicide, as a suicide attempt survivor and as someone who jokes to make it hurt less. My jokes are not for everyone and I tend to reserve them for my friends with mental health issues who have a similar dark sense of mental health humour. The t-shirts are being pulled after a great petition and letter writing campaign were launched.

Not all Amazon websites have gotten rid of the t-shirts, though including Amazon.ca, the Amazon I use. I did a quick search and found a t-shirt that reads “SUICIDE. Makes our lives so much easier.” I decided to leave a review. 1 star and a comment that reads

I’m a long time customer of Amazon.ca. I am also a suicide attempt survivor. I cannot imagine how horrible the lives of those who love me would have been if I had been successful. Thoughts of suicide have also made my life very difficult. There is nothing “easy” about suicide. It’s horrible. It’s killing people. I strongly suggest Amazon. ca follows what some of the other Amazon websites have done and get rid of this product.

Amazon aside, when this issue first appears on my Facebook feed via The Globe & Mail, I decided to leave a quick comment. I planned on writing something similar to what I just sent to Amazon and decided against it when I saw the 3 other comments. These commenters went on about how people are too sensitive and cannot take a joke and one claimed that people need to suck it up and accept that life is hard. The unsafe space they had created made me change my plan. I left a comment stating simply, “This is bad.” I was very upset at what the other commenters had said. Comments like those would lead me to believe that they have never known (or think they do not know) someone who has had suicidal thoughts, has attempted suicide or has completed a suicide. When you know someone who has been or is suicidal it is a little more difficult to say that the person should just suck it up and accept that life is hard. When someone has died….how can you say that? That is the discrimination faced by suicidal people.

This is a huge reminder for me that discrimination is still alive and well. Suicide is not funny. The only answer I know is to keep talking. I don’t like talking about my attempt or my thoughts and if it means that by doing so I can educate someone then I will do so, safely. I have always been so proud of the mental health blogging community here on WordPress (and other blogging sites). We make a huge difference in the lives of each other and the others out there who read our blogs. Many of you have taught me and from you feedback, many of you have learned from me. Let’s keep ourselves safe and let’s keep educating others! ❤

Image: “Suicide is not a joke. So stop making jokes. It’s not cool, nor funny.” Image of one hand placed across the other holding a piece of ripped paper that has “happiness” written on it.

Good Morning Discrimination!

Yesterday morning, I posted on a Facebook page I admin a BuzzFeed article called, “23 Things People with Borderline Personality Want You to Know.” I agree with what is written in the article such as,

1. BPD can make it incredibly difficult to regulate your emotions.

12. BPD can make it really hard to maintain relationships.

17. Some forms of therapy work better than others — it depends on the patient and the practitioner.

23. People with BPD are stronger than you know.

I love BPD humour! Image reads: I prefer to not think of myself as having BPD. I prefer to think of it as being really awesome and letting know through outbursts of emotion.

I posted my own comment along with the article on the Facebook page saying, “People with BPD need and want love. It can be difficult for people with BPD is express themselves appropriately because they are sensitive people in a very invalidating world. People with BPD can improve themselves by learning skills (such as through DBT) and by having supportive people in their life who are patient, understanding, trusting and loving.”

The post was Liked and shared and then received a comment that would be the first comment I have ever deleted off of the Facebook page.

Interesting but having lived with someone I am 100% sure was borderline I would say you need to be a freaking incredible person to pull off an intimate relationship with a borderline. I did it for 16 years and had to get out.

I toyed with responding with validation and education (“It can be difficult to be in a relationship with someone who is experiencing emotion dysregulation. Learning about their experience can help both people find a way to be together and there is nothing wrong with needing to end the relationship if it is not working.”) and eventually decided to just delete the comment. This is the first comment I have ever deleted from the page!

I deleted the comment because it is phrased in such a way that I got the impression that education wasn’t wanted. I thought that this person is more concerned with how difficult it can be to be in a relationship with someone who has BPD than how to support a BPD person and how to support themselves in that relationship. It is discriminatory and it had to go!

I have written many times on this blog about BPD discrimination (see links below) and I am fortunate that I do not frequently experience discrimination specifically related to BPD. When I do it cuts me pretty deep as much of it is meant to be mean. What bothers me with the above comment is the idea that only certain types of people can be with BPD individuals and that person must be a god to put up with us.

One of my deep rooted fears is that I am unlovable and unworthy of love. To hear that people think people with BPD cannot be in relationships or can only be in relationships with “special” people is very upsetting and also a lie. Are there some people with BPD that make relationships impossible and maybe even abusive? Yes. Are there some people with BPD who have fun and loving relationships? Yes. You know why both and everything in between can be true? Because people with BPD are like everyone else in terms of having unique personalities, values, experiences, strengths and challenges. Many of us with BPD, myself included, have been in abusive relationships and blamed for the abuse. I wouldn’t say that my abusers are “freaking incredible”.

Let me give credit though to B. He is a “freaking incredible person” BUT not for “pulling off” a relationship with me. He is incredible because he is kind, affectionate, positive, loving, caring, hard working, smart, attractive and MINE! I can only speak for myself when I say that there is no trick to being with me. There is nothing to “pull off”. I ask for respect, love, trust, understanding and support. Is this not what many ask for in their relationships?

Relationships are not easy. I  know that I am not easy. I know that B is not easy. If we want to make it work, if we are both willing to admit our faults, improve ourselves and accept each other then we can make it. BPD has nothing to do with it.

It was a morning of discrimination and hopefully, today can be an evening of education.

Related posts

BPD, Sexual Behaviour & Long-Term Relationships

Bashing Borderlines: Helping Professional Discrimination

New Diagnosis, New Discrimination

The “Science” of Evil

Don’t Stereotype My Anger

 

That time my Diva Cup got stuck

Image: Woman laying on a bed with her back to the camera. There is period blood on her pants and on the bed. Photo by Rupi Kaur.

Aside from being shamed for experiencing emotion dysregulation and intense emotions I am also shamed for having a period. Many cis women and individuals who have periods, all over the world are taught that having a period is something that should be kept a secret and many who do not experience periods, such as men, are taught it is disgusting. I have seen many articles about the horrible backlash some individuals experience when they publicly talk about their periods such as Rupi Kaur, from Brampton, Ontario who received death threats after she posted a picture on Instagram of a photo series her and her sister, Prabh, took that depict periods. I haven’t even really scratched the surface of this issue. but I want to share an example from the summer where I was told I should have kept quiet when I expressed on Facebook an issue with my period.

Image result for menstrual cup

Image: A hand holding a Diva Cup.

It was June or July of this year and to try and save money to move out I decided to finally try the Diva Cup. A Diva Cup is a silicone cup that you insert into the vagina to catch blood. I know a few individuals who use the Diva cup and they have had a good experience. I went to Shopper’s Drugmart and bought a Diva Cup. I believe I inserted it fine but when I went to take it out it took me 30 minutes and the second time, my worst fear happened… I couldn’t get the Diva Cup out. I went to Facebook and asked my Facebook Diva Cup-using-Friends if they had any tips on how to get the Diva Cup out. I received a lot of good suggestions and a conversation about vaginas, periods, and kegels unsued. I ended up having to go to a walk-in clinic to have the Diva Cup removed (I need to always remember that if something is labeled as “rare”, that it will most likely happen to me).

A day or so later I shared this experience with my co-workers, one of which uses a Diva Cup. One co-worker told me that she had seen my posts on Facebook and thought that I should remove them because employers and other potential important people could see them, find them inappropriate and potentially affect something important in my life. I do not remember what I said to her, maybe nothing, but I did start substituting “period” with other physical concerns in my head to see if they would bring about a similar response.

“If anyone has ever broken a bone before can you tell me the best way to get care for it?”

“My nose is really runny, does anyone have suggestions on how to clear it out?”

“I think I’m getting a wart on my foot. Can anyone tell me how to remove it?”

I think you get the picture. Just because my health concern involved period blood and a vagina does not mean I should not have shared about it or thought that something in my life would be at risk  because I shared it. How can I be silent about something that I experience every month, that I share with possibly billions of individuals and something that tells me my body is healthy? From my experience, people would rather hear about how I’ve tried to end my life than about my body’s potential to create life because I bleed every month.

Image: pads, tampons and panty liners laid out on a towel.

I believe the shaming over periods has to stop. There is nothing wrong with having a period and for those who do not get a period for a variety of health reasons it does not make you less than. Cis men, especially, have to stop shying away from periods. Seriously, if you have to, go stand in the “feminine hygiene” section for a bit, buy a pack of tampons or pads for your partner when they have their period, do some laundry that is stained with blood. Get over the fear. I am curious about how many will read this post versus my posts on mental health.

I am glad that there is no shame in my relationship over my period and I do admit there are some things I won’t let B see and I do feel shame around it, not the need for privacy. These are thoughts that I will continue to challenge and he will have to challenge his own as well. I encourage all of you to challenge your thoughts as well. Periods are not bad. Annoying, yes, but not bad.

P.S. I do not want to scare anyone into not trying a Diva Cup. I think it is an amazing idea and is proving to be of great use physically and financially to many individuals with periods.