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Ellie 1
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Date Joined Apr 2005
Total Posts : 1291
   Posted 7/19/2007 12:14 PM (GMT -7)   
I've come to the conclusion that modern attitudes about Mental Illness haven't come much further than they had in the dark ages.
A few days ago I tore cartilledge (sp) in my knee.  Needless to say I couldn't move, couldn't drive myself home etc. and ended up in an ambulance with my knee locked.
In the ER everyone was very nice, and remained so, but as soon as the Dr saw my list of meds and asked me what they were for, while still being nice and professional, people seemed to speak more slowly and clearly.  Like I was intellectually impaired or spoke little english.  I let it go, but there was one nurse that made a comment about it being all in my head that I wanted to say something unkind to.  I didn't.  Considering they were in control of my pain meds I thought discretion might be the best option under the circumstances.
Do others have problems like this with medical professionals?  It's seems ridiculous, that we can't even be comfortable disclosing this dx to the medical community.  I don't think I would have if it hadn't been necessary for them to prescribe meds for me.  I may think twice next time.
Good judgement comes from experience and alot of that comes from bad judgement.
 
You just have to accept that some days you're the pigeon, and some days you're the statue. 
 


_Christina
Veteran Member


Date Joined Feb 2007
Total Posts : 553
   Posted 7/19/2007 2:36 PM (GMT -7)   

I have to tell you, there is still a stigma for bipolar.  Depression has gotten a little better in the public arena, but bipolor still seems to be scary to the general public.  When I was first getting diagnosed with depression (6 months ago) my employer was great about it.  She supported me getting help and taking time off to get onto my feet again.  When my diagnosis was changed (4 weeks ago) and I took more time off to get onto the meds, she wasn't even sure I should be in the job I have with a "condition like that".  She was worried that my job may be too stressfull for someone with a mental disorder.

I'm still here.

I had my own stigma for Bipolar.  I fought the diagnosis for 2 visits to my pdoc.  I would not let him prescribe the meds untill the antidepressents were driving me truly insane and I didn't care anymore.  He could have said shock therepy and I would have gone for it at the time.

My husband has Bipolar.  (Isn't that funny?  We didn't even know it when we married.)  It got him kicked out of the military on a medical discharge.  He couldn't be deployed on the meds, and if he can't be deployed, he can't be in the service.  I didn't want to have anything that could affect my medical career later like it affected his military service.

The more that people know about it and that we are regular people, and there are more people with bipolar than they think, they might just accept us.  Until then, do we tell and helpthem get used to it, or do we hide it to prevent them from thinking badly?


Christina
 
When you cannot stand, on whom do you lean?


White Tulip
New Member


Date Joined Jun 2007
Total Posts : 11
   Posted 7/19/2007 6:38 PM (GMT -7)   
Dear Ellie 1,
 
I am sorry that you encountered health care professionals who made you feel "less than" and vulnerable when you were seeking medical treatment.  Shame on them. 
 
I work in a health care setting.  I think overall, awareness about major mental illness diagnoses has improved with people, health care professionals included.  It just hasn't progressed as far as it needs to.  I think health care professionals still need to be educated.  And then there are those who are not open to being educated.  I've known some psychiatrists, psychologists and social workers who "just don't get it."  Although I am open about being bi-polar in my personal life, I am judicious in whom I tell in my work place.  Some people will treat the dx. as a vulnerability and discriminate. 
 
I think there are some people (hopefully a small percentage nono )in this world who will look for some kind of vulnerability in people and attack . . . it's not just limited to the dx. of bi-polar.  I tell myself that when I occassionally encounter someone who treats me as "less than" due to my diagnosis. 
 
Hope this is not too long . . .

White Tulip

olivia of course
Veteran Member


Date Joined Jul 2006
Total Posts : 1523
   Posted 7/19/2007 7:18 PM (GMT -7)   
White Tulip,
 
I think most people do not know much about the Bipolar illness, or don't want to know about it.  They probably think of the stereotypical image of a mad person when they think of BP.  It is probably because they don't understand it, therefore fear it.
 
That's how I feel when people just don't want to be educated.  Let me know if this is a wrong view.

~~~  Olivia  ~~~
Moderator, Bipolar

Dx:
 
Bipolar 1,  PTSD,  Anxiety-Panic Disorder
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"Don't let your yesterday, ruin your today"


joe1976
Regular Member


Date Joined Jul 2007
Total Posts : 22
   Posted 7/19/2007 7:55 PM (GMT -7)   
Hi,


I live in Singapore and usually the doctors don't give me strange vibes or when they do I dismiss it as me being paranoid. Usually they wanna know more about the medications I'm on so as to see if theres any conflict with the ones they're gonna prescribe

I haven't really encountered anyone overly pedantic or seem to look at me like I'm 'crazy'. Its usually my friend who has schizophrenia that gets the urrrs and uhmms. Maybe Singaporean doctors here think its some fancy name... ADHD has become extremely popular here in Singapore and theres almost no stigma there... bipolar seems to draw more confusion than stigma dunno why

Hope all is fine with you Ellie and the rest, hope there will be more understanding and less fear from the world, also hope there will be more understanding about ourselves and less fear of ourselves... thats what I grapple with more... sigh

Take care

Joe
__________________________________________________________________
Bipolar Type 1
Social anxiety/agoraphobia
100mg Lamictal 3 times daily
500-600 seroquel at night
2.5mg diazepam 3 times daily, 10mg at night


loving frustrated wife
Veteran Member


Date Joined Jun 2007
Total Posts : 865
   Posted 7/19/2007 11:25 PM (GMT -7)   
When my son was diagnosed at 8 1/2 yrs old, I flipped. We had just tried the meds to rule it out, as we could see the ADHD. But then the pdoc said that we should check for BP first, because if he is BP, some of the ADHD symptoms could be BP related vs. ADHD, and if he is BP and it turns out that he is also ADHD, then the medications are different for treatment. Thank god we checked because that in fact was the case. Had we gone ahead with standard ADHD meds first, our son would have had a psychotic episode on them (as a friend’s son did when their pdoc didn't check first – it was very traumatic for the family and very damaging to our friends son emotionally after).

At that time our pdoc explained to me that BP had a spectrum of 50+ manifestations of this condition. The worst being "manic depressive” and only 10% of all BP are this. But, the only thing people know about BP is what they see in movies and TV, which shows the worst cases of manic-depressive BP's (like Sally Fields on ER). So that is what is contributing to this stigma. It promotes a very negative and narrow viewpoint about it. The other thing he said is that there are SOOOOOO many undiagnosed BP's out in the world that we all know, but people are so afraid of the "stigma" they won't view they have a problem - because they too think of BP like how "Hollywood" represents it, and they don't see themselves like that, so therefore they must not have a problem, or if they do...that must not be what THEY have…so they won’t even look.

With my son, I have run into this prejudice myself on several occasions with parents who learn my son has this...only my son (other than his impulsivity from the ADHD of repetitive questions) is kinder, smarter, more mature, etc...than their kid because he is 99% of the time balanced on his meds and a GREAT “normal” kid.

The other thing the pdoc said to me is, that this is no different that me being told my son is a diabetic (hypothetically)…the only difference is, the imbalance isn’t his insulin, it is in his brain chemistry, and you would never withhold insulin from your child which brings his “chemistry” to normal. Well, that’s what proper medication for your child’s brain chemistry issues does. So once the balances are found…my son’s brain chemistry is then in normal range like anyone else’s. Now…I’ve lived this and know…this example is absolutely correct.

It is sad, but if we don't show the reality of this condition, and educate people, who will? People who are properly treated for this condition should stand tall and proud and shout from the rooftops about it. I really respect Maurice Bernard from General Hospital fame, he is doing just that. The problem is though, his is in the upper end of the spectrum or in that top 10% of the condition, and I think the public also needs to witness and learn about all levels of the condition so they can see there is nothing to fear from it, especially if you get proper treament. Just like a diabetic.

White Tulip
New Member


Date Joined Jun 2007
Total Posts : 11
   Posted 7/21/2007 5:24 AM (GMT -7)   

Hi,

Good follow up dialouge. 

Olivia of course - of course your view is accurate.  I don't know if there are any wrong views of trying to examine social stigma; there are many ways of knowing and thinking.  I think part of it may have to do with power (or perceived power) from those who are looking for differences in people and seeking vulnerability. 

I remeber in my early 20's, the first job I interviewed for after graduate school was recended after my mandated physical and they saw my medication list.  The person who interviewed me (a health care professional) pulled out a graph and said "there is a lot of loss in hospice, and I don't think you will be able to handle the depression."  I'll never forget it.  Although I am open about my diagnosis, I am very careful about whom I disclose it to, especially in my professional life.  Some people will see it as a vulnerability or "weakness" (I don't like that word) whereas I see my coping successfully with bi-polar disease over time as a success; it is my strength. 

I used to say "my diagnosis is who I am and not what I am" and went through a phase where I continually told everyone that "I am bi-polar and I am "OKAY!"  I think it was part of my recovery process and how I was coping at that time.  I remember referring to bi-polar as being "just like being a diabetic" (and that's still a great reference - loving frustrated wife), but I don't think society tends to stigmatize diabetics like people who are  bi-polar.  Maybe that will change over time.  There has been more public discussion and disclosure (such as the reference about Maurice Bernard) about bi-polar in the last 20 years and I think it has helped awareness of the diagnosis.   

Thanks for bringing this subject up, Ellie 1 - interesting discussion.

White Tulip


mogli
Veteran Member


Date Joined Mar 2006
Total Posts : 1191
   Posted 7/21/2007 8:04 AM (GMT -7)   

Oh...this one strikes a chord with me.  Here is my opinion from personal experience.

Family--even those closest to us have been known to shut us out and reject us.  Tell us how crazy we are, it's "all in our heads".  Even family don't want to educate themselves, at least at first, some never.

Spouses/Partners--kinda the same as family. The stigma is more powerful than our suffering.

Employers--I need to control myself here.  Worst on the planet.  Won't even consider hiring or keeping someone on staff it they're bipolar.  Not to mention all of the discrimination that goes along with it if you do manage to stay in the job.  If they find out about the bipolar things will never be the same.

Health Care Pros--This is the group I have the least trouble with.  If anyone is going to have a little empathy it's them.  Not all, but some.  Much more likely than all the other groups.

I have to say this is just my opinion.  All the groups I mentioned--it can go both ways.  Some will understand, some will not.

But at least we have each other.  I am so thankful for that :-)


Mogs
 
Bipolar II, Anxiety/Panic Disorder
--currently not on meds for bp--


Honey Bee
Regular Member


Date Joined Jun 2007
Total Posts : 114
   Posted 7/21/2007 9:56 PM (GMT -7)   
Yes, like Mogli unfortunately this strikes a chord with me. Initially when my husband was diagnosed with BP we told a few people actually AGAINST our psychiatrists advice who said we shouldn't tell people as even she felt people would be predujiced.

In the past 2 years due to peoples lack of understanding or even interest in learning more I have lost my business because my distributor in the UK who had actually known us for over 10 years thought it was an issue for them. My husbands mum did not want to know or even try to understand what having BP meant. My mum and dad have been a little better but not much.

We have just been refused income protection insurance due to the BP even though my hubbie has never had any time off work or had any problems with work due the BP. He now works for himself so we really needed this insurance. I actually found the insurance company appalling as they tend to 'tar everyone with the same brush' and do not want to know about your own particular situation.

It is a real shame that most people get their opinions of Bipolar from the TV and shows such as CSI and SVU as they NEVER EVER show it in a good light. In fact my hubbie and i joke that whenever someone as gone on a crime/drug/killing spree you can always guarantee that they are Bipolar in the show which gives an unbelievably negative view of this awful illness.!

So now I really don't tell anyone about it I am sorry to say as people do tend to react badly in our experience anyway.

wmnak
Veteran Member


Date Joined Jul 2006
Total Posts : 1123
   Posted 7/22/2007 1:29 PM (GMT -7)   

i just read this thread.  WOW!!!!!  there was a discussion similar to this about 6 months (i think) ago.  the more things change the more they stay the same.

remember, the last time the usa combined religion with politics we had the salem witch burnings (i know, it wasn't the usa then).  i'm not accusing religion of anything.  i am saying that some people read the new testament and see satan in eerything, manefesting himself in strange forms of mental illnes such as schizophrenia and bp.  or, as someone else said on this thread, maybe it's a power trip for some people.  i don't know its cause, i just recognise the hurt, suffering, and angst that ignorance causes.

as far as bein treaterd like a simpleton, i just got stupid funny.  i was in the er and, after reading my list of meds, the nurse asked what the lithium was for.  i told her bp.  she then, as then started speaking very slowly and distinctly, so i started speaking to her in german.  she LOOKED at me.  i told her that because she was being so precice in her use of english that perhaps she wasn't a native speaker and that i was just offering her the alternative of german.  she got red faced and left.  the next nurse and i had no problems.  i was really a c*** with that first nurse, but she p****d me off.  :-)

warren

I edit part of your post due to breaking Forum Rule #2

2. No use of explicit, obscene or vulgar language or images and/or messages, including racist remarks. 

Post Edited By Moderator (Olivie) : 7/24/2007 6:02:17 PM (GMT-6)


Honey Bee
Regular Member


Date Joined Jun 2007
Total Posts : 114
   Posted 7/22/2007 5:45 PM (GMT -7)   
Hi warren

I am having a really bad week and your post really made me chuckle this morning so thanks very much for that. :-)

"she then, as then started speaking very slowly and distinctly, so i started speaking to her in german. she LOOKED at me. i told her that because she was being so precice in her use of english that perhaps she wasn't a native speaker and that i was just offering her the alternative of german. she got red faced and left. the next nurse and i had no problems. i was really a crap with that first nurst, but she p****d me off. :-) "

It is very difficult to have a sense of humour sometimes about people's attitudes and you obviously have a very good one, I don't think it was a crap thing to do considering it came from a nurse!!

Keep smiling

Honey Bee
 

I edit part of your post due to breaking Forum Rule #2

2. No use of explicit, obscene or vulgar language or images and/or messages, including racist remarks. 

Post Edited By Moderator (Olivie) : 7/24/2007 6:03:12 PM (GMT-6)


wmnak
Veteran Member


Date Joined Jul 2006
Total Posts : 1123
   Posted 7/23/2007 8:24 PM (GMT -7)   

ellie,

it may have been yogi bera who said this:

"life is too important to be taken seriously.  now baseball. . . ." :-)


That light at the end of he tunnel?  It's an on-coming train.
 
 


wspanicgirl21
Regular Member


Date Joined Mar 2007
Total Posts : 26
   Posted 7/24/2007 11:35 AM (GMT -7)   
I'd been having headpains for some time now related to what eventually was found to be bad wisdom teeth. I went to the ER doctor because I was so tired of the pain and figured they'd do an MRI or something. When they found out that I was bipolar, their tune quickly changed and said that it was all in my head. I was so hurt and felt so bad when I left the ER. I felt like nothing had been done to satisfy me.

Eventually I found a doctor who was understanding enough to finally do the MRI. But ever since then I've been wary of telling medical officials about my bipolar disorder because I felt like I'd be treated differently.
Diagnosed Bipolar I: On abilify, prozac, gabitril & ambien. Mom to 3 little ones. Separated from the hubby.


Ellie 1
Veteran Member


Date Joined Apr 2005
Total Posts : 1291
   Posted 7/24/2007 3:20 PM (GMT -7)   
Yes, exactly. Like we're making it all up. The ER was actually better about it than the Ortho I saw the next day. He blew me off completely WITH an MRI of my knee showing exactly where the tear was etc. Said it might be an old injury. My knee is still so swollen I can't straighten it. I'll limp for the rest of my life before I go back to that dr. though.
Good judgement comes from experience and alot of that comes from bad judgement.
 
You just have to accept that some days you're the pigeon, and some days you're the statue. 
 


wmnak
Veteran Member


Date Joined Jul 2006
Total Posts : 1123
   Posted 7/24/2007 7:16 PM (GMT -7)   

i don't want everybody to get the right - i measn WRONG - impression of me.  but i once - and once only - had a dr ignore my physical ailments because of depression/bp.  i was lieing on a gurney and looked her directly in the eyes.  then i asked, totally deadpan, how much liability/malpractice insurance she had because if she didn't start treating me like a real patient she wouldn't have enough.  it didn't solve any problems, but it made me feel better.

warren


That light at the end of he tunnel?  It's an on-coming train.
 
 


Ellie 1
Veteran Member


Date Joined Apr 2005
Total Posts : 1291
   Posted 7/25/2007 11:38 AM (GMT -7)   
OMG Warren. I hope you don't mind if I use that. I"m finished being nice to people who don't deserve it simply for the sake of being polite. I would have absolutely LOVED to see that woman's face!
Good judgement comes from experience and alot of that comes from bad judgement.
 
You just have to accept that some days you're the pigeon, and some days you're the statue. 
 


Jade11
Regular Member


Date Joined Feb 2006
Total Posts : 105
   Posted 8/2/2007 9:03 PM (GMT -7)   
It seems like I too have noticed that there is some bias even in the medical community. I have known enough nurses to know that a lot of them see "bipolar" and think the worst. I would like to think that doctors are more enlightened about mental illness because they have so much education. However, I don't know that this is the case. One time I joked about something to the family physicain, and he actually took it serious and put wrote it in his notes. A specialist that he referred me to mentioned it, and I was so annoyed. Lets say I never saw that doctor again.

Maybe I am self conscious but when I go into the clinic I hate going over the medication list. They do it every time to verify currenty meds. The last time the person was going over the meds got wierd when she got to lithium. She was like synthroid for hypothyroid, these creams for a skin condition, then she got to lithium and it suddenly got ackward. She was oh, then lithobid for.......then she trailed off and didn't finish the sentence. It was like wow, she didn't even want to say what it was for.

I actually have to changed clinics because of insurance. I am almost tempted not to tell the next doctor that I have bipolar or put lithium on my medication list. Although that might not be a good idea in the long run. Right now I am only on a thyroid med, and lithium. However, a future medicaiton might react. Then what if the lithium gets toxic, I would surely want the doctor to know. Anyway, if I am getting my blood drawn at the clinic they would probably know anyway. Maybe it just feels uncomfortable telling a complete stranger that you have bipolar. Even if it is a healthcare professional it still feels strange.
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