A lot of people seem to think that if you have mental health issues it’s as easy as admitting it to yourself and seeking help, In reality there are a lot of hoops they make people jump through to get proper help these days. After all healthcare is a business in this country so it’s handled like that and we are treated as consumers or even the product rather than patients that need help…This is especially evident in the mental health field and as you’ll see by the end of this article you can beg for help for years and years and still not get the right help.
I’ll start by explaining my personal mental health journey which started when I was 13 or so probably and the only reason it didn’t start earlier than that is back then it wasn’t all that common to bring your kids in for mental health help, Autism was barely recognized for the most part and ADHD didn’t become a normal diagnosis until I was in my late teens…So when I went in for help at 13 because I was having trouble in school and trouble making friends, had started to make a lot of bad choices that were getting me in trouble, had my first shot of vodka at 12 years old, I was not by any means your stereotypical 13 year old…most doctors back then would just diagnose almost ever teenager with depression or anxiety or both and send them home with all the normal meds they treat those with such as Paxil, Zoloft and Prozac and back then most teenagers would get Clonopins for anxiety…so as a teen I got that basic diagnosis of depression and anxiety and would spend all my teen years trying every medication they threw at me hoping something would help me but nothing did and my issues continued to get worse and worse…by my senior year in high school I was struggling with school and decided it was just too much and dropped out…I also got arrested at least a dozen times throughout my teen years for stupid little things like shoplifting and trespassing…I continued down this path and started drinking pretty heavily and got into drugs of all kinds for a few years after high school…my life was basically just one bad decision after another…when I was 22ish my parents were going to move to northern Maine which would be like 6 hours from where they currently lived, I wasn’t doing very well and decided it was probably a good idea for me to move with them…So I did and I’ve been in northern Maine ever since and am now 43 years old and living up here all alone as both my parents have since passed away.
The next part of my journey started when I moved to Maine, I ended up getting a diagnosis of Bipolar disorder and even though it wasn’t from a mental health doctor but just from my primary care doctor I still just trusted my doctors back then and went with it, never questioning this diagnosis…So I would spend the next 20 years or so going through this same cycle of trying new meds for a few months, realizing they weren’t helping or even making things worse and I would get hopeless and give up trying to get better for a while and then my life would start falling apart and I’d realize I need help and medication that actually helps me and I’d go back and try again…In 20 years only one medication has ever helped me at all and it’s Seroquel and it just helps me fall asleep at night…it does nothing for my anxiety, intrusive thoughts or any of my many other issues but that’s where I was at for the past 3 years or so just taking that one medication having given up on getting any better and thinking I could not get better and this was as good as it would get for me ever.
About two years ago my niece who was 18ish at the time finally went in to see a professional to get a diagnosis for her own issues…her issues mirror mine, especially at that age, so much that me and my family just assumed she would have to go through the long painful process of trying dozens of medications and never really getting “well” the same way I had…The first doctor she saw diagnosed her with ADHD and she almost immediately got better, became a whole new person pretty much…she went from feeling stuck like I do to doing so well she started a union at her work and owns her own home at like the age of 21…like doing exceptionally well…So me and my family had this light bulb moment….like why had we never thought about me having ADHD…it became so obvious to all of us that that’s what my issue was and explained why no medications ever helped me as I never tried ADHD meds…for the first time in two decades I felt hope and saw a light at the end of this long dark tunnel I’ve been in for so long…So I started the process of trying to get an appointment for a fresh start and a new diagnosis with hopes that this was it, my chance to be “normal”.
So it took a while to get an appointment , things move slowly up here but I finally got in to see someone a couple days ago but it didn’t go well at all…I’m going to share this woman’s name Kelly Schuck because this was a telehealth appointment and I’m worried she may be treating people all over the country and she certainly shouldn’t be allowed to deal with mentally ill people at all…Before I went to the appointment I went through 20 years of my medical records and wrote down every medication I’ve ever been on that didn’t help me…I did a ton of research not just into ADHD but many other mental health issues as I didn’t just want to jump to the conclusion that ADHD was what it was…but after all the research I just felt even more sure about it…the second this video call started I could tell this woman had some kind of attitude towards me and I couldn’t understand why, I poured my soul out to this woman with blatant honesty, about abuse and all kinds of things and when it came to her turn to speak it became very clear she thought I was just making everything up, like everything from the fact I don’t drink to the fact I just quit smoking butts, as if I had faked 30 years of mental illness just to be there in that moment “seeking drugs”….To be clear I have no history of drugs, I partied as a teenager and before I was old enough to drink but I haven’t done anything since, talking 20 years of being completely clean, I have also never before asked any of my doctors for any specific medications….but it became obvious this woman was refusing to even consider the ADHD diagnosis because in her mind she had already decided I was just some kinda junkie looking to get high…when I tried to explain to her why I thought what I thought about having ADHD and explained the situation with my niece she said to me “then go to her doctor” clearly implying I was making it all up just to get ADHD meds, she never even listened to me about any of it and then tried to prescribe me one of the meds I have already taken with adverse side effects in the past, telling me it didn’t work for me in the past because I “didn’t believe it would”…like I’m fucking Peter Pan and I can just believe my problems away, I’m sorry but I’m not going to take a medication for 6 weeks I know won’t help just to appease her ego…So I left this appointment once again feeling hopeless…and not just that but my self esteem took a major nose dive as I thought I looked good that day, like a healthy normal person and to be treated like some kind of druggie addict like that and feel like the person was just going off what I look like,(I am 5 foot 10 and weigh 115 lbs on a good day but I have been this way my whole life) because that’s all she really had to make that assumption about me…it just made me feel horrible as I don’t even drink alcohol…I was just there trying to get the help I need and instead was made to feel like I was doing something wrong or bad by trying.
I think it’s very obvious I have ADHD to anyone that gives me a chance to explain or spends more than 20 minutes around me…I think you can even see it in my writing style as I drift off to different subjects at times…I have an appointment with another doctor and am hoping they are more openminded and less self righteous than this last one because after 30 years of mental health treatment I feel these meds are my last chance at having an actual life…I just want what I saw my niece get, normalcy and living.
So try not to judge people that have these issues, chances are they have tried to get help and tried to get better but it’s just not as simple as that…especially when you have people like this woman Kelly Schuck who does nothing but make assumptions and destroy any hope you might have…I think some doctors get jaded in their work and end up forgetting we’re people looking for help not some conmen trying to weasel drugs out of them…I understand there is a stigma associated with certain medications but they exist because they do help some people and I think instead of assuming the worst about a patient maybe give them the benefit of the doubt and at least give them the chance to either fuck up or get better…it’s a really sad state the mental health field is in these days.
Oh…the reason she gave me why I can’t have ADHD after refusing to listen to my reasons I think I do? She said I can’t have ADHD because I didn’t need special education in school…sorry but anyone that still views ADHD as a learning disability shouldn’t be working in this field, that’s like 1990’s thinking on it and doesn’t even factor in the emotional dysregulation part of it, which for some people is the part they have the most issues with. not to mention I did have issues in school…I was alright with all the basics but anything beyond that I’d get confused and frustrated trying to learn…like basic math, English and all the basic classes I was alright with…but like learning French or small engines class or anything outside those normal things I couldn’t do, I even failed physical education…this is part of the reason I dropped out of high school so she wasn’t even correct on that point…the moral of the story is if she had listened to me and not treated me like some lying criminal I would be doing leaps and bounds better than I am right now…but instead I get to wait two more months to get in for an appointment that for all I know could go just as bad and be just as much of a waste of time. not because I’ve ever done anything wrong but because college kids and others abuse these meds sometimes…it’s sad and frustrating.