Mental Health Inequality

“Of all the forms of inequality, injustice in health care is the most shocking and inhumane.”
― Martin Luther King Jr.

I almost missed it, but thanks to, Bipolar, Unemployed & Lost, I caught that it is Blog Action Day, and as this year the theme is Inequality I felt I would give it a go.

Inequality is something those of us with mental health conditions know a lot about. I have read many stories of others treatment by others which have shaken me to the core, and daily hear about people losing benefits, jobs, being bullied because of an illness they have no control over.

These are some of my real life experiences of inequality as a result of being Bipolar:

I thank the Lord we have a free healthcare system in the UK, however, many GP’s in this country are not properly trained to deal with mental health problems, and referrals to see psychiatrists can take months. Some of the issues I have encountered from badly trained GP’s who didn’t take me seriously are:

– Refusals to refer me to the mental health teams for help
– Taking me off of my meds resulting in a suicide attempt
– Telling me it’s all “in my head” and to “cheer up”

I have to say that last one pisses me off at the best of times but from a Doctor?!

I’ve also faced being treated awfully following suicide attempts in hospital aswell. Nurses, Doctors, and even Paramedics speaking to me like I’m scum on their shoe and wasting their time. As if the situations leading up to attempting to take your life aren’t bad enough then the people treating you make you wish you had done a better job of it!

Moving away from the medical world, when you have a mental health illness you face inequality everywhere. I have lost numerous jobs as a result of being Bipolar. We are told to be more open and talk about things, there are laws in place to protect us. But every single time an employer has found out about me being Bipolar, I have been unemployed within six months.

There are a number of tactics taken, some make the job so stressful, you crack under the weight of all the stress. Others make the working environment hostile and unfriendly so that going to work becomes a nightmare of epic proportions. I even had one that while I was out sick told me I could not return without a letter from my Doctor saying I would not be sick again, essentially forcing me to either stay on sick leave indefinitely or to hand in my notice.

Then there are the people close to you, people you think you can trust who disappear when things get tough. I don’t remember the last time one of my friends called me, I get emails from a few, but people keep a good distance.

Some completely turn on you, you will know from my recent posts this is an issue I have had in the past few weeks. I have lost my relationship with my Sister as her Husband believes mental illness is a farce and that as such I’m a liar and trouble-maker. She used to be my biggest advocate and has now completely turned her back on me.

Having a mental illness we have to defend ourselves constantly, why we are entitled to disability benefits. I have been trying to get these for over six months now, but because they can’t see our illness, or do a blood test they doubt its validity. Are the scars on my arms, the medications I take, my hospital admissions not proof?

People think because you look OK you are OK. If only this were true.

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