“Dr. Meathead Makes the Call & 2 Psych Stays”

It’s 2018. I’m seeing a psychiatrist once every two weeks: a meathead Russian guy with a large pot belly, a thick accent, and a disheveled head of bushy gray hair. He is tall. I lie down - fully reclined - in the car to get to my appointments. Severely impaired, I walk ever so slowly and gingerly into the office building.

Sometimes, as I sit in the waiting room ready to be called, I start to violently dry heave—I am riddled with symptoms like severe nausea and malaise, anxiety, brain fog, a distended stomach and tight chest, dyspnea, crippling exhaustion, weakness, etc.

I’m also suicidal as fuck. Every single day.

The psychiatrist has convinced himself that I have a somatoform disorder. He will not recognize that I have severe ME/CFS. I sit in a chair in front of his desk with either my mother or my wife in the chair next to me, fighting through symptoms to be able to speak.

On this particular day, he asks if I am suicidal. Foolishly, I tell him, “Yes, I am.” Before I realize it, he has called 911 and is on the phone with the operator. I beg and plead for him to hang up the phone.

“I’m sorry!” I say. “Please! No!”

Not more than ten minutes pass and the ambulance and EMTs arrive to take me away. I am transported to St. Elizabeth’s Hospital in Boston, ghastly pale and ill from the turbulent ride over.

I am to begin my two and a half week stay at the psych ward. Yet again.

… Back in 2017, when I checked into the ER at Mass General Hospital in Boston, consistently ranked one of the best hospitals in the world, I was in extremely poor shape. They told me straight up that “we do not treat chronic illness.” Since they couldn’t help, my wife and I asked if we could speak with one of their staff psychiatrists. So they sent one down to see us.

After talking with the psychiatrist, I reluctantly agreed to enter their psych ward so they could try some drugs out on me. While there, I had a confrontation with the head psychiatrist one day. He wanted to put me on an exercise plan that involved getting up often, pushing through symptoms, and walking laps around the hospital wing. As I said, I was in very bad shape at the time. And, as you know, with ME/CFS, you cannot exercise your way out of this illness.

After the meeting with the psychiatrist and his staff, I stood up and blocked the doorway so he couldn’t get by. I demanded that he listen to me. “You’re going to kill me!” I said. He didn’t want to hear any of it, though. But I also would not move out of his way. He then called on his staff who called security and, some minutes later, before I knew it, I was tackled to the floor by several people and administered a shot to my butt. They then carried me away and threw me onto the bed in my room. Come to find out, one of the drugs they shot me up with was Benadryl, which I’m allergic to. Needless to say, the ensuing hours were not very fun. The whole thing was like something out of “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.”

I felt like Joseph K. in Franz Kafka’s The Trial.

Subsequently, I would spend two more hospitalized visits in the psych ward, at different hospitals, making it five visits total in five years. I wish I was able to keep a journal during those times. It would have made for some good fiction.

Perhaps the greatest of my indignities that I suffered during those five psych ward stays, however, was when I immediately faked a number two bathroom emergency after the nurse administered a new medication that I subsequently hid under my tongue, and then got caught. With the bathroom door slightly ajar (just enough to see inside, which is protocol), I quickly found myself in a desperate struggle—she was wrestling the pill from my hand as I tried to flush it—while sitting bare-bottomed on the toilet.

That little shenanigan added additional time to my stay and an undesirable room change, where I would gain a—homicidal!—roommate who snored like a bear and insisted on keeping the light on all night even as we slept.

Ah, the psych ward. What a place for those with severe ME.

Comments

Yikes, how could you trust a psychiatrist with your true feelings after he did you like that! I'm sorry that happened to you. I've been there, the psych ward, although it was never more than 3 days at a time, and the whole time I was troubled they wouldn't let me go. 2 1/2 weeks there is unimaginable.

Thanks for sharing this, and thanks for starting a blog.
 
Thanks, @christiankatz. I ended up dumping the psychiatrist and found a very caring, intelligent one, thankfully. I have another psych ward experience I think I’ll tack on to the end of this post, just for the heck of it. Nice to meet you.
 
Holy smokes, your next experience sounds awful. If you were already in bad shape, I can't imagine what exercise would do to you. You're right, the psych ward is no place for someone with ME. Plus they pump the patients with an incredible amount of drugs, and who knows what they are!

My experiences there weren't bad, but it was when I had only mild ME, so it was okay.
 
The sad part is that narcissists tend to gravitate to that profession, I think because it gives them a high degree of control over the lives of other people. (As you sadly found out.)

I read a news expose years ago of, I think, a journalism student who faked schizophrenia in order to write his thesis. He wanted to document how people like that are treated within the system.*

I remember reading that he had to go to fantastical extremes later on just to prove to them that he was not so he could get out again and to get that off his medical file.

*Just tried to look for that and couldn't find it but did find another one called the Rosenhan Experiment from the 1970's.

Wow. It's on Wikipedia if anyone wants to read about it. I didn't get through the whole page but what I did read so far is scary enough.

I'm sorry you went through that @Cloudyskies. How they treated you was inhumane.

Meathead was too kind a word for that doctor.
 
The sad part is that narcissists tend to gravitate to that profession, I think because it gives them a high degree of control over the lives of other people. (As you sadly found out.)

I read a news expose years ago of, I think, a journalism student who faked schizophrenia in order to write his thesis. He wanted to document how people like that are treated within the system.*

I remember reading that he had to go to fantastical extremes later on just to prove to them that he was not so he could get out again and to get that off his medical file.

*Just tried to look for that and couldn't find it but did find another one called the Rosenhan Experiment from the 1970's.

Wow. It's on Wikipedia if anyone wants to read about it. I didn't get through the whole page but what I did read so far is scary enough.

I'm sorry you went through that @Cloudyskies. How they treated you was inhumane.

Meathead was too kind a word for that doctor.
Ha. Thank you, Judee, and it’s nice to meet you. I’m going to look up that experiment.
 

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