Tag Archives: Australian health care system

Abandoned again: psychological irresponsibility

I really had hoped I’d seen the last of “psychological irresponsibility” in my life, but it seems I attract mental healthcare professionals who like to end our professional relationships with cruel abandon. Thankfully, I have the rest of my far more reliable care team backing me up – though the shock of D’s departure was enough to increase my depression to the point where hospital was required. (Yes, I’m back in hospital. No, I don’t want to talk about it.)

Am I angry? You betcha.

This time, the news was broken in a phone call. His tone was chipper: “I told the hospital last week that I’m leaving to focus on my private practice.” I accessed his services through my hospital’s outpatient outreach program, which is designed to help people stay well and prevent admissions – yet here I find myself again; ironic much?

He didn’t even suggest we have a final wrap-up session. I asked for one, and we made a time, but I was certainly left with the impression that this was something of an imposition. Would you believe he sent me a text asking to reschedule that session because he had a lunch to attend? Mate, sometimes it’s best to give a little less information: I don’t want to know that finishing up our work together is less important to you than a social outing.

I called his supervisor the day after the news. (The psychologist in question wasn’t available, or I would have had a conversation with him.) I reminded him that, about a year ago, he’d asked me to “give [this psychologist] a go” after an administrative reshuffle meant the excellent worker who had had my case was re-assigned. I reminded him that I’d had reservations about welcoming a man into my home, that it had taken a great leap of trust on my behalf to make that OK. I also let him know – since he seemed unaware of the fact – that my mental health had been deteriorating over prior three weeks. He asked that I give the next worker assigned to my case “a go”. I put down the phone with a shiver: those words no longer inspire confidence.

Having left the supervisor in no doubt as to my displeasure, I tried to put the matter out of my mind; but, as I was driving to the post office nine days ago, I suddenly remembered the original phone call with awful clarity. I remembered how cheerful the psychologist has sounded, how he delivered the news as though he were commenting on the pleasing results of a sports match.

If you’re new to this blog, you won’t know my history with abandonment and health care professionals. I had a close professional relationship with my first psychiatrist who treated me for almost five years, then stopped with five days’ notice. The rupture of that therapy came at a time when I was vulnerable on many fronts, and eventually resulted in a complete breakdown. This psychologist knew of that history. I’d made sure of it, and included it in the PowerPoint presentation I made summarizing my medical history when we started work together.

Anyway, I was driving to the post office, and I heard his voice on the phone again in memory’s ear. My reaction was immediate and physical. I felt numb. I walked into the post office and stood at the counter with my parcels. The clerk said something to me from across the shop, but the words didn’t penetrate the fog which had wrapped itself round me, filling my ears and eyes with thick whiteness. I mailed the parcels, walked back to the car, and started the engine. I was only as I approached the corner that I realized the clerk had asked if I was all right. I’d completely ignored her! I drove around the block and walked back inside.

“I’m so sorry about before,” I said, and felt tears on my cheeks. “I think you were talking to me, but I didn’t hear what you said. I probably seemed rude.”

“That’s all right,” she replied, looking at me carefully. “Perhaps you need to go home now?”

“Yes, I think I do.”

“Should you be driving?”

“No, probably not; but I don’t have far to go.”

“OK. Take care of yourself.”

I turned and walked back to the car as though I’d received a full-body beating.

It seems as though my trauma, like my preferred name, is something this psychologist “can’t be expected to remember”. Yes, sadly, that’s a direct quote when I reminded him I prefer to be called “Catie” rather than “Catharine” … three months into treatment.

So: here I am in hospital again. Is it wholly because of the rupturing of that professional relationship? No; my mental health had been deteriorating before that. On the other hand, would I be here if he had handled things differently? No, almost certainly not. This trauma, re-opening the door to that historical hurt, is what precipitated the events which landed me here.

I understand that I don’t know all the details surrounding this incident. I acknowledge that there may be factors beyond anyone’s control which contributed to D’s sudden departure. However, what I do know is this:

  • D had been given the knowledge that an event like this would be extremely triggering to me
  • D had told the hospital a week before he told me that he would be leaving (which implies that he had been planning the move for longer)
  • the therapeutic relationship we’d had was terminated abruptly, and without closure
  • I am now in hospital.

My issue is not that D stopped treating me, nor even that he stopped treating me suddenly. My issue that that he had been given the information that this would be a destructive event in my life, and yet did nothing to mitigate the damage it may cause.

Here endeth the rant.

Have you ever been the subject of psychological irresponsibility? How did you recover?

Therapy ruptured

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A Morning Gratitude List

Today is a day of contrasts. I’m feeling anticipation and apprehension. In the midst of these conflicting emotions, I thought it might be helpful and grounding to write a gratitude list.

In this moment, I am grateful for:

  • tea in the pot and food in the pantry
  • water in the taps and electricity (especially in this cold, dark winter!)
  • living in Australia, and being able to access our wonderful Medicare system
  • the prospect of relief from this chronic sore throat, after seeing the GP today (does a month count as “chronic”? Maybe it does for a sore throat)
  • my self-discipline in getting this fortnight’s assignments finished yesterday, when they weren’t due until midnight on Sunday
  • my parents’ visit, and the good times we’ve had together
  • interactions with wise bloggers, who teach me so much
  • the fact that I’m having lunch with the delightful R (dumplings! yay!)
  • my grandmother’s return to stable health. I know she’s going to die, but I’m glad it isn’t going to happen this week.

This list flew off my fingers and onto the screen! It’s very easy for me to access feelings of gratitude right now, obviously, which is wonderful.

Be well, stay warm and dry if you’re in the south-east of Australia, and take care!

xx DB

thanks heart

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Australians All, Let Us Rejoice

That’s the first line of our national anthem, for any international friends who aren’t aware; and today, 26 January, is Australia Day.

Today is “a day to celebrate national pride”, according to the news bulletin I have playing in the background. As a white, middle-class Australian (even a depressed and anxious one!) I have plenty to rejoice about.

We live in freedom, in a land of plenty; we have a pretty damned fine welfare system (although I learnt yesterday that we now spend less than the UK and the US on welfare, as a percentage of GDP; and we are surrounded by natural beauty.

Of course, the deal’s not so great for indigenous Australians – some of whom call today “Invasion Day”. At present, it’s not so great for people seeking asylum here, either: our conservative government is pretty committed to Project Sovereign Borders (yes, I just spewed in my mouth a little, too).

If you go in for national pride, you’d better not place great expectations on our Prime Minister. Thanks to the high regard in which his predecessor, Julia Gillard, was held internationally, Tony Abbott is currently the president of the G20 for 2014. His keynote address to the recent World Economic Forum in Davos didn’t receive much coverage in the Australian press, but has been commented upon elsewhere – see Alan Austin’s article, “Abbott’s Davos Disaster“, for further details.

What does Australia Day mean to me? It’s a call to action. Our nation is, and has been, just so wonderful to so many people – and we have to fight to ensure it stays that way. We are a land of plenty; we can embrace our indigenous brothers and sisters, draw close those fleeing persecution overseas, and care for those in our community who are disenfranchised and alienated. We can work together to banish the stigma of mental illness, help people understand that our culture of binge drinking isn’t constructive, and fight against the insidious encroachment of gambling into everyday life. We can take a stand against the retail duopoly which threatens our food supply and the well-being of our farmers.

Yes, Australia Day is a call to action: a call to continue to work to Advance Australia Fair.

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Re-Entry Briefing

[Author’s Note: This is a lazy post 🙂 In the middle of a heatwave without airconditioning. If our respective governments could sort of find out a way to combine and average out America and Australia’s weather right now, that would be awesome! Anyway, this is a modified version of a message I sent to friends overseas recently. If you are not au fait with Australian politics, it may help to know that we elected a conservative party to Federal Parliament earlier this year.]

Dear Australian Residents,

You will soon be returning to our sunbaked nation. As you have been absent for some time, this Briefing will help re-orient you to your homeland, and bring you up-to-date with current affairs. Please read, mark and inwardly digest the material in this document. It is possible that you may be quizzed upon touchdown.*

1. Governance

Our illustrious and democratically elected leaders continue their rule of our nation in true form. Senator Pyne has announced a reform of the National Curriculum, and – surprisingly – the panel which will be reviewing the Curriculum contains a number of right-wing conservative educators. It is good that our wise leaders have decided to review the Curriculum now; after all, it has not yet been rolled out across the nation. Meanwhile, the Government continues to spare its citizens unpleasant news. The Minister for Immigration and Border Protection (you will recall this is his actual title and not an Orwellian irony), Scott Morrison, has outdone himself in his service to the Nation in this area; not only did he limit himself to commenting on immigration matters in his weekly Friday media briefings, but he has cancelled the last two briefings, and today announced that henceforth a weekly written statement will be issued, with media briefings only “as needed”. We are so blessed to be protected in this manner. The blessing continues, with journalists’ visas to Nauru now costing $8000 – per visit. (Yes, that was three zeroes after the eight.) Cory Bernardi, South Australian Senator, has flooded the media with his conservative morality lessons; his book, “The Conservative Revolution”, has gone into a second printing. Bernadi’s comments are so utterly conservative that even Prime Minister Abbott has distanced himself from them.

2. Australia Reassumes Rightful Dominance of the Ashes

The world has been set to rights again: not only did the Urn return, but it did so in a 5-0 whitewash. The radios and livingrooms of cricket-loving Australians rang to the song of “STAND UP! STAND UP, IF YOU’RE FIVE NIL UP!!!” The total and rightful dominance of the Australian cricketeers continues into the 50 over form of the game. [The fact that the English women’s cricket side beat Australia in the other one-test international tends not to receive much attention.]

3. Potential Medicare Reforms

It has come to our attention that one of your party suffered an injury while away. While we lament this, and extend our deepest sympathies, we request that you receive all required treatment while on your vacation. The Medicare system is costing us too much to maintain, to the point that we are thinking of charging a compulsory $5 co-payment to bulk-billed GP visits. The left ramble on about how this will only financially impact the poor and those who most frequently require medical assistance, further disenfranchising them from the medical system. Obviously, they just don’t understand the financial imperative of reducing the monetary burden of caring for our citizens.

4. Weather Conditions

It’s hot. We don’t want to complain, but could you pack a bit of cool air and bring it home with you?

5. Entertainment News

Relish your in-flight movie during your trip home. Unless you enjoy watching tennis players sweltering in forty-plus degree heat, or that bastardized child of the cricket family commonly known as T-20, there’s nothing on the television.

Remember – it is absolutely necessary that you re-enter your homeland by plane – boats have been known to be towed back into Indonesian waters. Please have *all* current and correct documentation ready for presentation upon disembarkment. If you manage to obtain a signed copy of Bernardi’s book, we’ll even let you jump the immigration queue.

Sincerely,

Government Agent #361528

* Possible, but unlikely, due to service cutbacks. However, should you fail to answer any quiz questions correctly, you may find yourself visiting a lovely island called Nauru.

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Today’s Gratitude List

thanks heart

Yesterday I posted my list of “beefs” with the world – a list of grumbles, both global and local. I kept it brief 🙂 I think, in order to balance that post, I owe the blogosphere a gratitude post. So here goes:

Global

  • The penetration of social media into so much of our world gives the otherwise powerless a voice. Yay!
  • Travel being so much more accessible than it was a century ago – or even fifty years ago! – means more of us are given the opportunity to get a first-hand understanding of other peoples and cultures.

Australia

  • The political satirists and cartoonists who manage to make me laugh at our new government’s blunderings.
  • Our healthcare system. It certainly isn’t perfect, but it’s way better than many other countries.

Local

  • The chick who brings in not only her bins but everyone else’s in neighbouring units. Oh, right, that’s me. Should be more of it. (More of it that doesn’t involve me, every week, every time!)
  • Friends, near and far, who understand; and, when they don’t understand, don’t give up on me. Especially, this week, my purple-haired friend who has proved herself time and time again to be an angel in human garb. (Hope she reads this post!)

May you all find something to be grateful for today.

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