Double-Damned by Doctors


Yesterday the specially certified nurse came to do a PRI, which is the official New York State Department of Health’s Patient Review Instrument for just how crapped out you are.  If you score less than 5 then you go into an Assisted Living Program; if you score above 5 then you go into a Skilled Nursing Facility.

The nurse and I exchanged our lists of diagnoses:  mine came from my memory; hers came from the doctor’s office, which got it from the hospital.  Mine said medication damage resulting in the inability to take any meds; hers said depression and bipolar disorder.

So here’s the problem:  every skilled nursing facility is going to refuse admission to any patient with a diagnosis of bipolar disorder who is not taking medications.  Rosewood Heights nursing home said, “If she’s not taking meds then we can’t control her.”

But I do not have chronic depression or bipolar disorder. 

As a child, my parents taught me to be depressed and I learned the lesson well.  In 1974, after the death of my fiancé and the depression associated with the normal grieving process, I was put on antidepressants.   Then I wrongfully was told that I had a chemical imbalance and would have to take antidepressants for the rest of my life.  I took them for twenty-six years and then, living in a geriatric center with the assisted living program, I stopped and discovered that the antidepressants had been causing my depression, not curing it.

I stopped taking antidepressants in 2001.  (I had only been diagnosed with bipolar disorder in 1999; it was the result of decades of antidepressants.)  My last psychiatric hospitalization was around 2004.  Around 2008 I had standard psychological testing which revealed no sign of psychopathology.  I stopped seeing a therapist around 2009.  I do not see any psychiatrist.  In short, I do not have chronic depression or bipolar disorder.

Around 1998 I fractured my left ankle and leg and was in a full leg cast for about two months.  After physical therapy, I made a complete recovery.  I currently have no signs or symptoms of either a broken leg or depression, so why have physicians dropped the broken leg but continued to carry the diagnosis of depression on my record?

Mainly because physicians are idiots.  Most of them lack competence in their own emotional lives, and know nothing useful about psychiatry.  In fact, when I was hospitalized for pneumonia last year they pulled up my records, found a history of depression and transferred it to my current record.  At the time of hospitalization, I had no signs or symptoms of depression, but every hospitalist and physician assistant who saw me, saw me as a psychiatric patient.  One stupid son of a bitch hospitalist’s prejudice was so extreme that he tried to get me transferred to inpatient psychiatry—for the treatment of pneumonia!

I called my ex-psychiatrist who came in and wrote multiple notes in my chart, saying in as many appropriate professional ways as he knew how, “She is not a nut job!  Treat her as a medical patient.”  It didn’t do any good; I don’t know why not.  The biggest problem with the medical model is that physicians don’t believe mental illness is curable, and can’t see a cure when it has taken place.

I am so frustrated and angry.  Last year I got a copy of my medical record and was shocked to see how the professional staff was filtering everything about me through their own biased perception.  I talked to my man in the U.S. Dept. of Justice Civil Rights Unit and planned to institute action against St. Joseph’s Hospital for discriminating against me on the basis of disability, but I didn’t do it. 

I had gotten an indwelling catheter so I was now getting restorative sleep for the first time in a decade, and I moved on.  It was a good year.  I fell in love, and does it get any better than that?  In the long run, it didn’t work out but I had a terrific time being in love.  I produced a book, “Surviving Psychiatry,” and spoke on the subject at an international conference.  I saw “Les Miserables” and Cirque de Soleil.  I had much happier things to do that sue a bloody damn hospital—or so I thought.

Now it’s caught up with me.  I have fifteen diagnosed illnesses and one that is undiagnosable.  Eight of the illnesses were caused by psychiatric medications:  nephrogenic diabetes insipidus, chronic renal failure, left ventricle hypertrophy, right branch bundle block, pulmonary fibrosis, obesity and the undiagnosable immune system problems.  In five of the illnesses, antidepressants either were causative or significant complicating factors:  uncontrollable diabetes mellitus, severe and unstable obstructive sleep apnea, severe chronic fatigue syndrome, unstable hypertension and cataracts.  Only three of my illnesses are unlikely to have been caused by psych meds:  spinal osteoarthritis, fibromyalgia and executive dysfunction learning disability.

The undiagnosed learning disability was probably the major trigger for the depression.  My research suggests that the pre-existing fibromyalgia may have been the cue that I was at risk for damage from psych meds.

On yesterday’s Patient Review Instrument I scored a 7:  I need placement in a Skilled Nursing Facility.

Psych meds made me sick.  Now, with the added complication of the aging process, I need skilled nursing care but am blocked from getting it because I still carry wrongful psychiatric diagnoses.

Welcome to my world, people.  Now, repeat after me:  I never will take antidepressants.  I will fix my problems with people, not drugs.

If you don’t learn this lesson then you will end up old, sick and alone, like me.

About annecwoodlen

I am a tenth generation American, descended from a family that has been working a farm that was deeded to us by William Penn. The country has changed around us but we have held true. I stand in my grandmother’s kitchen, look down the valley to her brother’s farm and see my great-great-great-great-great-grandmother Hannah standing on the porch. She is holding the baby, surrounded by four other children, and saying goodbye to her husband and oldest son who are going off to fight in the Revolutionary War. The war is twenty miles away and her husband will die fighting. We are not the Daughters of the American Revolution; we were its mothers. My father, Milton C. Woodlen, got his doctorate from Temple University in the 1940’s when—in his words—“a doctorate still meant something.” He became an education professor at West Chester State Teachers College, where my mother, Elizabeth Hope Copeland, had graduated. My mother raised four girls and one boy, of which I am the middle child. My parents are deceased and my siblings are estranged. My fiancé, Robert H. Dobrow, was a fighter pilot in the Marine Corps. In 1974, his plane crashed, his parachute did not open, and we buried him in a cemetery on Long Island. I could say a great deal about him, or nothing; there is no middle ground. I have loved other men; Bob was my soul mate. The single greatest determinate of who I am and what my life has been is that I inherited my father’s gene for bipolar disorder, type II. Associated with all bipolar disorders is executive dysfunction, a learning disability that interferes with the ability to sort and organize. Despite an I.Q. of 139, I failed twelve subjects and got expelled from high school and prep school. I attended Syracuse University and Onondaga Community College and got an associate’s degree after twenty-five years. I am nothing if not tenacious. Gifted with intelligence, constrained by disability, and compromised by depression, my employment was limited to entry level jobs. Being female in the 1960’s meant that I did office work—billing at the university library, calling out telegrams at Western Union, and filing papers at a law firm. During one decade, I worked at about a hundred different places as a temporary secretary. I worked for hospitals, banks, manufacturers and others, including the county government. I quit the District Attorney’s Office to manage a gas station; it was more honest work. After Bob’s death, I started taking antidepressants. Following doctor’s orders, I took them every day for twenty-six years. During that time, I attempted%2
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5 Responses to Double-Damned by Doctors

  1. Don says:

    Anne, Keep on writing it is wonderful, hang in there. I remember saying to Dick that they think I am depressed. I was sad , lonely , troubled, not believed and not listened to . I can relate on a small level to what you are going through. It is hard when you cannot control your own life and are trapped in the world of others illusions, and their perceptions that are inaccurate. Thanks to you I am off my antidepressants and will never return to them. Don

    • annecwoodlen says:

      I am SO happy to hear that you are off antidepressants! I was so worried that you would replace one dependency with another. I am glad you are free. Thanks for the continued understanding and support.

  2. Feminist Rag says:

    Geezuz, I’d be hella frustrated and angry too! Sorry you have to deal with such idiocy on top of your health problems. Why are so-called professionals in health SO dense?! It’d be funny if not so dangerous and devastating for real people and their real lives. People have a right to refuse medication, and the “mental illness” diagnoses are rubbish to begin with, but psychiatry’s existence revolves around them. I hope you are able to get into a good place soon that will suit all your needs and treat you how you want and need to be treated.

    Are you still looking into going into a hospice?

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