The Provider/Consumer Relationship

An integral part of the pursuit of wellness is the quality of interaction with the medical establishment. Therapists, doctors, psychiatrists; they are all fairly consistent parts of a person’s march towards wellness. Unfortunately, there are a great number of misconceptions and biases that prevent provider and consumer from syncing. Both sides of the equation have very valuable information to contribute to the overall battle. They compliment one another like yin and yang. So let’s get down to clearing some of this up so we can make some meaningful progress.

Consumer (Patient) -

- The medical establishment is not trying to define who you are through a diagnosis and criteria set in the DSM. They are trying to find a starting point to work from.
- Your Provider will get things wrong periodically. It is YOUR RESPONSIBILITY to learn about the Disorder and whatever you are putting into your body so you can communicate clearly with your Provider. I can’t count the number of times I’ve had someone tell me they were Bipolar but couldn’t tell me what Type, if any, they had been diagnosed as.
- There is NO easy path to wellness. Anyone that promises that either does not know what they are talking about, are lying, or are selling something. If you look for quick fixes, you will always be disappointed.
- Your Provider is faced with an impossible task. They are trying to figure out what’s wrong and an appropriate way to handle it based off of a limited amount of information presented mostly from your point of view. That’s a problem, because many people don’t necessarily identify symptoms as being negative even if they are.
- Therapy does not “work for you”. Therapy is a tool where you can speak to someone who is a neutral sounding board and develop the skills needed to manage the Disorder. Get those dark thoughts out! Generally, the therapist will only take action if you are an immediate threat to yourself or if there is child abuse involved. The facility you are visiting should have given you a pamphlet outlining the privacy policy, if you didn’t read it. request another and actually read it.
- Doctors are human. There are good ones. There are bad ones. If you do not like, are uncomfortable with, or don’t trust the one you’re seeing- find another. You HAVE to see someone you trust to really be able to truly open yourself up and make progress.

Reality Check -

Day after day, resources for mental health are whittled down by people who have no right to judge these programs. Costs of healthcare are ridiculous and frankly unattainable by most. (I have yet to meet an addict that could pony up the thousands of dollars needed to attend rehab.) You know what makes this worse? The people that get a diagnosis and then take a half-assed approach to their wellness. It’s infuriating to listen to someone lament how they can’t get well while they are skipping doctors appointments, not attending therapy, or taking any steps of their own for their wellness. I feel that person is still in the process of falling. They need to hit rock bottom and realize that nothing can be more important than your mental stability if you want it. Unlike a lot of apologists and normal people trying to sympathize with these folks; I cannot. I don’t have the time or the energy for it. If you aren’t ready to get well, then step aside. You are sucking up limited resources and indirectly contributing to the loss of life and misery of other mentally ill people and their families. When you’re finally ready to get well, I’ll be waiting to give you a hand up.

Provider -

- We the mentally ill, are not lab rats or science experiments. Yes, you have a degree and have likely observed a lot of things in your line of work. That does not mean that what we have to contribute is invalid. Living it is an education one cannot get in a classroom.
- You may be the greatest mental health care Provider in the world, but it may take us time to really identify with you thanks to the sea of complete idiots that came before you. It’s difficult to maintain a positive attitude when you’re on Year 4 of trying various things to see if they work after watching the bumbling of your predecessors.
- Why do you continue to try and start us off on medication that we cannot possibly afford? Yes, that patient may have health insurance today, but six months from now who knows? The only absolute with Bipolar Disorder is the fact that there are no absolutes. Most consumers will simply stop their medication if they know they can’t afford it because they don’t know that there are other avenues to secure it.
- You’re not infallible and you need to remember that. I hate the fact that Providers are saddled with so much responsibility without margin for error that they are required to carry malpractice insurance, just in case. It really is not fair to the Provider because medicine is an inexact science. Everyone’s body and chemistry is unique to them, mistakes are going to happen.
- You are an individual, in a profession that can do a lot of good. However, we do not always see you as an individual. We see you as part of the medical industry machine that keeps failing us. That isn’t your fault, and its not purposeful. If your Consumer does not trust you or refuses to work with you; they may very well be associating you with the Providers in their past that botched things, made them worse, or simply didn’t give a damn.