The quest for mental wellness is tightly intertwined with the advice and beliefs of the medical profession. The problem is that some medical professionals are not competent providers of care. The keyword is “some”. This is not an attack on the entire medical profession. The expectations that we, as a society, place on these people is entirely unrealistic. Who can spend their entire career doing any activity and not make a single error?
Instead, I’m talking about the dangerously incompetent or ignorant. Doctors, nurses, psychiatrists, therapists- they are just people. People do stupid things for misguided reasons or just plain, old-fashioned incompetence. None of us can afford to take the word of a medical professional at face value. The stakes for our personal well being are simply too high. That is why each and every person receiving care should accept the responsibility of understanding why they are doing what they are.
A good example is from a recent interaction I’ve had. A mother and father are trying to get their unstable, Bipolar daughter stable. Over the course of six months, she’s been in and out of psych wards. She’s extremely unstable to the point where she is likely to be a threat to herself or her family. The girl has seen different psychiatrists in that time frame. Every couple of weeks her medication has been changed at the behest of the doctor with the approval of her father. The father does not understand how mental illness or medicating function. It takes 4-6 weeks for several mood stabilizing medications to raise to therapeutic levels within the blood stream. It is quite likely that he, and the doctors, are making her stability worse by changing it so often.
Enough time is not given to see if the medication is functioning. Instead of using an emergency mood stabilizer to get her through the hardest times, they are changing the medication altogether. The worst part is that one of these medications may very well have worked for her. Now, she will just look back and say “Oh, I already tried that and it didn’t work” without ever reaching the point where she could tell if it actually was working or not.
The daughter and father put their blind faith in the knowledge of these “professionals”. The truth of the matter is- the medical profession is subject to the same pointless garbage that every other business is. Some people do not know what they’re talking about, others are incompetent, and still others simply don’t give a damn. The father does not have to be a doctor to look up the functionality of psych medication and find that a majority of it requires far more time to work than they are giving. That would require his accepting that he may not know everything about treating mental illness. And I’m sorry, but “liking” a doctor is no reason to assume they are competent.
I know I’ve crossed paths with many people that I’ve liked in life that have been terrible at their job. I’m sure if you think about your workplace, you can come up with a few yourself.
I get it. It sucks to watch someone you love go through such a difficult time. The desire to help is only natural. The problem is that mental wellness is not something delivered overnight. It requires patience and navigating the rough patches when they come up. Do you want the highest chance for success? Educate yourself on your (or your loved one’s) condition and how it is treated. Always ask questions. Always steer clear of any “professional” that will not answer your questions openly and help you understand.
There are plenty of wonderful, self-sacrificing, knowledgeable people involved in the mental health field; but the stakes are simply too high for us to put blind faith in anyone with regard to how we pursue our mental wellness.
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