_1 in 4 people, like me, have a Mental Health problem. Many more have a problem with that._.jpg

It is one of the worst feelings in the world when you face medical stigma.

One is mental illness stigma and leading to improper care.

I was surprised when, after one of these run-ins, my psychopharmacologist said this sort of behavior was all too common. At least 14 studies have shown that patients with a serious mental illness receive worse medical care than “normal” people. Last year the World Health Organization called the stigma and discrimination endured by people with mental health conditions “a hidden human rights emergency.” When doctors disciminate

I feel like I encountered this when I went to the ER to get these chest pains checked out. He looked at my history. Said I had anxiety. Didn’t run any tests. And sent me on my way. I get I am depressed and am being treated for it. But I do not have anxiety and I think I would know if I did, considering when I have these chest pains I am rather calm. If I wasn’t I would have called 911. I didn’t. I waited until the next day. Just following up on the other doctor to make sure the chest inflammation wasn’t getting worse since it was affecting my breathing. Considering I still have the chest pains and now these intermittent dizzy spells it clearly isn’t going away.  Fiest time I encounter such… disregard for someone’s wellbeing from a doctor. Not to mention I once went in for depression and they completely ignored my pain after… all in your head. I’m like, no, I am depressed because I am not coping well with all this pain. Delayed that Fibromyalgia diagnosis. Once I began to cope better and depression dissipated I ended up seeing a different doctor who sent me to a specialist, a few years later.

Some are related to illness. I had an ER doc back in the day tell me he didn’t believe in FM so what I said was wrong with me didn’t have to be investigated and he sent me off. It was FM related chest-wall pain made severe by the type of job I was doing and I needed six months of strong NSAIDs to clear it up… after I went to my primary in the city an hour and a half from where I lived at the time to figure out the real problem. Thankfully I could take NSAIDs at that time. Imagine if it had been a heart attack or cancer in the lungs or any number of things? But, nope, he didn’t believe in fibromyalgia so clearly, I was just making up pain.

Others are gender-related. Straight up gender discrimination. As in, as in women they statistically do not believe your pain is as bad as you say it is. I have had this problem as well. Once I had a status migraine (Acute migraine lasting more than three days, need medical treatment and comes with additional risk factors) and the doctor told me to take two aspirin and have a hot bath. Because vertigo, dizziness and nausea and my low blood pressure are awesome in a hot bath. And 2 aspirin? Not even for a normal migraine. I had been in that state for six days. I broke into tears. It was a horrible day. Just in general though I have experienced it all my life. I have told doctors straight up I am having problems coping with the pain. Nothing was done. I wasn’t treated for FM for a decade. I tried to kill myself from the pain. I was told it was ‘an extreme reaction to pain’ but he did nothing about that pain.

And the old drug seeker discrimination. We are all drug seekers. That is the one I have experienced today. I fell down the stairs from vertigo. I went to the walk-in clinic because I couldn’t wait for my doc nor drive that far. Every time I have been to that walk-in I tell them I cannot take NSAIDs, but I can take NSAID creams. I just cannot tolerate them after the bleeding ulcer I had, it is a drug sensitivity. Every time I get a weird vibe from them about it. This time they prescribed nothing, which doesn’t bother me because I didn’t want them to. But I expected them to mention it and me to say no because it would mess with my migraines. I will take what I have and that would be fine, what is just a bit of temporary pain anyway, eh? But this assumption is downright rude.

For me what happens is:

  1. I become stoic about my pain with them. I feel they think I must be exaggerating so I always undervalue my pain. Clearly counter-productive.
  2.  don’t go in for things. Like status migraines. I stopped going in for them. Ended up with permanent nerve damage from it, but there was no point in going in. I can’t get Toradol shots (NSAID) and they would just make me feel like a drug seeker as a result.
  3. I delay going in. Because I have had the feeling in the past I am not taken seriously or I exaggerate… I ignore minor symptoms and wait to see what happens. See if they are ‘important’ enough to mention. Frankly, I do this with chest pains now. That was the worst outcome to that chest pain incident I had. I do nothing about most of them. Sometimes don’t about the severe ones. And just occasionally go in when something weird goes along with it.

2 thoughts on “Medical stigma and discrimination

  1. YES. Oh my goodness, everything about this is so true. I had a neurologist last year who kept making me feel like I was exaggerating when I described my constant migraines to him. And when the first couple of treatment options we tried didn’t work out he made me feel like it was my fault. The worst part is that I honestly believed him for awhile…. Until I went to a new neurologist and she worked with me to find the best treatment plan. My symptoms started to improve dramatically when I finally got compassionate care. Never going back to that last neurologist again!


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