Why I Divorced My Psychiatrist (and the Field of Psychiatry)
October 24, 2018
I look forward to a day when we can raise the stage, create a safe container for two-way (at least) dialogue and change the conversation in the field of Acute Care Allopathic Psychiatry. My experience as a patient labelled with Bipolar Disorder showed me a team of professionals who feel they understand the conditions in their patients. Universities and training programs perpetuate some beliefs that has created a well-trod path in the approach to care. Questioning the many assumptions that were made a generation or more ago has not been the norm. I was trained as a Family Physician (graduated in 1990) which gave me a behind the curtain view of Psychiatry, over 20 years before being labeled as a patient and hospitalized under the Mental Health Act (against my will) on three separate occasions.
I will sidestep the details of my inpatient visits. Each have been documented in some form by me and shared on my Disabled Angel website. I will add links to the many writings pertaining to this topic at the end of this article. Keep in mind, they were written years ago. I do not feel to amend them as I see them as a documentation of my recovery.
Ultimately, I have a strong hypothesis that these out of the ordinary states that Medicine calls psychosis will find optimal understanding within the underdeveloped field of Human Consciousness. With optimal understanding of consciousness, I suggest that we will develop far more effective, humane and efficient ways to support people who have acute experiences known as psychosis.
My last visit to a Psychiatrist was March 1, 2016. It was a strange visit for me. I had switched my outpatient followup care from the original admitting Psychiatrist (in all 3 of my admissions) to this new female. Felt I needed a change.
This was my 4th visit to this new doctor. I wished to develop a therapeutic relationship partly to share the amazing findings in my experience about the alternatives available for patients like myself. Each of the first 3 visits, I did my best to authentically share my views. She appeared to listen patiently. I had so genuinely suggested she look into the promising Peer-Assisted Open Dialogue system underway in England. (Click the colored link to see an article I wrote about this multidisciplinary system of care.) I was left with the impression that she would look it up. In the end, it was a bit more of a metaphorical pat on the head. She had no intention of doing so. So by the 4th visit, I clearly asked, “You know that I am a Doctor right?” She adamantly answered, “Yes, but I am on this side of the desk”. We bantered back and forth in this vein. I left that visit confused. I decided to obtain the chart notes looking for a better understanding about why our communications did not feel right to me.
Here is a 16 minute video, Communication Breakdown I created to document my reaction on the day, 3 weeks later, I received the chart notes. (Click on the title to view).
I was triggered by her charting “some delusions of grandiose: there is a movie called Crazy wise , and I might be in it” “I am friends with the director Phil Borges” See picture of the actual chart notes above.
During that visit, she did not share this with me. As a Doctor, I recognize that it is common practice to keep this type of observation (for lack of a better word) to one’s self.
I was pretty charged up about being so significantly mis-documented. Truly, the only way she could chart this is to call Phil Borges himself and ask him if he knew me. OR She could have asked me more about that statement.
OR She could have Googled Crazywise, Angèle Beaudoin, and she would have found this link to a video interview Phil Borges, along with Kevin Tomlinson, did with me in the fall of 2014 in Brazil. (click colored letters to view the 1 minute clip)
I had said I might be in the film Crazywise because I was not sure if my clip would end up being included. In the final production, it was not used. Which made perfect sense when I viewed the completed production of the film that has started a movement. Even prior to its official release, an annual conference took place exploring the issues of suboptimal understanding of extreme states of consciousness that have been lumped into the term psychosis.
Thinking back to that visit I recall her offering a new mood stabilizer. The Doctor in me was genuinely interested. I had not heard of anything new coming out. I asked for its generic name and recognized it instantly as:
1. Not new
2. An antipsychotic medication
What? I was thankful that I had the freedom to politely answer, no thanks. The offer made little logical sense to me. Another incident building the case for my lack of trust of the profession.
I felt she was trying to trick me into taking an antipsychotic medication. I wondered if this was a common tactic she used with her patients?
Truly unprofessional. Lack of transparency.
Yet it is complicated. I recognize that. Hence, the long lag before I could be in a state to share this story. My number one intention to share now is to ask for a seat at the table and collaborate to find solutions. Please note my strong opinion – Peer-Assisted Open Dialogue approach would be a very workable start that would enable solutions for the current system to be uncovered. At the very least, we can treat people humanely. I do not think we need to do Scientific Research before we ensure care is humane.
That day in March 2016 was a Doctor versus Doctor moment. It was the practising Psychiatrist who was the delusional one. Ironic. She looked at me like I was a mirror … and charted what she saw. This mirror phenomenon is very relevant. I will not expand on this here. A Physics of Consciousness concept.
Yet what was I to do about it? The entire chart was a very biased and fictional story – to my eye. I was charted with 5 anaphylactic allergies (obviously a clerical error, I have no allergies). The error remains on my chart to this day. I was instructed to fill out forms etc etc. to have the allergies removed from my chart. Really? Suboptimal system. Just another piece of evidence for me. Yet the achilles heel of the Field of Psychiatry is the one-sided proclamation that patients like me lack insight into their own condition.
I would state it is more true to say that my insight does not match the insight of a traditional practicing Psychiatrist.
The tragedy here: I do feel that the Clinicians also lack insight into my condition. I do not claim 100% knowledge about what happened to me, but I do feel sure, based on my experience as a patient and a doctor, that the traditional Practicing Psychiatrist also does not know. The Field of Studying Consciousness is more of a Physics than a Biology, Genetics or Chemistry. I have come to believe that Physics trumps Biology (along with Genetics and Chemistry).
An aside, the inpatient care I received likened your enthusiastic friend always trying to interest you in their latest Multi-level Marketing Company. I would say that over 80% of communications with me from staff, nurses and doctors, revolved around Do I believe what they believe about my condition? It more closely resembles an obnoxious marketing campaign. Staff are significantly distracted away from the primary care of their patients labelled with ‘psychosis’.
I have ideas how to approach this habit. Patients naturally take a very defiant, defensive position. A healthy therapeutic alliance is impossible under these conditions. Staff feel justified when they experience this consistent response. Yet there may be other explanations as to why the response is so consistent. These altered states are associated with high sensitivity and intuition. Linear communication is not as online (yet still present in the background). It is accessible once returned to a more common state of consciousness.
It is quite entangled. Solutions are available, yet without willingness of a professional group or groups to explore those solutions, they will remain unavailable to the population affected by acute episodes of unshared reality. An extremely vulnerable position, to be sure. The association with profound personal transformation is not optimally recognized by the Psychiatric Profession. Yet.
I landed on choosing to do nothing about the inaccurate charting of my delusion of grandeur. I felt it was Medical Malpractice. Generally, my entire care has felt like invalidation of me as a human being. Staff demonstrate through their actions that there is no point listening to me or people like me because no truth can be found by us.
I planned to keep an eye/ear open for a proper stage or container to share this experience of not being recognized as a valid human being in my own care. I have yet to find that safe container. Being misrepresented by someone who has been given legal authority to overlook my own personal sovereignty is a daunting feeling. I did not trust that the Alberta College of Physicians and Surgeons would handle my grave concern in a way that would be optimal. They were trained in the same system as the Psychiatrists. One of my former classmates could have been the attending officer should I have chosen to lodge a formal complaint. Physicians policing physicians. I chose not to trust that system of self-regulation. To challenge the foundation of a field of medical care, where does one go for that?
I believe that a majority of Psychiatrists practicing in the traditional fashion would have treated me the very same. It is a systematic issue, not personal to this specific Physician. I am unaware of a proper avenue to share this experience. I even booked an appointment with my own personal lawyer in January of this year. I was not sure if or how she could help. Perhaps she could sit beside me as I shared this with the appropriate professional in a way that they could appreciate the gravity of the power differential for labelled patients. The legal backing given to a profession who never listens to their patients is not optimal. As a trained Physician myself, I recall the cardinal rule for all fields of Medicine: Listen to your patients. I did not initially recognize that Psychiatrists were excluded from this one. Dangerous state of affairs for a Field of Study that may not have a stable scientific backing. In training, I had contemplated the idea that if we declare a patient lacks insight into their condition, does this make us a god of some sort?
In the end, I cancelled my lawyer appointment. I do not know who would be the optimal professional to hear my concern as outlined above. If you do, I sincerely ask that you put them in touch with me.
I am reluctant to add here but feel I must: I ended up having a 4th episode of altered state of consciousness. Hence, I cancelled the lawyer appointment in early January 2018. My plan to attempt to be heard was one of the triggers of this episode. Noteworthy to add: I did not seek Medical attention, certainly not with a Psychiatrist. I have collected a small network of Peers, some having also divorced the Psychiatric Profession many years ago. I was cared for by my Peers. It settled in 6 days. I used about 10 tablets of Ativan 1mg over the episode that helped calm me and get some sleep. I have not taken Lithium Carbonate, or any other pharmaceutical, since November 2016, aside from the PRN Ativan during the latest episode.
I initiated a regimen of Hardy’s Essential Nutrients and extra Niacin at the onset of the latest episode in January 2018. Niacin has some documentation as a natural antipsychotic.
It felt like my process finally had a chance to complete. I took tender care of myself through the year 2018. As I waited for my brain to “nutrate”, a term we laughingly use. Here I am at the end of October.
I processed a lot of grief over the months. Grief that in former times, I ran away from. I left my body in a way. I refused to remain grounded and feel the pain that now has been felt. I simply share my observations as an expert in Psychosis, via experience. I am ready to participate in a true evaluation of what is best for patients who have experienced extreme states. When we understand more, likely we will line up with better care.
Out of this experience, a dream formulated.
I strongly recommend that a Tribunal of diverse multidisciplinary individuals deeply explore, with a wide open mind and heart, the question:
What is Psychosis?
Important to include in the group:
Peers- people with lived experience, like myself
Alternative care professionals who already incorporate a style of practice without pharmaceuticals.
Variety of Medical Professionals
Occupational Therapists and other paramedically trained professionals
Variety of people lacking any connection to Psychosis
The list can go on and on.
I do have concern that those (entrained) trained in the current system may lack a willingness to consider that all they have been taught may have done great harm to many. Cognitive dissonance is a barrier to this work.
This would be an epic challenge. Most people raised in the western world have been entrained to specific styles of thinking, mindsets, that may have difficulty approaching this topic from a clear slate. Still worth doing. It would take some masterful facilitating to come to some workable action points.
The reward is a great one. To allow a system to reform itself so that individuals can be enabled and empowered in their lives.
Systematic disempowerment is how I view the current Psychiatric system. One mindset attempting to hold another mindset captive. Live and let live would be an improvement. Exploration of mindsets in the setting of Mental Healthcare … would be amazing!
It is time to raise the stage,
… to create a safe container for discussion ,
… and Change the Conversation
… in wholeness care.
No human left behind.
Angèle Beaudoin, M.D.
Links to other articles by Angèle Beaudoin (written years ago during my recovery/exploration):
Quantum Theory of Psychiatry – to explain how consciousness, an offshoot of Physics, would ideally be the basis for Psychiatry.
WRAP it Up – about overwhelmed caregivers and patient support group experiences. WRAP= Wellness Recovery Action Plan
Sharing My Crazy – My 1st involuntary hospital admission, October 2012
It’s All Fun and Games – My 2nd involuntary hospital admission July, 2013. Involuntary Haldol cocktail injection.
What I Learned in Crazytown? My 3rd involuntary hospital admission, May 2015
Monkey On My Back – I am referring to the Medical Profession. A very personal emotional expression. I used orangutans as a symbol for Psychiatrists. I obtained a lot of healing writing this story. I cry almost every time I read it. Including today. It is a sad story for me.