Deaf Mental Health… WTF?

I am irked.  Although it has been five weeks since shrink #2 came to my home (I am currently 4-months housebound Agoraphobic, diagnosed with Agoraphobia with Panic Disorder 20 years ago), I am peeved by her attitude towards Deafies.  She made so many Surdophobes and Audists proud that day.

For starters, she refused to provide an interpreter, therefore my Finnish mother-in-law and husband were with me – not just as witnesses to how badly some people treat the Deaf, but because I cannot lip-read and needed interpretation of some sort to make sense of the psychiatrist’s flapping lips.  My mother-in-law was my speech-to-text interpreter with her laptop and my husband was my ASL signing interpreter.  They have had to do this so many times over the past two years, I have lost count.  They don’t get paid for it.  They don’t get angry at me because of it.  But their eyes were opened a whole lot wider to the fact that the title of “Doctor” or “Psychiatrist” does NOT necessarily mean Deaf-friendly.

As pointed out, shrink #2 did not provide any interpretation services, regardless that she was told that her patient is profoundly Deaf.

She removed my long-term diagnosis of “Agoraphobia with Panic Disorder” from the national register and replaced it with “Paranoid, possibly schizophrenic,” as I am too afraid to leave my home due to the overwhelming amount of sexual assaults and violence which now take place, ever since the borders were opened to everybody, whether documented or not.

To add insult to injury, she further diagnosed me as “Disassociative,” with the explanation that:  “When I spoke, the patient did not look at me, but instead looked at a computer screen.” <– This is called “Reading what those flapping lips of yours are saying to me,” you silly gimboid!

NoASL

When I signed to my husband, she went ballistic after the very first word that I had signed, after she insisted I be placed in a mental institution – that signed word was “NO!” She then demanded that I do not sign language in her presence as “it is not technically a real language.” Her advice to me: “You have a voice, so use it.”

She told me that I am silly for using Deaf services texting service for emergency calls, and to “stop this Deaf thing” and use 112 when I ring emergency.

When she asked why I am too afraid to leave the house, I told her that my house is my “safe place” and that nobody can hurt me here. Her response: “Why would anybody want to hurt YOU? What makes YOU so special? Do you think you are the president or something?”

Add to that the fact that I suffer from chronic respiratory disease and talk like a “whispering cranky old man” due to my many asthma medications. I prefer not to speak at all as it encourages hearing people to respond with voice – something I cannot hear. American Sign Language is my everyday communication language at home, which is yet another reason that I sign. Although I have a voice, it not only hurts like hell to try and use it, but people look at me strangely, including my family. I have been told how “weird” I sound when I speak. I wear a surgical mask when strangers visit my home so I do not catch anything from them or their clothing (pollen and pollutants trigger more asthma attacks). Not only was I told that I have to use my voice from now on, but she demanded I lose the surgical mask. I refused. This added to further odd diagnoses from this “professional.”

Surdophobia and Audism are very big problems within the medical community – not just in Finland but worldwide. If these people can spare 4-6 years of their lives learning about medicine, why do they not spare a few moments of their day to learn about manners, human behaviour and how NOT to make Deaf and/or disabled people feel like wasted space?

Needless to say, I did not welcome this woman back into my home. She scheduled a second appointment after prescribing a medicine for schizophrenia (which had a common side effect of ANXIETY and a warning that it is not to be taken by those with any respiratory or heart condition). My husband contacted her and said not to return. She told him she WILL be returning, so I texted her myself and told her that this is a Deaf-friendly house and if she does set foot in my home again, she will be removed by the police and arrested. She finally got the hint.

I now have a new shrink. She is not from the public sector. I cannot deal with their nonsense any further. Shrink #3 is private, costs a bundle, is Deaf-friendly, was horrified at the medication that shrink #2 prescribed as it would have been life-threatening (ALSO not a first for me in Finland), and she prescribed the medication that I used to take while living in Australia – a medication I had been requesting from the public mental health system for over six years!

I have been on that medication for almost four weeks and yesterday, almost asked my husband if I could go to the grocery store with him. Yes, almost. While it is not a big deal to most, it is a major deal for me. Although it did not happen and I did not leave the house (again), I do have a goal in mind: My sixth wedding anniversary is just days away. I have asked that we eat out at a small restaurant (nothing crowded) to celebrate it. This not only came close to making my husband’s eyes pop out of his head from shock, but it also made him smile. I am determined to get my life back, and hopefully it happens soon, thanks to the Deaf-friendly shrink who treats EVERYONE like a person – no belittling, no Audism, no bitchiness. She listens, empathises, and wants me to regain my life as much as I do. For this, I am eternally grateful.

Thank you, Marjo (shrink #3) for caring.

– Rosie xx

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6 thoughts on “Deaf Mental Health… WTF?

  1. I am so sorry you had such a terrible experience. You are so strong to get through it and have the confidence to persevere with a different psychiatrist and I am so pleased she is much better xx

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  2. Pingback: WT&TT: Alert! Breach of copyright! (reblog) | myzania

  3. There aren’t even words to describe how horrible that therapist’s actions were to you. I’m glad you found someone else who treated you like a person! Unfortunately, I work in health care in the US and my program did not have a lot of focus about how to treat people with disabilities, which is absolutely ridiculous. You’d think they could spare at least one class.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It really is a shame. The Deaf and disabled are put on the back burner all too often. We are no different to anybody else and we feel, just as all other living things feel. We break emotionally when we have been treated like something that is broken. You are right …they should spend at least one class teaching how to empathise with all patients, not just those who can hear, run and jump puddles.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Gosh, that woman had no sense of client-centred communication at all…..You’d think that would be something she’d be taught?! (I am a Health Sciences/Occupational Therapy student in Aust and that’s one of the first lessons we learnt.)
    Good luck with your goal.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Unfortunately, many doctors in Finland are taught how to fix people, but not how to treat them as human beings when they are not broken. I have had doctors push my little whiteboards and pen away when I offer them, only to have them talk to me with very wide mouths up close (I have no idea if they are yelling or stretching their tonsils) but I tend to offer them a breath mint afterwards before waiting for my husband or mother-in-law to arrive so they can translate (and witness) what is being said. Their eyes have been opened in a big way since I came into their lives six years ago, and they are disgusted and horrified by the medical professionals and government officials of our state (Finland).

      Liked by 1 person

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