When I went into nursing it was with the intention of working in the psychiatric field. It’s ironic now, given what later transpired. I also had a passion for emergency trauma nursing, and thought since they get a high population of mental health patients as well, it was the best of both worlds. I worked level one trauma mostly at facilities such as Denver General, St. Anthony’s in Denver, OHSU, Kaiser Permanente in Denver and others. I give this to you as I know I have nursing peers I worked with that are still around, and may help take issue with electroshock.
I remember some of being a nurse, when I was on the professional side of things. And, I remember being a patient, impaired by toxic levels of psychiatric drugs and electroshock. On the professional side, around psychiatric patients were the “slurs” and innuendos when a mark was made on the triage board signifying a psychiatric client, and “who would take them?” It was interesting to me, because I knew many of my nursing peers (including myself) had experienced similar issues in one fashion or another.
Are we somehow different from the patient in room “A” whose circumstances have warranted a need for public help? I do not think people understand that based on a current crisis or short-term problem one can end up with a lifetime diagnosis, associated with drugs and possibly ECT. Doctors, nurses, psychologists, social workers, etc., you may hold a degree and carry a title, but you are still human, and are not immune to these life circumstances.
This brings me to what I wanted to talk about, and that is the rise in suicide among physicians. The rate is now 28 to 40 per 100,000, double that of the general population.1 That translates to one per day. It is the highest suicide rate of any profession.
As a professional, to be given a psychiatric label, psychiatric drugs, or even ECT will impact your personal and professional career (if people find out). People say they are open and understand mental illness. But, once you have received a psychiatric diagnosis, people by nature, will treat and see you differently in some way. It may not necessarily be negative, but you as a person shift in others eyes.
Our current system has the mentality of “us and them”, verses a level playing field of ”we.” We are all in this together to varying degrees and life circumstances. You just haven’t been identified with some label that matches up with a drug in a clinical trial perhaps? With a constantly growing list of diagnoses in the DSM, and a drug matched to each diagnosis, soon there will be something for everyone. We take on this new label as gospel. But it is based on reactions to circumstances that can vary day to day. And the diagnosis is based on a given doctor’s perception, that often varies doctor to doctor.
One recent study found 75% of med students and residents were on SSRIs or other antidepressants.2 Doctors could be having a rise in suicide if they are adversely responding to antidepressants which are known to increase or cause suicidal/homicidal ideation.3 They could also fear seeking assistance, because in receiving a diagnosis, they know full well it will impact their career, and how others perceive them. So, alone in their suffering they choose suicide.
Do you see the system you are actually encasing yourselves in now with your own peers? The line is a thin one. One steps over, and though you carry a title and degree, you are still human and subject to human emotions and experiences. We may not yet fully understand and actually value nor utilize these states that I believe hold great potential and value.
I miss being a nurse. But I cannot understand how the healers I have admired and worked with can remain so silent and complicit around this, knowing full well of mechanism of injury outcomes. I recall once watching from the background, as a trauma was being worked. I was moved to tears at the beauty of this dance taking place in an effort to save a patient. I was honored to be a part of their team.
I do not feel honored to have been part of it now, with denial of damages and the lack of response and assistance that all other traumatic brain injury survivors have at their disposal. My peers are committing suicide as a direct result not only of TBI outcomes, but because physicians write complaints off as psychiatric in order to protect a very faulty system. After such abuse at the hands of trusted providers, where does one turn for help?
Because everyone is afraid of lawsuits now, the patient suffers and symptoms are minimized or totally ignored. ECT survivors need extensive rehabilitation, but who will write the order listing the reason? Who is not afraid to take a stand as a physician with intent to warn, protect, and not cause harm? We are sorely in need of many now.
You all know full well these outcomes. But because we have a psychiatric history perhaps you feel you can minimize and look the other way? I don’t know. I know as a healer one should do their best to intervene where there is known harm. Your very own peers in medicine are at risk, and it seems many are choosing suicide as the current system keeps one bathed in shame and secrecy.
Based on a given day, with circumstances which may be acute and self-limiting, you are identified with a lifelong mental health label to follow you throughout your life. This is a shame to so limit a human being. I do not think the human SPIRIT will be contained nor identified this way for long. The current medical paradigm is failing. It feels as if a shift is happening in the crisis of the fallout of justice for electroshock patients.
My hope is for an entirely new perspective, a healing perspective where altered and extreme states are valued. Where power and responsibility are returned to the sovereign individual with assistance as needed, and in cooperation.
1 . “When doctors struggle with suicide”, National Public Radio, July 31, 2018, https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2018/07/31/634217947/to-prevent-doctor-suicides-medical-industry-rethinks-how-doctors-work
2. Pamela Wible MD, “75% of med students are on antidepressants or stimulants (or both)”, Sep 4, 2016. https://www.idealmedicalcare.org/75-med-students-antidepressants-stimulants/
3. Peter C Gøtzsche , Professor, Nordic Cochrane Centre, “Antidepressants increase the risk of suicide, violence and homicide at all ages”, BMJ 2017;358:j3697, Sep 3, 2017. https://www.bmj.com/content/358/bmj.j3697/rr-4.