Sunday, 28 April 2019

WHEN THE NURSE TAKES HER APOLOGY BACK



It feels like it’s been a long time since I wrote a more personal post – I think that I’ve had a lot of collaborations recently; but I’m NOT Disordered started with me writing about my day-to-day life so I guess it’s something that attracts people…?


Last week, I had my weekly appointment with my Community Psychiatric Nurse (CPN) and she asked what my long-term goals are so I said that I’d like to be discharged from the Community Mental Health Team (CMHT) by the end of the year.  She asked what needed to happen between now and then for me to think that I was well enough for discharge and I told her ‘no self-harm.’ To which she replied, ‘I don’t think that’s realistic… your life will always revolve around self-harm now.’


I mean…?!!!!! What a comment!


In the appointment I told her that I wanted to end it early and started crying so I left.

The next day, she rang me to apologize. I’m one of those people who appreciates apologies a lot and I think that it takes a big person to not only recognize when their behaviour has been wrong but to also then say they’re sorry for doing it.


So, the apology meant a lot to me and it meant a lot that she hadn’t just waited until our next appointment; she’d taken time out of her day to call me. It also meant she’d been thinking about what she’d said, and this is something I worry about a lot about in mental health and with professionals, that we – the Service Users – are the only ones affected by the professionals’ words. As though they say what they want and go home and forget about it. We always used to say this in Hospital whenever staff would change the ward rules and we’d tell them that it was ok for them because they go home after their shift; we’re the ones who live here 24/7! So, it was refreshing to realize that my CPN had considered her actions beyond our appointment.


This week, at our first appointment since that, I had a feeling we’d touch on it at the beginning but really didn’t think it’d become much of a talking point since – in my mind – all was said and done; she’d made a mistake and apologized. I was absolutely fine to just leave it there. But no, rather than move on from it, she made it into an even bigger issue and focus. She wanted to take back her apology because – after thinking on it (apparently) – she’d decided that my walking out had actually been really unfair on her! She said that it meant she hadn’t had the opportunity to explain herself better. I told her that she shouldn’t have even needed that opportunity. She told me that she understood I’d left the appointment because I’d been upset but I corrected her. I explained that if I’d ‘only’ been upset then I’d have stayed and talked through it. After all these years, I no longer care about crying in front of someone (in fact, I don’t know why it’s so taboo!). I had to leave the room because I was angry. In fact – I told her – that I’d left because I hadn’t wanted to see her face any more. I understand that might sound rude, but I think that’s only because it’s so – granted maybe it was ‘too’ - blunt and honest.


She then told me how grateful she was that I hadn’t self-harmed after the appointment and it hit me – “is that why you rang me the next day? To see if I’d done something?!” She told me ‘yes, of course’ and I told her she had no faith in me. She said she was trying to be realistic and why else did I think she’d called. I told her I thought she’d rang to make her apology – I thought she’d rang because she recognized her mistake and I understand that ringing to see if I had done something could be looked on as though she does care but… I just would rather she was ringing to apologize and not because she didn’t trust in the strength of my recovery.


Between my tears, I told her that on my way to the appointment (when I’d thought this discussion would be a lot shorter and more positive and productive) I’d decided that I was going to tell her that I’m ready to talk about losing Dolly. Now, this is something that is seriously HUGE!! And my decision came about because of our last appointment; her asking what I wanted to change to result in discharge and I thought that the one rationale for self-harm left is what happened in losing Dolly.  And the fact that she’d called and apologized had meant so much that I felt like I could trust her with this. I thought our relationship was so solid that she was the right person to talk to about this. And now she’d tarnished all of that. 

The disappointment set in and the anger came when she said that we probably shouldn’t discuss Dolly because I, apparently, ‘wouldn’t like’ her ‘opinion’ on that either! I asked if we could agree to disagree on the original issue and she told me that I was only saying that because I was trying to block it all out. She asked; “why is it so easy for you to give up?” I was furious. I told her she shouldn’t say something like that to me after all I’ve been through. To me, ‘giving up’ is a huge deal! It means you can’t see any chance of anything getting better. It’s about throwing your hands in the air and doing one of two opposite actions: either taking a step back and saying what happens happens or, doing something to end it. And I’d like to think that something like that, doesn’t ‘come easy’ to anyone!