About a year ago, my doctor accepted my desperate plea to be referred to a psychologist. I wasn’t sure what I wanted, exactly. Someone to talk to, medication, or even just someone to admit that I had a problem. Whatever it was, I didn’t get it.
I got wait listed. That’s when you sit in a small, warm office room and tell your secrets to someone you’ve just met that has a few letters behind their name to prove that they can be trusted. The stranger asks questions and listens, and you tell him about seven years with an eating disorder and the nights that you just lay on the floor and cry. You tell the stranger with the letters behind his name all of these things, and then he tells you that it’s not actually as bad as it seems. And then your name gets put on the bottom of a long list of people with problems much worse than yours.
And then they forget to call you. For six months. Concerned that I had been forgotten about, I called the doctor that had made the referral, who said he couldn’t do a thing. Then I called the hospital that I had been referred to, who promised that I was still on the list and they would get to me soon.
Nearly a year after my initial appointment, I wandered into the ER and, starting to cry, told them that I was “close to suicidal.” It wasn’t a lie. That led to a very long four hours. I told my story over and over, first to the receptionist, then the triage nurse. I repeated it to the security guard that escorted me back to their Crisis Stabilization Unit-it seemed like overkill, the whole “armed guard” situation-and then a CSU nurse and tech, ER Doc, and counselor. By time I got to the counselor, I was out of tears and sick of telling people why they should care when someone with paranoid schizophrenia was in the next room, screaming at the top of his lungs.
I was just a sad girl that couldn’t control herself around food.
As the counselor soon told me, I was a sad girl that had been forgotten about. He told me that I had been on the list, and I’d even been assigned to a psychiatrist. Said psychiatrist then left the hospital, and all of the patients on his list were just forgotten.
The long four hours ended with a prescription for Prozac and two appointments, one for a counselor and one for a psychiatrist. The tech also handed me a list of eating disorder treatment resources in my area as I walked out.
I work for a hospital system. I know how, even when your business is healing the sick and caring for people, you will do anything to cover your ass. So I smiled kindly when my counselor told me that he stuck his neck out for me, but I knew that, after being lost in the system for a year, they were obligated to fix their mistake.
Long story short, tomorrow starts treatment, for depression and anxiety and binge eating disorder; all the words that showed up on the top of my intake sheet became a prescription in less than a day. But maybe a month’s worth of Prozac isn’t enough to make me forget that I had told the kind man with letters behind his name that I was already so close to wanting to kill myself, and then he forgot about me.