Flora the (Good?) Fairy

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The first time I call the crisis team, I hang up as soon as someone picks up the phone. I take a breath, laugh at myself internally, then call again and leave my name.

When I get a call back 10 minutes later, it’s Flora, and I’m relieved. I wouldn’t say I like her, exactly, but I know her, at least. She’s done all my home visits, before I figured out that I’m allowed to refuse, and some of my you-still-alive? phone calls. I last saw her in January the day after I was released from the hospital, and she seemed concerned though a little unsure of what to do with me.

She doesn’t give any indication that she remembers me, but I know she has my file in front of her.

What can we do for you? she asks, businesslike.

I’m looking for a psychiatrist and I haven’t had much luck, I tell her, so I was hoping you could suggest some for me. 

There’s a long pause. Ohhhkay, she says slowly. Umm….now….was there a specific requirement?

I’m feeling awkward, and confused, and embarrassed. Yeah, I’m looking for someone who does psychotherapy, I force out. There are a whole lot of other things I wanted to tell her, like I want to see someone who can see me long-term, who will let me bring Everest, preferably who has some experience with dissociation or self harm or something relevant to me, but I already feel like I’m demanding something I’m not entitled to just by calling and I can’t bear the thought of being even more demanding by outlining a whole list of things I want. Anyway, the words won’t come out.

And have you spoken to any of your current service providers to see if they’ve got any suggestions? she asks, and I immediately start welling up with tears.

I don’t have any. 

What about any psychologists? she asks, and I’m annoyed. First, didn’t I just answer this question? Second, Anna got in touch with them to let them know she was quitting – that’s the whole reason for all the weeks they spent trying to get in touch with me.

My psychologist left over a month ago, and she told me to get in touch with you guys…she got in touch with you as well….I’m stumbling, not sure what to say.

Yeah, yeah, yeah, she says, part acknowledging and part dismissing. So have you tried the leaders from the DBT group? 

I’m confused – why would I have asked for a referral from the leaders of a group that finished over two months ago and had no provision for ongoing contact? – but I still feel like I’ve done something wrong.

No, I haven’t.

Okay, she says. I can’t think of any names off the top of my head, but I’ll give you a call back in about fifteen minutes. 

She does, and she gives me three names and tells me that if these don’t work out, to get my doctor to call them for some more suggestions. (What I hear is: we don’t want to talk to you.) I’m polite and express gratitude I don’t really feel, then hang up. I’ve already gone into a tailspin of shame and self-loathing and panic and I’m picturing blood oozing from my arm.

State the facts, I tell myself, remembering the DBT skills. I called the crisis team, they asked me some questions, and then they gave me three names of possible psychiatrists. That increases the shame – they gave me exactly what I asked for and I’m still upset. Why do I expect so much from people? Why did I think she would offer me more support than that, after the weeks I spent dodging them?

It’s 9pm and I’ve been in bed all day, asleep for most of it. I still feel exhausted.

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Flora the (Good?) Fairy

18 thoughts on “Flora the (Good?) Fairy

  1. Sirena says:

    I would have felt the same. She didn’t sound very warm. But you’re right she did give you three names to call and that’s the main thing. Maybe when you screen them, you can ask about working with dissociation?

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    1. I don’t think I can do that. In a practical way – when you call to make an appointment you get the receptionist: how do you talk to the psychiatrist? – and in a ‘oh fuck I can’t do this’ way. I can’t ask questions. I’m not assertive enough or confident enough or something enough. R normally does it for me. I’ll have to work something out.

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      1. Sirena says:

        ah okay. Well, make an appointment with each of them and maybe take a letter or list of things you’re looking for, would that be easier?

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      2. Yeah, that might end up being my best option. I very very much don’t want to see anybody unless I already know they’re available twice a week long term – last time I went through the whole history with a psych who told me she couldn’t see me I had to have surgery to fix the SH damage – but I think I’m going to have to accept that that’s a perfect world scenario and this is not a perfect world.

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      3. Sirena says:

        LOL you’re welcome. Also you could perhaps google these Dr’s and see what you can learn about them and how they work?

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      4. Crazy (thorough?) as it sounds, I’ve Googled every single female psychiatrist that works in my city. These three weren’t on my short list because I couldn’t find out much about them, but one of them is involved in a charity that trains dogs as companion animals for people with mental illness so she might be open to me bringing Everest to sessions at least.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I think that is really hard and you were brave, even if you don’t feel like it.

    It doesn’t seem like a very good crisis team. She didn’t ask if you were ok, if you were safe, etc. I am confused by them.

    Anyways, I am proud of you. You have 3 options and if they don’t work, you can call again. You don’t have to go through your doctor (I wouldnt!). You get to decide.

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    1. I guess it’s hard for her to tell over the phone since my voice is usually pretty calm and steady, but yeah. You’d think “don’t assume” would be a good motto for a crisis team. I still feel like I’m not getting anywhere, but at least I’ve got three more names to cross off the list, I guess.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. You deserve to ask for names, for help. You have the right to ask for help from people who are supposed to provide help.

    I wonder if you were upset– even though they “gave you exactly what you asked for”– because she was rude, dismissing, uncaring, not emphatic, and behaved as though she had something better to do then to help you. I don’t blame you for feeling badly. I would have felt a lot of shame around this.

    You did it, though. You should feel proud. You were very brave. You called, you asked for help, you struggled through it, and you now have 3 names. This is a good thing. Call them. Do like Sirena suggested and ask the receptionist about the psych’s availability. And I think the idea of bringing a list or a short written page detailing what you need, and maybe even what you hope to get out of therapy. You can do this. Xx

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    1. I don’t trust my judgment at all any more because I know I am sensitive to rejection…but on the flip side, probably a lot of clients who call the crisis team are, so even if her tone was more caring than I heard it, she could probably choose her words a bit more carefully. It did feel very shaming.

      I guess I have a choice between feeling ashamed that I made the call and that it was hard for me to make the call and that I didn’t say the right things, or being proud that I made myself do something I really didn’t want to do but knew it was in my best interests. I guess I’ll go with proud. Thanks for pushing me in the right direction, Alice. Your support means a lot to me.

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      1. I’m sure a lot of people who call the crisis center are sensitive to rejection, and crisis center workers should be trained to be sensitive to this.

        I’m glad you are choosing to be proud. 🙂

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  4. I don’t know that you are expecting too much – compassion, kindness, service from someone in a paid position on a crisis team? That is not too much, nor are your expectations out of control. I think you were very brave in making the call, despite the setbacks you’ve had recently. It isn’t easy to ask for help, especially after you were so let down by your last three providers. I hope one of these pans out. I hope you can get connected to support soon. I am not happy with Flora. She doesn’t sound very kind or compassionate.

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  5. I don’t think you were expecting too much either. People who work in certain types of jobs that require a lot of interaction with human beings in distress or pain need to be gentle and compassionate. Period. It’s just part of the job. By not displaying care and concern, Flora risks alienating you to the degree that you don’t end up getting the help you need and deserve. Which means she is actively harming you.

    Flora is definitely a NAPIWET, and NAPIWETs don’t belong on mental health crisis teams. (Don’t know if you saw that post, but I created the term NAPIWET–Not A Person I Would Ever Trust–to describe Jenna, a very disrespectful gynecological nurse. It seems appropriately applied to Flora as well.)

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    1. I have sometimes met mental health workers and wondered what motivated them to join the profession, and what went so horribly wrong along the way. I read and loved that post!

      Liked by 1 person

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