Thanks everyone for the replies, it means a lot. It really does. Last night I think you can imagine I was very upset and suicidal. I didn't sleep well and I've lain in bed with the same thoughts spinning around my head. The prospect of feeling like this for the rest of my life is unpalatable. But now I'm trying to change the pain into anger, and the anger into strength. There's no doubt I'll fall over many times, but I should try not to allow that to stop me from moving forward. The desert may be infinite but there's no way I can know unless I look.
In my career I worked with many doctors of computer science. Apart from their qualifications, every one of them had one thing in common. They were all fools, in their pursuit of knowledge they had gained a qualification, even a title, but they hadn't gained intelligence. I must keep that in mind about the professor I spoke to yesterday. He asked me about my life, all the way from where I was born to the present day. At every turn he asks about social life, friendships (or lack thereof) and times at school or work. This carries on for two hours, only now do I realise I was cajoled at every turn into talking about a lack of social contact. At the end of this session, he asked if I felt anything had been missed out. “Well yes,” I responded, “We haven't covered anything about my family-life, the almost insane fantastical thoughts going through my head, how I feel.” He asked for an example, I gave him one. “Well yes yes,” he said as I noticed he failed to write anything down, “Well I think it's time we stopped for something to eat. You'll be meeting up with Bob next.”
Well Bob wasn't any better. Let me give you an example. Bob:
So tell me what you like to do in your spare time. Me:
I used to love photography. I started when I was sixteen, and there's just something about it. Of course it's very rare that I get to do it these days, now I don't get out much any more. But it's something I would like to take up again sometime. Bob:
So what sort of photography do you enjoy? Me:
Nature – landscapes and close-ups. Landscapes mainly though. It's amazing to be able to see the world most people don't and capture it at it's best. Bob:
Okay, tell me about the last time you did photography. When was that? Me:
Well...I'd say the last shoot I did was probably about two or three years ago. I got some nice work from that one. It was a dawn shoot, and I had to go some distance in the dark to reach my location. But having set up my equipment, then counting down the minutes for the sun to rise and watching the world wake up. Well it's just beautiful. Bob:
It's interesting that you should enjoy something that keeps you away from other people. Me: [Confused]
So what's sort of books do you read? Me:
Well I like the old science fiction, but not what it's become these days. All aliens and shiny metal things doesn't appeal to me. The original science fiction used the extreme as a transport mechanism to say something else. For example, Body Snatchers wasn't about aliens, it was about whether or not we can ever really know those around us, ever trust them. Bob:
Okay, so the world of make believe then. [Writes down 'Science fiction']
So what would you say is your favourite film. Me: [Slightly confused]
The Shining, brilliant film. Good story, good directing, and one of my favourite actors in it. I didn't much like the book though. Bob:
Interesting, a rather macabre film then. [Writes down 'The Shining']
So, if we can cure your depression, what would you most like to do. Me:
I'd like to turn my depression from a disadvantage into an opportunity. An opportunity to learn. And of course I'd like to make up for the time I've lost. Lately, what I think I'd like to do, is spend some time photographing the middle east and far east. It's an area of the world we really know very little about. I think it would be a fantastic experience, perhaps I can find a way to make some money from it at the same time.
At the time Bob didn't have much to say about this, but later he did point out that it seemed to be a way to keep away from other people. Well if he's right, perhaps I should spend my time photographing the street outside my flat. At the same time watch The Waltons
and read romance novels.
Another thing, regarding the prof this time. I told him, at the start of our conversation, the family history of depression. Later in the day he agreed that it seemed to be genetic for sure, but we are years from starting to identify those genes which are responsible. This was the reason he gave for my depression being untreatable. Interesting. It took just five seconds to find an internet article explaining that in 2004 the Duke University discovered a mutated gene (5-HTT) that made people more vulnerable to depression due to their serotonin levels. Seems like some professors really do live in the past.
Well, finally, it seems obvious they don't give a damn about their patients. I told both Bob and the prof how nervous I was about the day and what they would say. I'm sure it would be obvious for any patient given the circumstances. After speaking to Bob, he told me to come back in half an hour, at quarter past, for their conclusion. So I went out for a short walk and a smoke. Returning at quarter past, I discovered the whole of the psychiatric out patient ward to be empty, not a person in sight. Nonetheless I took a seat in the waiting room and waited. And waited. Due to my nerves it felt longer, but 20-30 minutes later I saw them return. “Where had they been?” I wondered, “Perhaps reaching a conclusion had taken longer than expected.” Then I spotted the secretary with them, and the young lad who was working on a computer earlier. And the coffee mugs in their hands. So as they all came in laughing and Bob said cheerfully as he walked past “One of us will come to get you soon.” I realised they just didn't give a damn. And I was right. When they came to get me, I was forced to sit through a long derogatory speech, full of ridiculous questions. “If I said to you we had a helicopter outside waiting to take you to Outer Mongolia would you take it?” the prof asked. Well that's a ridiculous question, I tried to concentrate on an answer instead of imagining the almighty crash when the helicopter pilot realised there was not enough fuel. Surely there's a time and a place for hypothetical questions, even then we must learn the ridiculous and the sublime. “Well, uhm, I don't know. Er, probably not but I don't know” I said. Of course, the prof had made his mind up at the start of the day so it didn't matter what I said. Finally he came to his 'solution', an assertiveness course. At first they gave it the name 'Social Skills Training' but later gave it's name in its true guise. Well of course I told them I didn't feel that would be of any help, expressed my frustration. The prof finally asked if he had said this was the full solution, I admitted he hadn't and backed down. Well the prof would then then continue to speak what by now I had realised was just crap, before returning to the assertiveness course. Once more I would explain my frustration, and again the prof would ask if he had said this was his full solution for me to back down. After a few times he would say we were only going in circles, well of course we were because he kept returning to this ridiculous idea of his. One of those times, Bob even piped in to explain the course, that they do things like role play returning an item to a store! Well, at that point I had to laugh! Bob, are you clueless? After several of these circles, the prof told me his second part of the grand solution, a debt management course. Woohoo, a second chance for me to laugh! After all, the two wonder minds had failed to recognise I was in tears of this news. Now I was frustrating over not just the assertivness course but a debt management course too! Had I spoken about my debt? Well yes, as a passing comment and no more. I used to earn £36k a year, now I get £180 a fortnight. I have £10-20k debt plus mortgage and can't pay it, but my attitude is that they cant get blood out of a stone. In the grand scheme of things, it is but a grain of sand. So I expressed my frustration, and at this point I started to express anger too. I almost walked out. How did the prof react? You guessed it, he said we were going in circles and he hadn't yet said this was his full solution yet. The irony of it was, this was his full solution!
Some time during this escapade, while I was in tears, the prof told me my depression was untreatable. Just like that, a fact out of the blue. Obviously his training never included Empathy 101.
So what to do now? Well I'll be passing a copy of this post to my psych. Hopefully he'll tell them never to treat his patients in this way again. I'll be sending a copy of this post to the prof and Bob, perhaps they'll have something to say. Perhaps, we can always hope, they re-evaluate how they treat people which already have enough problems to cope with. I'll let the NHS know of the actions of their employees. Do I think it will make a difference? No because they have a qualification while I'm only a crazy depressive, but I'll try. And I'll inform any organisations I can think of. I believe the prof is heavily into his research, but that gives him no right to play games with the patients. If I find he's doing research on depression/sociology links, I'll take him to court.
However, with the result of yesterday, I don't think I'll be getting any more treatment from the NHS. So I'll do the research myself. But I guess I have to find more strength from somewhere to get on with the rest of my life. Okay, I've lost everything, but there are other things waiting to be found.