Stigma Letters: Mental Health and the Permanent Record



I read your column “Come stand with me.” It really hit home for me. I was diagnosed with depression in 1998 and have definitely been on a roller coaster ride since then. I am a nurse employed at a large hospital.

In an attempt to end my life earlier this year, I overdosed on pain medication I had from a surgery last year (never used any of it). I went to the ER the next day — I needed help! I called my manager to tell him I would not be coming to work the following day. He asked why and unfortunately, I was honest.

He promptly reported me to the Board of Nursing despite the fact that I didn’t do anything illegal and never put a patient in harm’s way (as a friend has said, “apparently nurses can’t have the same illnesses as the rest of the human race”).

I am still suffering because of his unnecessary report. I have hired a lawyer, was forced out of my job and into another one that I despise, and would walk out the door if I knew I could get another job easily (but the Board of Nursing report will remain on my record forever).

They have treated me like a criminal, and this is the HEALTH CARE INDUSTRY — people who should know and understand.

I am having a very hard time feeling well because of all this undue stress they have put on me. The stigma is unbelievable. I wore a mask for a long time. Should have kept it on longer with the punishment I’ve had to endure.

I really wish the folks in management at my workplace would read your words. I have also undergone TMS but it didn’t seem like a miracle cure for me. Maybe things will be better when I get out of my current toxic environment.

Thanks for getting the word about about mental illness (a biological brain illness, not unlike heart disease, diabetes…).

So sad.

Dear Mr. Harman,

I read your article and it spoke to me.  I am from a family of several bipolar/personality disorder members that on average function with usually Lithium and other mood stabilizers quite effectively.

I, thank God, am not personally affected, but my younger sister is. She is 27 and currently on metal disability, has been to a state mental hospital, due to not having insurance and countless psychiatrists.

Jessica is currently going blind due to thin optic nerves brought on by various head trauma incidents. She also currently discovered she has endometriosis and it is damaging her kidneys and can’t get surgery because of the lack of insurance.

She has recently had to have blood for the issue. She also recently dropped her antidepressants and went back to Lithium.

She recently switched psychiatrists after some heated argument and her latest one increased the Lithium, which lead to bleeding from her kidneys again. He basically said choose craziness or kidney function, learn to live with it [or] get off the Lithium.

He also added that she should consider moving to Europe so she could just stay high all the time and smoke marijuana.

So here I am a concerned sister feeling there is no way out and not wanting my sister to suffer any more. Jessica has accepted that her life probably won’t be as long as others, it’s the quality she desires.

I congratulate you on your success and on helping others. Please let me know of any trials that might be available or just people that offer support.



One thought on “Stigma Letters: Mental Health and the Permanent Record

  1. Pingback: Stigma Letters: Mental Health and the Permanent Record | Everydayclimb's Blog

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