Today’s blog is in support of mental health awareness month! I recently went to the dentist to get a crown. I have a love/hate relationship with dentists. I love to have my teeth looking nice and shiny but I know over the years I have had very poor dental care. Some of my dental problems stem from neglect growing up that continued into my adulthood. I also didn’t care for my teeth because I was not always mentally aware that I even needed to! I was very severely mentally ill for a while. I took Wellbutrin, Zoloft or others, Zyprexa or other antipsychotics, Adderall and Armour thyroid. I was on some heavy duty medications! I had a steady cocktail of psychotropics that involved two antidepressants, an antipsychotic, a stimulant and my thyroid medication. I was like a zombie basically.
When I went to the dentist, it always because I was in some dental pain, I would not intentionally seek out dental care otherwise. On all of the forms, at the dentist office, they ask if you are now or ever been treated for a psychiatric disorder. I always answered truthfully. I could never figure out why they needed to know this. They even asked if you had ever been in a psychiatric hospital. Why do they need to know this? What difference does it make? I need my teeth fixed. They’d even want to know the dates you were hospitalized. I was always a bit embarrassed to admit all the meds I was taking and the different hospitalizations.
There came a time, when I was no longer on psychotropic medications. I was healing. I didn’t need them anymore. I didn’t even have a psychiatrist. I was still in therapy but I was well into recovery. I had some dental pain so I scheduled a dental appointment. I didn’t have a regular dentist so I had to call around to find one on my plan who could see me ASAP. I found one, they took the xrays and assessed what was going on in my mouth. I needed a lot of work done and I was in horrific pain.
However, the dentist saw that I had been a psychiatric patient. She asked about why I wasn’t on medications. I told her I didn’t need them anymore. She said I had to get clearance from a psychiatrist before I could have the dental work done. I was beside myself. I told her I didn’t even have a psychiatrist, and sometimes it can take more than a month to get in with one! She informed me there’s a special place for people like me to get dental help. People like me? People with former mental illness or someone you think is not in their right mind because they have a history of mental illness?
I still get sad when I recall this story because this is the plight of people with mental illness. They get looked at funny or judged and misunderstood. People with a mental illness are still people, they are worthy of dignity and respect from all health care providers. No matter what healing modality you are serving, remember these people are special, they are sensitive, and need your services. I went to another dentist. I also found a psychiatrist who gave me clearance for the dental treatment. She did offer an anxiety medication that is commonly prescribed for people, whether they have mental illness or not, who fear seeing the dentist.
Believe it or not, I do not have major depression with psychotic features anymore. I do not have post traumatic disorder anymore. People do heal. There’s no reason to treat someone as if they are going to be mentally ill for the rest of their lives just because they had a mental illness at one time. Even if I did have a mental illness, there’s no reason to treat me like I’m a freak, or crazy, or like I’m just a lost cause. I healed.