A few days ago I sat in a meeting with a lot of people, one of them who happened to be an old psychiatrist of mine. I would add that I wasn’t there for me as a patient but as part of the committee that he chairs (Yea I’m not sure how I get talked in to these things either!). You could say that my relationship with this individual is somewhat challenging as I didn’t leave my last admission on the best of terms with him. I think his parting words were “I’ll probably see you again in a couple of months”. That admission was terrible from beginning to end. I was sectioned, I was taken on his say so to a medical ward where I had an NG tube against my wishes and ultimately he kept me alive when I didn’t want to be anymore. It’s hard to not feel bitter about it but then I also know that had he not done what he did, it’s unlikely that I’d still be here. It makes me wonder, when do we begin to forgive those health professionals who had to make choices for us that we were deemed incapable of making? How do we let go of the hurt that they made us feel in their duty to save us? Do we ever stop being angry about it? And why is it easier to forgive some and not others? Which leads me then to think about the staff in general who tried to take of me, who I never said thank you to and who I was just a shit to most of the time.
There have been a lot of times in my life where I have been found to be lacking capacity to make right and informed choices about my life. At the time, I had no insight into how messed up my thoughts were and felt wronged I guess. It is only recently that I question how hard I was on people, maybe even bordering on mean and hostile. I hated all the doctors who sectioned me. I hated the nurses who stopped my attempts to damage myself. I hated the tribunal panels who rejected my appeals. I hated that they cared about me or that they were good at their jobs but not good enough to fix me. The thing I hated the most though, which broke me up and tore me apart was that they wouldn’t give on me. Even when I gave up on myself.
I think you learn how to forgive what they did because you are thankful that you get the chance to be angry about it, it means you are alive. That despite the odds, you survived and you know that had they not made me those difficult decisions, this would be a different story. I think we forgive some because sometimes we just like certain people better. We are more tolerant of those we have better relationships with and with those that did not make the final decision that we hated so much. I’m not sure if you let go of the hurt. You don’t ever really forget how it made you feel but maybe that’s ok. It’s all tangled up with the horrendous you already felt and I start to wonder if the person who I can’t forgive for inflicting that pain was actually me. It was me that ended up in that position, they were just working with what they had, trying to stick plasters where they could in the hope that it would be enough. It wasn’t but what was the alternative? Let me give in to what was going on in my head.
Of course this isn’t going to apply to all health professionals that I have met. There are ones who, even now, I can’t rationalise what they did. The one that broke confidentiality in such an unnecessary but spectacular fashion. The one who manipulated and played mind games, as though I was too blind and stupid to recognise what she was trying to achieve. There were the ones who were cruel, who restrained too hard and painfully, or made useless threats in order to control. There are the thousands of looks of disdain and contempt. Then there are the ones who I struggle to be tolerant of, who are wrapped in their ignorance and fail to use their own experiences and intuition but look to assumptions and stereotypes.
I guess how I bring this all together is by recognising that I have not always been right, that in truth there are times when I have been a complete dickhead. Yet for some reason, I was still worthy of trying to salvage. Gratitude isn’t enough is it? How do you genuinely say thank you to someone for saving your life? Not just the once either. So if you are holding on to some kind of hate because someone chose to save your life and you’re kind of thankful now that they did, then let go of that hate. It’s doing nothing but harming you. If you’re still in touch with that person, maybe let them know too that you get why they did what they did, that in truth, if you had been in their position, you would have probably done the same thing too. If I’m honest…I would have done pretty much the same thing to me too. Tell them thank you! I don’t think our healthcare professionals hear that enough.