As a society, I mean. We see more and more psych patients every month, it seems. The only good news is that recently they’ve been moving out within 24 hours of coming in. The bad news is that these are mainly newcomers to the system; they are simply people who are used to everything being handed to them, and they simply can’t deal with the reality that it is becoming more obvious as time goes on, that there’s no real safety net. There’s no one who will carry them when they choose to sit down, or when they fall down.
I took care of a patient recently who was brought in by EMS because she attempted suicide by overdosing on prescription sleep and anxiety pills. She didn’t succeed, and so she took more. She still didn’t succeed, so she called 911. When they brought her in they also brought a multipage suicide letter she had written to her parents and family with her. Oy.
I just, try as I might, can’t have anything more than civility to people like that. Poor me. Life isn’t fair. You didn’t love me enough. I’m not getting enough sympathy. She actually told me she wanted sympathy from me. I was truly incredulous and responded “for what?” before the filter switched on. Really, being sympathetic isn’t part of my job. Compassion, yes, when warranted. Civility and politeness, yes, always. Sympathy, no. This isn’t anything new for me, when I was working full time as a paramedic I was the same way. Full grown adults who are essentially throwing temper tantrums in an attempt to get attention and their own way really piss me off.
My patient was crying (again, or still) because we wouldn’t let her go to the bathroom alone. Well, we’re not supposed to, until you have been deemed stable enough to go alone. She told me she ‘just had a bad couple of days’ and she wanted sympathy. I felt like telling her: And this makes you different from everyone else in this emergency room, including multiple staff members, HOW???
Another recent psych patient was a young adult male. He also thought he was going to get sympathy and threw a temper tantrum (as did my patient, I won’t go into detail, but we ended up with multiple security guards at the bedside and leathers outside the door in reserve) on several occasions. Why do adults think they’ll get their way if they throw a temper tantrum? Didn’t their parents teach them it doesn’ t work?
I really attribute this to our failing society. We have had an entitlement culture for nearly 50 years. People simply assume the govt will bail them out if they get into trouble. And unfortunately, we have done that for a generation or more.
Don’t get me wrong. I AM for health care for all — at least for basic preventative care, including dental. But come on — bucking for a disability check at 20 something years old, AND GETTING IT, because you don’t want to work — is just wrong. Unless you’re truly one of the very small percentage of people who are, genuinely and permanently, mentally ill, you don’t belong on disability.
The doctor caring for my patient thinks we should send all these patients to Africa — where people have real problems and are too worried about feeding themselves to whine about how their parents were too hard on them and didn’t love them enough. I tend to agree. We have the highest living standard in the world yet we have more psych patients than anyone in the world as well. We have the highest use of oxycontin and antidepressants. We have the highest ratings of self scored unhappiness. I could be wrong but I also think we have the highest amount of stupid reality TV shows as well. Do people really watch those? Is that why they’re so pissed off that they can’t have everything?
We’re spending dollars we can’t afford on patients like this, while we can’t afford to help people just get ahead or even break even. We can’t afford preventative care that would keep people out of the hospital. We can’t afford to give children an actual education that would give them the critical thinking skills they’ll need, nor the actual physical skills of caring for themselves by gardening, cooking, or whatever but we can pay for people who just want to have temper tantrums.
We’re reliving the last days of the Roman Empire.