Not My Words, Not My Story by Julia Buxton

This article has been published in Asylum magazine. It begins:

“One of the first things that struck me when I entered mental health services was how little interest staff took in me describing my experiences or how I felt. I couldn’t understand it, but workers only seemed to care if it had a bearing on their index of clinical symptoms.

In relation to depression for instance, if I attempted to use other descriptors such as feeling sad, heavy, desolate, gloomy, or pointless, it was met with impatience. It all had to be about measuring my mood in numerical terms or reporting symptoms. I had to learn, and learn rapidly, to translate my experience into terminology the professionals used, one which was itself imposed upon them by their training and the system they worked within.

Instead of helping me develop an understanding of what I was going through, I was provided with standard explanations. My eating disorders were about ‘control’ because, of course, all eating disorders are about control. Suicide attempts were either ‘serious’ or a ‘cry for help’ – the latter category being particularly problematic as I might have intended to die, but hadn’t planned it carefully enough or, especially early on, didn’t have the requisite knowledge for it to be effective …”

You can read more from here.

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