Stigma Makes Me Feel Crappy

I feel extremely crappy today.

Today is the day every month that I have to call in my prescriptions for refill.

And, it sucks.

Why, you ask? Because, inevitably I end up on the phone with some pharmacist or pharm-tech answering a load of questions because they think I’m a junkie.

“So, Ms. Rice, do you really need a refill of 30 100mg of Lamictal AND a refill of 60 25mg of Lamictal?”

“Um, yes.”

I can hear their raised eyebrow on the other side of the phone. “And, can you tell us why that is?”

“Um, because my psychiatrist has me on 150mg of Lamictal and the drug company doesn’t make 50mg tablets?”

judgy doctor

“Okay, Ms. Rice – let’s talk about the Trazadone.”

“Okay,” I say, “Let’s talk about that.”

“Why do you need 60 100mg tablets?”

“Um, because my body is drug resistant after being on this medication since I was 21 and I need it to sleep.”

“Then what’s the Xanax for?”

“Night terrors and panic attacks.”

“The Trazodone doesn’t take care of that?”

“No, it just makes me sleep.”

“I see…” I can hear them motioning over to someone to come look at my record, “It says here you also take Celexa and Wellbutrin. Do you take those at the same time?”

I roll my eyes.

“No I take one in the morning with my vitamin and one at night with the rest of the medication you’ve just been questioning me about.”

“I see, I see,” says judgy pharmacists, “And, WHY are you on so much medication?”

“Look bitch. I’ve been diagnosed with depression since I was 21, my child died when I was 41, I now have PTSD. So I have major social anxiety and night terrors because of that. IN ADDITION, I’ve just been diagnosed with bi-polar disorder, which is why I’m on two antidepressants and a seizure medication. If you have questions about my treatment plan, why don’t you call my psychiatrist, Dr. XXXX, who would be happy as a clam to answer any questions about the drug therapies that -she- a medical doctor – has me on.”

(I don’t really say that, but I sure as fuck think it.)

broken brain

Today was even a better awful pill day than ever. The very annoyed pharm-tech told me that their computer system has me flagged as a potential drug seeker.

*takes deep breath and tries not to scream*

Look, it is seriously not my fault my brain is broken. It’s completely chemical. And, if I could change it and make my brain healthy (or, for that matter, reverse the PTSD I have and have my daughter Maddie back) I would do it.

But, as my Dad would say, it is what it is. I am mentally ill. And, it’s very well managed. It has been for the last 6 years. Before that it was well managed for 20 something years. 1-in-5 people in this country live with some kind of mental illness.

Which makes it common AF.

SO WHY THE STIGMA?

I have literally been on the same drugs for 10 years (with the exception of the Lamictal, which is new.) SO WHY DO THEY NEED TO GIVE ME SUCH A HARD TIME EVERY MONTH?

I’m a tenacious bitch, I will advocate for myself and cry when I hang up the phone.

What about all the people who are made to feel guilty or less than or like a criminal for asking for health care which they need and deserve? Do they give up when the judgmental pharmacist or pharm-tech take a superior tone with them?

If a person limped into a pharmacy with a prescription written by a doctor and handed it to the pharmacist and said “I broke my leg, my doctor said I need this pain pill” – would there be a game of 20 questions?

No.

100% no.

The stigma surrounding my perfectly common illness makes me feel crappy.

I’ve written about this before, but today I’m particularly crabby (as I was up at 4am with the baby.) I keep thinking about the immense amount of privilege I have that I can argue with a pharmacist and demand they call my doctor and am feeling like crap for all those people in circumstances other than me — who need medication just as much as I do, because they have beautiful broken brains, like I do — who don’t feel empowered to take someone to task when they aren’t getting what they are entitled to and what they need.

Healthcare is a right, not a privilege. And, pharmacists shouldn’t be gatekeepers to getting treatment you need.

The end.

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