My Complaint Letter


Here are the underpinnings regarding my experience w/ MHMR hotline;
I am a member of University of Chicago psychiatric online research and
support group Psycho-Babble, aka dr-bob, I assume you are familiar w/ the
project. My handle is trouble.

One of our most beloved members killed herself on April fools day, name is
Sar, it's all up there on the board if you want details.

By coincidence,  Sar also lived in Austin, along w/ myself and 2 other
members; the PSB arrangements were handled by me, meanwhile I was blocked
(2 weeks) from Psycho-Babble for calling psychiatrists fuckers in a post I
titled DECOMPENSATION, the night we heard about Sar's suicide.
So on top of my 6 psychiatric dx, problems in living, all the typical shit
psych patients have hanging on them I am locked out of my community, oh, and
I happen to be the one who is representing PSB at the funeral, and all that this
implies, alone, broke and it took me 5 hours just to find out Sar's name,
which I could have done in 2 seconds had I access to the board, could have
asked her intimates, but all communication was cut off, blocked.

So I figured I'd either admit myself to the hospital which I pride myself on
never having resorted to, or also kill myself like SAR but first I called the
hotline, date  4/16 around 1:00-2:00 pm.

highlights: subjective of course

From the beginning I was sobbing and hiccupping, and felt the individual was
overwhelmed, so I told her this was going to be hard, I was in distress and
needy, and I don't want to be abandoned right now, if this is too much, let
me know, and I'll ease up or slow down, but I need human connection now and
am feeling rejected by my online support group and I'm bereft, so I need to
avoid reinforcing that feeling, do you know what I mean?

Her response was reflection of feelings along the lines of it sounds like you
are questioning my ability to respond to your needs.

Me:  uh huh

I told her about Sar's suicide, then said I was thinking of doing the same
then rambled etc. Then said we were so close, I loved her so much, but I
didn't even know her name til after she died, we use handles, we don't go by
our real names.

Her:  What can I do for you today?

Me:  You're droppin the ball, kid, I just said the word suicide 3 times in
one sentence, you gonna let that go by?

Her response was similar to the aforementioned re: her abilities.

Me:  Listen, young lady, I am the real deal, don't do this kind of work if
you can't handle blood and guts and brain matter splattered in your face, are
you capable of getting your hands dirty here or what?

Her: You are angry and questioning my abilities to help you w/your problems.

Me:  Right. It feels like you are avoiding me.

A ten minute debate followed regarding god knows what. But I expect you can
fill in the missing pieces.

By now it had degenerated into a point by point critique of her performance,
I inquired frankly re: her education and experience in crises intervention.
Things went from bad to worse, but we both agreed to keep trying, I
apologized for my harshness, reminding her that I am 100 percent headcase in
meltdown mode.

I was ranting about the hospital, how I've made it this far in life w/out
falling into that pit, my fear of becoming a professional mental patient, the
stigma, but just don't know if I can handle this alone right now and filing
bankruptcy and who will feed my cats and the bottom line of course being will
those ass-holes gonna let us smoke or not, and how that would only make sense
in a random backwords unintelligible fucked up world, that mental patients
would be restricted from smoking in the psych ward.

Her (almost verbatim): I don't know what the policies and procedures are at the hospital,
you'd have to check w/them.

I was crying and snorting and babbling, and said you told me you wouldn't
abandon me, you keep telling me you are not pushing me away, and seem
offended that I could suggest such a thing, which you immediately deny doing,
but the words you say betray your fear and your flight, you are talking to me
like a bureaucrat, an administrator, when my soul is sick, I need help,
please, this is important, do you have any access at all to your feelings,
can we please make a human connection, we are both struggling for control,
but I know how slippery that is, and I am not as frightened of it as you have
shown yourself to be.

Her: We aren't here to talk about me, I am not allowed to discuss myself, if
you won't discuss your own feelings there's nothing I can do for you, are you
willing to focus on yourself instead of me?

Me: I'm talking about us, you and me.  I'd rather talk about me, and Sar, and
[real name deleted], she's my baby, and she, this crazy kid is in a rage right now b/c she
keeps trying to kill herself day after day she tries a new method and all her
attempts lead to failure, she just posted that she tried to hang herself and
she's swearing up a storm, the rope split and her neck hurts and she's my
baby, my Lily, no one listens to her like me, and I'm locked out.

Her (verbatim): I thought you said you didn't know each other's names. Didn't
you say you used 'handles'?

I called her worse than useless, a collaborator, and accused her of

Her:  I obviously can't help you, this is a crises line, a place to call to discuss
you and your feelings, but I am going to hang up now, no, I'm hanging up the
phone now, call back when you are ready to talk about your feelings this is a
crises line...

I said, ok, wait, I know this has been hard on us both, and we're doing our
best, but it's not working, but you know sweetheart all I wanted from you in
the last half hour was commiseration, I just wanted you to commiserate... do
you know that word?


So there you have it. As mentioned I immediately called back and her
supervisor answered, she too wanted to get rid of me asap, I said
I know you know what just went on w/your predecessor, and I'm sorry but I am
in agony, I'm in crises, and I need a focus, a human connection, I need to
process and feel close to another human being right now--

HER:  Has anyone ever talked to you about journaling?

I burst out laughing. I was still crying, so it was quite close to hysteria,
if not well passed the point.

She expressed anger at my response. She then said, so this is not new to you
is it?

I said, no, that this is not new to me.

She then hurriedly gave me the number of a suicide support group, and told me
to re-think my involvement in  dr. bob's Chicago project.

You know what I am asking for, right?
I don't want this to happen to me or anyone else again.
What I learned from the experience was to never put myself in such hands

This is too bad, there are so many capable, savvy people around, I'm not
trivializing the hassles involved in recruitment, selection and suitability,
but grad students come to mind, this whole city is lousy with bohemian
would-be soul soul doctors, the four college campuses strike me as an
appropriate pool to tap.

Finally, I do have the name of the young woman who counseled me, but as I
said I'll hold off on providing that in the event you see this as a systemic
problem, and will await your response regarding that matter.

I appreciate your concern on the phone w/me today and know I speak for many
when I thank you for whatever time and consideration you are able to put into
  investigating my complaint.

Robin  M.  Plan





Copyright 2002 Robin Plan and  All rights reserved.