Thought I'd talk a bit about the art of writing notes on patients, as I've been on the wrong end of them at times in the distant past. Nowadays, people are more thoughtful and careful about what they write in notes, but in days gone by they could be almost punitive, and certainly inaccurate. "Behaving like a child so treated like one" - I read that with horror in a patient's old file. Notes are powerful things and can be used in all sorts of ways. Phil Barker, the thinker behind the Tidal Model, believes the pen can be a weapon in the wrong hands.
I read a quote from Mary O'Hagan, the mental health activist. She was in hospital, being treated for severe depression, and she saw the psychiatrist one morning. He wrote something to the effect of "Stable and settled. Lithium bloods satisfactory." Mary, in her diary at the time, wrote "Today I wanted to die, but no one asked me how I was feeling". I was once, long ago, accused, in my notes, of being histrionic when I was manic - the psychiatrist at the time could not distinguish between psychotic and bad behaviour, and believed everyone had control over their actions, even when ill. So I was discharged too early, in my view as a punishment - and readmitted almost immediately when I deteriorated significantly. Those days are long gone, I hope, and people more sensitive and accurate. Staff spend time with patients and so are able to write accurately about their state of mind. Gone are the days of "This 45 year old schizophrenic......". Now we are real people, with hopes and dreams and aspirations, who happen to be unwell at a given point in time. I am not "a 57 year old bipolar sufferer", I am Hannah, with all that means, and I am sometimes off my face.
We are allowed to read our notes, but I have no desire to do so. I trust that people will be accurate and kind, and make the right statements about me.
I spent 16 years in the RAF defending the Free World , then got bunged out unceremoniously for being bipolar. I and was subsequently diagnosed with PTSD. Funny old world, isn't it?