This post was written by current student, Nicole Meehan, for the course Writing for Disability Activism.
Take One – October 7, 2014 12:34 pm
Let’s start by walking down the hallway together. Nothing too complex, there are posters lining the walls for things like “Hungry for Change?” and “Shop online for all your textbooks.” We are at the school in the midst of the hustle and bustle of classes, papers, and mid terms. I can feel my stomach churning as I open the door. Let’s walk past all the offices of people with smiling faces, who wave as we go by. I grimace in attempt to smile back, and finally, enter the reception for the centre for student development and counseling.
I would like to book an appointment please
Have you been here before?
We have availability two and a half weeks from now for you to meet with our triage person. Does that time work?
I guess so.
Take Two – October 24, 2014 10:00 am
Let’s enter reception once again and see what happens.
Fill out these forms and bring them back to me when you are done.
Answer the following questions and how often you experience them from one to five, one being not very often and five being all the time.
Do you have any feelings of hopelessness, or worthlessness? Do you hear voices? Are there any changes in your sleeping or eating patterns? Do you want to cut yourself? Have you had any panic attacks or times of intense fear? How much alcohol do you drink? Do you take drugs?
My whole body is shaking while reading these questions. I can’t control the muscle spasms from making a mess of my name as I try to write it down on the page.
Ok, Nicole, come on in. I am the triage counselor, and today we are just going to go through a few things to see what services would be the best fit for you.
Take Three – October 24, 2014 12:30 pm
Let’s visit my accommodation facilitator in the academic accommodation support center, formerly known as the access centre. The lights are dim, the walls are a soft yellow and there is a picture of a beach hanging opposite to me.
I have to fill out a form to get a bursary to cover the expenses of an external counselor. But, guess what? My file is missing, probably in archives, so they can’t actually process the request. Oh and also, I need to call and get a quote from 3 different psychologists and a doctor’s note before we can proceed.
Take Four – November 3, 2014 10:15 am
Let’s walk across campus to the medical center. We need the doctor to fill out this piece of paper, I think. I can’t think straight. I’m exhausted, I don’t know what’s going on, and my head hurts. Enter, the fourth year medical student.
So you are here for a mental health consult?
Yes I think so.
Tell me your story … Ok, thank you for sharing. I think medication would be your best option. Are you ready to have the doctor to come in to discuss this?
Enter, supervising medical doctor.
I don’t want to take meds, my body goes wonky when I take them and I feel worse. I just came to get some counseling services, please.
I respect your decision for denying medication and I feel psychotherapy is a good direction for you to go in. I am going to refer you to the in house psychiatrist to see if there is anything she can do for you.
Take Five – November 3, 2014 3:00 pm
Let’s go see the psychiatrist maybe she knows what to do. My head feels like it is going to explode and I need to keep my eyes closed to contain it. I’m tired of telling my story over and over again.
So why are you here? I see you saw the medical doctor this morning, so what can I do for you?
Oh, no! Not again. I am just trying to get counseling, and I have been to so many different places, I’m done.
How about you go back to the counseling centre and ask if there is anything that I am supposed to do for you, then come back and let me know.
Take Six – November 3, 2014 4:07 pm
Let’s shuffle back to the counseling centre. As it turns out, all I needed was for the doctor to check “yes” on a simple sheet of stark white printer paper, with the words “recommendation for psychotherapy” in jet black ink.
Take Seven – December 4, 2014 2:00 pm
Let’s talk. Are you ready now?