An essay by Brian McLaughlin, Advocate
Not long ago I made an appointment with my primary care physician for a routine check-up. To my surprise a doctor I hadn’t seen before walked in. I said good morning doctor. She did not speak but instead paced gracefully back and forth as she read my chart. After a few more minutes of uncomfortable silence the doctor looked up and asked "are you dangerous?". Stunned I said the first thing that came to mind: "Yes, Danger is my middle name."
To say the doctor was not amused would be an understatement. I quickly recanted and gently responded: " No I have never considered myself dangerous." I then added: " It’s Patrick". In disgust the doctor said" what is Patrick?" I said: "Patrick is my middle name, not danger." The doctor angrily wrote something in my medical chart.
The doctor then proceeded to give me the most careless disinterested physical exam of my life. I remember thinking that portions of the exam I could have done myself and phoned in my findings.
Stigma can be found in the loftiest places I have found. Instead of saying good morning Mr. McLaughlin, or Good Morning Brian, I got " Are you Dangerous?" followed by a seemingly lackluster medical exam. It seemed as though my diagnosis of bi-polar 1 disorder relieved the doctor of the need to provide a thorough exam. This is one time I went to the doctor well and left feeling ill. I went in feeling like a person and left feeling less so.
Respectfully submitted for your consideration,
Brian Patrick McLaughlin MS/CPS
MH Consumer Advocate
Erie County, PA.
© 2016 Mental Health Association of Northwestern PA