In that instant, we experience a shift from real patient to “borderline,” “schizoid,” or depressed malingerer, with all the negative, stigmatizing attitudes and beliefs which accompany such labels.
We are tired, ER. We are tired of the disdainful whispers outside our cubicles. We are tired of the sometimes suspicious nature of your questioning. We are tired of the knowing glances and rolling eyes. Do you think we cannot feel this callousness? But that’s the intention, isn’t it? Maybe you think treating us this way will deter us from coming again.
You’re right. It has. It does. Are you OK with that? How many overdoses, drunken accidents or suicides would have been avoided if you’d treated us with compassion rather than disdain? Of course, we’ll never know the answer to that. But we can tell you, ER, our suffering is sometimes increased, not decreased, once we exit your doors.