A 19-year-old queer agender person on the autism spectrum who struggles with anxiety and depression
My negative experiences with the healthcare system started when I was a lot younger, before a lot of my polarising identity aspects even emerged completely.
I’ve been experiencing chronic period pain since age 10, and even as a child no doctor would take my pain seriously. I would miss at least a week of school every month, be unable to leave bed some days, and be throwing up from pain, and I didn’t even get referred to a gynaecologist until I was 15. I still have no formal diagnosis for it, despite it still affecting me after a year on Testosterone.
In regards to my trans status, many medical services are different, and while most strive to be accepting, I’ve still had some really uncomfortable experiences. The one I get the most is because I have not yet changed my legal name, GP’s will just read the legal name off the file and not the preferred name and the walk out and announce my birth name to the entire waiting room. Often they apologise, but not even a week ago I had a GP try and justify it to me by saying she got me mixed up with her patient who is ‘the other way around’, and when I politely suggested she may want to educate herself on how to better provide for her trans patients she essentially agreed to disagree and told me to see someone else at the clinic because I clearly ‘have a better connection’ with him (hint: it’s because he’s super respectful and actually listens to me.)
I also often get automatically directed to trans-specialist practitioners, even when I don’t even talk about my trans status as an issue, which can be really frustrating as it’s incredibly embarrassing to have to explain that I cannot afford to see those people as they often are quite expensive.
Trying to access mental health care that works for me is so incredibly frustrating. The options for regular, free or cheap care are so few, and using them means giving up any sort of specialised treatment.
Ideally, I would see someone who works with autistic people on a fortnightly basis but due to the limits of the MHCP that’s just not possible.
Currently I’m starting to work with my local [government-funded youth mental health services], but I’m already somewhat uncomfortable there. All the practitioners I’ve seen have misgendered me at least once, and even their computer system which I have to log into every time I go there is under my legal name, so I have to write it out every time I’m there.
Its also near impossible to find a psychiatrist who will bulk bill. Late last year I was so desperate to see one I admitted myself to [de-identified SESLHD hospital] for a short period of time. While I was there I was totally ignored by the nurses, I witnessed an older trans woman have her hormones taken away and then forcibly removed to [another de-identified SESLHD hospital] because she freaked out about wanting them back, and then prescribed a medication almost identical to the one I stated I wanted nothing to do with. I came out of there more damaged than I went in.
The care team who followed up with me after my admission knew full well I had social anxiety issues, yet sent me a list of 50 psychologists that (might) bulk bill, told me to call them all until I found someone and said they would get back to me in a few weeks to check I’d found someone. I never heard back.
I’ve also had significant trouble with doctors in regards to my medical use of marijuana. Any doctor I mention it to automatically refuses to take any of my other concerns seriously. I had issues for months with my GP regarding my antidepressant medication. She refused to change it until I stopped smoking, and wouldn’t listen to me at all when I told her it was for chronic pain, and that I was asking her for help with a condition I’d had since almost a decade before I started smoking.
Whenever I talk about my smoking with doctors, they always tell me to stop but never listen to my reasons for doing it and offer alternatives.
Just recently again, I had a really painful chest infection, and without even asking if I still smoked. I was just told to quit. Of course, I was in so much pain I wasn’t able to smoke but they didn’t listen. They put me on one antibiotic that had no effect, and when I returned instead of listening to me saying I’d never had that antibiotic work for me before, they gave me another course. Then a third course of that, mixed with something else. Then something that had to be taken at extremely structured intervals. It took 5 courses of antibiotics to kick a simple cold just because the doctors would not listen to me.
I think maybe doctors are unsure of me because I come in knowing my issues and how they need to be treated, but it means that I get screwed around so often, it’s very frustrating.