Jessica Porten had done everything right — a few months after giving birth, she set up an OBGYN appointment to talk about her post-pregnancy symptoms, including a particularly brutal case of postpartum depression. So how did she end up in an altercation with the cops? That one, it turns out, wasn’t her fault at all.
Jessica opened up about her postpartum symptoms with a nurse practitioner and asked if she could get medical treatment for it. But instead of consulting a doctor, the nurse practitioner called the police on her.
Jessica wrote out the whole harrowing story in a Facebook post, which has now gone viral.
I had a really hard time deciding whether I should post something about what happened last night, since putting it on Facebook wouldn’t help the situation. But I don’t know, I feel like this has to be said out into the world so you can all see how little support mothers get from our healthcare system.
I had an OB appointment yesterday, my first since giving birth 4 months ago (because they kept cancelling my appointments), which is inhumane in my eyes. I went to the appointment alone with Kira. It was at 2:10, and I was not called back to a room until 3:15. A nurse practitioner comes in (one I don’t particularly care for) and I tell her everything my husband told them when he scheduled me the appointment a week ago. That I have postpartum depression that is manifesting in fits of anger, and I want to discuss my medication options. I tell them I have a very strong support system at home, so although I would never hurt myself or my baby, I’m having violent thoughts and I need medication and therapy to get through this. She rushed through my pelvic exam, barely spoke about medication, said she needed to talk to the doctor about my PPD, and left the room.
They called the fucking cops on me.
That’s right — instead of getting Jessica the help she needed, they called the police.
Don’t get me wrong — I understand why someone might fear that Jessica was a threat to her family. After all, she admitted to violent thoughts and feelings. But at the same time, postpartum depression is a proven illness that can be treated, and should be treated as a serious ailment. Calling the police won’t actually change anything in regards to that.
Jessica chronicled what happened next, and honestly, it’s all pretty gritty.
They had a staff member sit with me for over an hour waiting for the police to arrive. The cops show up and we’re trying to figure out the logistics of how they’re going to escort me to the ER because I have Kira and her car seat. The cops can clearly see I’m of sound mind and that this whole thing is bullshit, so they allow me to drive to the ER with Kira in my car while one cop drives in front of me and one follows behind. We arrive at the ER and I’m checked in, triaged, blood drawn. I am assigned a security guard to babysit me. I wait for over an hour and Scott is finally able to come down to support me (he was watching Luna and did not have her car seat so he had to wait for my dad to get home before he could come over). They finally get us a room, which they only did because we have a baby.
They take me to the bathroom so I can give a urine sample. They make me remove all of my clothes (including my flip flops, which they replaced with socks) and then take them away from me and lock them up. We missed dinner, so a nurse gives us two shitty little turkey sandwiches. I am not seen by a social worker until 10:45pm. She decides she does not need to put me on a psychiatric hold, and they process my discharge.
Not once during all of this has a doctor laid eyes on me. Not once. Not even before they decided to call the cops on me. The social worker hands me some papers and discusses the information in them, telling me she thinks these “will probably be good resources for you.”.
I leave the ER at midnight, my spirit more broken than ever, no medication, no follow up appointment, never spoke to a doctor. This was a 10 hour ordeal that I had to go through all while caring for my infant that I had with me. And that’s it. That’s what I got for telling my OB that I have PPD and I need help. I was treated like a criminal and then discharged with nothing but a stack of xeroxed printouts with phone numbers on them.
I’m still processing all of the emotions that are coming with being treated this way. I’m not exactly sure what to do here. I will say I am deeply hurt and upset, and above all angry and disgusted and disappointed by how this whole thing went down.
Ladies and gentleman, our healthcare system.
Yep. There it is.
What’s so frustrating about Jessica’s story is that it seems like a pretty good metaphor for the entire mental health system. Rarely do people get the help they actually need. Was calling the police the wrong move? Maybe not — if the nurse was actually worried about the family’s well-being, it’s an understandable move. But at the end of the day, Jessica didn’t actually get any of the help she needed.
What do you think? Did the nurse do the right thing or do you think she and the doctors could have done more?