I have been a therapist just over 6 years. That's enough time to have met a lot of people. Especially because I have almost always worked in places specializing in mental health or dementia I have plenty of experience in people being mean to me.
I don't expect a lot from my patients. I know they are sick and often cognitively impaired. I expect them to be minimally polite for within their cognitive status, and I expect to be treated with a minimum of respect. If I'm hurting them I will accept them saying or doing anything. I've handled some hard punches because I was hurting someone (not that I want to, sometimes I have to). That doesn't bother me. Hit if you must. Hitting out against something that is hurting you is a natural instinct. I kicked my surgeon hard in the stomach once when he was using the laser to treat my birthmark (thank God they took my shoes off first). I know this kind of thing happens.
So through all this time I have never really had a patient who I just couldn't take. I've had patients I didn't get along with. I've had patients who hurt my feelings or scared me. I had one woman who accused me of abusing her once, but I had a witness and there were many, many things wrong with her story. My company did keep me away from her more or less for my own protection, but it was just to be safe, not for any real reason. That lady had done the same thing to her daughter, resulting in a court battle for the daughter, who was found free of any wrongdoing. I've had lots of patients who didn't like me for one reason or another. Some are more aware of my bipolarishness and don't like me for it. A lot of women seem to pick that up and are offended by it somehow. Right now I still struggle sometimes with switching into an atmosphere where my patients are more capable of decision making because I sometimes am too forceful in my requests.
Today I finally found someone who I do not want to treat anymore. I just can't take her. No matter what I do she hates me. She says I am mean. That originated from my expectations that she do things like lift her own coffee cup. I tried every personality I have on for her and she wanted nothing to do with them, she wanted to not do anything and she knew I wouldn't let her. Sometimes that's the hardest thing about what I do, I want so very badly to be able to do basic things and I really resent people who refuse to try when they have no reason not to be able.
I have tried for months with this person. Today she started lying, in front of me, about how I was hurting her. I was not touching her, I was encouraging her to fix something so it was comfortable (ie move 1/4 inch), I was asking how she was, and I did ask her to squeeze my hands. I knew I wasn't going to get much when I walked into the room, but it was so bad.
And so I decided that's it. Part of my job is to supervise her treatment and I will do that, but I will not deal directly with her except on supervision days. Will not. I will not have her accuse me of harming her. I will not have her call me ugly names. I won't.
She's not doing it to other people. She's not doing it to me personally, she's doing it because she doesn't like therapy, and she doesn't like OT in particular and she knows I'm the OT supervisor and that my assistant is more easily manipulated. But I'm not taking it.
And yet this is a strange, strange feeling. I realized this evening that as a healthcare professional I let many of my self-esteem issues come out and they are enhanced. I believe that in my career my own needs come second. I believe that I owe my patients all I can give. Yet I also have trouble finding the line where I matter equally. I've got a long history of this (see last year when I worked myself nearly to death when I was so incredibly ill because I felt I couldn't abandon my patients) and maybe it's time to stop.
So, this lady? She's done. She's not going to make me look or feel bad anymore.