In my previous life, when I worked for money and it was called a career, I used to have to create and administer a lot of questionnaires. Survey Monkey was my favourite website and analysing responses was addictive.
I was interested, as most people who give out questionnaires are, in knowing how to make things better, but also in knowing what we were doing right, so people could take some motivation from that.
I used to survey students, mostly. And the feedback from students would be passed on to their teachers, which was always nail biting for the teacher. I have cringed many times, sliding a summary of student feedback across the desk to a jaded but expectant teacher, and watching their face as they read negative feedback. One or two negative comments is bad enough but the ones where a complete class had annihilated them was tough to swallow.
Even more tough was to pick a teacher up from that, inspire them to turn it around. I even had one teacher say to me “they hate me, I know they do, I fucking hate them as well”. And with a dum diddley dee I would dig down deep, get to the bottom of things and support the teacher, placate the students and hope for the best until the next round of feedback.
My life now still incorporates questionnaires, only I’m the one completing them. I find about once a fortnight I am completing a questionnaire. Only its the questions that get me. “In the past week, how often have you felt suicidal?” Or “how anxious have you felt” or sometimes even “have you felt the urge to harm yourself? If so, have you acted on that urge?”. It is indeed a very different type of questionnaire.
I wonder if somebody sheepishly pushes the summary of my feedback across the desk to a psychologist or a psychiatrist and if they say “she hates me, I know she does, well I fucking hate her as well”. I doubt it hey? I wonder if they look at my answers each time and go, ahh, look, she still wants to die. I don’t know why the thought of it amuses me but it does. I wonder if they generate little pie charts and line graphs showing my self harming patterns and suicidal thought frequency and glory in the colours on the graphs like I used to.
I don’t know if these questionnaires help me or help them to help me and I don’t know why I’m completing them all the time. They make me very sad. I do get tempted to put all the best answers so that I sound normal or so that it motivates the people looking at the feedback. But I think I would get done for cheating, so I tell the truth. And it hurts and demotivates me every time I put a low score next to words in print that describe a mad person.
I might feel better if the questions were easier. For example:
Did you used to be okay?
Do you think if you pray hard and keep going you might be okay again?
Do you like sunshine?
Would you like your favourite teddy bear to come alive?
Would you like it if we could help you smile today?
Are you alive, despite all the bad?
I just think, come on mental health services, mix it up a bit, give me some questions that don’t ask me repeatedly if I want to die and think about dying, you know I do. But don’t remind me and score me on it.