Sunday 22 May 2016

Nerd Church - Asking For Help

16-22 May is Mental Health Awareness Week in the UK. May is also Mental Health Month in the US.

This post is the last of my Mental Health Awareness Week posts.

Just as a quick re-cap, here are my posts from the rest of the week:

  • Saturday: Words Hurt - a list of phrases, said to people suffering from mental health problems, which are just not helpful.

What I'm going to talk about today is my experience as a patient in the NHS - just the first appointment, really. 

This hopefully will explain some of the difficulties there are to mental health patients to just get some help in the first place.

And let's be perfectly clear on this - it's OK to ask for help!

The decision

I was in a bad place, (more about that on my BBI guest post.) So, something in my head clicked into place (thank God,) and I decided to go to the doctor's.

First challenge - getting that first appointment.

I asked for a same-day 'emergency' appointment.

The receptionist wouldn't let me make one without me telling her what was wrong.

I even went as far as to say that I'd rather only discuss it with the doctor - nope. Had to tell her, or no appointment.

I cannot tell you how much that hurt.

To have to tell the receptionist something that should have been my decision to tell or not.

The horrendous shame I felt as I whispered 'I think I might be depressed,' and tried not to cry down the phone at the sheer hurt of it all... no. That WASN'T right. I shouldn't have had to do that.

Second challenge - convincing the doctor.

Dr Blonde (obv. not her real name) can be quite shirty.

And clearly she thought I was faking. At least at first.

To not be believed? Insult after injury.

She asked me, fairly snippily, what made me think I was depressed. Surely, the very fact that I think it makes it a genuine possibility?

You don't ask a bleeding patient, 'what makes you think you're bleeding?' The patient is bleeding. Deal with it - quickly!

This was the doctor - the person who is supposed to help me.

And other doctors have been a lot worse.

They've even inferred (by tone, which is so much more difficult to complain about than if the words themselves were offensive, because you have no proof,) that I'm wasting their time and resources.

To be fair to Dr Blonde, once I broke down the wall of disbelief, she was nothing but helpful.

But I shouldn't have had to break down that wall with my tiny little pickaxe. There shouldn't have been a wall there to begin with.

Third challenge - discussing treatment.

I was offered three types of treatment:

1. Hope it goes away by itself

Couldn't believe this was actually being suggested by a medical profession - particularly after I'd told her that I could barely eat or sleep, amongst all the other dark and serious stuff we'd been discussing.

2. Self-help books

While I'm not against self-help books - for some people this is the way to go - it just wasn't the right fit for me. I would've ended up arguing with it and/or misreading it as criticism.

Still, if it's right for you - go for it!

3. Tablets

I know a lot of people are against tablets. To those I say - fine, it might not work for you. But I needed this.

And I get annoyed by the anti-tablet pressure that there seems to be socially - it's hard enough to ask for help, it shouldn't be taboo to take the help you need.

What I was not offered was talking therapy. Neither was I offered a combination of the above treatments. It was very much a pick one and stick with it approach.

But the strong ask for help. You are strong - whoever you are. Please remember that.

Nerd Church is a weekly post where I go off on one discuss issues. This week I'm talking about mental health to fit in with MHAW 2016 not that I usually need an excuse. You can continue the conversation elsewhere, but please link back here :)

Like this post? Try these:


  1. I feel like a lot of people have bad experiences with mental health doctors, which is really quite sad. I find it upsetting that it would be insensitive to tell let's say a person with cancer, that one of the options would be just to hope it goes away by itself, but not to a depressed person. Sickness can take on different forms people!

  2. Now, I know this isn't to do with the example of the topic itself, but asking for help in general is always such a challenge. I can see why asking of it for a mental health issue would be especially difficult. I'm glad you managed to overcome that hurdle and knowing how the process goes will probably help more people feel comfortable speaking up.

    1. I agree - asking for help for anything can be very difficult.

      I kind of wanted to show the realities - not just that people should get help, but that there are practical problems that make things more difficult and shouldn't be there.

      Not that I'm trying to put people off - the opposite! People who need help should not be afraid to ask for it. There should be no shame, it's one of the most difficult things you can do, and I'm proud of everyone who's managed to take the first steps.

  3. Well done for talking about this! I don't think I ever could. I think at times the NHS are so bad when it comes to mental health like them assuming it's an act. Hope the outcome will be the right one for you and stay strong.

    1. Well thank you very much for the lovely comment :) <3


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