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:
- Monday: Colour Me Happy - a post about colouring and mental health
- Tuesday: Mini-Review! - Reasons To Stay Alive by Matt Haig - a short review of Matt Haig's book on depression and anxiety.
- Tuesday: Guest Post on Book Bloggers International: MENTAL HEALTH MONTH: The Wolf in My Mind By Cee Arr from Diary of a Reading Addict - a post I wrote about my experiences of depression, reading, and blogging. Please give it a look - it took a lot to write it!
- Wednesday: The View From Both Sides - a post about looking at mental health from the views of both carer & sufferer
- 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!
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:
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!
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
Like this post? Try these:
- Colour Me Happy
- Mini-Review! - Reasons To Stay Alive by Matt Haig
- The View From Both Sides
- Words Hurt