6 October 2017

Handling disappointing mental health GP appointments

Handling disappointing mental health GP appointments

The NHS is a wonderful thing, and I feel so grateful to live in a country in which healthcare is accessible to me no matter what my payslip says. But, mental health is such a tough thing to discuss and to diagnose because things just aren't simple or visible or something that can be determined by a test. Sometimes doctors get it wrong, and sometimes they get it right and the appointment is still upsetting.

I've had my fair share of disappointing GP appointments about my mental health. I've been turned away for help with my self harm, I've cried at doctors and begged them to help me and have still been let down. I was put off seeking any help for so long because lil old anxious me was already petrified of talking to someone about my mental health problems and then they turned me away. It was shit and I still feel angry about it. 

I feel less angry about my treatment in particular, and more about what could have happened if the situation was different. If I didn't have the support network I did my self harm would have gotten worse and worse. And I was totally put off from getting help. It makes me angry because someone like me could lose their life over an appointment like ones I've had.

And I know I'm not alone on this. I've spoken to dozens of others who have had similar issues. Mental health resources are overstretched and doctors are having to prioritise people suffering with mental health problems, which is horrifying, but a sad fact of reality.

One truly disappointing doctor's appointment made me absolutely go off the rails. I trashed my uni room and delved deeper into an isolating world of me and my mental health issues. I don't want anyone else to feel the way I did, so here are some things that I wish I'd done and that I think could really help.

Talking to people about your mental health is really fucking hard, I get it. But, isolating yourself after a horrible doctor's appointment isn't going to make things any better. Let someone know that you're struggling and you're not getting the help you need.

I so wish I had spoken out about the way I was treated in my first ever doctor's appointment for my mental health. It was triggering and honestly downright nasty. Take the time to speak to the practice manager and let them know if their doctors are being abusive or unhelpful. Talk to the doctor themselves and let them know that their behaviour is upsetting. I've never had the guts to do this, but I wish I had. No one will realise anything is wrong if you don't let someone know about it.

Take a step back for the day, or week, or however long you need. Treat yoself and remember that your feelings about your mental health are valid. Have a pamper, go shopping, catch up on Netflix or do whatever makes you feel safe. Yes, things may be at breaking point, but taking some time out for you is going to help. 

And if things get really tough, remember that GPs aren't the only way forward. If you're feeling at risk after an appointment, email or text or call the Samaritans and get some sound advice. They'll be there to support you in your time of need and give you some hella good advice on what to do next. 

What I'm really trying to say is, don't let one shitty appointment make you give up. Push back and get the help you need (even if you feel like you don't deserve it). 

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9 comments:

  1. Great tips! I've dealt with a lot of awful doctors and therapists myself, its really depressing,i just recently wrote a similar post about it on my blog too. take care xo
    www.libertylife.me

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    1. Thank you! Sadly I think a lot of us have. I'll check it out!

      Steph x

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  2. Some helpful tips there, I had a very similar experience to you. It's just so frustrating, for someone with anxiety to go to the doctors in the first place is a huge deal and can take up the whole day. I remember waiting outside for ages and when I eventually came in she ranted to me about breathing techniques and told me to leave.
    When I was doing my psych degree we got taught about all these wonderful talking therapies that SHOULD be provided and suggested by GPs, but everytime I went to talk to them about it, they gave me a higher dose of medication and sent me on my way (medication that I shouldn't have been offered with in the first place).
    I'm not dissing the NHS not at all and I've heard, especially now Gps's are upping their game a bit on mental health, I just agree that it's so disheartening to be let down countless times and can make the problem even worse. I agree with all of your advice though and good luck with future appointments!
    Marbl☾☽Moon

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    1. It really is a big deal to go to the doctors when it can trigger your anxiety! Medication is not always the answer, and doesn't tackle the root of any problems, although I do find mine useful

      Steph x

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  3. Ohh I'm so sorry you've had a bad experience :(

    I'm the same - I'm totally grateful for the NHS but it's in such a state that people who really need help aren't getting it. Especially with regards to MH.

    I wonder if it would help some people if they took someone with them to an appointment? Obviously someone they trust and feel able to discuss things in front of. Might just provide a bit of back up and moral support?

    Anyway great post, and not something I've seen discussed before! x

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    1. I think it could definitely help to have someone with you at an appointment, even if they just stay in the waiting area so that there's someone there with you immediately after!

      Steph - www.nourishmeblog.co.uk

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  4. My latest doctor's appointment was a fucking joke. My, usually pretty great, doctor asked me, after I'd told her I was feeling really low and suicidal, did I want to just leave it and see how things go, or be referred to the MH team? Oh, I don't know, I thought I'd just come here for a chat, and then go home to off myself. What do you think?! I left that appointment feeling really angry and frustrated, even if i I did ultimately get my MH team referral. x www.aimeeraindropwrites.co.uk x

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    1. That's so ridiculous! I really hope the referral is helpful. It's so hurtful when they don't take things seriously

      Steph x

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  5. I had to change GPs three times before being taken seriously. It was honestly heartbreaking because having suffered with MH issues before, I knew what I was slipping back into. It took me so long to accept that I had reached a low point again, a point at which I couldn't help myself anymore, and to then be turned away by two GPs not taking me seriously threw me back a mile in my progress. The third attempt was luckily successful but I know that other people wouldn't have had the courage to try that many times. After a period of not seeing a doctor and having moved house twice recently, I am about to go to a new practice next week and am already worried about having to explain myself yet again :(

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