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).