Tomorrow I will be embarking on the start of my mental health journey.
Just to set the scene. Prior to this I have struggled with mental health issues for what seems like for ever. It probably started, well I can at least say I remember it starting, around my early teens. I will discuss my symptoms and experiences in more detail in a future blog post.
So, I have previously seen a therapist, only a handful of times, privately through the BACP. But I did not think it was the best thing for me as I did not feel I needed to just ‘talk’, I wanted to properly be assessed and diagnosed.
So I went to the doctor last summer, a few times, and described my panic attacks and anxiety. I spoke very bravely about my symptoms one day and it was a big emotional deal for me. I thought the doctor would refer me to the community mental health team or something. But instead he sent me off with a prescription for anti-depressants and told me to go to talking therapies. He made me feel really silly and embarrassed and like I was wasting his time! It was a bit of an emotional day that day! Anti-depressants may help some people. And prescription drugs may help me. But I didn’t want to just take them when he didn’t really know what I was actually suffering with. I had not been diagnosed with a mental illness. I can’t believe he just sent me off saying it was just a bit of anxiety. When I had spoken about so many things such as; OCD, intrusive thoughts, panic attacks, how I didn’t feel depressed but had angry outbursts etc. So I never took the anti-depressants. After that appointment I felt better and just got on with life again. But still never really dealing with the root of the problem.
So a month ago or something, I went to the doctor again. Because things had got bad again and I was fed up of having these phases not coping with things well, getting angry, anxious, jealous etc. I was fed up of basically going around in circles of feeling bad, feeling better, not getting to the root of the problem because I felt better – and then being back in square one again. So after talking with my boyfriend and my boyfriend actually doing some research himself too, to help understand what was going on with me, I went to the doctor with a piece of paper – I had written out everything and what I wanted the outcome to be. I wrote a two sided A4 piece of paper with bullet points and it pretty much covered everything in as brief a way as possible. I really recommend doing this if you are going to the doctor about your mental health because it means everything is there and you can hand it to them and nothing gets forgotten. They can read it clearly, you don’t feel embarrassed, they can’t interrupt you, you don’t cry and find it hard to talk! It is a really good way of opening up. The doctor also scanned it so she could send it to the community mental health team for their use. I said I did not want to be put on anti-depressants, or told to go to the talking therapies. I wanted to be referred to the community mental health team and therefore, diagnosed and be able to have coping strategies and an action plan to get better and live well with whatever is going on in my head! And that is what the doctor did! I was referred and received a phone call yesterday which was my first assessment. It was emotional I admit and lasted an hour, but I knew it is going to help me. The woman said it would be a month before I heard from the psychiatrists, but they called me just now and I have an appointment on Monday at 9am with two doctors. I am a bit apprehensive of course, but also know it is going to benefit me, after all it is all for me, no one else! Remember that!
I am not expecting miracles to happen. And I also know that most of the work to get better has to be put in by the person going through the mental health issues. And I do that, I self-help everyday, I read books, do mindfulness, yoga etc. I know I could do more but no one is perfect! I also know that it is like the blind leading the blind, I do not know exactly what I have, what mental illness I have, therefore, I do not know what the best thing for me to be doing is. Once I have a proper assessment and diagnosis by a medical professional it is going to feel amazing, I will feel liberated and deal with whatever it is in the best way possible!
I can’t believe it has taken me so long to do this. But I am more than ready and in a way excited because it is going to mean I get the help I deserve!