I’m sat in the doctor’s waiting room about to unveil a tale of woe for my long suffering GP. I’m coughing my guts up, but that’s not even on my list; a list I have to bring or my mushy brain will inevitably cause me to forget something vital.
Today’s list: a continuing muscle problem in my back that has been exacerbated by current affairs; hip and knee pain; a numbness in my toes and a discussion about Access to Work. Yet my decision to stop my anti-depressants isn’t on this list.
This isn’t because I’m proud of having made this decision on my own. Nor is it because I’m doing fine and don’t need GP advice, thank you very much.
It’s simply because, despite having been in the mental health system for more than two years, I still find it incredibly hard to broach the subject with my doctor.
I’m still afraid of the derision and head shaking I have experienced. The ‘buck up’ mentality. Or alternatively, the ‘aw poor you’ that will inevitably leave me in tears and feeling worthless for the rest of the day.
I’ve had a doctor tell me that my counsellor was ‘obviously testing me, and I failed the test’, and then laugh in my face.
On the other side of the coin, I’ve had doctors recommend fantastic literature, and even practical help like breathing exercises, and the pendulum method (which I was already aware of through meditation.)
Mental health care is still so hit and miss, that even though I’m seeing my ‘preferred’ GP, I’m still scared to bring my condition up. Still willing to struggle on alone, rather than wade through the sticky mire of false sympathy and muddled advice.
Parliamentary debate on current mental health services seems equally muddled, with bright spark Priti Patel once suggesting mental health suffered should wear wristbands to make them more easily identifiable; at least that fits in with her leader’s current Goebbels-like propaganda machine.
I never want to be part of a system that treats me as less of a person for having a complicated and fragile mind. We all have complicated and fragile minds; they all need treating differently; they all need care from time to time.
I know it is foolish that I don’t speak to my doctor today. I know it, and I hope you don’t make my mistake. Speak and seek help; talk, listen and strive when you have the strength, or be comforted when you don’t.
The more we speak, the easier it is for the next person to speak. And the next. Until there is no fear of speaking at all.