Although in the UK we have free healthcare, a lot of people will suffer from mental illness in silence. People may be afraid to go to their doctor because they are ashamed, embarrassed or incase they are ridiculed – but doctors are trained to deal with all illnesses appropriately. It should not be any harder than sitting down and saying, “I think I have a cold” but unfortunately it is. However, once you say how you are feeling out loud it is like a weight is lifted off of your shoulder. It might be hard to have these conversations because of stigma, fear of bad reactions and having to be so emotionally vulnerable, but the more we discuss mental health the easier it will get.
It is so important to see your doctor for a number of reasons:
- You could have a physical illness that is causing symptoms similar to those of depression
- You might not realise how severe your mental illness is
- Your doctor can help you
Even if you’re unsure if you have a depression or anxiety, etc, still go and see your doctor because it will allow you to get help if you need it, or otherwise you are being proactive about your health. I would say if you are questioning that you’re not okay then go speak to your doctor – there is no harm in that.
If your friends or family mention any concerns regarding your mental state, I would suggest making a doctor’s appointment. Whilst these comments may upset you, your family only want what’s best and it’s better to be safe than sorry.
My experience getting help
Before my mental breakdown, I went to see a doctor that laughed at my symptoms of anxiety being “physical”. And she sent me home with a leaflet. This should be a rare occurrence as doctors are trained so throughly to be professional and make the patient’s health the first concern. If you are ever not taken seriously by your doctor change your doctor! I wish I had tried again as that would’ve prevented me from having to rebuild my whole life, however, the blame does lie on the doctor for being incompetent.
The second time I went to the doctor it was an extremely different experience – he engaged with me, he asked me lots of questions and gave me a diagnosis of severe depression and anxiety which I was shocked to hear out loud. This doctor has taken an active role in my recovery, so I see him quite often to ensure I’m getting on well – this is what the first doctor should have been like. He has been critical to my recovery.
What can your doctor do?
Seeing your doctor will ensure you receive the best treatment, that they can provide, and there are a variety of things your doctor can recommend to help you with mental illness – from medication to support groups to therapy. Your doctor will tailor the approach to improving your mental health to you, specifically. Your doctor should ask you numerous questions to figure out what you are suffering from whilst treating you with respect and compassion.
I think it’s extremely important to make clear that no bad experiences should put you off going to the doctors, whether it’s your own or someone else’s. Prevention is better than cure; see your doctor even if you don’t think that you are “ill enough”. Lastly, many people have told me that they feel too embarrassed to go to their doctor and this frustrates me because I felt like that too after my first appointment. Never be embarrassed of a legitimate medical condition, it’s easier said than done but putting your health first is essential. Your health will always be your priority.