What I Learned From the Doctor Who Dismissed My Mental Health Struggles
I remember sitting in the waiting room, my legs shaking, chest tingling. I was terrified, because this was no ordinary doctor’s visit for me. This was my first ever attempt to get help after years battling suicidal thoughts and self-harm.
I was sat there for a good while panicking, worrying about what to say, how I would say it and the response I would finally receive. What scared me the most was the thought of finally telling someone what I was really thinking and feeling — and having them ignore every word. I longed for some advice and maybe some answers to why I was feeling the way I did. I was afraid I wouldn’t be taken seriously and would be dismissed.
And that is exactly what you did.
I sat down in front of you, you asked me why I was here and I couldn’t help but cry. I told you about my lack of confidence, about not wanting to leave the house, about struggling at university and the details of an abusive relationship. Before I could even tell you about the suicidal thoughts and the self-harm, you told me to stop. You told me that everyone gets stressed, that it’s normal and that I had to find a way to manage and live with it. You told me we had run out of time and it was time for me to go.
I hurried out of your room distraught, covered in snot and tears, feeling embarrassed and ashamed. As I drove back home, I told myself I would never go to the doctor again for such issues, that I would never again ask for help.
You made me feel as though there was no hope.
Luckily, when I arrived home, my mum was there. When I told her about what had happened, she was furious with you but encouraged me to arrange another visit, this time to see a different doctor.
During my next appointment, I was asked a string of questions, which I responded truthfully to, and was finally diagnosed with anxiety and depression. I was given antidepressants and was recommended self-help books, online sites and given the details of therapists in the area for me to talk to. Before I left, your colleague apologized to me for your behavior and told me in the future to see her about my mental health.
This time I left feeling hopeful. I finally knew what I was struggling with, that it had a name and that it was definitely not just a “normal” way to feel. I learned it could be managed with medication, talking and a whole lot of self-love.
This is how I should have felt after my first visit.
I will never know why you dismissed me the way you did when I saw you, however, in an odd way, I’m rather glad you did. If it weren’t for your carelessness, I wouldn’t have learned a lesson that may help many others that are in the same position as me.
Although you may not get the help you need straight away, it doesn’t mean you should stop looking.
If you need support right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or text “START” to 741-741.
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Thinkstock photo via PhotobyLove.