I’ve been seeing the GP about my mental health for over ten years and so you’d think it would be second nature to me by now. I saw the same GP for around eight years and we ended up with a brilliant professional relationship. He kept the boundaries I needed to not become attached, he treated me with medication for my mental health when I was that young it meant nobody else would. He always made time for myself and my mum and he would do his best to refer me to where I needed to be. I’ve always been extremely anxious when visiting the doctor and although I’d struggle every time I went, I felt safe with him and felt that I could trust him.
After a bad experience in a mental health ward, my GP made me a promise that it wasn’t the right environment for me and I shouldn’t ever need to return. He arranged for therapy to work through some of the things I had witnessed and worked through the list of SSRI antidepressants, when one after another they stopped working.
Then he left.
It just so happened that in an unfortunate coincidence around the time he left I had one of my scariest relapses to date and so was left with no choice but to see a new doctor, a new face to tell me most private and confidential worries too.
Now don’t get me wrong, I was in crisis and this new GP was so wonderful and efficient, she would stay late to ensure she could see me every day for weeks, she did everything in her power to prevent the crisis team getting involved (cough* because they’re shit) and she looked into my medication and personal circumstances immediately. She took my illness seriously and treated it with the severity it needed. She saved me in that moment which is brilliant. The NHS in that moment were brilliant.
It took 18 months of hard work to get where I am now. I left university through sickness, had 6 months off work, lost friends, lost independence but over time gained strength again. This relapse wiped me out. I found I couldn’t read or write as well as before, at times I couldn’t hear properly, I had little control on my thoughts and couldnt imagine it getting better. My CBT and family pulled me through, along with my hard work, and here I am.
Here is where I introduce the problem in my eyes. Once my therapy finished that was it, no continuity of care. No follow ups, no support, no where to turn. Now I understand the services are stretched and I cant have help all the time but I thought once my crisis ended I would have minimal support – not no support at all. I am over the moon I am in my recovery and doing really well, I am so lucky I had the strength to resume my normal life again. I am however scared that if my illness comes back as unexpected as before I have no medical support.
There is no preventative care, only care in crisis. Now that same amazing new doctor I mentioned before saw me a few weeks ago, 9 weeks after trying to get an appointment. The last time we spoke was a telephone consultation because I was struggling with dangerous thoughts and was scared. She told me that she believed it would pass. Months later I return to get a three month prescription of medication and it is handed over with no question.
No – ‘how are you?’
No – ‘do you feel in control?’
No – ‘how have you been doing?’
No – is there anything else I can help you with?’
NO CARE. This is where the system becomes dangerous in my eyes, the support you receive in a crisis is amazing, the rest of the time you need to get on with it. Its wrong. With continuous support for those with a longstanding mental health condition I believe more would survive. Mental health cannot afford to be treated the way it still is within the NHS, with a lack of urgency if somebody doesnt seem in crisis because it takes so much strength to battle day in day out, it takes support. I refuse to accept that medically I am alone, because if that is the case it is wrong.
If anyone has similar experiences please let me know! I’d love to know I’m not alone.
Can I finish by saying if you are struggling please do not let this put you off going to see a GP because there are amazing ones out there that can help. Please don’t suffer in silence, i am simply venting my frustrations over my own experiences, remember for eight years I was well supported – and you can be too.
As always remember, its okay to talk