I was reading about a workshop that is taking place next week with the HSE regarding mental health services (I still hate the term mental health but anyway). It got me thinking about my situation and how I felt it could have been handled differently.
It took me a long time to pluck up the courage to seek medical help. When I took that huge step I was in with the doctor for about 5 minutes. I wanted to be listened to not given tablets and told to go for a walk.
The tablets made me numb. I felt nothing. No joy, no sadness, just numb. The nightmares were horrendous (on the rare occasions that I did sleep). The insomnia was shocking – hence more tablets to help me sleep. The anxiety went off the scale. I would jump at my own shadow and then followed the panic attacks.
I didn’t know what a panic attack was. I thought I was going to die. I really did. The shortness of breath, the feeling like the room was closing in on me. Everything seeming brighter and louder. Just awful.
Fast forward several months and medications being changed, dosage going up and nothing improving. Until finally I got the blood test I asked for months before done and it was found I was deficient in B12 and there’s a huge link between that and depression.
Then came the counselling. One counsellor kept checking her phone or her mirror. Another said something outside the room about my situation which got back to me – so much for confidentiality. Now there were a couple of good ones so it wasn’t all bad.
Fast forward to when I started to wean myself off the meds. I’ve now been off them since April. No one has checked as to why I’m not requesting my tablets. I haven’t been near the doctor since.
So what could have been done differently?
I would have liked someone to listen to me. I would have liked the blood test to be done right away. I hear there is occupational therapy for people in counselling and I would have loved that but it wasn’t offered. I would have liked to speak to someone who understood what I was going through. Someone who could tell me what worked for them. I didn’t want to be on medication but I was so desperate I would have done anything.
I think the whole system needs looking at and that people need to be treated like people. We aren’t all the same, what works for one person won’t work for everyone. Above everything when you take the first step there should be someone to listen.
I will never forget the day when I went to a new doctor. He sat with his hands on his knees and told me to talk to him and he listened. He was the one who got the B12 matter sorted, he took his time and make me feel like I was important. I hope whatever the HSE decide to do that they listen to their patients.