Doctor Doctor

“Doctors urge me to take my meds. When I don’t, they become agitated. I take their meds to calm them down.” – Brian Spellman

Up until the age of twenty-four I didn’t have a good opinion of my doctor, or any member of the NHS for that matter. I didn’t like talking to them about what was going on inside my head. What the f**k could they do anyway? With their cutting glares and blunt questions. I didn’t want to take the pills that they so easily dished out.
How could they be so matter of fact about things when I was so clearly distressed?

It was only when I had a breakdown in 2013 that I finally understood the reason for their attitude. It’s a doctor’s job to fix a problem, not dish out hugs and tea.
Think about it, on average a doctor has ten minutes per patient to diagnose and suggest a solution. It doesn’t matter if you have anxiety, cancer or a serious case of the shits. Ten minutes max. When you look at it that way, it makes more sense to keep sympathy to a minimum and focus on a treatment. Not ideal I know, but it’s the truth.
When push comes to shove I’d rather have a doctor who can fix the problem, rather than offer sympathy.

For me the solution was medication. Despite an initial bumpy 72 hours, the SSRI meds that I was prescribed worked well for me and I’m still very grateful for that. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not cured, but it allows me to function with greater ease.

The NHS has failed me in many ways, but I’m still thankful for what I’ve received and I don’t blame the doctors. Free health care is a gift that I’ll never take for granted.

This is not to let medical staff off the hook when it comes to adequate care. Everyone deserves to be treated with respect and this doesn’t always happen. For instance, the ‘Practitioner Nurse’ at my local GP is a miserable cow. I wish I could word it more eloquently, but it’s the truth. She’s moody, abrupt and patronising. (Doesn’t go well with my sarcastic, dark comedy personality).

An example of a recent conversation, concerning my repeat prescription.

Nurse: Have you thought about killing yourself?
Me: Not recently…. but it’s always an option I suppose. 
Nurse: *Silence*

Come on… That’s comedy gold! I think that she meant to say “have you had any recent suicidal thoughts?” You know, the generic and non offensive terminology to use.
But she went off script….. so I did too!

Top tips for dealing with a doctor’s appointment

  • Make notes – I do this EVERY time, because it helps me to be concise. My anxiety is like a shape shifter, and new symptoms crop up every year. So I write bullet points, both physical and emotional, and I rank them in order.
    I tend to walk straight in there, hand them the list and say. “I don’t feel great at the moment. I’ve made a list of symptoms because I worry that my anxiety will prevent me from being clear.”
  • Take distractions – I don’t know about you, but I’ve never been in a nice waiting room. Bad lighting, the smell of hand sanitizer and walls filled with threatening posters about illnesses you could catch. “Do you want to die of Vitamin D deficiency? Then do something NOW!” (I may have made that one up).
    Plus appointments are rarely on time. So be thoroughly prepared. Take a bag of goodies to keep yourself occupied. I’m serious, treat it like a trip of some sort. Magazines, puzzles, phone apps, music. You deserve a reward for doing something that makes you uncomfortable. In many ways the waiting room is the worst bit, the time when anxiety is most likely to kick in. So pre-empt it with distractions.
  • Ask for support – It’s ok to take someone with you if you’re struggling. Even if it’s not a family member. If you can’t physically take someone with you then there are other ways to get support. For example, before appointments I sometimes ring the Anxiety UK helpline to discuss how I’m feeling. It’s just nice to tell someone who gets it. Feel free to tweet me anytime @ClaireyLove – I’m on hand if you need a boost.
  • Go in there with the right attitude – Respect YES… sympathy not essential. Think of yourself like a broken car and the doctor is a mechanic. As long as they listen and discuss treatment options with respect then you’re in good hands.
  • Take charge – If you’re really not happy with your doctor then maybe think about trying somewhere else. There’s no shame in it. You deserve to be treated fairly and in most cases it’s easy enough to try another surgery.

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9 Comments

  1. September 1, 2017 / 8:56 am

    It’s a poor do when people who go into the profession because they want to help people, end up in a system that dictates ten-minute slots and no time to be as kind as they would (mostly) want to be. I completely agree, respect is non-negotiable and meds can be life-saving. Excellent strategies here, too, as ever.
    In my experience, as both client and later as a therapist, it’s also worth considering therapy for time and space to explore what the hell is happening to you and how you got to this point, as well as how you might be able to shift things in your favour.
    🙂

    • allmadhere
      September 1, 2017 / 9:21 am

      Excellent advice as always Lizzie 😊xx

  2. Fatgit
    September 1, 2017 / 12:54 pm

    I understand that doctors have a tight schedule and it’s VERY difficult to give more time to patients. I guess the patient has to prioritise and go with a list but maybe talk about the most important issues they have. For me I don’t take distractions, even that would worry me – another thing to think about. My stumbling block is getting there or getting out the house, I can’t do it :(.

    I mean last week the surgery rang and said they were sending a phlebotomist to me which was great and came completely out the blue. However, I had the blood test and the next day (!) they rang and said ‘blah blah blah’ and I need another blood test can I come and have one. It’s not going to happen and I have literally nobody to go with – no friends, nobody. I’m f*****.

    (This is not a call for sympathy, I’m just saying how difficult it is.)

    • allmadhere
      September 1, 2017 / 2:49 pm

      Mate, I’m sorry to hear this.

      You might not have someone to go with you, but you can ring the Samaritans or Anxiety UK on route for some support.
      Exposure therapy might be really helpful for you too. I’d recommend David Carbonell. His site is genius! It’s about setting a goal & working towards it slowly, there’s no rush.

      Easy for me to say I know. But You CAN get through this. I truly believe everyone can.

  3. Amy
    September 3, 2017 / 9:33 am

    For me, going to the doctor’s is one of my worst experiences…the waiting for your name to be called…not knowing if you are going to get a nice doctor or someone who thinks you are a time waster! Any everyone else in the waiting room always looks so chilled! Great post and it has encouraged me too book my overdue appointment! Thanks Claire xxx

    • allmadhere
      September 3, 2017 / 10:57 am

      Waiting rooms are definitely the worst. Sending you a massive hug.
      Glad you like the post xx

  4. Ruth
    September 3, 2017 / 7:33 pm

    This made me laugh as well as being hugely helpful!!!

  5. Fatgit
    September 5, 2017 / 7:55 am

    Thank you for your kind words. I agree, exposure therapy may help. I mean I was OK, I went to all my appointments last year and more…on my own. However, and I don’t type this easily, life in this house is UNBEARABLE. I don’t want to wake up any more, the bullying and abuse by one person here is a nightmare. I want to shout it from the ******* rooftops what this person has done, I want everyone to know what he is. Telling my GP didn’t work.

    Add to that the torment of suffering from BDD and the fact my 30 year old transplant is failing then there is no reason to be, no reason at all. Death would be a bonus, no more worries.

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