Something I’ve washed over in previous posts is mental health and I’d like to start talking more openly about this subject in the hope that it encourages others to speak out and seek help. So today I’d like to speak about my previous experience with mental health services on the NHS in Scotland.
The first time I visited a counsellor, I was given a piece of paper with a list of questions and a statement at the top, bold and typed in a bright red colour: “PLEASE INFORM US OF HOW YOU HAVE BEEN FEELING IN THE LAST WEEK”. My initial thought was ‘well, I haven’t been feeling all that bad the past week but when I booked this appointment I was pretty low? I guess I’ll be honest and tell you about the past week”. BIG mistake. I was simply told there was nothing wrong with me and to come back after the summer if I felt any different. No advice, no questions just a simple sentence to get me out the door as quickly as possible. After this experience, I was scarred for life and terrified of counselling. However, I was forced to make myself see someone in an attempt to fix my mental state at the time. I even ended up having to go for private counselling sessions as the 12 week wait was too long and too much of a risk.
Doctors weren’t much better to be honest. I was told countless times that it was ‘just a bit of anxiety’ but deep down I knew that this was not what I was experiencing. It’s extremely difficult to walk into a doctor’s office and tell them every tiny detail about your life and I know that I was at fault to sugarcoat my feelings and I so badly wish that I hadn’t.
However, I did get to a point where the medication I was on for my ‘bit of anxiety’ was doing nothing for me and I did the stupid thing and stopped taking it. I tried to wean myself off of it but if I’m completely honest, it did so little for me that I just forgot to take it. I started making a conscious effort to get better, doing all the things they tell you to do: exercise, see your friends, talk to your friends, talk to your family, talk to anyone that will bloody listen. And it worked. For a short while. For a few months, I felt fine but I was neglecting the voice in my head telling me that it was all an act.
How I wish I hadn’t ignored that voice for so long. After spending the first few months of third year camped out in the library, working myself to death, all the anxiety and depression came rushing back like a dam had just burst open. But this time I couldn’t let it manifest and take over my life, there is too much at stake and I want to be there to see myself achieve all the goals I know I am capable of achieving.
So, I registered myself at a new GP and booked an emergency appointment. I was greeted by a young medical student who listened intently and ensured he knew every detail about my mental health before he consulted my doctor and asked what the best course of action was. The doctor also listened just as intently and they ended up spending 40 minutes with me, eating into other patient’s time just to check that I was alright. My doctor even took into consideration the fact that I enjoy running and ‘prescribed’ me a weekly run in a park just outside of the city. I came out of that doctor’s office feeling like there was a light at the end of the tunnel and that this time, I will get better.
My ideas surrounding mental health services had been so negatively affected in the past that I thought there was no hope but I hope this situation goes to show that there is always hope. It might take a few doctor’s who don’t understand but there is a doctor out there who wants so badly to save your life that they will do everything they can to make you feel better. Please wait for that doctor.
I’ve left the information for various different helplines below and my inbox on instagram is open to anyone at any time! Please don’t hesitate if you need to talk to someone. All of these helplines are open 24 hours a day unless otherwise stated!
Love to each and every one of you, it will get better
Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM) – for men
Call 0800 58 58 58 – 5pm to midnight every day
Visit the webchat page
Childline – for children and young people under 19
Call 0800 1111 – the number won’t show up on your phone bill
The Silver Line – for older people
Call 0800 4 70 80 90