The First Step

Finally booking an appointment to see your GP is a big step for a lot of people who are having problems with their mental wellbeing. For many it is the first time they’ll be admitting to themselves or anybody else that they are having problems and asking for help can not only be embarrassing for a lot of people but also very daunting. There are numerous horror stories out there about how unsympathetic, rude or unhelpful GPs have been towards people reaching out for help. Unfortunately this has led to many people being too worried to go and get the help that it so readily available to many people.

I’m here to tell you it can be very different to all those horror stories!

Initially I didn’t have much choice but to go to my GP seeing as I needed a doctor’s note for a mitigating circumstances form at university. It was made a lot easier by having a friend who had received help from their GP and local NHS services for their own Anxiety problems. The first GP I saw wasn’t my normal GP as I had to book an emergency appointment; she was a tad abrupt and to the point, merely telling me exactly what she was going to do and handing me a prescription. I wasn’t entirely sure what to make of this but a week later I went back and saw my normal GP. I haven’t looked back since. He has being extremely helpful, explaining about Anxiety, referring me for CBT, offering me medication for physical symptoms of panic attacks and suggesting that I talk to my academic advisor about possible support. To this day I’ve never been on anti-depressants because I asked not to be, my GP has always managed to find an alternative for my problems.

I am very aware that this isn’t the story you normally hear about GPs and mental health but I’d liken it to the London Underground. Tweets, Facebook statuses and texts complaining about all the problems on the tube are a daily occurrence, leading people to think it is a completely inept service. However, if you have a decent commute on the tube you don’t put a tweet up saying ‘Had a pleasant ride on the Northern Line’ do you? Negatives are focussed on a lot within society which in itself doesn’t help mental health problems!

Back to my main point, I realise that the NHS gets a lot of stick from the press, once again focussing on the negatives, but my experience with them has been fantastic. I couldn’t have asked for anything else (apart from maybe an on time appointment!) Obviously it is personal preference as to whether you seek help for mental health problems but what have you got to lose? If the first GP you see is unhelpful, book an appointment for a different one. I appreciate that picking yourself back up after a useless, unhelpful appointment can be difficult but you have so much you to gain by doing a bit of trial and error!

Seeing a GP can be the first step to feeling better. Your first step as a baby is celebrated, your first step into education is celebrated (we all have the photo of our first day of school!), the first step on the moon was celebrated internationally and one day I’m pretty sure you’ll celebrate the first day of overcoming a mental health problem!

1 thought on “The First Step

  1. The title says it all..I’m very glad you posted this Kerry. So many people slate the NHS, mainly their doctors when it comes to mental health but I feel if you aren’t impressed with your first doctor then just switch doctors. I had to go through around 3 doctors until I actually got anywhere! Keep up the great work Kerry, I’m so glad you find speaking out about mental health on here helpful..I can totally relate to you! 🙂 xxx

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