Tomorrow morning I have the appointment with my GP. Since I made the appointment, I’ve been mulling over a couple of questions: Firstly, what am I going to tell? And then, what help do I actually want?
What am I going to tell? When I moved to the UK and registered with my GP, I was asked to make an appointment with a nurse to give my medical history. I never did. Partly because I never got around to it, but also partly because I was worried about disclosing my history of mental health problems and having that on my patient record. That’s still worrying me now.
Tomorrow, I will most likely tell the doctor that I’ve been feeling low for over 18 months and that I don’t feel that I’m getting better. It’s pretty vague, and I wonder whether it will be taken seriously enough to get me the help I want. I could disclose my suicidal thoughts, but although they’re preoccupying, I haven’t got a plan right now and I know that’s the question I’ll be asked as the measure of whether things are really serious.
Alternatively, I could disclose my mental health history. This may result in me being taken more seriously, but then that information is on my patient record and every time I seek help (for anything, not just my mental health) it may be seen through the lens of those previous diagnoses – diagnoses which I actually disputed at the time. Realistically, I feel okay about disclosing that I’ve had depression and that I’ve been prescribed Sertraline and Citalopram previously. Depression feels more acceptable, normal even. It’s what most people think of when we say ‘1 in 4’ of us will have a mental health problem. But I’m not okay with disclosing that I was treated by a psychiatrist and diagnosed with BPD and a borderline eating disorder, that I have a history of cutting, nor that I was diagnosed as alcohol dependent and attended alcohol counselling and AA.
And what help do I actually want? I know that I’m tired of feeling like this, and I want to be happy again. But I’m still not convinced that the GP can offer me anything that will help me achieve this. I expect that I will either not be offered any help, or if I am, it will be either anti-depressants or a referral for a few sessions of CBT that I may have to wait months for. CBT has not been hugely helpful for me in the past and I’ve already worked my way through plenty of online resources with little result. I’m not sure what face-to-face has to add. What I really want is a referral to a therapist, sometime quite soon, and a choice of who that therapist is and what type of therapy they’re offering.
There’s actually one other question on my mind: who will I be telling? I visit my GP so rarely that I don’t know any of the doctors and they don’t know me. I don’t know if the doctor I’m going to see has any expertise in dealing with mental health, or if they hold judgemental beliefs about people with mental health problems. This makes me feel like seeking help through my GP is actually a big risk: a negative experience could set me back, rather than moving me forward. Tomorrow will tell.