Into the system…

blogging, work, mental health, therapy, disability, benefits and more…

entering the system…

with 8 comments

Thursday 12th June was what I guess you could describe as a life-changing day. After many, many years of burying my head in the sand, pretending I was okay and avoiding getting help, I saw my GP. A strange string of events led up to this point. It was like a big snowball that was out of control, but in the end I reached the point of no return and had to go see her.

I booked the appointment the Monday before, following an afternoon of nagging from my line manager. I hate doctors. I have to be practically dying in order to make an appointment. I find it difficult enough going for a physical problem, but the idea of going for a mental issue seemed almost impossible. Unfortunately, it got to the stage where I had little choice.

The appointment rolled around. I’d had little sleep and felt physically sick. Thankfully it was an early morning appointment, so it would be over quickly. At the doctors, I presented my doctor with a piece of paper. This paper contained some typed words describing how I’d been feeling, what had been happening lately and what had happened in the past. I knew I would be unable to find the words to talk to her directly and I’d been encouraged to write by others. She read my script intently and then looked at me and just said “what you’re describing here is obviously some form of depressive illness”. So that was that. I obviously knew before, but it was strange to finally have a doctor telling me and more importantly writing it in my medical notes. She immediately suggested that she referred me to the local community mental health team for assessment and the possibility of counselling or therapy and began to fill in the form. As she did so, she asked me further questions. Questions about self-harm and suicide mainly. Difficult questions when you’re ashamed of your thoughts and don’t want to admit that they’re still bothering you, but somehow I felt I had to be honest. I almost thought she’d be able to tell if I was lying.

She then went on to ask me my thoughts on medication. She was keen to prescribe an antidepressant and I told her I’d already feared she would but wasn’t sure if I wanted to. She quickly tried to convince me of the benefits and asked me to think about it. I’m still reluctant, and as such remain unmedicated, but I wonder how long I can keep it that way.

Finally, she signed me off work. Now the sign-off was the thing I was dreading most. It was only a note for a week, with the instructions to “take a break” and return to see her a week later. I was disappointed though. I love my job and I’ve been using it as a distraction for so long, I was unsure how I’d be able to handle an enforced absence.

It’s weird. The whole appointment only lasted a few minutes, yet it felt like so much had changed. I’d never seen my GP about any of this before, despite suffering from similar episodes on and off for years. I was now being classed as a mental health patient – someone suffering from depressive illness. It scared me, the implications of this. It still scares me. I may have been someone suffering depression, long before I was told I was, but it still seems different to have it in your medical notes. There in black and white. It takes some getting used to.

The appointment also presented some more immediate issues. The most prominent of these was telling my partner. If I was to take the time off work, as dictated my GP, he needed to know that something was up. He would obviously question why I was not in work, so I quickly realised I had no choice but to tell him or to keep working. I had been keeping from him everything that had been happening and all that I felt. We’ve been together years, but he had no idea of my thoughts. No idea I’d been desperate, hysterical and suicidal. No idea I had a history of self harm that dated back before he even knew me. No idea that I’d been to my doctor. No idea that work had forced me to see occupational health. No idea I’d been seeing a counsellor. No idea at all.

Written by intothesystem

Friday, 20th June 2008 at 5:11 pm

8 Responses

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  1. Intriguing that you got refered to the CMHT.

    I notice the use of the past tense… how did telling your partner go?

    And yes, having it down in black and white is quite a thing to get used to!


    Friday, 20th June 2008 at 9:58 pm

  2. Big step, I see what you mean about a lot changing. Hope it went well when you told your partner too. Good idea to write it al down, I hate having to tell anybody things like that so completely feel for you on that one.

    Fingers crossed for the Therapy/Counseling too.

    The Chuckle

    Saturday, 21st June 2008 at 7:37 am

  3. Thanks you two. Telling my partner was difficult.. post about that coming soon.

    I kind of expected the mental health referral – mainly because the occupational health doctor had told me I should ask for one if she didn’t offer it, but even still I’m curious to see what comes of it.


    Sunday, 22nd June 2008 at 6:27 pm

  4. I can definitely say that I’ve felt the same about a diagnosis before. On tuesday, after being treated for severe clinical depression for 5 years I was told that it was highly likely that I was in fact bipolar. It’s a lot to get your head around and I totally understand that while you may feel all the symptoms of a depressive illness, its still unnerving to have that in black and white.

    Like Chuckle said, it was a really brilliant idea to write it all down first, I must of been to my GP and had various blood tests before I admitted or was able to admit anything, so one big pat on the back for you.

    Take care lovely – mind if I link you to my blog?


    Sunday, 22nd June 2008 at 7:04 pm

  5. […] what happened next can be found here. I saw the doctor and the label was applied. I finally had no choice but to accept that I was […]

  6. eccedentesiast – of course not. Go ahead. I’ll link you back – I’ve already subscribed. :)


    Tuesday, 24th June 2008 at 10:21 am

  7. […] the doctors… Posted in 1 by intothesystem on June 24th, 2008 So I mentioned in this post that I’d been signed off from work. As I said before, this presented me with a couple of […]

  8. […] just to get a GP appointment, and intothesystem’s referral (who appears to be at a similar point to myself mood-wise) seems to be taking forever and a day. […]

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