How are you feeling today? Not well? Go and see your GP. Now this is all well and good if you are physically not 100%, but what about when its your mental health? Why is it so difficult to get help? Who else can you turn to? Why do they just pump us full of pills? So many questions, and using my personal experiences, I’m going to give you some answers. This is actually a personal topic for me. Ive received so much help from my GP and mental health teams, and wouldn’t be where I am without it. So, when I see people talking negatively about it, it actually hurts me. But instead of sitting here whining about it, I’m going to try and change your thinking. Now, before you start, just sit back and listen, don’t come to conclusions, and please don’t be offended by how blunt I’m going to be.
First, medication. So, you go to your GP and discuss your low mood, and your sent out the door with a pack of pills. This is not a bad thing!! The way to effectively treat a mental health illness is a combination of MEDICATION and THERAPY. Mental Health in the NHS is extremely overwhelmed, and with not a lot of funding, so arranging therapy takes time. Personally, I was referred in July 2017, and started counselling in January 2018. The reason GPs want to start you on medication is because your brain is not creating a specific chemical, and this causes your low mood. The medication is there to fix this imbalance, and help level out your low mood. IT IS NOT A CURE. That’s where therapy comes in. There normally has been a traumatic event in your life which has resulted in a physical trauma to your brain.
Let me explain. For example, being ignored by a significant person in your life causes THE SAME amount of damage to your brain as a head injury!!! That even now still amazes me. This is why therapy is important, because it will help you work through this damage. Medication is there to help your brain’s chemicals to stabilize during that process. This is why some people can stop taking medication after a period of time. This is also why people like me, will always manage our condition with medication. And guys, both of these outcomes are okay.
Story time. I was in a very dark place. In 2016, I went to the GP for antidepressants. I stilled reached rock bottom, so I decided to do something about it. I asked for a referral to therapy. I phoned them EVERY SINGLE DAY, and didn’t stop until I got an answer. Resources around mental health are so limited, they will not be handed to you easily. I’m sorry but it’s true. That is why those at a higher risk are prioritised, and yes, I mean those who are attempting suicide every day and those who are self-harming. And yes, that might suck for you, because you aren’t high risk and still need help, but that is the way it is. Now, you can sit, throw yourself a pity party, and cry about it, or you can do something about it.
I prefer that you do something, and you can. First, see your GP, and if they give you medication, try them. If they don’t work, then tell them and they’ll put you on something else. Medication works differently for different people, so don’t give up, keep trying different ones, and you will find the right ones for you. Also ask for your local Crisis Line number, it is different depending on where you live, if they don’t, call the non-emergency helpline (UK 111) and they will give you the number. Second, ask for a referral to your local NHS mental health team. Don’t just assume that they will get back to you. TAKE ACTION!! Phone them, every single day until you get an answer. This won’t make you look bad, it shows how urgently you need help. If you don’t have the mental energy to do it, I know its difficult, so if you have a supportive friend/ family member, get them to make the calls when you can’t. If you feel that you are not being taken seriously, then you need to change GP. This is done easily. Write a letter to your GP Surgery stating that you would like to change GP and explain why. DON’T GIVE UP. In the meantime, the limbo before therapy, use that Crisis Line number you asked for. The Crisis Line is your A&E for mental health, so use it, if you’re on the verge of killing yourself, or if you’re a little but tearful, USE IT!! If nothing happens, it is down to you to chase it up, unless you fight for it, you won’t get it, and that is a sad truth.
Remember, your GP is like a gateway, they can open up a new world of recovery to you. To get any treatment, you have to go through you’re GP. They may not specialise in mental health, but they are there to send you to people who are. Any problems, any doubts, go to your GP. Never stop using your GP!! Maybe one day the NHS will make the path to treatment different, but until then the GP is your first port of call. They are there to help, even when it doesn’t feel like it, so make the most of it.