Saturday, March 10, 2018

Seeking Help For A Mental Health Issue

Before I start, I just want to take a moment to thank everyone who took the time to read and support my last blog post where I shared my mental health story, I'm so grateful! Today's post is the second in my mental health series and I thought today, we should talk about how to seek help when you're struggling with your mental health, and the process of what will happen when you do. I think one of the reasons I took so long to seek help was because I wasn't entirely sure what would happen or if I'd be taken seriously and then I'd overthink the situation so much, and convince myself not to go. Although getting help won't be the easiest experience, it will be so rewarding, I promise.

When is it time to seek help? 
This can be very difficult because for a long time, you may feel like your condition isn't that bad and that you can deal with it all by yourself, but if you do have a mental illness, it won't just go away by itself, sadly. Even I waited until I was at complete rock bottom before seeking any help and it's something that I deeply regret. It's important to remember that if you feel like you're struggling, it's ALWAYS okay to ask for help. Your doctor understands and won't judge at all! If you're unsure if you need help, maybe you could start by keeping a well-being diary and document how you're feeling each day, good or bad. Look back on it after a month and if you're struggling more days than not, it's probably time to make an appointment with your GP.

Making a GP appointment.
For some people, even making a GP appointment can be extremely daunting and could even stop them from seeking help altogether but there are always ways around this! Some doctors surgeries have an online system in place, where you're able to book appointments without having to speak to someone directly. Failing that, a family member could even make the appointment for you. I find telephone calls to be a huge deal for my anxiety and without the help of a family member making my first appointment, I'd of probably never had gone. It's nothing to be ashamed of, you're trying your best!

Preparation for the initial appointment. 
For me, I found preparing for the first appointment to be very helpful, because I knew there were many things that I needed to mention and when you're very anxious, things can start to become a little bit of a blur and it's easy to forget what you need to say. If you also would prefer to prepare for your appointment, you could do so by compiling a list of your symptoms, feelings and the general struggles you've been experiencing. Have you been finding it hard to cope with work or socialising with your friends? Tell them everything. It may even be helpful to research mental illnesses and your symptoms, and if you find anything that seems to be relatable to what you're going through, you could print the information out and bring it along with your other notes. Although you may not be diagnosed with that particular illness, it will help the doctor to know what you've been feeling and going through. Seeking help can be extremely hard but remember, you could always take someone in with you, like, a family member or a close friend. The average doctor's appointment lasts for around 15 minutes but please don't feel stressed or rushed, you could always ask for a double appointment when you book it if you feel like you would need more time.

What should you say? 
This was something that I always used to overthink about a lot but I don't think there's an easy cheat sheet for this because everyone's story and struggles will be different. It's important to be brave, honest and open. Explain everything you've been feeling and going through. It probably won't be pretty and you'll likely break down. This is nothing to be ashamed of, it's a very hard thing to talk about. It's important to remember that you may not get a diagnosis in your first appointment, I didn't until I had been referred to the mental health team. The initial appointment is the first stepping stone towards recovery and finding out what's going on.

"I went to the doctors and they didn't take me seriously. What can I do?" 
Although I haven't experienced this myself, it is something that I've heard a few people say has happened to them and when it does occur, they seem very reluctant to seek help again. I believe all GPs should take what you're saying seriously but if they don't, you could always make an appointment with a different doctor. I think it should also be made common knowledge that you can actually refer yourself to the mental health services for treatments such as CBT, without even going to a GP. Simply Google it and find your local MH services. I live in Hertfordshire so my mental health team are "As One" Link here for the self-referral form!

In the meantime...? 
After your initial appointment, you will be referred either by yourself or your GP and you'll be added to the waiting list, either for their services or a mental health assessment, where they'll talk through your struggles and they'll see which type of service is right for you. Waiting times will differ considering how busy your local team are and how severe your condition is. In the meantime, it's essential that you surround yourself with your support network and know who to contact in times of crisis. 

Here are some helpful contacts: 

SamaritansTelephone: 116 123 (24 hours a day, free to call)
Text: 07725909090

They provide 
confidential, non-judgemental emotional support for those experiencing feelings of distress or despair that could lead to any form of self-harm. 

Sane Line 
0300 304 7000 (4:30pm - 10:30pm)

They provide 
information and support to people with mental health problems, they also have a helpline.

Once you seek help, they usually also provide you with some local contact numbers that you can use in times of crisis but failing that, you could also ring NHS Direct on 111 and tell them how you're feeling and they will be able to refer you through to A&E and you'll be able to see a  mental health specialist. 

I feel like I've tried to cover all bases but if you have any further questions, feel free to send me an email! Thank you for reading.

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