“Don’t worry about it, you’re a girl, of course you get mood swings”.
Those words stayed with me as I walked dispassionately back from the doctors. It had taken me so much courage to go; I had bravely refused my friend’s offer to go with me, sure I’d be taken seriously. I went in the hope I’d get some sort of therapy to help me with my self-harm and anxiety. Yes, I’m a girl, but that shouldn’t mean it’s okay for me to be sobbing for hours and self-harming due to immense self hatred.
As soon as someone dismisses your feelings it's like a blow
As soon as someone dismisses your feelings like that it’s like a blow to the stomach. For a while I was angry and embarrassed and then as I continued to have ups and downs I began to wonder if I was imagining it. Was I maybe making a big deal out of nothing like the doctor clearly thought? Maybe all teenagers felt like this.
Certainly my parents must have used the excuse of the teenage angst on me, although I wasn’t a particularly rebellious teen. I’d make sarcastic comments and snap a bit but most of my upset and anger I’d turn onto myself.
That was the first time I went to the doctors about my anxiety and self harm. I had been warned it might be unhelpful but perhaps naively had assumed mine would be different. I guess I didn’t phrase it properly...I didn’t really know how to explain how I was feeling but I expected more compassion. I definitely didn’t expect a small smirk as I talked about my extreme mood swings. I didn’t mention self harm, it felt too personal but perhaps thats why he didn’t help.
I was so nervous during the appointment that I was struggling to talk normally
The second time was slightly better. I was so nervous during the appointment that I was shaking violently and struggling to talk normally because my heart was beating so fast...I felt like exclaiming, “See!!! This is what happens each time I have to speak to someone new!!!” I had basically gone into her office and asked bluntly for antidepressants as I had read somewhere that you were more likely to get tablets than therapeutic help on the NHS. She informed me that it’s better to use antidepressants along with therapy, which I already knew. However she did give me a leaflet about a charity I could call for therapy as I stuttered to her about my problems with anxiety about basic things such as food shopping and speaking in front of more than two people.
Of course, I was too scared to actually phone the charity and instead emailed them. Surprise surprise, there was no reply. I was also still feeling disappointed with the doctors. Perhaps this was childish or selfish, but I wanted them to sort out the help for me as it was so difficult to admit my problems to every new person. Did I really want to keep explaining my problems and issues to each new person only to be passed along to someone else?
"I was wondering if I can maybe get some help?"
Third time lucky?
Thankfully it was! By this time I knew I had to have a pretty direct approach when enquiring about help. After a few awkward stutters, ahhs and umms, I blurted out my question.
“So like I was wondering if I can maybe get some help?”
I wasn’t particularly hopeful. So it was a shock when he nodded and explained that there was and that yes, I did need help. Finally someone was taking me seriously!
It was such a relief knowing someone was on my side
From that moment onwards I felt lighter and walking home was a huge contrast to the first time, some two years previously. I had a definite bounce in my step (I know it’s cliche but it’s honestly how I felt). It was such a relief knowing someone was on my side, after all this time.
So I guess my advice is to not give up no matter how disheartening it is when someone (especially someone you trust) tells you to basically ignore your feelings. You will find someone who will listen, trust me! It just might not be the first person you tell, or the second.
But it’s definitely worth it in the end.