Anyone with Complex PTSD or other Trauma related Disorders knows how hard it is to seek help or access it. When I read this article it really resonated it me for that reason. I think you will find it a worthwhile read.
Article by Ellen Scott for metro.co.uk
There’s an in-joke in my friendship group about my lengthy list of physical ailments.
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There’s my dodgy shoulder, which flares up at least once a month in pain that stops me from typing and thinking straight.
The weird blood sugar issue that means I faint if I don’t eat regularly.
My tummy, which groans, and rumbles, and cramps every time I go out for a meal.
I try not to grumble too much about these little niggles, but I can tell that when I do (usually when they get bad enough that I feel I need to explain why I’ve suddenly become tense and snappy – I don’t actually hate you, I’m just in too much pain to focus on what you’re saying), it’s probably quite annoying.
It sounds like I’m constantly making a fuss, when, in reality, I only mention it when one of these problems gets too intense to deal with quietly.
I’ve always been bad at going to the doctor for this kind of thing. I still feel uncomfortable asking for help with my mental and physical health
With the blood sugar issue, I’ve had a couple of blood tests with no indication of what’s going on, along with suggestions that I could just eat more, or that maybe I’m struggling with an eating disorder and secretly eating less than I say (I’m not).
That put me off trying to resolve it for a while.
The shoulder issue’s a bit more pressing. When it flares up, I have to be in constant supply of painkillers to get through a day at my desk.
I know that I should definitely bring it up with my doctor.
But since I started talking openly about mental health, my physical issues have been put on backburner.
I’ve heard myself justifying this, explaining that I don’t want to overload my GP or ‘distract’ them from the main issue at hand, – the depression, the obsessive thoughts, the panic attacks – and I know that’s silly.
I still feel uncomfortable asking for help with my mental and physical health
Doctors should be perfectly understanding of the fact that people can have physical and mental issues at the same time – and that sometimes those are linked.
But I worry that if I bring up physical issues, they’ll be dismissed as just part of my mental issues.
I worry that they’ll think I’m being dramatic, that my anxiety has turned into hypochondria, that I’m so miserable that I’m making up aches and pains to get more treatment.
And I worry that the opposite will happen. That any complaints about physical issues will mean my mental health will go down on the list of priorities, and I won’t receive adequate help.
Most of all, I don’t want to make a fuss. I don’t want to ask for more help than I think I’m allowed.
There’s still a big, British part of me that thinks I should just get on with things, that it’s better to deal with things alone than to go to a professional.
That’s something I battled with when I decided to get help for my mental health issues, and it’s something I still need to overcome when it comes to getting help for all the other stuff going on in my mind and body.
It’s what prevents me from asking for my contraceptive pill in the same appointment as my antidepressants (what if they think that one pill is causing the need for the other? What if they think my sex life is proof that I don’t need mental health medication, and they snatch it away?), asking about having my medication upped because it doesn’t feel like it’s working as well (I don’t want to be greedy), and feeling entitled to ask for physical help when I’m already getting mental health support.
I feel like I can’t ask for multiple things, that being grateful for mental health care means I can’t ask for anything more.
And so I’m dealing with physical stuff, putting up with side-effects, and keeping up with antidepressants that might not be working as well as they should – all because of that classic awkwardness that comes with asking for what you deserve.
Asking for any kind of help – whether it’s for physical issues or mental ones – is difficult when your brain is telling you you don’t deserve it, when it tells you that you’re being annoying, that you’re making a fuss over nothing, and that everyone will hate you if you dare to say you’re struggling.
I still feel uncomfortable asking for help with my mental and physical health. Throw in the knowledge that you’re already getting help, and it becomes next-to-impossible to ask for more.
That’s something I – and a bunch of other people, I reckon – really need to work on.
Yes, the NHS is exhausted and underfunded and it’s tough to get help. Yes, it’s a bit sh*t that the onus is on the people struggling to keep battling to get what they need, whether it’s medication, therapy, or a change in treatment.
But we need to learn that we’re worthy of help, that we’re not being silly to ask for more, and that we don’t have to smile and put up with the fact that we’re feeling rubbish just because we’ve had one bit of help, and think that’s all we deserve.
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If you’re feeling awful, make an appointment with your GP, explain what’s wrong, and push if you don’t think you’re being heard. You are just as entitled to feel healthy as anyone else, regardless of what you’ve already asked for, what mental health treatment you’re receiving, or how many times you’ve asked for help before.
I’m going to be repeating that in my head, over and over, for my next GP appointment, when I’ll not just ask for a top-up of my pills, but will ask about the side-effects I’ve been dealing with, ask for a top-up of my contraceptive pill, and mention my shoulder issue.
Feeling a little better mentally doesn’t bar me from trying to make the rest of myself better, too.