So I want to start by saying under no circumstances do I want to put people off seeking help. If you need help, please talk to someone — whether it be a friend, family member or your doctor. Below are some things I’ve heard from mental health professionals over a span of four to five years, so they are pretty isolated incidents. But I think they are important to talk about because they absolutely aren’t acceptable!
1. “You can’t be that bad, you’ve still got your job.”
I went to the doctor a few months back. I was very down and hadn’t left my bed in four days — let alone the house. I hadn’t eaten. I was struggling to get up to go for a wee or to get a drink. Anyway, I finally managed to get myself to the doctors, told him what was going on. He asked me the usual questions, then he asked about my employment status, I told him I have a job but I’d been calling in sick quite a lot recently because I was struggling too much. According to him, if I’m managing to hold down a job, it means I’m perfectly OK! Well I’m sorry, but that certainly isn’t the case. Yes, I’m one of the lucky ones that struggles with mental health issues and can still go to work, but that doesn’t give anyone the right the dismiss my issues — especially not a professional.
2. “I don’t want your life story.”
So a few weeks ago, I got referred to to a mental health team. They asked the usual questions: “How long have you been feeling like this?” “Do you have any suicidal thoughts or tendencies?” etc. My doctor then went on to ask if there had been any significant life events that could have triggered me. I started telling him about a few things that might have. He interrupted me part-way through and said he didn’t want my life story. It was completely and utterly rude and uncalled for. Please don’t ask me a question then not listen to the answer.
3. “There’s nothing wrong with you.”
This is by far my favorite. This was said to me by two people that work for Crisis. I’d been admitted to hospital for attempting suicide. I’d been in there for three days when the nurse recommended I speak to the Crisis team. I reluctantly agreed, having spoke to them previous to this incident and they were not helpful at all. So anyway they came to see me, and they asked standard questions like “Why did you do it?” “Was it your intention to kill yourself?” “What happened?” etc. I went through the whole ordeal explain why, how, what, when, etc. This whole discussion only lasted about 15 or 20 minutes. Then they went and discussed with each other what the best course of action was from here, and they came to the conclusion that I was absolutely fine, there was nothing wrong with me and I needed no further help. Yep! That’s what they decided after I tried to take my own life for the second time within two weeks.
4. “You just need to find a hobby.”
This was when I first went to the doctor’s when I was about 15 or 16. I didn’t know what to expect, but I didn’t expect them to leave me with crappy advice like, “You need to find a hobby” “It’s just your hormones,” etc. No, it wasn’t. I knew something was wrong, and I shouldn’t be feeling like that. I knew from about the age of 14, but only really plucked up the courage to get help two years later. I didn’t go back to the doctors for help for a good three years after that.
These incidents had such a negative impact on me and I felt betrayed by the very people who were supposed to be able to help me more than anyone else. I realized then that even though seeking professional help is one of the best things you can do, it’s hard and there aren’t many resources to help you. But you’ve gotta keep fighting because every once in a while, you’ll stumble across a diamond that understands you and takes the time to actually listen to you and make you feel like a human being rather than a problem.