Like a princess plaster on a wound that needs stitches; doctors notes, waiting lists and antipsychotic pills are being used for mentally unwell patients. To top this, us Millennials are the most depressed and anxious generation. So with an NHS bursting at the seams, how does it feel to go through the system?
According to mentalhealth.org, of those in full-time employment, women are nearly twice as likely as men to have a common mental health problem, and it seems I was one of these women (I usually refer to myself as a girl but I won’t get into that here).
Early 2018, I was living in London and I was happier than Homer Simpson with a doughnut: I had an amazing job in fashion, a huge group of friends and I’d fallen fringe over feet in love. Then out of the blue: I was blue, hit with a serious episode of anxiety and depression. I couldn’t go to work, I didn’t want to see my friends and I’d waved a sorrowful goodbye to sleep.
So what does anxiety and depression feel like? Well for me it’s like the sky is falling down: there’s a tight knot in my stomach, my hands are numb, I can’t breathe and I’m always moments away from bursting into tears.
After explaining all this through snotty sobs and floods of tears to a doctor, I was put on the waiting list for psychiatric help and prescribed the minor tranquillizer, Valium. I was surprised how easy it was to be given these pills, just two ticks in the doctor’s office and I was away with a prescription.
I wasn’t exactly Keen Kevin when they were suggested to me, despite how ‘broken’ I felt I was, I’d seen the state a friend was in – insomnia, suicidal thoughts, heart palpitations – after taking antidepressants and decided medication wasn’t for me, but what really scared me about Valium is how addictive it can be.
Necking back a pill to magically make your problems disappear seems too good to be true. What happens when the prescription runs out? Won’t the problems be back with a vengeance? And Valium dependency can’t be easy to combat, surely?!
Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not slating medication completely, (I’ve got pals who say medication is the best thing to happen to them), but I saw three different GPs, each with a different solution/pill/note every time, so it’s hard for me to trust they know what’s right.
When it comes to therapy, unless you’ve got pounds to spare and can afford to go private, then it’s all about getting to the top of ‘the list’, but this can be as difficult as baking a Victoria sponge blindfolded and drunk, it’s been nearly four months and I’m still waiting for Mr Postman to bring me the referral letter.
The problems with the NHS obviously isn’t down to the doctors and nurses themselves, who are overworked, underpaid and in most cases undervalued, but it’s with the lack of money, resources and training in the system for mental health issues. So when it comes to cases like mine, we can all be at a bit of a loss.
Sadly, me and my brain have been in this situation before and although I might be in grave danger of making this sound like a summary to an episode of Dawson’s Creek, I know what works best for me is time. I know eventually the good days will outweigh the bad, the laughter will overpower the tears and my optimism will beat my negativity. So postman or no postman I’m just going to keep waiting this episode out.
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