An honest blog documenting the ups and downs of a mental health journey

Monday, 15 October 2018

To GP, Or Not To GP? And My Weird Analogy About The Wizard Of Oz


So, I've been wanting to write about the journey that's lead me to getting my Bipolar diagnosis.

Let's start with the fact that it was NOT easy.

Now, I do not want this to put people off getting the right help - I want it to do the exact opposite.

What I want to do is paint an extremely honest picture of the difficulties that can arise when getting the correct help, medication and ultimately a diagnosis for a mental illness.

Firstly, I want to make a point of saying that this is 100% my own experience of my diagnosis journey and I am sure, in fact I know, that many other people have managed to get the right help and the correct diagnosis without the troubles that I have personally experienced. 

This is also a reflection of my Bipolar diagnosis and it is important to remember different mental illnesses work in different ways, therefore will always be medicated and treated differently from person to person. 
Like most things, what works for one person may not work for another. 

I just feel it wouldn't be right to tell people that getting help for a mental illness is always an easy ride. 

I'll begin with this. I like to think of my mental illness as The Wizard Of Oz. Stick with me...

Dozza Gale gets herself into a spot of trouble (tries to save Toto, gets swept away by a tornado) - this part is the depression. 

She lands herself in Munchkindland, in the Land of Oz (kills the Wicked Witch of The East, she then has to follow the Yellow Brick Road to Emerald City to get back home, the Wicked Witch of The West is now after her) - this part is anxiety and loneliness/isolation. 

On her journey down the Yellow Brick Road, you'll recall she meets a few types (the Scarecrow, who wants a brain. The Tinman, who wants a heart. The Cowardly Lion, who wants courage) - these ones are slightly more obvious, representing learning to control your brain, looking after your heart, finding courage. They join her on the journey to help reach Emerald City. 

In amongst the laughter and the singing, that old witch is still trying to kill Dorothy (she sets winged monkeys on them FFS) but she keeps on going - this represents the good days and the bad days along the way.

Eventually, Dorothy kills The Wicked Witch of The West, Toto exposes the Wizard, the Scarecrow, Tinman and Cowardly Lion are rewarded with gifts showing the attributes they already possessed and everyone finds their way home - this, of course, is overcoming the illness.

Okay, so I went off on a tangent a bit there, but what I'm trying to say is building up the courage to speak to someone when you're suffering depression, anxiety or a similar mental health issue is tough. It's tough because unfortunately there is still such a huge stigma surrounding mental health. It's tough because you can't always put in to words how you're feeling (unless you refer to it as a musical). And it's tough because so many people just won't understand what's going on inside your head. 

I want to stress the importance of speaking about a mental health issue and I also want to share some things that helped me personally feel more comfortable about opening up. 

One thing I found really helped me open up about my mental illness was writing down how I was feeling. Next time you leave the house go to a shop and buy some really cute stationary and write the s**t out of how you're feeling (and don't pretend buying stationary is lame because we all know smelly gel pens were and still are the best invention ever). Even if you write something and screw it up and throw it away straight afterwards, you are one step closer to being honest about how you're feeling - because you've let it out. 
A friend said to me once that growing up their family sometimes struggled with communication and found that writing to each other was far easier than talking face to face. This really stuck with me as it shows the importance of communication, regardless if it's through the spoken word or not.

Once you've done this it's time to talk to your GP. You've made the first step and that's amazing, but this is the important one. 

Now I don't know the statistics of this, but it is widely known that GPs and Practice Nurses don't have a huge amount of training in mental health. Remember this, because if you don't initially get the help you need from your GP you have to keep trying. When my depression started again in June I went to the doctors and got completely and utterly shot down by the GP I saw. She prescribed me anti-depressants (again, these work for some people and not for others, but are definitely a good place to start) tossed me a piece of paper with a number for me to call and basically laughed me out of the surgery and said she "didn't have time to talk about my other issues" when I raised a question mark over Bipolar. I wish I was exaggerating this...but I'm not. 
And here I am, 4 months later with a Bipolar diagnosis under my belt. If I had walked out of the surgery that day and not tried again I wouldn't be in the situation I'm in now. Don't get me wrong, I walked out of the surgery in tears feeling as if I'd made the whole thing up in my head - this experience was not only degrading but it was disappointing. I demanded another appointment with a different, wonderfully helpful and understanding GP who I am still currently seeing and she immediately referred me to a Psychiatrist when I told her how I was feeling. 

Psychiatrists are the Golden Ticket (don't worry, I'm not going to start spouting a Willy Wonka analogy...mainly because I can't think of one right now) but effectively GPs are the gatekeepers to the Psychiatrists and Mental Health Nurses that are fully trained and qualified to medicate, treat and diagnose a mental illness.


I'll leave it here for now, as this is nowhere near the end of the story but it's a good place to stop (mainly because I'm banging on).

The moral of the story here is to persist. If you're told no, try try and TRY again until you've got your Golden Ticket.


TWW x
Instagram: 
@thewoefullywild


A Song For The Moment: Soothing - Laura Marling
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2 comments

  1. You're so right- GPs hold the key. They have so much power! Like, if someone has a bad experience with one, they might not go back...and what happens to their mental health then? I was so lucky to get an amazing GP the first time, I don't think I would have had the courage to try again with someone else. And since then, I've tried lots of therapies, seen different psychologists, and he has remained the one constant, reliable part of it all!!

    Thanks for sharing your story! It's so valuable to hear about these things because not a lot of people, even in the mental health community, understand bipolar all that well. So thanks for teaching us :).

    -Jess (theBraveAndStrong.com)

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    1. Thanks so much for your comment Jess :)

      I completely agree and it's something I unfortunately have quite a bit of experience in! It's so nice to hear you've been seen by a lovely GP and that they have remained supportive to you - that's so important.

      Maisie x

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