January 2014 saw me finally sharing properly with others (just a couple to start with) that I was worried about myself. After a really tough Christmas I recognised that the crying, anxiety and lack of joy in all the things I would normally enjoy was a problem and fell apart on my husband and my parents. I was encouraged to go the GP. To begin with I said I was going to exercise, eat right and take things easy for a while and see if I improved but then under the premise that maybe there was something ‘physical’ wrong with me I went to the GP.
It is at this point when I would like to acknowledge that I was hugely blessed that the GP that I’d never seen before at my surgery was absolutely flipping wonderful. I walked in with my psychology degree head on, basically don’t tell me I’m depressed. Now looking back I can’t understand what else it could have been but at the time I was convinced it wasn’t depression. I went in through the door and started crying but tried to pull myself together. Dr L then said “it’s going to be ok, I’m here to help you”. Wow, what calming words at that time for me to hear. She also said “Don’t worry about crying, just be honest”. She listened to what I said and asked me to fill out the questionnaire for her about how I was feeling. I was talking a lot about blood tests to check my levels of things were ok and she listened and said that she would arrange ‘tired all the time’ bloods (yes that’s a thing ha). She also shared that her husband, a surgeon, had suffered with depression for sometime before they had noticed but also that he improved and recovered. I will be forever grateful for her being vulnerable enough to share that with me, giving me so much hope, it made me see her as real and I also saw that she didn’t think any worse of me for acknowledging this.
We then talked about anti-depressants, I eventually agreed to take a prescription and get some if I felt I needed them before we next met. 2 days later I went into a pharmacy, got the tablets and started taking them. This was the next huge step as even though I have spent lots of time telling others they should take them if they need them, I found it difficult that I needed them. A few days later, Dr L rang to say that my iron and vitamin D levels were very low and she had left another prescription for me at the reception. So not only was I struggling with PND but I also needed some additional help to get these levels back to normal.
It was a huge relief that day to have voiced my concerns and felt heard but it was probably one of my scariest moments too as after recognising it for what it was, I realised just how much I was struggling and finally admitted that unless I got help I couldn’t go on living the way I was. It was just too hard.
I will be forever grateful for the honesty and compassion shown by my GP that day and also by my family as they supported me through that darkness. The NHS is a marvellous place struggling with budget cuts, huge lists of people needing to be seen and much more however in it there are complete gems doing their upmost to do all they can to help those they see, one person at a time.
If you are worried about yourself or another, do talk to someone and if you don’t feel the GP you are seeing understands where you are up to, maybe seek out another GP within the surgery and also seek other support. Try the PANDAS helpline on 0843 28 98 401. Keep going, because one day spring will appear.