Working with health professionals

Over the years I have worked with and gained the care and support from GPs, support workers, therapists for different ‘treatments’ to help all aspects of my health. Over time, I’ve gained more confidence and learnt to be assertive at appointments. One of the most difficult appointments have been talking about my feelings with a counsellor and with my GP to help find an anti-depressant that suits and one of the even more tricky parts was safely tapering off anti-depressants and changing over to different medications. At present I am trying an SNRI medication. You learn over time and through some good websites about the different types of medications out there. So far I have tried 3 different types in combination with talking therapy. it has been scary changing medications, being worried about withdrawal and trusting things will work out better for me!  Never feel uncomfortable about doing some research about diagnosis or medications before you see your GP and taking a list of things you want to say as you often become forgetful or have mind blanks by the time you sit with your GP. I even find booking in and giving my name at reception difficult at times.

There is not enough adequate and transparent information out there about taking anti-depressants. Having said that, I have not yet experienced any major side effects. I do look things up on patient forums and discuss my condition with other peers as its so important not to feel isolated. I see my GP every two weeks or have a telephone consultation especially when there may be a lot going on with my health. Don’t ever feel you are a hypochondriac. If you respect your body, mind and soul then see the health professionals when you need to. It is nearly a full time job just managing appointments and keeping track of things! Keeping a diary and note paper at hand for phone calls also helps to remember what was discussed.

I have also found that a good GP will not rush you, with really actively listen, give good eye contact and will ask you relevant questions before issuing a prescription. When I moved to Haslingden, I did some research and asked local people which medical practise was best and what there experiences were. it is frustrating waiting for appointments and getting past the receptionist to make an appointment. If the receptionists are friendly then you half way there!

You may have a care plan if you are seeing a psychiatrist and/or social worker/care co ordinator if you have been an inpatient and are now living back at home. Care planning is having improvements across some NHS trusts in the UK and I urge you to request a copy of your care plan and make sure it is reviewed and up to date. It is there to help you and your family to plan mental health care and other associated conditions and you are entitled to a well managed care plan.

You deserve the best care and having mental health challenges does not mean you should have less quality of care. Remember we are experts of our care. We know us best!

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