Why does mental health still make some health professionals panic?

So here’s what happened when I went to my doctor about an eye problem.

Standard GP appointment, which I waited 2 weeks for like a good girl. FireGirl had flicked me in the eye with the talons she doesn’t let me cut and it was still sore, so I went to get it checked out.

All is fine and dandy, then doc leans in to squirt some stain in my eye. I pull back and ask if it’s safe to use in pregnancy, as I’m about 8 weeks.

He visibly panics, puts the drops down and quick as precipitous labour pulls up my perinatal mental health team discharge letter from 2 years ago like a rap sheet. He starts to berate me. Why haven’t I told anyone sooner! How could I present this late! People need to be told!

I’m calm, I reassure him it’s under control, the team and I have already discussed I don’t need to be referred til 12 weeks. It was part of my very careful, mutual discharge planning.

No dice. He continues to lecture me. I feel like a naughty school child. I remind him about my eye, never mind that, we can’t use the stain anyway, other things need to be done.

I grit my teeth through the rest of the appointment and leave seething. It’s exactly WHY I didn’t blurt it everywhere the second I got a positive pregnancy test. I feared exactly this would happen, the we-know-what’s-best-for-you brigade would show up and start ordering me around.

I’m also only about 2 weeks further in than last time, but clearly having MENTAL stamped all over my file clearly makes a difference.

Thankfully the perinatal team are far more sensible. Completely unfazed, they sent me an appointment for 3 months’ time. This reassures me.

Heallth professionals, please, don’t panic when you see mental health. Trust us to know what we need. By all means offer us help and guidance, but we’re not stupid, weak or helpless. We’re patients like any other and we can make choices and be responsible for our health. Don’t let the label blind you to our true needs.

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