I feel trapped.
I am a doctor working in the NHS.
I have been in and out of mental health services as a patient.
My mental health is starting to deteriorate once again.
I want help but I don’t know where to get it.
I am terrified of being found out. I am terrified of my work colleagues finding out about my mental health issues. I am terrified of being seen as weak, as manipulative, as not up to the job, as second-class, as inferior.
When I was in medical school I was briefly admitted to hospital and told to stop attention seeking and manipulating staff for attention.
When I was in medical school I was assessed by a psychiatrist and deemed to have traits of narcissistic personality disorder and not suitable to be a doctor.
When I was working as a junior doctor I was also seeing a psychiatrist when one of my work colleagues came across my medical records; he is now aware of my mental health problems and some of my deepest and darkest secrets. I am terrified of the day I will next bump into him; at a conference, at work, as a member of my team, at a professional social gathering.
When I was working as a (more senior) junior doctor I was told by a friend & work colleague about some ‘gossip’ – a medical student who had just joined his team had been in hospital a few years ago with a psychotic episode. How did he know this? The students old consultant psychiatrist was also my friends supervisor and they had ‘gossiped’ about it.
‘You wouldn’t have guessed it would you!’ he said.
So much for fucking confidentiality. God knows what my old psychiatrist ‘gossips’ about me these days.
I now work as a doctor in psychiatry and things are worse. Everyday I see young women come in with issues around self-harm and thoughts of suicide, with difficulty controlling their emotions and issues around self-esteem and self-confidence.
Everyday I hear the same fucking thing from the staff who are supposed to be treating them.
‘Oh, she’s just saying that to get attention.’
‘She just wants to get benefits.’
‘It’s all behavioural, there’s no mental illness.’
‘She has a personality disorder, there’s nothing we can do about it.’
Where the fuck am I supposed to go for help?
If I seek help from mental health services I will be treated by people who I will later be working with. Not only will these people know I have a mental health problem but they will know some of the most personal things about me. I will be expected to share painful, embarrassing thoughts and emotions while being expected to act ‘normal’ when I work with them as a doctor and not as a patient.
If I go privately I will probably (again) be deemed to have a personality disorder, to be narcissistic and manipulative and – heaven-forbid, attention-seeking (!) – and have my personal story discussed in multi-disciplinary meetings with teams who I will work with as a doctor in the future.
What am I supposed to do?
Where am I supposed to go?
How do I access treatment as a patient and not as a doctor?
How can I guarantee my confidentiality?
How can I seek help as a patient when I have seen my problems being dealt with so callously when it comes to others like me?
Where the fuck do I go to be listened to, to get some fucking empathy, to be treated as a human being?
Or do I just wait until this problem gets worse once again, and when the suicidal thoughts get too much, when the drinking becomes too heavy, when the darkness starts to overwhelm me, that I decide to just give in it one last time and cease to be?
Maybe that’s the ‘better’ option.
Maybe that’s the only option.
At least no one (else) will know I have a problem.
At least I will be fucking normal to everyone else.