It is mental health awareness week and I’ve been trying to come to terms with my own mental health.
Here’s a little story:
I remember about 3-4 years ago, while I was still an undergrad, I went to our family doctor to discuss an issue I’ve always seemed to have with focusing. I actually thought it was normal, but it had gotten to the point where I realized it was getting in the way of my work. I could barely sit still, and I couldn’t seem to get anything finished. I was also filled with anxiety constantly.
So hey, why not ask my family doctor about it?
So, summing up the courage to discuss an issue that my brain was telling me wasn’t an issue and that I should just deal with it, I told the doctor.
Her response: people in my age group spend too much time on the computer, and that I should try not to do this and try to “change [my] brain.” That’s a direct quotation, “Change your brain.”
Now I totally understand where she was coming from. She didn’t want to prescribe anything because sure, if you can avoid it, why not. I get it. And I certainly spent too much time on the computer. But I mean…I was an arts undergraduate student. If I wasn’t doing readings on the computer, then I was writing on the computer. And I’m sure my brain could use a lot of rewiring and tinkering. But being told to “Change my brain” by not using the computer as an undergraduate student? Fucking useless advice.
I take her advice as simply another form of deal with it yourself.
As a patient wanting to discuss my mental health, the difficulty is in knowing where to begin, how to begin. Where do I even start with what’s going on inside me?
So when you do try and speak, but you are very clearly not being taken seriously, it is very discouraging. You end up with your anxieties confirmed: It’s not a big deal, you can deal with it on your own, fix it yourself. Just spend less time on the computer! “Change your brain.”
Which all lead to There’s no point in asking for help.
I nodded politely and peaced it out of there. That was the last time I ever spoke to a doctor about anything related to my mental health.
While I was discouraged, the truth is that I didn’t take it all seriously. And I haven’t since then. I have adopted the mindset of you need to just get over it and work harder, focus harder, do x harder…which we all know is not helpful.
So now my goal is to start taking my own mental health seriously — take myself seriously. Look for a local family doctor, start getting check-ups, and asking for help.