No Such Thing as a Free Lunch?

Today marks the end of my journey with the Mother and Baby Unit. My doctor saw me as an outpatient for a number of months following my discharge as she wanted to make sure I was doing ok at home. But David is now one, and I have been stable, and it was time to be referred back to my local mental health team.

Today was the day I was to have an appointment with the new Psychiatrist that was going to be taking over my care. I wasn’t looking forward to it. Due to the experiences I had before my hospitalisation I am wary of medical professionals – particularly those in mental health. Would they take me seriously? Would they screw around with my medication? Would they be nice?

Furthermore, my appointment was at my local hospital whose service has not impressed me over the past 18 months. This is the hospital where I was told (in the midst of a mixed psychotic episode) that I didn’t need hospitalisation, only a good night sleep. Indeed it is the very same hospital that I called during my labour with David, only to be told to take a Panadol and have a bath. It’s a good thing that we ignored that advice, because when I arrived we found out I was half way to having a baby, and the contractions were coming quick and strong. Naturally the birth suites were full, and I needed to be transferred to a different hospital, but the doctor was then concerned that I wouldn’t make the ambulance ride. I was told I may have to deliver in the waiting room, with no epidural (“this was not in my birth plan!!!” I couldn’t help thinking ;)). Fortunately for everyone my labour stalled, I was successfully transferred to a different hospital and I even got an epidural. No thanks to my local hospital though. Do I sound resentful? Perhaps a tad 😉

Anyway. Back to today. I went to the appointment feeling rather stand offish and cross about things. I was on the offense and I wasn’t afraid to let ‘them’ know about it. The doctor called me up by my middle name, which wasn’t a great start. But there was something profoundly kind about this woman, and for the life of me I couldn’t stop myself from telling her everything. To open up to someone so quickly is very unusual for me. I talked and talked so much that when Steven came to pick me up my voice was hoarse. Ok, so admittedly I am still recovering from laryngitis…but you get the idea ;))

At the end of it she asked me how it had been. I was honest with her and told her that I had had deep reservations about coming, I told her about my experience with the other doctor. I explained to her that when I am depressed I don’t tend to show the emotion that other people seem to. I don’t tend to cry or even talk much. I will just state that I feel depressed, and because actions speak louder than words, I didn’t seem to receive the help I needed.

To my surprise she told me that she had dealt with many individuals that show little emotion, and that ‘Depression’ is about far more than feeling sad. She told me it was about an inability to sleep, to concentrate, to make decisions, to engage in life. She assured me that she was taking me seriously, and from her notes from the mother and baby unit and from what I had talked about she felt that I had been to hell and back. She told me how sorry she was that I had been through this, and how sorry she was that their service had let me down.

I think that’s what I really wanted. To tell someone at the hospital what had happened and for them to acknowledge it. I hope that by telling someone, perhaps someone else out there won’t slip through the cracks. Not everyone who needs help wears their heart on their sleeve.

All in all I feel good about the appointment. My new doctor is lovely, and I’m confident that with time I will trust her in the way I trusted my old doctor. To my surprise I was also given a medication voucher for the pharmacy, so I can get all my medications for free! This was a huge relief since we were paying almost $100 a month on pills.

To be honest with you, although I have had some bad experiences with our mental health service, I’ve had some really good ones too. The hospital and all of my doctor and psychologist appointments have been free of charge. I received free childcare and now free medications. People say there is no such thing as a free lunch…but I guess sometimes there is. And I know I’m grateful for it! 🙂

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