Got a burning question about mental health difficulties? Want non-professional, peer-to-peer advice? Look no further, this feature will appear every month and invites readers to send in questions regarding mental health for tips and advice*. My name is Leanne and I have both specialist training and personal experience in mental health and will aim to provide user-friendly, non-professional advice to anyone who asks for it!
Q: Upon my last visit to the doctors I explained how my mental health was getting worse, yet I walked out of the appointment with nothing, no help, it was completely dismissed. What should I do now?
A: I’m sorry to hear you had this experience. I would make another appointment at the doctors and maybe even request to see a different doctor to the one you saw initially. Maybe there was a lack of communication and understanding of your situation, so it might just need to be reinforced that your mental health is deteriorating. If I ever have an important appointment I always make myself a list of questions of which I’d like to know the answer to, that way I can guarantee that I will remember everything I want answering. So, in your instance, maybe you could make a list of the thoughts/feelings you have regarding your mental state and that way you can be sure that you will explain exactly how you are feeling.
Q: Does experiencing mental health issues give people a greater appreciation for life?
A: This is a very broad and deep question! I believe that with any experiences in life, there is opportunity to learn and grow and therefore give you more appreciation for life. I think that if you have been mentally unwell you have a different understanding and appreciation for that specific experience to that of someone who hasn’t had the experience. I believe, personally, after experiencing total un-enjoyment for life I can now look back on that experience and appreciate what I have now with more understanding and gratitude. However, that doesn’t mean that I have more of an appreciation in life in comparison to someone who hasn’t experienced that. I believe there are many experiences that we go through throughout life and each one has the ability and potential to mould and shape our appreciation of life.
Q: Can you suffer with mental health without having a ‘label’?
A: This is a very hard question to answer. I believe that the answer should be yes, however in this day and age we as a society still haven’t reached the level of understanding and empathy of mental health that we should be at. We all have mental health, it’s just that some of us have poor mental health and that’s where the labels make an appearance. It isn’t until something is ‘wrong’ with us that society become preoccupied with trying to put that ‘something’ in a box, if it’s in a box and has a label then it becomes ‘safer’ and ‘easier to manage’. But, in reality that person is the same person they were, they’re just dealing with things that they previously didn’t have to deal with – so why label them when they’ve not changed? I sadly believe that, no, we can’t suffer with mental health without someone putting a label on it, unless that suffering is in the back scenes and not made apparent to anyone else. But, just because someone or society as a generalisation wants to judge and label people, doesn’t mean that we should suffer in silence or be shunned into not discussing our feelings and worries. The more people that discuss their mental health, the more ‘normal’ it becomes, when it’s ‘normal’ it’s less judged. Once the judgement dies down so does the stigma. So, in the real world, no I don’t think we can suffer with mental health issues without being labelled. But, we as a society can do something to change that.
How to ask:
Please send your questions to: [email protected]
*Please note not all questions will be answered, and all will be posted anonymously. If you are seeking urgent or professional advice, please see our contact list at the end of this sub-section.