The first step towards your mental wellbeing and recovery is to approach a doctor. It is the most difficult step and it can seem overwhelming if you don’t know where to begin. The purpose of this article is to arm you with helpful tips.
Tip #1: Get rid of the stigma surrounding mental illness
‘At the root of this dilemma is the way we view mental health in this country.
Whether an illness affects your heart, your leg or your brain, it’s still an illness,
and there should be no distinction’.
— Michelle Obama
Do not hesitate to get help for your mental health issues. Symptoms of mental illness are not character flaws or signs of weakness. Often, patients feel ashamed of sharing their feelings with their doctors as they are afraid of being misinterpreted. This is why, you need to counter the stigma that is associated with mental illness and make yourself understand that mental health issues are serious, but can be managed nonetheless with proper medical strategies.
Tip#2: Do not expect the doctor to read your mind
Doctors are not superhumans. In some cases, even close members of the family fail to recognize symptoms of poor mental wellbeing. So, don’t assume the doctor will know how you feel.
Before you meet the doctor, it is essential to set some goals for yourself. If you expect your symptoms to vanish after the first appointment, be ready to face disappointment. Treating mental health issues takes time, expertise and medication in some cases. So, patiently work with your doctor and come up with a plan that addresses your concerns.
Tip #3: Be prepared for your diagnosis
Once you are done with the first few sessions, your doctor will finally come to a diagnosis. While you may think that you have depression, it can actually be a combination of other physical and mental illnesses. Symptoms of poor mental health like memory loss, irritability and behavioural changes may often indicate anxiety or depression, but they can also be indicative of early signs of Alzheimer’s.
It is important to understand the fact that Alzheimer’s can be diagnosed in young people aged between 30-40 years, as well as older age groups. This is known as early on-set Alzheimer’s. According to the 2017 research of Alzheimer’s association, approximately 200,000 individuals are under the age of 65 and have early-onset Alzheimer’s out of the estimated 5.5 million Americans diagnosed with the disease in 2017. The quickest way to self-assess yourself for dementia is to take a brain test that is offered online. You can take the results to your GP for further analysis and guidance.
Tip#4: Accepting the diagnosis
It is normal to feel scared and react with denial if the diagnosis of your mental health is not what you were expecting it to be. Accepting the diagnosis takes some time, but the key factor is to stay hopeful. The sooner you come to terms with it, the better. Ask for help from a loved one, as their presence will be a source of reassurance for you.
It is normal to feel scared about how your life may change after receiving the doctor’s diagnosis. You may fear your relationships changing or feel distant from your loved ones. But keep in mind that it is possible to recover from mental illnesses, or delay certain symptoms with the help of proper medication and care.
However, it is very important that you make well-informed and healthy choices that support physical and emotional wellbeing. Remember, your journey towards better mental wellbeing will be a continuous team effort, and you are the most important member of that team.
As Nido Qubein said:
‘Your present circumstances don’t determine where you can go,
They merely determine where you start’.