May. 17th, 2017

guppy_sandhu: (intense)
Waiting rooms are the worst.

There's always a chance of being recognised by a patient. When he's here with the kids, they inevitably catch something, or do something hideously embarrassing, or have a sudden bladder emergency just as they're about to get called in. Fortunately, today, the kids aren't here.

There was something he had to do.

He'd talked it over with Fran and she'd kissed him on the cheek and given him a warm squeeze, and said she would make sure he didn't have to do this with a toddler in tow.

He's had the same GP for a number of years now. He's been stable enough to only come in every six months or so, but they've built up a trust. Nevertheless, he feels his heart pounding when she calls him in.

"What can I do for you?" she asks.

Guppy looks her straight in the eyes.

"I need to get better."

She tilts her head slightly, questioning. He continues.

"I've suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder for over ten years, and generalised anxiety disorder since I was four years old. I have three significant phobias. I take medication that allows me to function but it's always there, and I still have the occasional panic attack. I have four children who need me. They're getting older and they're keeping secrets from me because they think I'll worry. And not just little secrets."

He pauses for breath. And she gives him the time.

"I've spent the last twelve years afraid to speak out because I was afraid for my career. But I'm not alone. Far from it. Many, many doctors suffer with their mental health at some time. And they don't speak out, because they expect to be above all of that. They bottle it all up inside.

"And the reality is, I'm at the top of my career ladder. I have a permanent consultant post. I have no trainer to convince that I'm good enough. I work with equals, who don't need to know about my mental health, but would probably have no less respect for me if they did."

She nods.

"Okay, let's see what we can do." she says, giving him a smile.

"You think I can get better?" Guppy asks.

"I do. It's been a decade since you had any sort of therapy." she says. "If you've suffered from anxiety since you were four, then it's probably not going to go away completely. But I think you could heal somewhat from where you are now, with help and support, and most importantly, self-care."

She hands him a leaflet and an envelope.

"Look, I'm not going to tell you how to suck eggs. But I want you to read this and refresh yourself with the basics of self-care, which I know with a busy job and four children you don't do enough of. This envelope here contains a self-referral form for talking therapies. If your therapist turns out to be someone you know, I'll arrange for you to get help in the next town instead."

Guppy nods. "Thanks."

"You've spent your whole adult life looking after other people." his GP says. "And I know that isn't going to change overnight. But be even a quarter as kind to yourself as you are to others, and I think things will start to get better. I want to see you in a couple of weeks, and if things aren't getting better, we'll have a look at your meds. But self-care first, because I think you've neglected that for a long time."

Guppy knows it's not going to be easy. But he does feel hopeful. And most of all, he feels it's okay.

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