Keep Reaching Out

When I was eighteen, I moved to university. It was a fresh start: a new home, a new environment, new classes, and new medical care. I joined the closest doctor’s office to my accommodation. It was really modern and huge – not your average little surgery but one with different doors and different waiting areas. This was totally new to me. Whatever happened to three rooms and a tiny reception?! There had been one thing I had wanted to do since I was about fifteen – get some advice about my anxiety symptoms.

It was maybe a few months into university that I actually made the appointment. I was super nervous and had prepped over and over for what I wanted to say. When I was in the doctor’s office though, the doctor’s focus was on a different matter. And when she finally asked why I was sitting before her, I tried to explain my symptoms. She dismissed me nearly instantly and blamed exams. I told her I only had one exam coming up in a few months that didn’t go towards my grade – I wasn’t nervous about the exam at that moment and this had been going on for a few years anyway. She didn’t listen and told me there was nothing she could do. I left. And didn’t seek a doctor’s help for another six years.

After a tough few months, I wanted to go back to the doctor. I was registered with a new surgery and hoped this one would be better. On the day, I went in, sat down, and sure enough I began shaking and felt very, very nervous. When my name was called and I walked up the stairs, I ended up meeting the loveliest doctor. She was so different to the other one I had met before. This doctor took the time to listen and then gave me different options – she didn’t just send me packing with the feeling of guilt because I had wasted her time (I absolutely hadn’t!). This doctor gave me choices to both empower and help me. And the help has been invaluable so far.

The point of this story? It’s hard when people don’t truly listen to you and dismiss what you say. And I’m sorry if you’ve had similar experiences. The consequences of invalidation can be huge – it can prevent people from getting the help they want, need, and deserve. I had six years of coping by myself because I was made to feel like my thoughts and feelings didn’t matter. Sometimes I sit and wonder how my life might be different if I actually had help six years ago.

But I’ve come to realise that what is more important right now is the fact I faced my fear and advocated for myself, and now I can focus on my treatment. I knew I needed some support, and it was important I didn’t ignore what was happening or how I was feeling. If somebody doesn’t listen to you the first time, keep reaching out, keep talking, keep advocating for yourself. You deserve the help and there will be someone who will truly listen to you.


Voices of Hope wants you to know that you do not have to do this alone. Click here to 'find help' - it's not weak to speak!

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