Mental Health

With any long-term/chronic illness there are the obvious physical symptoms and the hidden psychological symptoms. My illnesses are no exception. Ten years of being sick definitely takes a toll on you mentally. 

In late 2009 I was sent to see someone – can’t remember her actual title but she was a shrink of sorts. My GP at the time was well aware of my family medical history and thought I should go see this woman to work out essentially what sort of depression I had. Going in to session #1 I was a bit nervous but generally ok. Basically all we did was discuss my background in no more detail than what would appear on my resume. Session #2 I was less nervous so I smiled at her when she called me in. We finished off my “resume” and she said that I was fine and sent me on my way. 

For starters…I was not fine. In the space of 2 weeks I’d returned home from 6.5 months overseas, whilst still jet lagged I was dumped and told I had no job, my nan passed away and I was rapidly losing my friends. But I wasn’t asked about any of this by the shrink. It was touched on briefly but I wasn’t asked the classic “how does that make you feel?”. 

Needless to say – this put me off shrinks! Bugger these “professionals” – I was going to do it alone!

So, 4 years on and still sick, I’ve continued to avoid professional psychological help.  That is, until now. 

Triggered by another problem which I won’t go into, my partner and I signed up for a mental health first aid course ( In doing the course I’ve come to notice my own mental health problems which have come about mostly from being physically ill. So this, along with my seemingly endless tears over the smallest things, has led me to going to my new GP for a referral to a shrink. I did a mental health plan a few months ago, but chickened out due to my previous experience and went on to lose the referral I’d been given. 

But now, finally, I’m booked in. In 2 weeks I have my first session. 

I know that the first step to overcoming a mental illness is recognising there is a problem and seeking help, but I still can’t help but feel like I’ve failed and that I’m not as strong as everyone else.  For this – I blame society and the media. 

There is too much of a bad stigma around mental health which is ridiculous considering how common it is. I’m going to try and help break that stigma by talking about my own mental health journey. I would also recommend doing a mental health first aid course. You’ll not only learn how to help others, but you will also pick up a few tips for yourself.  

This is my ramble for now. Until next time…look after yourselves!

Misdiagnosis: What are we doing to our bodies?

For years I have been baffled at the number of kids who have been diagnosed with ADD or ADHD. When I was at school I think there was one kid in the year level who had it. Anyone else who played up in class was just deemed to be a “brat”. Some were known to have troubled homes, some were the youngest child, some just weren’t as mature as the rest of the class yet. These days, however, there seems to be a handful of kids in every class with ADD or ADHD and are on medication for it.

Now I don’t question that some people would have one of these disorders, but I do question how many are seemingly easily marked with the disorder, handed a prescription for Ritalin or the like and sent on their way.

Finally, this has been noticed by the medical community. An article today warned of possible misdiagnosis of the disorder. I don’t blame the doctors for this, I blame the health care systems. These days it’s hard to be with a GP long enough for them to get to know you and your family to be able to perform a proper diagnosis. Barely getting 5-10 min with a doctor virtually guarantees you won’t get a full and thorough diagnosis. Yes, you can book a double appointment, but not everyone can afford to be out of pocket $120 just so they can get properly looked at. 

ADD/ADHD isn’t the only thing that is getting wrongly diagnosed. For at least 10 years of my life I’ve been getting wrongly diagnosed. In fact it took a couple of years before anyone picked up that I didn’t just have a flu at the start of 2003, I actually had Cytomegalovirus (CMV) which for some people it can just appear as a flu-like virus, but it can actually become more severe and it a virus that remains in your system for life.

Since 2003 I’ve been rushed into a diagnosis of depression, glandular fever, flu and most recently a dismissive diagnosis of chronic fatigue syndrome. 

Anyone who knows me is aware of how sick I am and that when I get sick I don’t do a half-arsed job at it, so I don’t expect doctors to be able to correctly diagnose me right away. What I do expect is a health care system that allows  me and everyone else out there to get adequate time with a GP who’s been given the time to learn more about some of the less common diseases. And a system that doesn’t leave me unable to get adequate treatment simply because I cannot afford all the medications, specialists and treatments I need to get better. 

Too many of us are sick. Too many of us are wrongly diagnosed. Too many of us are unable to afford appropriate treatments. I don’t know much about the economy or how things work, but I do know that something needs to be done.  In a way I’m lucky with my previous diagnoses in that for the most part I haven’t been incorrectly medicated. But in the case of these poor kids who just need a bit more time, patience and assistance – their wrong diagnosis of ADD/ADHD and subsequent dosages of medication could actually be causing them even more harm.