Women’s health shaming….. By doctors

I came across this article, which I found interesting.

9 women share horror stories about being shamed for their mental health — by doctors

I posted a comment on it, but thought it was also make sense to share here too. I’ve shared some of this before, so it may not be all new.

I’m actually shocked by how many of those doctors are women. Although, part of my experience involved a female doctor, so maybe I shouldn’t be surprised.

Growing up, I knew very little about mental illness. I later suspected i had been very depressed in high school, but I still didn’t entirely know what that meant. I also know now that I have been anxious for basically my entire life.

The only reason I never got help as a kid was because my parents were constantly dismissing my feelings as being overly dramatic or sensitive or whatever. I learned to bottle everything up because no one cared enough about my feelings to help me sort through them.

When I was in grade 8 or 9, I was suffering from severe chronic stomach pain. My parents finally took me to the doctor. He ordered a bunch of tests, even throwing out “the ‘C’ word” (cancer) as a potential thing to prepare for, even though he didn’t think that’s what it was. After tons of unpleasant tests and still no explanation, I overheard the doctor tell my dad that it might be all in my head. Nothing else happened after that. Eventually it got better – and by better, I mean more bearable – then happened less and less frequently and a few years later it only happened occasionally.

Several years later, while at college, I started experiencing heart palpitations and frequent headaches. The on campus doctor ordered several tests and after a few months of regular follow-ups, she said that it was probably just stress.

A few years later, I was extremely stressed out with work and basically had a meltdown while listening to a podcast in my car where Wil Wheaton was talking about his experience with anxiety and depression.

It was as if he was talking about me, describing my experiences. Suddenly it all made sense. The immense sadness, the extreme irritably, the built up anger inside. All the things I’d bottled up since I was a child has a reason.

I went to the doctor very soon after and was diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder and depression. Later also diagnosed with social anxiety by a psychiatrist.

Actually, that psychiatrist told me, flat out, that I was “definitely not depressed,” after talking to me for only 15 minutes. I happened to be feeling not too bad that day. However my family doctor knew better and never made me go back to see him.

Because of all those experiences, I wasn’t diagnosed until I was 26. If anyone had listened or cared when I was younger, I easily could have been diagnosed with anxiety when I was in elementary school, and maybe could have avoided having my depression triggered when I was 13.

It’s almost two years later and I’m still having a hard time. My anxiety has calmed down a bit after having CBT, but my depression recently came back rather severely, with no trigger, so I’m still trying to figure things out and find the right medication. I’ve just started my 5th antidepressant, and it’s only been one year and 10 months since listening to that podcast that lead me to getting help. Thankfully, my current family doctor is excellent and actually makes me feel like he cares. He understands that I don’t want to be heavily medicated but I also want to be happy. He’s encouraged me to try other things as well.

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