I duly went to see my medical practitioner the next Monday. I’m fortunate that my GP runs early morning sessions on some days, so I was able to get an appointment before work.
I felt some trepidation at the visit, in some part to my colleague’s earlier insistence against talking to his GP. His reasons were that “he would just stuff me full of pills, and wouldn’t think of me as a professional”. Frankly, my colleague couldn’t have been more wrong!
My GP was understanding, honest and helpful, to the point that I broke down crying in front of him as I was so glad to get some of the weight off my chest to someone other than my wife.
He asked about how everything had happened, listened intently, and advised me that my wife was indeed right in insisting I seek help. He actually phrased it as “I’m divorced, so I normally wouldn’t admit that a wife was right, but in this case she’s bang on.” It lightened my mood immensely.
He did indeed give me some antidepressants – a low dose – and urged me to try them for at least 2 weeks before questioning their efficacy. He also gave me the numbers of 2 counselling services I could access via the NHS, and subtly hinted at which one was going to deal with me more efficiently (Hint: the one NOT run directly by the NHS).
He stated that he would not sign me off at that time, as he was pretty sure I would ignore the recommendation for some time off in any case (let’s face it – self employed, practice to run, duty of care and all that jazz – he was right).
My GP also asked about my level of self-medication (i.e. alcohol, drugs). My response was “No more than usual”, which of course prompted a much deeper discussion of drinking habits. I consider myself lucky in not having what some may term an “addictive personality”, in that whilst I do enjoy a couple of beers or bottle of wine with dinner, and do have the odd blow out with friends, I can equally go for weeks without touching alcohol at all. I did smoke a bit in my teens, but it was never something I felt I HAD to do. I did partake of some illicit substances while at Uni, and – to paraphrase many noted politicians – I did inhale. Again, it was never what one may term a habit.
As I noted in my first entry, one of the stressors for me was my colleague’s frequent absences. I half joked to my GP on that first appointment that it would be typical if I received a call on my way to work advising that my colleague was “ill”.
You can guess where the story goes from here can’t you?
I was driving to the practice when the phone rang. I could see it was his number on the car display.
I had a little meltdown.
I had to pull over into a bus lane as I was shaking and crying so hard I couldn’t see to drive. I didn’t answer the phone. I couldn’t. It never crossed my mind that he could have been calling for another reason.
I pulled myself together after about 20 minutes and continued to the practice. Upon arrival I could see his car wasn’t there, and could hear the staff making calls to cancel his patients as I walked through the door.
I walked into my surgery, asked my nurse to give me 5 minutes, and had another little meltdown.
To be continued……
[Almodovar has replied to some comments in the GDPUK forum made in that forum.]