The battle continues

It’s only now – after several days away from the initial hurt and despair – that I can put this into a blog post.

I had good news in the previous entry here. Very good news. Good news that got crushed unceremoniously by one doctor’s ignorance. I’ll explain.

Here’s the basic story: I turned up at the psychiatrist’s office nice and early Monday morning to pick up the prescription I’ve been trying to get for years (well, it’s not Adderall XR, but close enough for me to be thrilled), was handed an envelope, and as Pete drove me back to our neck of the woods from Bodmin, I read the handwriting and smiled real smiles and felt real hope. We pulled into the car park of my local GP and I turned in the prescription for about three weeks of pills, starting at 5mg and increasing to 10mg. The following few weeks of medicine was to be prescribed and monitored by my doctor. The dispensary clerk made me aware that it wasn’t something they normally kept in, but that I should be able to pick it up the next day. Brilliant. Also, it being a controlled substance, I would always have to come collect it rather than use the village medicine delivery service. No problem. I left smiling.

About twenty minutes later, I received a phone call from the surgery. My regular doctor is on holiday until the 25th, and so the GP on watch said my prescription would not be filled, he did not feel comfortable with it, and did not want the drug on the books at that office. He suggested I have it filled elsewhere since it wasn’t going to happen there.

Erm. What?

I had a few blurry, angry moments on the phone – avoiding swearing and crying – and said I would need to speak with that doctor immediately and would be in to retrieve my prescription. The doctor who refused my medicine was on a house call when I got there. It was nice that the surgery waiting room was empty because I had an almighty breakdown. How could this general practitioner refuse to allow the filling of a mental health drug? Why had I even been sent to a specialist if only to be told I couldn’t have the drug they recommended? I cried. Hard. Comforting words were given to me by both the dispensary and reception desk (they’re along the same wall) but it was no use. I even blubbered out that I was “this close to killing myself” after nine years of trying to get back on the drug that worked for me in the USA.

Eventually, I calmed down enough to schedule an appointment with the man who flatly refused to have my medicine on the books. I was due to see him in a handful of hours. Pete helped me home again, and I did my best to rest. The phone rang again as I was trying to doze. I phoned back the doctor’s office and had another message relayed to me by the dispensary. Whilst the doctor was happy to have me come in for an appointment, he “has no intention on” allowing that prescription through. I was floored. To say I felt like some mental health leper is an understatement. I cancelled my appointment and sobbed.

The dispensary and receptionists had been kind. They suggested I report back to my psychiatrist and to make an appointment for my regular GP as soon as she returned from her vacation. I have one scheduled for the morning she’s back, before 9am. I contacted my psychiatrist’s secretary and told her everything. She sounded quietly surprised at the GP’s behaviour. I am now waiting through the Easter holiday weekend to hear more from my psychiatrist, if there’s anything to report, that is.

I won’t know if I can actually get this medicine for a week or two. I could take the prescription to the chain pharmacy to have it filled, but you can understand my reluctance to start a dependence drug without knowing if I can continue it. So I wait. Again.

I can’t express how hurtful it is to be refused by a doctor who apparently has no interest in my well-being. As far as I know, he didn’t even look at my file. The treatment records from my time on Adderall XR are in my UK medical file. I even have my old pill bottles with a few pills left inside. I am not a freak or liar; I am a woman who has struggled with ADHD and depression all my life and found that the time I was on Adderall XR (about two years, I think) was the happiest and most productive of my life.

What I wonder is, is this doctor not comfortable with mental health patients in general, unwilling to learn, or just plain ignorant? I have no idea. I haven’t been in his presence to look him in the eye about this. I wonder if he would deny medicine to a schizophrenic? Is it the ADHD that has him conflicted? I may never know. The only reason I care is to perhaps save another patient the grief I’m experiencing in trying to receive the care I so desperately need.

You picked up on the “kill myself” thing earlier in this post. I am not generally suicidal, for the record. There have been only three times I recall genuinely thinking about killing myself. The first was after my dad died and life with my grieving and very bipolar mother was difficult. We had a gun in the house, and I had its barrel in my mouth. I remember being on my bed, tasting it. Then I told myself I was being an overly dramatic teenager and put it back on her bedside table. The second time I wanted to die was during asthma-induced bronchitis. There was a period of my twenties where I seemed to get severe lung problems about every six months. I couldn’t breathe. I couldn’t sleep because I was afraid I wouldn’t breathe. I was sleep-deprived and sick. Ending it all seemed like sweet relief, but they were only thoughts in desperation. Shouting about dying in the surgery was the cumulative despair of so many years of mental health issues, the pain of every episode burning like a fresh brand on my mind. How could I continue to live this half a life? Why would I? The suicidal words fell out without warning and for an hour or so, I meant them.

I’m still here. One of the reasons I stick around through the pain is because I genuinely like living. The other? I’m stubborn. I have always told anyone who asks, that thanks to ADHD and my desperate need to finish things despite my focus issues, I couldn’t bring myself to suicide because living is something that I can do. I just wake up. Done. I’m living. I feel that if I killed myself I’d be half-assing just one more thing in my life. Not every day is a good one, in fact, most are a difficult mental struggle, but I can get up every day and go to bed every night knowing I lived. I can tick that off the to-do list again. Life is far from easy, but it’s something I’m already good at.
Now I just want to live better.

I’ll blog again about this when I know more. In the meantime, please feel free to share my posts with anyone who may need them. I am certainly not the only person who struggles to live with mental illness and fights an uphill battle with public stigma and ignorance. Don’t give up. I won’t.

4 thoughts on “The battle continues”

  1. Can I say – for the record – “OH, FOR F*&#$ SAKE!” Medical “professionals”… Hang in there. This may right itself. If not, there are other ways.

  2. Yeah the management process of GPs these days has become much more bureaucratic with regards to what a surgery/trust/GP are “allowed” my said management to prescribe. I, for example, am not allowed to be prescribed Sativex (an extract of cannabis that is licensed in the UK for treatment of muscle spasticity) because my GP’s trust/management will not prescribe anything with such a suspect source and potential for addiction. I can imagine a medication with “amphetamine” embedded in the name would trigger a similar reaction in a surgery’s management/system.

    Another example is that I now have a diagnosis of narcolepsy on my records because, back at my previous surgery and in the mid 00s, I was prescribed Modafinil/Provigil for MS fatigue even though it was only licensed for treatment of narcolepsy. My previous GP and surgery were a lot more open and progressive.

    I hate that you are unable to be prescribed something that you have taken in the past in the US. The NHS has limitations, indeed, but I would rather our NHS than the USian system.

    I know your p-doc suggested that you be monitored by your GP but I wonder if you can find a private doctor that might prescribe it for you? Otherwise I would see if anyone else in the practice/surgery would give a second opinion or if there is another NHS surgery in your locale that might give a second opinion.


  3. The US and UK health systems are both flawed, and – to be clear – I have long been a fan of the NHS. The US gets a bad reputation for over-prescribing and the UK gets one for under-prescribing and a culture of mental health stigma. Can’t win on either side of the ocean, honestly.

    I can’t afford private doctors. The NHS tried putting me on that route several years ago in Berkshire. I finally got the right people listening but couldn’t afford the care. Dead end.

    Not sure what’s going to happen this time around, but I’m doing my best to stay strong and push for what I know is right for me. Cornwall has been a great county for mental (and physical) healthcare and I have felt better treated here than in Berkshire.

    It’s amazing how many people (not medical professionals) have asked me why I don’t just buy drugs off the internet… I am willing to do that, don’t get me wrong, but I also want to help wake up a system that is failing not just me, but likely thousands of other mental health patients. If I bow out now, we all lose.

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