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The GP rescued me when I was suicidal

Monday, 15 May 2023 Rachel

Rachel blogs about how a doctor she had never previously met helped her when she was at her most desperate.

I was diagnosed with complex post-traumatic stress disorder (C-PTSD) in 2021 and have come a long way since then.

But at the start of 2023, things took a turn for the worst. I’d come off my medication in the summer of 2022 following a ‘good patch’, and I’d felt fine for a few months. I was still going to therapy, working and socialising. Life was looking up. But, out of nowhere this January I crashed. The electricity that had been buzzing around my body and head, keeping me going, suddenly burnt out. Depression hit me like a steam train, and I was left feeling suicidal.

Thinking of ending your life and being convinced that nobody would miss you is heart-breaking and soul-destroying.

But a huge positive did emerge from this – the experience I had with my GP.

“I decided that if I could text a stranger about how I was feeling, I could also ring my doctor. So, that’s what I did.”

On the day I hit rock bottom, I texted a suicide hotline that kept me going for an hour or so. During this time I decided that if I could text a stranger about how I was feeling, I could also ring my doctor. So, that’s what I did - only to find out that my GP had retired, and I would be speaking to a GP that I had never met or spoken to before.

Given the state that I was in, this was the least of my worries. I didn’t have time to think about whether or not speaking to this stranger would help or save me. Before I knew it, the doctor called me and asked how he could help. I told him how I felt - and I didn’t hold back. He was so patient, kind and attentive. He asked questions without pushing me to say anything I didn’t want to and made me feel calmer.

Checking up on me

After a long chat, we decided that the best plan of action would be to put me back on an SSRI - a different one than I’d been on the previous year - as well as another medication to help with physical anxiety symptoms like my racing heartbeat and shaky hands. He advised me to contact my therapist for an emergency appointment, and he also put me in contact with my local crisis team at the hospital, who I could contact at any point if I started to decline again. And he signed me off work.

The following few weeks were a blur. I wasn’t working, I wasn’t up to talking to anyone very much, so I let my body and mind rest. I began taking my medication, and the dosage was increased after two weeks and then again after a month. During this time the GP kept checking in to see how I was getting on, if I felt like my meds were working, and if there was anything else he could do.

“His calm and understanding approach to my problems, despite not knowing me previously, felt incredibly personal and was just what I needed.”

Since then, things have improved massively. I’ve been able to speak to my therapist, as well as family and friends about what happened and how I’ve been feeling, but I owe a lot of my recovery to the GP. He doesn’t know it, but his calm and understanding approach to my problems, despite not knowing me previously felt incredibly personal and was just what I needed. My doctor helped me heal and move forward.

I understand why some people may be hesitant to speak to a doctor about their mental health, but take it from me there’s always a chance that it will go better than expected. It could be the first step to feeling better and improving your life so please - use all the strength you can muster up to make that call.

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