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Forums / Suicidal thoughts and self-harm / My dealings with the health system, is it tailored more for female support? *Trigger warning - suicidal thoughts*

Topic: My dealings with the health system, is it tailored more for female support? *Trigger warning - suicidal thoughts*

18 posts, 0 answered
  1. DeltaJ
    DeltaJ avatar
    22 posts
    26 May 2019
    Hi there,
    I wasn’t sure which forum to post this on,
    I haven't frequented the forums for quite some time. I went through a couple of years of severe anxiety and depression some years back, and had support on here at the time. I've been muddling along ok since, with occasional times with mild A&D.
    I find as I'm getting older, my medical support needs are increasing too. (I'm a 60 male, long time divorced and recently retired, living on my own in a regional area).
    I’ve always had considerable trouble with finding a GP who is willing to give me the focus needed to address my medical concerns. It’s been more than 30 years since I’ve had one I could call, “my GP”. I know there is a stereotype of males choosing to ignore health issues, but I’ve never been like that…quite the opposite, if only I could get the attention of the health system like I see the women I know, expect. I’ve started to get annoyed, and feeling like I have to wait until it is serious enough that I won’t be disregarded for people who are really sick.
    Whenever I’ve mentioned the topic to people I know, they think I’m being defeatist, but I point out that I’m only feeling that way from my own experiences over the years. I’ve been told to just stand up and “insist” I get some attention. Apart from not being able to do that, I am also conscious these days that with the security issues in hospitals and clinics, that as a male, my insistence may be taken the wrong way, so I just accept it, as I am so afraid of the slightest verbal conflict. I fear I may just become another failed statistic of the health system.
    I'm a male who is historically a bit short on assertiveness, and with all the media attention on how bad men are to women as a general rule, find it hard to reconcile with myself that I even belong in this world now, just because of my gender. I’m probably being irrational about it, but I haven’t been able to invalidate those feelings in the highly charged social atmosphere these days, and increasingly my already lack of assertiveness when seeking medical support is amplifying this.
    I’ve talked to men who acknowledge they are taken more seriously when visiting the GP with the support of their female partners. My last severe anxiety attack was actually brought on by my dealings with the health system, and seems as if when I really need the support it in fact, makes things worse.
    I don’t really know what to do, as the very suggestion “to seek professional advice” causes me great anxiety!
    1 person found this helpful
  2. Croix
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    Croix avatar
    10931 posts
    26 May 2019 in reply to DeltaJ

    Dear Chris~

    Welcome back to to forum, I'm sorry it is in such circumstances but am happy to hear that in the intervening period you have been able to cope.

    I guess I can relate to that stereotype of a male, the John Waynes of this world, not me any more than you I'm afraid.

    I don't know if females get more time attention in a visit, and can well understand you do not want to make a fuss but do of course need proper support.

    I guess I might consider writing down what you need to have dealt with in point form and sharing the paper in a pre-booked long appointment. I've found it helps, I don't forget anything, and the list is there as a reminder so the GP does not either.

    Do you think that is doable?

    Living on your own is not always a good thing, apart from practicalities such as household matters it does tend to isolate many folks. Do you have any particular interests you might follow, hopefully ones that get you out and about with others?

    Incidentally when I had hypnotherapy I was not given a blanket -I'm jealous:)

    You gave some pretty good advice to Sparkvark about exercise and not letting things pile up -and most importantly you talked of self-reward as something to look to and motivate.

    Irrespective of how the help lines are (and I have heard favorable reports) you are always welcome here

    Croix

    2 people found this helpful
  3. DeltaJ
    DeltaJ avatar
    22 posts
    27 May 2019 in reply to Croix

    HI Croix,

    thanks for your suggestions. I have tried writing a list in the past, but mainly for myself, and haven't handed it to the GP. I will try that next time. BTW, I do still practice my own advice and get a fair bit of exercise, and reward myself for my achievements :-) Unfortunately, I've found most of the leisure activities I do, as much as I've tried to find people to do them with, in the end, I end doing up them on my own. It seems like if I am to socialise, I have to do activities which are other peoples pastimes. I re-read some of my old posts. I had forgotten that I had been experiencing my male disadvantage even then! I wish I could shake those thoughts, but I keep having experiences which reinforce it. I feel a bit embarrassed about it, and guess I need to stop talking about it.

    Anyway thanks for the reply....

    (may we go though life gently and count each day as a good one, if we have touched someone positively) :-)

    Chris

    2 people found this helpful
  4. Croix
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    Croix avatar
    10931 posts
    28 May 2019 in reply to DeltaJ

    Dear Chris

    I find walking a dog is a sure fire way to start conversations and even walk along with complete strangers. While I'm limited in distance the social contact is genuine and pleasant.

    Good luck with the note

    Croi

    1 person found this helpful
  5. DeltaJ
    DeltaJ avatar
    22 posts
    29 May 2019 in reply to Croix

    Hi Croi,

    yes, walking a dog seems to be a good social pastime. Unfortunately I don't have any pets at the moment. I keep considering it again, but I'm not confident enough to take one in right now. I don't trust my emotions. In fact, I find my moods can be really variable...good about life, and wonder why I say the things I do when I'm down, and I have the urge to provide support to others, then I have my down times, and I can't see why I felt so good. Today is a down day. Sorry, this topic is now in the wrong category!

    Chris

    1 person found this helpful
  6. Croix
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    Croix avatar
    10931 posts
    29 May 2019 in reply to DeltaJ

    Der Chris

    My post just vanished - maybe the dog ate it - so if you get two similar ones from me then that is the reason why.

    >Sorry, this topic is now in the wrong category!

    Your thread may start on one topic, and meander over with differing subjects in each post, it is still OK, nothing to concern yourself about, in fact being able to talk of other things is good.

    Being down all the time has one extra disadvantage, it defeats planning. If there are periods when you do feel better I guess they are opportunities to make plans to lessen the effects of the next down -if that makes any sense.

    So what would you advise yourself as far as planning goes?

    You have had pets before. May I ask what sort you have had, and also perhaps explain a little more about the confidence thing, I'm not sure I understand.

    I find they make a house into a home. I've Sumo Cat dozing beside me as I type in front of a wood fire, he was named for his size, this is a name change, when he first came (from the pound) his name was Scardey-Cat

    Croix

    1 person found this helpful
  7. DeltaJ
    DeltaJ avatar
    22 posts
    30 May 2019 in reply to Croix

    Hi Croi,

    yes, I’ve had conversations on forums disappear in the past too. Sorry if it was extra typing for you!

    On the subject of planning, I do spend time planning things, trouble is, I often cancel those plans when the time comes I don’t feel up to it. I’ve also often avoided committing to things when asked, as I don’t trust myself that I will feel ok when the date arrives. As far as planning when I'm down, I cope well with my day to day living, as my good habits have always been well entrenched, and on autopilot. When I'm down I still eat well and look after myself. It's always been about my interaction with world that is variable, and I just keep to myself on the downer, as I've never been around people who have any patience for that.

    I started some volunteering work when I first retired, only to find the stresses of dealing with strong willed people too much to bear, and feeling annoyed that I was in the same stressful situations as when I was being paid. I’d hoped that volunteering was full of people who were grateful for whatever help you could give, rather than being so expectant. I was constantly being pushed out of my comfort zone, and ailments with my health has me struggling to commit sometimes.
    What I meant by my lack of confidence in owning a pet, I meant that I am not confident in my emotional stamina of a long period of time. As I said before, it’s all about by changing feelings at the moment. I don’t seem to have the emotional stability I always used to have.

    I’ve had cats most of my life. Though also dogs in early life too, cats just seems to take a liking to me :-)
    The last couple of years I’ve adopted a cat twice, and both times it didn’t end well. They both had behavioural problems and needed constant attention, probably a young family would have been best. My house is just too quiet. It left me exhausted. Trouble is, I’d go to the shelter, and even though the staff would advise me to take the time to find one I would bond with, they would psychologically direction me to one which they wanted to move on.
    My life nowadays is quite ironic really, I’ve gone through life achieving some pretty special and demanding things above the average in society, some very onerous and long term commitments, all with a sense of humbleness and that lack of assertiveness, perhaps the burnout from all this has caught up with me. :-(

    1 person found this helpful
  8. Quercus
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    Quercus avatar
    3557 posts
    31 May 2019 in reply to DeltaJ

    Hello DeltaJ (or do you prefer Chris?).

    I read these recent posts about your experiences with medical care as a man and found myself nodding along.

    As much as I want to expect more of our medical system and people in general from my experiences gender does make a difference to how we are treated medically.

    Male or female... we all seem to be ignored at times. I cannot remember the number of times my concerns were ignored or excused by doctors. It sounds ridiculous to put into writing but hormones and the stress of being a Mum were actual excuses thrown at me by doctors that apparently overrode my need for assessment for depression.

    You mentioned being treated differently if a woman came with you and this I relate to. It took my husbands pressure and support for me to be heard not just seen as an emotional or overreacting woman.

    The system in place is deeply flawed and doctors are imperfect. Some are great. Some should really get sacked. Some just don't seem to care. For the most part patients get a ten minute appointment and the idea of having a long term GP is more luck than the norm. A depressing view of the medical system but one I learnt is important to recognise.

    Why? Because if we leave it to others to dictate the care we get that is when people end up neglected. You have the same right as anyone else to get the help you need.

    I suppose my point in this waffle is to ask you to consider what ways are realistic and possible for you to make sure you are heard?

    Croix suggested a list (great idea too). Would that work for you?

    Some things I find helpful to consider...

    Write down the stereotypical excuses doctors give you to fob you off. Prepare a defence. Sounds stupid but when I'm rushed I go blank. Will walk in with a list of two things I need and walk out with neither achieved or doubting my needs.

    Seek out another opinion. Rural services need major work. There are professionals that will consult via phone or Skype. Finding them is the hard part but they exist.

    I'm sorry to sound so pessimistic.. this topic hits too close. I am angry. My husband was discharged from the closest ER (over an hour each way) at midnight yesterday with only an unfilled prescription, no medication given at all, phone with a flat battery and no care for his safety. That was blindingly obvious pneumonia.

    I'm starting to see it is vital to learn ways to make sure you are heard even if means feeling uncomfortable or rude. Its not something that I find easy either.

    1 person found this helpful
  9. DeltaJ
    DeltaJ avatar
    22 posts
    31 May 2019 in reply to Quercus

    Hi Quercus,

    Chris is fine.
    Thanks for the suggestions and sharing your similar frustration. I know it can be a problem no matter whether you are male of female. What you described has been my experience in general for many years now, though I have in my recent personal experience noticed some bias as they expect men to not want to be interested in their own health. There seems to be a lot of lost ground made up for women with the advertised focus on women’s health. From your experience, and mine though, the reality is that in practice we are all suffering. I’m afraid though, I’ve lost a lot of the fight in me. I’ve not visited a GP for over a year now, even though I have some medical concerns I need to sort out, I just can’t bring myself to go through the stressful experience. I rather need to get some more blood tests, and have in the past used a remote specialist I periodically visit as a GP, to have them order tests for me. Even my local pathology only has a sitting up blood donor chair, and I have to lie horizontal otherwise I faint instantly and there is blood and broken glass everywhere! I’m not squeamish, and once horizontal can watch and participate in the needle insertion! So in the end I have to embarrass myself and ask to lie on the cold floor, much to the nurses displeasure.

    I am currently on an immune drug which should be monitored by a GP, and I do have concerns about other aspects of my health due to its effect, but despite in the past the specialist advising to seek support, the last GP visit I had about it, was just an indifferent waste of time. I've even given up trying to fight them for an ongoing referral, as the GP's don't know my history. I decided after that, I would try to look after my mental health by not getting involved with the local health services.

    I’m so sorry about your husband’s recent experience, that sounds more like the norm than exception these days. At least he has you to support him, I’m petrified of becoming ill, as I have no nearby family support and, in my mind, no medical support.

    1 person found this helpful
  10. IreneM
    blueVoices member
    • A member of beyondblue's blueVoices community
    IreneM avatar
    315 posts
    2 June 2019 in reply to DeltaJ

    Hi Chris -

    I have been a severely ill person all of my life but I highly agree with Quercus about the difficulties in the GP sector (known as Primary Care). 10 minutes is hardly enough for anything except maybe a prescription or a quick referral to Tertiary Care. To me Tertiary Care is where the help is: to a large extent with mental health.

    Regardless of gender it is all about finding someone that you personally click with and is willing to actively listen and attend to your needs. Just remember that with Mental Health there is no such thing as instant results. You have the right attitude about doing the work yourself, the job of the psychotherapist is to guide you and assist you to help yourself on a long road of self-discovery and recovery /management of symptoms (physical, thoughts and actions or lack of).

    I would encourage you to try calling the support line below to discuss your concerns and if you feel that face-to-face care is not for you why not try mindspot.org.au? The Support Line can provide more information here.

    It is helping me now, although like all mental therapy it is initially confronting and can be overwhelming. But it can be like a light bulb. The resources are like tools for you to use and put into practice and a therapist is on call (Phone or Email). Mindfulness skills, relaxation and sleep strategies would all help you. It is great that you are trying meditation.

    Tip: I encourage controlled breathing by counting to 3 slowly three times, once as you breathe in for three seconds, again as you breathe out for three seconds and keep repeating for three minutes. Your abdomen should move as you breathe. Try doing it when you are most likely anxious eg: waiting to see a Dr (also try making a long appointment when booking).

    Tip: If one Doctor doesn't listen to you and dismisses your need for mental help. Just persist and find someone else. If this is too much just call the BB Support Line below and ask about the Referral Service. Remember that how professionals treat you is their loss, not yours. Just find someone else because persistence will one day pay!

    If you can just hold onto that statement knowing that you are doing the best you can.

    You are doing really well - so hang in there!

    Irene.

    2 people found this helpful
  11. DeltaJ
    DeltaJ avatar
    22 posts
    3 June 2019 in reply to IreneM
    Hi Irene,

    Thank you for your thoughtful and detailed reply. I didn’t reply immediately as I was waiting to feel a little better. I am so sorry you’ve had to deal with your health issues for so long. I think one of the guilts which plagues me, is that there are always people out there who have a harder lot than me, so I feel I don’t have as much right to access health services, as at this stage nothing I have is life threatening or prevents me from doing most things I need to do, (other than the emotional handicap!)
    I am well resourced with coping material, but when feeling down, don’t have the same motivation to implement it. I did do a 6 week Mindspot online course in the past, which helped at the time. Trouble is, when I need support, I’m always pointed to so much reading and information to consume, it’s the last thing I feel like doing. It’s talking to real people which helps the most.
    Anyway, today was a milestone for me on the health services front. I had to see a local nurse for my regular immune drug injection, and spilt out some of my troubles. There is a new GP whom is highly regarded for his approach to patients like me, so I have a double appointment next week to hopefully move forward.
    1 person found this helpful
  12. DeltaJ
    DeltaJ avatar
    22 posts
    27 December 2020
    So my dealings with primary care health has deteriorated since my last post. I have had one health issue for some time needing attention of which I struggled to get GP appointments. The trouble is in my area, there are only locums who visit for a couple of weeks, sometimes the appointment availability is up to a month, and the couple of permanents that are here, I can’t get in to see.
    I now have something which requires urgent elective surgery, so I’m finally privileged enough to gain access to the hospital system, but for a lot of reasons I’m thrust into the depths of depression and severe anxiety. I have no one to talk to about it.
    I went to the pre op appointment, and was so stressed didn’t absorb most of what they told me, and couldn’t remember the questions I had to ask.
    This was on Christmas Eve, so spent Christmas Day pacing the house in tears on my own totally absorbed in my grief. I’m still feeling teary.

    I haven’t had anything near surgery for over 35 years, and I’m particularly worried about being in my home on my own immediately after. Though they offer some home care, I’m warned it is a minimum, and am advised to have family or friends around. Not going to happen!

    I’ve also been having thoughts as to whether if I will myself before surgery, maybe I won’t wake up after the anaesthetic, but I feel guilty for feeling this way, as I don’t want to put health workers through that trauma.
    I have been thinking about taking my life on and off fairly regularly for the past year or so. I even have a plan worked out. I think when I’m really down, the only things which have stopped me, are the fear of failure and ending up a vegetable, or getting trapped in the health system if I’m found. Anyone who knows me would be shocked I feel that way, as I can’t live without order in my life, which doesn’t fit the stereotype of depression. I can’t directly talk about it to anyone know, as I have hinted at how I feel, and their reaction leaves me feeling guilty for mentioning it. Even though I’m good at opening my heart to most people in conversation, this is one aspect I can’t talk about.

    When I feel down and angry, I wouldn't even want my family and friends to know why I took my life, the world can keep guessing :-(

    I stay at home on my own, when feeling like this. I know this is the opposite of what I should be doing, but all my own safeguards, which I know I should practice, when in this mood, I just don’t want to try or help myself.

    To the outside world, I “present” well, openly talking about the future, and looking like I’m in control of my life, but with a niggle deep down that I may not be around for much longer, as all the things which have traditionally interested me, don’t seem to really matter in the big picture.

    I thought I would write this, as I have no one, now or in the future to tell this to anyway,
    1 person found this helpful
  13. Sophie_M
    Community Moderator
    • Works for beyondblue moderating these forums
    Sophie_M avatar
    6617 posts
    27 December 2020 in reply to DeltaJ
    Hi Chris,

    We are so sorry to hear that things have deteriorated. We can understand why all of this stress struggle would leave you teary and down. We are concerned that you have mentioned you have a suicide plan. We are trying to get in touch with you privately to check in and offer some support.

    We are glad that you feel comfortable enough here to talk about these thoughts and feelings. It's important to speak about it, and really tough when you don't feel you can open up to family and friends. It sounds like you have thought about what you 'should' be doing when you are feeling really down like this - have you considered making a safety plan? You can tailor it to what is realistic for what may be helpful to you personally. You may find this page helpful - “BeyondNow suicide safety planning” - https://www.beyondblue.org.au/get-support/beyondnow-suicide-safety-planning

    However, if at any time you become unable to stop yourself from acting on these thoughts, this is an emergency and you need to contact 000 (triple zero).

    Something that may help you when you are feeling absorbed in these thoughts in getting in contact with MensLine. MensLine Australia is a free 24/7 telephone and online counselling service for men with emotional health and relationship concerns. You can contact them on 1300 78 99 78 or https://mensline.org.au/ Thanks for reaching out here today Chris. We hope that you can find something today to help bring you some comfort and peace.
     
    1 person found this helpful
  14. DeltaJ
    DeltaJ avatar
    22 posts
    27 December 2020 in reply to Sophie_M

    Hi Sophie,

    thank you for your reply, and I'm in awe at your dedication!

    I did have a chat with someone. They only called to determine if my plan was imminent, (not yet), but didn't have a long time to chat understandably. I have embarrassed myself with what I have said, and I seem to have a unique set problems which is not worth mentioning. I'm sorry for taking up the time. I don't seem to ever learn from my mistakes when I feel bad, and despite the advice I must keep my problems to myself,

    I have no more say :(

    1 person found this helpful
  15. Croix
    Community Champion
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    Croix avatar
    10931 posts
    27 December 2020 in reply to DeltaJ

    Dear Chris~

    You said " I must keep my problems to myself". I'm afraid this exactly the wrong path to choose, I should know, I did it for years and it is only due to circumstances I did not take my life, though I tried more than once.

    Getting the right medical team together to actually help can be difficult, but as I understand it you can still get tele-health most places and that vastly opens up the possibilities. I think you may even be able to get psychiatrists and GPs that way, however you would have to check for yourself, I'd not like to steer you wrong.

    Having professionals you can get on with and have trust in can be fluked, but often takes a degree of searching on your part. Worth it though.

    If you are offered any home help can I suggest you take it, even if it means you have to say you changed your mind. Not only is it an actual physical help but establishes a routine and also is another person to talk with (some are very nice and go beyond what htey strictly have to do.)

    Just staying on the line or in a surgery to establish if you are at imminent risk and then finishing right there is not a help (or that's how I feel). That is not offering anything really, that is of use.

    Can I ask what it is about family or any freinds you might have that makes you put on this mask of being OK and not saying how things are? That was one of my mistakes. A mask feeds on itself, gets stronger a and makes one feel very isolated.

    With cats, yes they are fussy about their staff, I have one (Sumo Cat) supervising me right at the moment on his usual blanket.

    I hope you do have more to say:)

    Croix

    .

    1 person found this helpful
  16. Mishmo
    Valued Contributor
    • A special award for members who go above and beyond to support others here on the forums
    • A member of beyondblue's blueVoices community
    Mishmo avatar
    50 posts
    27 December 2020 in reply to DeltaJ
    Dearest Chris,

    I feel your pain. I can not know exactly your thoughts or emotions... but know a stranger truly sympathies and cares, as I understand the emotions, anxieties, fears, etc.

    Never feel like you can not talk about your emotions/feelings/thoughts/beliefs. I feel this way also very frequently, and find it hard to open up and express myself. But I love being the listener and the shoulder to cry on for all. I suffer many issues myself and have the mpst understanding compassion for all, including urself. I am new here and felt compelled by your story to reply and let you know you are NOT ALONE!
    These forums are amazing and I am glad to have found it. Reading about others troubles, thoughts, resolutions etc is helpful for myself to know I too am not alone in these troubles I seem to suffer.
    Enough about me... i am not one to talk much about myself. But always here to listen and be of comfort to anyone needing it.

    Never feel like you MUST keep your troubles to yourself, especially if it is causing you any grief. Finding the right person/place to vent and express emotions is vital for most. Speak/Express (or in my case rambling is my best attribute, sorry, hence i normally keep to myself also) But I do have a few in my life that enjoy my rambling jumbled vents of what i concider very important at the time haha.

    Ok as I ramble now... I hope you find comfort and support in someone or something (my something, is my cat)

    Stay strong (as can be)
    I hope things get better, even for a small reprieve.

    Reach out any time, am a good listener.

    TC, from ME :) just a random stranger who cares!! x
  17. DeltaJ
    DeltaJ avatar
    22 posts
    14 January 2021 in reply to Mishmo
    Thank you to both of you for your kind words. I just am finding talking to people with text just not having me feel any better, and it takes a huge amount of mental energy to type and read, and what I need is real people to talk to.
    I have been in a pretty bad way over the past couple of weeks. I was admitted for my surgery, which went well, but my recovery has not been going that well. My stay was a little longer in hospital than normal for my simple op.
    Once I was discharged, I was dumped at home on my own now, and the promise of health services support has not really eventuated. I needed meals for the first few days, as I was unable to cook. Unfortunately this was not available to me, and I just made it through by the skin of my teeth due to the generosity of a person I hardly know.

    My recovery from the anaesthetic was slow, and I have not been sleeping well since, as I wake with panic attacks every night with the moment the nurses were shaking me to come back.
    I have been on extremely strong painkillers, which have knocked me out, and finally I’m off most of these now. I’m sitting at home day after day on my own, very little interest in doing anything, with the occasional contact of a concerned friend, but my depression after the surgery, along with a few other side medical problems have me as low as ever, not wanting to face this sort of future. It’s all very well to contact someone if I feel I am in danger. But to me, getting real about this, when I feel that way, I don’t want anyone to save me from the fate, and I won't tell anyone.

    Sorry, I thought that I would get the mental energy together to send a reply, but it’s not a very nice one :-(
  18. Sophie_M
    Community Moderator
    • Works for beyondblue moderating these forums
    Sophie_M avatar
    6617 posts
    14 January 2021 in reply to DeltaJ
    Hi Chris,

    You've been through so much lately with the surgery and slow recovery - we can hear that you're feeling exhausted and depressed. Please know that even in the darkest of times, there is always hope. This is a really dark time for you, but things can always improve.

    We are concerned about you and will be in touch with you privately to check in on your safety today and offer some support.

    It's really important that if you become unable to stop yourself from acting on thoughts of suicide, this is an emergency and you need to contact 000 (triple zero).

    It sounds like you're feeling really low energy at the moment, and perhaps the best you can do for today is just to try and distract yourself from these thoughts. We hope you can find something to distract yourself today, like watching a tv series or reading a book. In difficult periods it can sometimes be best just to take it one day at a time.

    Thanks for reaching out here today and letting us know how you're going.

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