Going to the Dr’s can be stressful for anyone. There’s the coughers in the waiting room, delayed appointments and then when it’s finally your turn it’s obvious your Dr is in a hurry and needs you to cut to the chase. So imagine how that might go if you’re anxious already. This post is based on thoughts I have at the Dr but from speaking to others with GAD it seems they are fairly typical.
“What if they don’t take me seriously?” is where we begin. Normally this is before the appointment has ever been made. I’ve probably told a few people what’s going on with me and they have said that I should see my GP but I’m still convinced that they won’t take me seriously or fob me off causing more uncertainty and worry. (This has never really happened.)
On arrival at the surgery the immediate worry is if anyone else in the waiting room has something contagious. I’m sure even those without any kind of anxiety are a little concerned about that but factor in GAD and emetophobia and it’s a big issue.
The longer the wait for the appointment the more time there is for our brains to find something to worry about. “Have I not checked in properly?” “Have they forgotten about me?” “Is that person over there going to throw up?” “Is the Dr going to believe me?”
A big part of my anxiety is self doubt to the point that sometimes I convince myself that I’ve made something up and it didn’t happen. So I worry about the Dr taking me seriously while simultaneously worrying if what I’m there for even happened. Rationally I always know that my reasons for attending are legitimate but my brain really likes to mess with me. (It’s really not helpful when 5 days a week I spend time with someone who thinks it’s good banter to be dismissive of things I say, making comments like “a likely story”.)
Once you’re sitting there, in front of the Dr all the worries mentioned above are flying around in your head and it’s a case of concentrating on making sure that you can explain everything properly. Every subtle facial expression will produce a worry like “they think I’m a hypochondriac” or “I wonder what they’re writing about me.” These kind of thoughts are particularly bad when visiting the Dr about mental health.
There is still such a misunderstanding of anxiety even among healthcare providers. During a recent trip to the Dr a child was actually sick in the waiting room while I was there. I checked with my Dr that she hadn’t been seen in that consulting room and the Dr was incredibly dismissive and almost angry that I’d asked completely disregarding my phobia. Incidents like that make it harder for people to be open about their mental health which is why it’s so important that those of us who feel able to, share our experiences, not just during Mental Health Awareness Month but all year round.