Appointment Fatigue: The cost on my mental health

It is only until I have had a break of appointments (3 whole weeks it was heaven) have I realised just how much the constant visits to hospitals and medical professionals have had a toll on my mental health over the last year. Not only do appointments zap us off our energy for the day/week/month, I've noticed the impact it has on my mental health. I jump from feeling hopeless with low mood, to anxious and a bit manic to happy on those appointment-free days!



EMOTIONAL PREPARATION

First there is the build up, aka emotional preparation. I normally pretend I don’t need said Doctor/test/treatment to prepare and protect myself from disappointment. Inevitably though I do pin all my hopes on that appointment. Mostly due to desperation for more help with symptoms. I swing between I don’t need anyone I can fix myself…to I don’t have a clue what is going on with my body right now I need help. That in itself is exhausting, add to that thinking and preparing questions, latest letters/test results etc. It often feels like you are preparing for some sort of exam!

PRE-APPOINTMENT ANXIETY

Waiting in the waiting room with those nervous ‘I don’t want to be here’ and ‘please be a doctor willing to listen to me’ thoughts running through your head. I know I often sit in waiting rooms with my puzzle book wishing I was anywhere but there. Silly when I moan about long waiting lists and often having waited for months for that appointment. But I think that is part of the issue, after such la long wait for only a matter of a minutes face to face with the doctor, there is even more riding on that appointment.

DOCTOR PSYCHOLOGY

During the appointment is a weird dynamic. I judge the doctor based on how they speak to me, if they listen to me and what their clinical reasoning leads to in regards to treatment. I am also very aware they are judging me, am I sane? attention seeking? depressed? what will they write in my notes? I both try to be respectful and polite, but whilst also advocating for myself and getting the most I can out of the appointment. I'm an expert patient (and a physiotherapist) and some Doctors love that you take control, others seem to like the old school format of medicine, they are the only expert and I am just 'obsessed with my illness'.