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Mental Health Help

I find it hard to communicate with my psychiatrist about how I am really coping day to day.

Living rurally, I see my psychiatrist via video chat at the Drs office.

Recently I've been experiencing more mental health symptoms, more frequently and they're impacting me more than usual. 

I never really felt like I've found a treatment which has been the one, with all the treatment I've tried and the continual therapy I've still felt like the depression still has a firm grip on me. I haven't felt free from it since it came to stay.


I guess I'm looking for some support around how to verbalize things to my psychiatrist via video. I find it easier to communicate with my psychologist as I've known her longer and I'm able to email stuff through or show her stuff I've written down. But I don't have access to those methods with the psychiatrist. I also don't have anyone who I can confidently bring into the appointment with me to act as a voice to read prewritten stuff if I can't. Every appointment with the psychiatrist I feel like I'm losing more hope of being free from the tight grips of mental illness. I somehow manage to say less, engage less and still manage to let her think I'm doing okay. When in reality I leave and I cry as soon as I get to my car because I feel so trapped by mental illness.

Remember you're amazing just as you are Heart

Re: Mental Health Help

@Bee I've been in a really similar situation, I know how you feel.


It might be worth looking a bit at why you feel like you can't open up to her.

Is it something that you do with most professionals you see, or does she herself not seem to work with you that much?


Are your psychologist and psychiatrist working together to help you?

And if so, might your psychologist be able to email your psychiatrist on your behalf?

I have one psychologist who I trust, and if I'm struggling to tell another doctor something important, she'll occasionally send an email (with my permission).

I don't think that it's unusual for professionals to coordinate support like that, so it might be worth asking your psychologist about.


One other option might be recording yourself saying what you need to say, and playing it back to your psychiatrist .

It'll probably be a bit harder than writing it down, but also easier than coming up with and saying the words in the moment.


You could also try writing something that would be easy to read over video chat and show her that.

Even just something like "I'm not okay."

That might at least let her know that there's something she needs to look into.


One thing that I do with professionals I'm still getting used to is to ask them to start off with questions that can be answered with a yes or no.

That way if you can't speak, you can just nod or shake your head and there's a lot less pressure, and then you can choose whether or not to say anything else. 

Re: Mental Health Help

Hi @Bee and thank you for reaching out- advocating for yourself can be tricky, but a conversation I am sure so many people here can relate to Heart @Tiny_leaf has posted some great ideas here, what are your thoughts @Bee?


You mentioned developing some great strategies that work for you when communicating with the psychologist. Can you tell me a little bit more about how you managed to work in these strategies with the psychologist? Was it something that you tried over time?


I can really relate to that feeling of not feeling ready to talk to a professional about what is really going on inside. For some people this can be a trust and rapport thing that builds over time, for others it might be the doctor-patient power imbalance, or maybe just not feeling ready to open up. Whatever that barrier is for you, we are more than happy to talk with you about ways you can share what you need with the psychiatrist and get the most support of your sessions. Would you be interested in chatting a bit more about where that barrier is sitting for you at the moment, and talk through some ways to self advocate to make the most of your appointments?

Re: Mental Health Help

Hi @Bee! I'm sorry that you're experiencing some more mental health symptoms and that your treatments haven't been completely successful so far. I know that you can get through this with the right support. Heart

I have been trying to think of ways you can talk to your psychiatrist. If you don't mind your GP looking at your notes, you could write or print out some of the things you want your psychiatrist to know and ask them to fax or pass them onto your psychiatrist. I've done this once.

Are you able to use any internet-based methods to communicate or show your psychiatrist? You could ask if you could set up a record of your files on Google Drive or Google Keep that they can access. I'm sure there are lots of other apps or services you could use as well.

Would writing down some key words or topics on palm cards for when you speak to your psychiatrist help?

Re: Mental Health Help

@Tiny_leaf  thank you for responding. I struggle to talk about personal things with most health professionals, I usually find it easier as time goes on but it's still so damn hard with the psychiatrist. But even my gp and psychologist the hardest stuff I still write down, it's too much for me to verbally say what's going on.

There's no communication between them. My psychologist did email her once before but my psychiatrist didn't see it before the appt and then never said anything the apt afterwards. So that doesn't work. Its also hard because it's 3 separate places and only 2 of them have receptionists.


I can't record myself. Saying it allowed is half the problem Smiley Sad


I feel like asking her to use more yes/no answer questions would be going backwards,xas shes been trying to get me to open up more...


I could try starting the session off by saying i haven't been ok.



The strategies with my psych have developed over time. It took me a long time before I decided to try and show her something I'd written either by email or in session. And sometimes it's still so hard that I can't show her in session and I end up in anxiety attacks or I completely freeze and disassociate..


I don't exactly know what the barrier is Jess. And I don't exactly know how to start to find the barrier.


@WheresMySquishy  I don't think the psychiatrist would get the mots, we tried with an email previously from my psychologist and it never came up. When I first asked her she had no idea and it was sent before the appointment.
I haven't heard of google keep or using technology in that way. I can try and ask 🤷‍♀️

I usually have stuff written in my phone but it never makes it into the apt. I get anxious and lost and feel too scared? Vulnerable? Afraid? To speak what I've written, let alone share... eh idk


Remember you're amazing just as you are Heart

Re: Mental Health Help

Hey @Bee this sounds really tough, thanks for reaching out. Opening up about such personal feelings can be incredibly difficult. Especially if you have to explain your feelings or tell your story so many times to different support people Smiley Sad

I really related to what you said about having stuff written in your phone that never makes it to the apt. I usually use my phone notes to guide my psych appointments but it is really hard to verbalise some things. I'm wondering if talking to your psychiatrist about this process could help (ie explaining that there are some things you want to bring up but you are feeling it is really hard to talk about them and you are worried about anxiety attacks, freezing or dissociating)? Could this open up a conversation about how you've been feeling? Or possibly printing out your notes and giving her the paper to read? [just noticed that @WheresMySquishy  suggested this too]

I think starting the appointment by saying you haven't been okay sounds like a really good idea, is that something you think you could try in the next appointment?

Re: Mental Health Help

Hi @Bee the fact that you have things written in your phone is a really great first step. It says to me that even though vocalising the thoughts is hard right now, you still are clear what is going on for you and can put them into words. That is not an easy thing to do and shows so much self awareness- very big step Heart


It sounds like you spent quite a bit of time building rapport with your psychologist first before finding a strategy that works- that is okay too! It is okay to take your time Heart 


One thing that I used to use when I was working in services with young people who wanted to feel more confident to self advocate was a Wellness Recovery Action Plan (WRAP). Basically it was a document we worked through together to record all the things that the young person wanted their professional to know about them, and when they first started working with someone new, they would print it up and hand it to the professional to put with their notes so they would have a background to what the individual needed from therapy. It has a structure and is really wellbeing/recovery focused. At the moment this might not be helpful, but down the track when you have more rapport with your professionals, could be a useful tool?

Re: Mental Health Help

Oh @Bee, trying to tell professionals how you're feeling is so hard! Having been in a similar situation before, my heart goes out to you. Heart


As @Jess1-RO has said, it's so good that you have put the points into your phone. Whilst email is not available as an option, but would you be able to write something down to "bring" to your appointment? I understand that this doesn't replace speaking completely, but I'm thinking it might be a way to help break down that barrier. What do you think?


*Hugs* Heart


Edit: I forgot that you have your appointments via telehealth, whoops. The concept is still the same though; depending on the technology you might be able to "share your screen"?

Re: Mental Health Help

@Jess1-RO I LOVE the idea of the WRAP. I wish that I had something similar when accessing services, it would have been so much easier and would have saved a lot of trouble.

Re: Mental Health Help

@May_ It makes me feel a little better knowing I'm not the only one who doesn't also address the pre-written notes for an appointment.
I guess I could try to bring up that there are things I want to talk about but find it really hard to do so.
I can't hand her notes or anything as I see her via video which is in the Drs office on a shared computer, so I wouldn't even want to type in the chatbox as that could probably be read by others at another point as it's the centre's account.
I am going to try it next appointment, which is still a couple of weeks away (It feels like forever!)

@Jess1-RO Sometimes words are easier to write than say.
I have, I've been seeing my psychologist for about 2 years now, she's great.
The Wellness Recovery Action Plan sounds like a great idea! I can see it being a great help. I might do a bit of research about it and see Smiley Happy (although a big part of that feels so daunting, to be honest..)

Thanks for the support @mrmusic
I bring them to the appointment, it's just a hard space being via telehealth. I addressed that above (kinda) as it's a shared computer, I wouldn't be comfortable writing anything in the chatbox, nor would I have time to be able to open something and share the screen.

Part of me wonders why I'm struggling to talk? Connect? with the psychiatrist. Is it because it's via video link? Because it's centred around me?! Or is it because I'm just unwell? Could I be connecting to a decent level, where they can help me, but I don't realise?
With my psychologist (and her help) I've been able to identify why I struggle to be present and engaged in the session; sometimes it's because I'm not ready to cover the topic, or there's underlying stuff we need to address first. My psychologist has been so patient with me, and so very understanding. And I guess since I've been seeing her, I've seen a few different psychiatrists, and there for a while I wasn't seeing anyone as I was essentially dropped by one person. Could this fact be making me unconsciously not getting "too attached" incase a sudden leave happens again?!
Sometimes I wonder if I'm so used to mental health symptoms controlling my life, being so prominent that I've managed to blur or forget where the line is that determines normal mental health to mental illness. Mental illness has always been part of my life (my mother as a child, and myself since a teen) and I wonder if maybe I am actually improving but that I'm unable to see it? I'm usually quite aware of how I'm feeling and so sometimes I wonder what is normal and what is actually mental illness. (Does that even make sense?)

Remember you're amazing just as you are Heart