Who’s your cheerleader?

So today I’ma lay down the law a bit, excuse me for my strongly worded opinions and such, but there is a reason for them. The reason being, when asked about what helped me in recovery, not once have I thought to mention ‘public healthcare services’. This is fairly alarming. I have sought help and been given help by the public, private and third sector, and it is really only in the latter two where I have been told ‘yes, you can do this, you can recover’. Actually, only the third sector now that I think about it. Now *that* is alarming.

I needed cheerleaders when I was ill. I needed a doctor, a psychiatrist, a nurse, someone, to tell me I can recover. Nobody told me that. They focused on asking me about my symptoms, they made me into an illness. When asked about my life outwith my symptoms, it felt like some tick-box exercise. They have to ask, so they can evaluate what stressors affect my symptoms and in what way. Because I, and my life, is nothing more than my symptoms and illness and things that affect the former two. Now, it may not have been the genuine intention of the care professionals to come across like this, but darn it, too many of them did, and so some really need to work on their inter-personal communication skills.

I am not telling you this, dear reader, to complain. I am talking about this because I want to suggest ways to improve services so that others like me could get the cheering they deserve from authorities of care. Authorities used with reservation here, as, apart from when one is in a state of psychosis and unable to help themselves, as they are not themselves, I believe every person is the best authority in themselves.

The people who have told me I can recover have been my most wonderful boyfriend (praise be for a good man!), my closest friends, my family, and the wonderful peers I have met at and outwith my most wonderful (third sector) peer support organisation. When it comes to mental well-being, professionals of care should not just give persons advice on how to treat the illness. They can give you information on what medication, therapy etc. is available, what symptoms often go together and what ways one might be able use to control those symptoms. But also, a caring professional should act to facilitate hope of recovery in a person, help the person find answers for themselves, and support them to develop tools of self-care. No human is their diagnosis. No human is a passive patient. Read some Foucault peeps, read some Freire or something. Don’t make us our illness. Support us to recover and believe in us.

I love telling people that I believe they can recover. There is a difference in saying ‘You will defo recover, like tomorrow’ and saying ‘I believe that you can recover’. Recovery was hella hard, but if I can ‘catch’ an illness, I also have the potential to recover. I did, and so can you.

This is a conversation that we need in public health care. It’s also a conversation about the role of the professional. Why do too many professionals (in any field) still think they must forever remain a detached, cold, Professional, instead of being a professional AND a human. I’m not saying I need my doctor to tell me their life story, but I do need empathy, compassion and cheerleading. The world and life is full of obstacles,  and we need people to keep the pompoms afloat whilst we’re crossing them.

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That’s me, with the arm of someone who cheers me on. Plz dear reader, try to surround yourself with those who believe in you. I also, obvs, believe in you.

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