“It’s hard to for someone like me to ask for help.”
This story is part of the Storying Health Inequalities project. You can listen to an audio version of Sarah’s story here. Photos by Andy Brown.
I’m type two diabetic, I’ve got… high blood pressure…I’m depressive…I think that’s about it, but the type two diabetes stems from – I had gestational diabetes for my second pregnancy and then it went after and then I had gestational diabetes again with the girls and then it was borderline after and then I moved back here and found out I’m diabetic because it stemmed from that…so you get the lectures of stop smoking, lose weight… durr durr durr durr and it’s like it’s not possible sometimes.
It’s took me three years – three and a half years to lose three stone, which has been hard you know and it still hasn’t made a difference to my diabetes [laughs] so yer so I have to come on regular checks – blood tests for that and then I have to have regular checks for my blood pressure and it’s a bit crap having high blood pressure and I’m only 39 I’m 40 in April, um yer, and I don’t know what more I can do about it so my health is a bit crap really, yer [laughs] mentally, physically I’m just done in. You know I’m kicking I’m alive I’m there for my kids, yer I’m not in the best of shapes, I’m fat [laughs] I don’t eat properly, I smoke, I don’t exercise regularly, but I’m still here and I’m still here for my kids, and I’m living my life, and I’m happy – as happy as I can be so that’s health to me, not being six stone thin and being a fitness fanatic and you know not being on any sort of medication or you know – nah that’s just going overboard, and I think sometimes doctors as well need to take in – sometimes lifestyle changes, can’t always be possible when you’ve got a younger family.
If I were on my own it would be different I could concentrate on me but I can’t…I’ve got to concentrate on them… first and you put yourself on the backburner, which it doesn’t help me in a way because I put myself on backburner…but that’s the only way I can juggle my life around with the kids and a lot of families are like that they put themselves on the backburner, but yer health to me is… well, I’m alive and I’m kicking and I’m doing what I can do. I’ve got enough on my plate to be worried about smoking at minute, it’s what keeps me calm. I know it sounds silly that doesn’t it but it does it’s the breathing and all that and it’s my time out so yer I have stopped twice I stopped for five months but then I put weight on and then I stopped other month for about five weeks on that Champix but it just didn’t suit me it were no – my husband stopped he’s stopped for nearly a year now, he has odd one because I catch him out but it’s better then what he was doing before.
I think because I’m obviously at this doctors, there is a doctor that does listen, but in past I think sometimes that you’re just pacified off sometimes that it’s just you’re feeling a bit down whereas there’s been times that I’ve said that you know I do feel suicidal. I can feel suicidal every day, but my kids keep me grounded but then there could be one day, because mental health is such a big issue – and this is what frightens me – there could be one day that I get too over clouded that nobody matters to me anymore not even myself, my kids or anything and then I go and do something stupid.
I’m not at that stage, and it’s hard for somebody like me to come and ask for help but to sort of get pacified off as – oh well you’re just a bit down sometimes is a bit out of order, I think mental health needs looking at a lot more because it’s not physical, you can’t see it and you don’t know how somebody’s brains working and it’s hard for somebody with depression to explain why they are depressed because you don’t know sometimes. Some people are like ‘well, what are you down for?, well why are you feeling like that?’ ‘Well I don’t know’ I says and sometimes my thoughts it feels like I’m on a hamster wheel, and you know like on cartoons where you’re trying to grab all these thoughts and they’re just not coming and you can’t organise them and that’s how I get – I don’t know about a lot of people but that’s how I get and I just can’t get things organised and in to a routine, which makes my mental state a bit more – and I go up and I go down and I go up and I go down, my husband will tell you I’m like Psycho Lil sometimes you know [laughs] you know he could have just moved something and I’m like ‘whaa what you doing that for? durr durr durr’ because it effects all your emotions, it’s not just about sitting there crying and that it’s about, your anger your frustration because you’re angry and you’re frustrated with yourself, you’re angry and you’re frustrated because you’re – sometimes you’re not listened to…and I think doctors, nurses…need to take on a bit more…and other – you know education teachers as well.
I think it’s a big thing. The people that see you most, can tell whether things are changing slightly but I think you need to be available to that doctor, erm that you’re used to talking about your mental health and if you can’t get in with them because it’s difficult enough getting in with the doctors anyway…to have that phone call and not be questioned by reception staff, because I think they get peoples backs up sometimes…being questioned well what’s it about?
Just leave it at that – there should be a flag up you know when their name comes up if they’ve put you in the system there should be a flag up do not ask this person questions put them straight through or put them on the list for a phone call you know? Because you just feel like you’re being got at and then you feel like when you have phoned up if – ‘well what do you want durr durr durr durr?’ they don’t phone back and then you feel let down and you think well why do I bother?…it’s like a couple of times I forgot to do my repeat prescription for all medications that I’m on and it’s like I get told off at reception. It’s like I’ve got four kids and my lifestyle and by time I’ve remembered I’ve ran out of my tablets. I’m here now I need them today, it’s only a case of printing a prescription off and getting it signed you’ve got a duty doctor what is the harm?
You know I try and remember I just don’t and I don’t think they take into – and you feel like this – you feel so small, that much so that I had earache last week and I’ve got a bit of an ear infection so I booked in an appointment and luckily I said to him as well ‘can I have my prescriptions? I daren’t go and ask reception staff because I’ve run out and I haven’t had my tablets for two days’ and it’s not just a case of m’ depression tablets, I’ve got three lots of diabetic tablets and two blood pressure tablets as well and I shouldn’t be have to be made to feel like that that I can’t come in without getting told off because I haven’t remembered to – I think they need to take in account that peoples lifestyles don’t always give them opportunity to remember to book in three days before for their medication you know.
My doctors, I like my doctors, two of them in particular, because they are like old school family doctors, I think if you want to be a GP, you have to be on the level of the patient, you don’t come above and beyond, ‘I’m a GP’ you have to be in their little world and understand the family and listen to ’em, whatever they’ve got to say don’t matter what they’ve got to say, listen to ’em and yer your appointments might run over, you know I don’t think they get long enough for appointments but yer your appointments might run over but as a patient we appreciate that.
I appreciate that because my appointments run over…and the understanding and that, whereas with some doctors, like hospital doctors they don’t get that empathy because they’re in a rush and I know that whereas you’ve got to have the empathy if you want to be a GP.