Part of a mini series of Opinion Pieces written by Angela McCrimmon for Self Management Week on helping health professionals to support her.
I have a long and challenging history with Health Professionals. Often feeling misunderstood and at times even misdiagnosed which consequently delivered the wrong treatment for my condition. I can reflect upon the exact moment and conversation that changed the direction we were all going in…..it was the day I realised that the only person who could give them the missing piece of the jigsaw was myself! I had to take responsibility and that very day I vowed I would create a relationship with Dr’s where we would work collaboratively as a team and turn the nightmare I’d found myself in around!
I started to share more about other things I was doing in my life when I attended an appointment because I wanted them to see that I was so much more than my mental health. In the past I would only have spoken about anything they had specifically referred me to whereas I made a point of telling them about things I had discovered and engaged with independently. I am a very pro-active person but I knew my notes didn’t reflect that so it was one of my strengths I wanted them to realise. Before Psychiatric appointments I write a letter to my Consultant updating her on things since we last spoke. There was such a bigger picture than what she was seeing sitting in front of her for 20 mins every few months and nobody could make that picture clearer for her than myself.
While I have always practiced self-management to the best of my ability I realised I couldn’t do it alone. It’s like I never lost sight of the picture on the box of how the finished jigsaw should look and slowly but surely we work with each other to fit the pieces together. Sometimes I work out what piece goes where and sometimes they do but the lines of communication are open and I often reflect on how different our relationship is now from they day I listened in desperation at the care plan review. I learned self-management actually required teamwork too. I’d like to think that they too can reflect on the difference a positive therapeutic relationship can make to someone living with an illness and to realise that they can learn as much from a Patient as we can from a Professional.