Difficult to talk with professionals?

Illustrations by Tom Bailey

Do you find it difficult to talk to professionals or seek care for the symptoms you are experiencing?

You are not alone.

We know that it can be hard telling professionals about your symptoms and the way they affect you.

We aim to make this a little easier for you, with tips on speaking to any professional. This includes healthcare professionals, but also pharmacists, social prescribers, community/voluntary organisation workers and employers. You will find this in the Next steps and additional support section.

Some of the reasons people avoid speaking to professionals about their symptoms include:

  • Fear of being accused of exaggerating illness or not being believed
    I think on past experiences I know they can be dismissive. And unless there’s something concrete that I could say, look this is, there is a physical symptom, I’m not making it up, I don’t really want to engage … I do worry that if it is dismissed that then what they specifically otherwise, you know, they could put a little thing down that I’m a bit of a hypochondriac. So I’d rather not bother.
    Male, aged 30-39
  • Earlier bad experiences with the NHS
    I think I’ve probably always been reluctant to- I don’t know maybe approach it a little bit because of my experience of having chronic fatigue and doors just constantly being closed in your face and it feels like, well there’s nothing we can do, you’ve got to live with it,. You know, so I think from that it’s probably made me [pause] a bit kind of tentative to try and push too much maybe.
    Female, aged 40-49
  • Earlier experiences of discrimination, such as ageism, racism or sexism
    You see a nurse is coming to check up on you and they talking to you harshly…It’s not really the way they attend to other white people, you understand? (…)when it comes to people who are Black, like me, you see them talking to you, commanding you, and then not even understanding that you are not feeling well at that point in time.
    Male, aged 30-39
  • Fears of rejection or dismissal
    ‘And then I kind of spoke to a doctor about the fatigue. And the dizziness and stuff. And he just went, oh, yes, it just sounds like perimenopause, just got to get on with it and that was kind of it. So, that was as far as it went because I thought I don’t really want to bother them again.’
    Female, aged 40-49
  • Fear of being told symptoms are “all in the mind
    …He [respiratory physician] basically laughed in my face, said ‘I don’t think any of this is going on…and you should consider seeing a clinical psychologist’…I was just so shocked…
    Male, aged 30-39
  • Not wanting to have Long Covid
    I don’t want to believe it still because of COVID-19 that I’m still having these symptoms or could it be?
    Female, aged 20-29
  • Not being sure if they really have Long Covid
    I think I have to be clear in myself that that’s what it is. Maybe I haven’t bought into it myself [laughing], I don’t know.
    Female, aged 60-69
  • Not wanting to burden the NHS or not feeling worthy of taking up NHS time
    At the moment, I’d probably feel a bit like I was wasting their time… Because I just feel like at the moment the NHS is in a bit of a state.
    Male, aged 30-39
  • It’s too hard to get an appointment
    …when you are sick and you wanted to speak to the doctors they usually give you an appointment and that appointment will be in three weeks’ time.
    Female, aged 40-49
  • Belief that no one can help with symptoms
    I don’t think there’s any cure. There’s nothing they can do.
    Female, aged 70-79
  • The changing nature of symptoms makes accessing care difficult
    Just when you think, Oh, they’ve gone, up they pop
    female, aged 50-59

You will find examples of other people’s experiences by hovering over each point above.

Although people with Long Covid do have bad experiences, people do find ways to get support, even if they have to get support from charities and others who have Long Covid. So, it is important to reach out if you are suffering. Why not try speaking to friends or family using the advice in the Do you need help talking about your symptoms with family or friends? section, or use the resources in the Next steps and getting support section to guide a conversation with a professional.