I’ve reached a new low in my life, and that’s saying something. As someone who gets anxiety attacks which cause me to burst into tears in public, once even punching a wall (and squashing a lovely ring) because everything had gotten too much and I was so angry with myself for being me, for not being able to handle ‘normal things’, and making a show of myself in public again. So yes, I feel like it’s a feat now to reach a ‘new’ low.
Today I started weeping in the dentist chair because I was told I need £2,000 worth of dental treatment, and ‘no we don’t do payment plans’. I’ll never know why so many dental surgeries don’t have the option to pay in instalments for expensive treatments, as though they’re not asking for 4 months’ rent in one go, for more than my monthly salary just like that; like I obviously have this money lying around waiting to be spent.
My poor dentist-turned-therapist was great actually, she got me a drink of water and some alone time to talk, but she misunderstood why I was crying. She thought the news of the treatment I needed was the shock but no, it’s being given my treatment ‘options’ yet knowing they aren’t options at all. I can’t afford 99% of them and even then, affording the cheapest one is going to be a struggle.
What’s worse is being questioned about why I need such extensive treatment as a 24-year-old that doesn’t drink fizzy drinks, smoke, drink tea/coffee with sugar or any other textbook reasons for requiring dental treatment. I was too ashamed to croak out between sobs that it’s because I suffered so badly from depression throughout my teens and at uni that I would go days, sometimes weeks at a time, without brushing my teeth, washing myself or even going outside. Much to the detriment of my oral health, grades and social life.
No, I couldn’t bring myself to admit that it’s all my fault; that I’ve brought this on myself. And that although I got a bit better after a bout of extensive dental work that my friend’s Dad so kindly paid for – because I couldn’t afford it – I know that my self-care is slipping again as I sink bank into feeling as hopeless as I did before.
So the dentist prints off the list of my ‘options’ – £2,000 for this, £1,500 for that, with the cheapest treatment being £800. I then have to go to reception, parading my red puffy face and bloodshot eyes for the receptionists and other patients alike. I really feel like I’m at a high point in my life. I then fight back more tears as I have to pay almost £100 for today and tell myself that I need to keep it together until I get home, then I can let it all out. But lo, as soon as I’m on the street I burst into tears. Again. Gotta love that public crying. Thankfully the dental clinic is around the corner from my flat, which I eventually reach and then sob in the arms of my partner for quite some time; crying not only for the treatment that I can’t afford but for yet another issue that has arisen from depression. Talk about salt being rubbed into the wound.
I found out today that some antidepressants cause issues with your teeth, so you really can’t win. You’re either depressed without medication and poor self-care, which results in dental issues, or you’re depressed and on medication that causes dental issues. Why isn’t there some kind of subsidy for this? I also get chest pains and palpitations as a symptom of my anxiety, which I’ve had scans at the doctors for, so why aren’t there treatment options for other physical impacts of depression/anxiety?
I’m writing this almost six hours later and my eyes still hurt from the crying. At the ripe old age of 23 the blood vessels around my eyes gave up; they’ve been through so many hysterical crying fits that they burst each time I cry reasonably hard now. And man have I cried hard today, so now I look like I’ve been punched in the left eye. My partner said that people will think he’s hit me, which I can’t stop worrying about whilst running the errands I have no choice but to run in the state I’m in today because shit’s gotta get done.
Sometimes I wish I had told people how hard it is to do tiny, menial things that most ‘normal’ people can do without batting an eye. Brushing my teeth, getting out of bed in the morning, dragging myself into the shower, going to the Post Office, ‘chatting’ to people. All of these things take such an effort that sometimes I wish I could get some recognition just for managing to do them, because it was hard but I managed it. But no, unfortunately as an adult you don’t get a pat on the back for basic self care, or for posting a package, or for managing to turn up to work every day. But maybe if I manage to communicate these things to my friends they won’t give up on me after another skipped meet up, maybe my uni life would have been very different, maybe I’d have been able to forge the friendships I so wanted but couldn’t quite execute.
One of the things I’m most bothered about with the dentist is that I only need the £2,000 treatment now because I didn’t have the money to pay for a cheaper, private treatment a few years ago. Because I didn’t have money then, I’m having to pay more, despite still not having the money now. What’s more, I was told that the NHS metal fillings I have are cracking and failing, and that I should really have the white private ones. Again, because I couldn’t afford the higher quality fillings in the first instance, I’m now going to have to pay even more money to get them fixed when they fail, because they will fail. How the fuck is this fair?
Twice now I’ve had dentists explain to me how sub-par NHS fillings, root canals and crowns are and that I ‘really should consider’ having the private treatments. I don’t think these people understand that the private ‘option’ isn’t an option at all. Do you not think I would definitely prefer to have nice, white, low key, higher quality fillings? Do you think I’m just choosing the lower quality, gross looking option for the fun of it? Yes I really do enjoy having a mouth full of metal at 24 years old, lay it on me!
So now, I’ve just spent the past hour looking at dental treatments in Budapest. Did you know that dentists in the UK charge more than anywhere else in Europe? I didn’t before now, but unbelievably I’ve learned today that it would actually be cheaper for me to fly to a different fucking country, have the treatment, stay overnight in accommodation and then fly back, than it would to nip five minutes down the road for the treatment I need. On what planet is that okay?
Fuck me I can’t imagine what it’s like to live in America, they don’t even have the NHS.