I’M currently six months pregnant with my second child, and I’m going to be honest, it’s been a hard pregnancy this time. It’s been difficult on every level – physically, mentally and emotionally. Juggling a full-time job while being a parent to a young child is not easy. Doing one or the other is not easy.

In fact, let’s face it, life sometimes is not easy, and the last thing anyone wants to hear when going through the challenging times is, “You’ll be fine, don’t worry about it”. This perhaps is the most useless advice ever and I reflect on the numerous times I probably gave this piece of advice out to others in the past and wonder, what was I thinking?

The truth is we only realise what pain, trauma, heartache, vulnerability, loss and suffering feel like when we go through it ourselves. Until then, we can believe all we like that we get it, but it can show that we don’t when our words and behaviours come across as insincere and even patronising.

I count my lucky stars every day because a few years ago, I nearly lost my life after the birth of my son. I ended up critically unwell in intensive care. I’ll never forget the appointment I had with my GP, during my long road to recovery, which transformed me into the kind of practitioner I am today. I was dismissed within five minutes of attending the appointment, not heard, not seen, but instead was issued with a script for an antidepressant and told: “You’ll be fine, try not worry.”

I remember crying in my car as I felt hopeless, thinking that if my doctor didn’t see it then maybe I was going crazy?

Thanks to the love and support of my family and friends and the most important therapist of all – my son – I learned to ease my anxieties. I put the birth trauma to the side and I moved on. I also made a vow to myself that I would never have any one of my patients, especially new parents, leave my room without being seen or heard ever again. It was being on this patient side, the vulnerable side of the table, that I found my purpose and learned how to be a better doctor.

Fast forward six years, and I find myself a patient again. Thankfully nothing too serious, but nonetheless I live in the same fear of the unknown that others experience when control is taken away. Being at the mercy of others is scary.

Trying to be open and honest about the challenges of an evolving health status, I’ve been left irritated by many who have said to me, “but you’re a doctor, surely you know it all. You’ll be fine.” Are doctors not humans? Do they not suffer or get sick or experience pain?

When I’m a patient, I want to be treated as one. I want to be treated with kindness, with compassion, with a listening ear and by someone who holds space for me to be me. Titles, credentials, status and all the other ridiculous labels folk put on one another are irrelevant. Whether you’re a professor of science or a plumber, a teacher or an office worker, a professional or unemployed on benefits, there should be no difference in treatment of individuals. If something is real to you, it must be acknowledged.

My midwife last week was the first person who told me to leave my career outside the door. I cried. I just wanted to talk about all the fears that I had about my past experiences. I wanted to ask the silly questions because I don’t know it all. I don’t want to be a medic. Google scares me too and mum groups online have mostly heightened my anxieties.

My midwife, however, gave me permission to vent while she simply sat back and listened, with full attention on me and with no judgement. With snot likely coming out my ears by this point, she didn’t say the dreaded, “don’t worry”, but instead she used the most liberating phrase: “It’s OK to be feeling this way.”

Sometimes this is all someone wants to hear. Feelings are real, emotions matter and fears can be overwhelming to live with. Instead of dismissing them or trying to abort them, acknowledging how the person before you is feeling is the first step to their accepting of a situation and subsequently gaining your trust. I’ll be sure to take this phrase forward in all conversations I have.