When Physical and Mental Illnesses Collide
Today was a tough day. I’m no stranger to tough days, but there are those special days when illness just makes you feel defeated. I’ll just say it, I’m tired of being sick.
Not only am I exhausted from the symptoms of chronic illness, or the medication side effects, or the endless waiting rooms and doctors appointments, but I’m exhausted by the push and pull of speaking about being sick and trying to maintain that invisible line of sharing and oversharing. I often think, “Why am I even talking about my illness with this person when I know they couldn’t care less?” It incites the loneliest feeling inside of you.
Anxiety has been my shadow this week, and no matter where I go or what I do, she follows along. Having multiple chronic illnesses, I’ve tried to keep anxiety and depression tucked away like dirty laundry that I’ll get to when I’ve completed the “more important” chores. I’ve often denied their connection to any of my physical conditions, but the past few months have me staring them directly in the face.
If your experience has been similar to mine, then you know how soul crushing it is to feel so awful physically and then have a doctor act as though it’s all in your head. It’s tricky trying to separate what is happening to you mentally and physically. Sometimes, they go hand in hand. While other times, they have no connection to one another. I think we often put our anxiety and depression issues on the back burner because we don’t want doctors to only see these issues when there are other issues that we are also dealing with.
There’s no shame in having a mental illness. Just like physical illness, you didn’t ask for this. We shouldn’t be afraid to discuss how we’re feeling or the symptoms we’re having for fear of being judged or misdiagnosed. I always feel as though I’m walking a fine line on how I should behave during a doctor’s appointment. Should I ask questions? Will they be irritated or think I’m a hypochondriac for asking too many questions? Should I try to smile or pretend to feel better than I do? If I wear make up will it give the illusion that I’m not as sick as I say that I am? It’s a minefield. I’m exhausted.
How do I get the best experience out of these necessary appointments? I’ve often been too nice or down played my symptoms during an appointment because I don’t want to seem pushy. Well, those days are over. I’m the only one advocating for my health…So, I’m going to start speaking up.
My plan is to move on from the doctors that have made me feel silly or hopeless about my illnesses. If we don’t have the right chemistry, then I’ll be on the lookout for a physician who has the best intentions for me. I’m not saying that the doctors I’ve had are terrible. It’s just, not all of them are the right fit for me. I want to leave my appointments feeling as though I haven’t wasted my time and money. If that means being a little pushy or getting upset from time to time, then that’s just how it has to be. I will always be respectful, but this is my life, and if I don’t take it seriously, then they won’t either.
If you need support right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255, the Trevor Project at 1-866-488-7386 or text “START” to 741-741.
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