Struggling to Self-Advocate After Years of Mistreatment by Doctors


You’d think I’d be a pro at self-advocating. I’ve spent more time in doctors’ offices and hospitals than many people would in 10 lifetimes. But this is actually why I’m horrible at it.

Over so many years of having health issues, I’ve inevitably encountered some really unpleasant nurses, doctors and dentists. I’ve had some experiences I still can’t even talk about, they were so traumatizing to me. On top of those experiences, I’ve also had little humiliations, embarrassments and judgments. I’ve been mocked and I’ve been dismissed. I’ve experienced severe gaslighting, on a level that is beyond anything I would have believed healthcare professionals would do.

 

When you add in the fact that I’m naturally quiet, am easily intimidated by authority figures and have had real, life-threatening issues minimized as not being serious, until the point where I almost died and needed emergency surgery, it all adds up to me being a horrible advocate for myself.

I doubt myself. I feel like I can’t possibly handle being treated inhumanely again, and if they’ve dismissed the issue once, it becomes extremely difficult for me to bring it up again. I feel guilty for being sick. I feel like I’m wasting doctors’ time. I feel like I have to be almost dying for me to deserve being taken seriously. I wait until things are really bad, and even then, sometimes I still can’t get the courage to address it.

It happened to me yesterday. I’m now beating myself up horribly for it. It would have been the perfect time to show just how bad a certain issue gets. To prove it to them, so they will finally try to fix it. But I was too afraid. I’ve been too afraid for eight months.

I’m ashamed at not having the courage to stand up for myself in order to get the treatment I need and deserve. I’m allowing myself to suffer, and I can only blame myself for that. My experiences have shaped me, but I’ve allowed them to overtake me.

And I’m not sure how to fix that.

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