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Some healthy people don’t want to admit or face the fact that there are medical gaslighting doctors out there and people who live in sick bodies 24/7 for decades or longer that run into Dr. Gaslighter more than once in their journey to diagnosis.
Often, it’s not until you need a doctor to solve an invisible mystery yourself that you’re likely to butt up against medical gaslighting. So some of our healthy counterparts just can’t wrap their brains around a doctor treating you like shit for any reason let alone because they can’t figure out what’s wrong with you until they walk the same path as we have.
Is it the term gaslighting that bothers most people? Or is it the reality that there are those in the medical community, that for whatever reason, don’t want to – or choose not to – deep dive into their patient’s chronic health history to figure out a proper diagnosis?
I want you to know that you questioning our experiences with medical gaslighting, or going a step further and saying it doesn’t exist, is also a form of gaslighting.
Invisibly ill people are not making up their negative experiences with the medical community to make you uncomfortable or to bring down an entire profession.
We are experiencing what we tell you we are experiencing, period! It’s awful – it makes us feel hopeless and unheard – it’s damaging to our souls, and it’s dangerous to our ailing bodies that need a doctor to figure it out and help us.
The more articles I see, and comments on said articles, that come against the chronically ill community standing up and sharing their gaslighting stories, the more I want to stand up to these misguided people and set the record straight.
Not all medical professionals care for each person they see walk into their practice. Oh sure, maybe they care on the surface, but the minute the labs come back fine, that’s it for them – I’ve experienced it, and countless others have experienced it, too.
In my experience, it’s not easy to find doctors willing to deep dive into symptoms, medical history, possible diagnosis, tests to run, and so on.
They will either pass you along to another doctor where you will likely get more of the same or – like in my case – will look at questionable labs, and extreme symptoms, and end the appointment with “your labs are fine, I don’t see anything wrong.” No follow-up suggested, no sending me off to specialists suggested, just that I’m fine, good news.
Meanwhile, I’m a walking zombie, body falling apart, hair falling out, so fatigued I can barely sit up in a chair for the doctors appointment that I knew would be a waste but went anyway because I needed a doctor to help me.
I’ve also found there seems to be mounting judgment for the “Spoonie community” sharing their lives online.
It’s uncomfortable to watch someone with a port in their heart, or giving themselves injections, taking piles of medication, or barely being able to walk.
I’ll give you that it can be uncomfortable to view someone in a deep state of illness, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be able to share our stories or our realities with the world just because it might make you feel uncomfortable.
How is it any different to share chronic pain than someone with cancer sharing their battle, someone going through a divorce sharing their story, or someone who went through a tragic accident allowing you to follow them as they heal their bodies?
It’s the same thing.
Yet, chronic illness makes people squirm.
Is it that many choose not to believe that chronic illness exists or is as bad as the patient says?
Is it that it’s so uncomfortable to watch a seemingly healthy person on the outside share how devastating living with an invisible illness really is – showing all the nitty gritty?
Why do many feel that “Spoonies” are lying on social media for attention?
Why is someone with a fainting condition, such as POTS, mocked and made fun of as not having a real syndrome? Why is someone injecting life-saving medicine for their RA condition made to feel it’s all for show?
I’ve seen this in my circle of friends and family, they’re growing fatigued of hearing me share the ins and outs of living with chronic conditions.
Well, guess what, I’m more tired of living this way than you’ll ever be of hearing about it.
The growing movement to expose certain medical professionals who gaslight their chronic patients is long overdue. The growing movement of invisibly ill warriors sharing their stories is also long overdue.
It might make you uncomfortable but it’s all devastating to us.
We are the ones who need a doctor’s help in figuring out the problem and treating the condition. We are the ones relying on the mercy of a medical professional and sometimes the well of mercy has all but dried up.
So the next time you read a story of mine, or any other invisible illness warrior, and are tempted to not believe me, or think I’m seeking attention, please think about why you feel this way about my story.
Have I ever given you a solid reason to believe I’m a liar? Have I ever given a solid reason for you to believe I’m just an actor looking for an Oscar?
Or rather, could I just be choosing to put myself in a vulnerable position online to face possible hate from strangers, and my own family and friends, because I want to raise awareness of the invisible illnesses millions of people live with every day?
If you’re sick of hearing about it, think about the person living it. Consider this the next time you’re tempted to judge anyone as not that sick, or she’s just making it worse than it has to be, and know that the crap we live with every day is far worse for us than for you to read.
Because we all would rather live in a normal healthy body any ‘ol day than write about our experiences online for anyone to rip apart and call a big fat lie.
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Hi, I’m Nell. First, I’m a wife and mother, and a believer in Jesus. I’m also a writer of words, maker of art, and chronically ill warrior. This space is where I document this one big beautiful and flawed life. Essays and diary entries, poetry and art, and peaks into my heart. Welcome.