Our last couple of blogs have focused on the resistance women meet when trying to get medical attention and the desperate need women have for the gender bias against them to end. Dubbed as over dramatic or hysterical, the symptoms women describe are often dismissed by medical professionals, causing undue suffering and putting women in unnecessary danger. In this article, we will offer tips for speaking up about your mental health needs when asking for help.
When we learn about setting goals in recovery, we learn that being extremely specific about what we want to accomplish is important to helping us make those accomplishments. Being too general gives us room for error because it doesn’t create any structure- for example, saying “I want to work out more” is different from “I want to work out at least three times a week, for at least a month”. Quantifying rather than qualifying will help us when reaching out for help. For example, if we are struggling with depressing thoughts, it will be more helpful to tell a professional “I’ve been feeling sad for three weeks straight” instead of “I feel very sad”. We can be mindful and count how often we’re having an emotional experience, how we’re reacting to the world, and what exactly we are going through. However, for those of us who are struggling with drug and alcohol addiction, getting in detailed touch with our feelings is hard to do. There are many of us who have never developed the emotional awareness or vocabulary we need to quantify or even properly describe the quality of what we are going through. We can do the best we can in creating a description.
If we can’t find the words, we don’t have to be ashamed in finding a language that helps us communicate. We can write things down ahead of time if we have a hard time articulating our feelings in front of someone else. Finding a song, a poem, a movie scene, or some kind of reference that explains what we are experiencing can help, too. Anything that can help us express what we see and feel inside of ourselves will give a medical professional a better idea.
Doctors can be quick to nod and mumble then tell you what they think. As a human, you have an inherent need to be heard and understood. Request of your doctor to repeat back to you what they believe they heard you say. If they misunderstood, make sure to correct them or let them know what you meant by a certain part of your communication.
Putting your trust into a doctor who might be a stranger to you is hard to do, especially when you are feeling vulnerable about mental health struggles. If you have someone close to you who knows the language you speak, and understands what you go through, it can be extremely helpful to have them advocate on your behalf. Make sure you get answers, next steps, and thorough validation of what you are bringing to light.
Women’s recovery programs created by women, run by women, made for women, are key to helping women navigate the many layers of their world both internally and externally. Created with the female experience especially in mind, the RedCliff Recovery program has been designed to help women believe in hope, live in joy, and find the freedom they deserve. For more information on women’s wilderness, call us today: 801.370.2274