When you visit a doctor’s office for the first time solo, it can be a pretty intimidating experience. ESPECIALLY if you are there for one of those appointments. You girls know what I am talking about. THANKFULLY once you have done it a few times it becomes less and less scary, and eventually you can learn how to take the lead with your doctor. Let’s face it, being responsible for our own health is probably the biggest responsibility we will ever encounter. I think if you can manage to master your health (for the most part), you can master a lot of things in life. I am not just talking about physical heath either, I am talking about mental health as well.
Being your own advocate when it comes to your health is the way to get the most out of your time with your health partner (my term for Doctor). I have had a lot of personal experiences that have proven this to be fact. More interestingly there has been research conducted by the Center For Young Women in the Division of Adolescent Medicine at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, that also proves this, and was done with the intent to further educate women that being your own health advocate is 100% necessary.
I recently did an interview with a friend of mine, Rachel, who worked with the Center For Young Women on a 3 month long internship. During this time Rachel took part in research that specifically related to discrepancies in communication between doctors, and their female patients. To sum it up, what the studies have found about Young Women’s health and how that is communicated and received to our doctors…are you ready for this because it is a bit alarming. OK. It is lumped up into; Women are emotional, and we don’t really understand them. Now, BEFORE we jump to conclusions and just put all of the blame on the doctors, lets take a minute and answer the question….do we really even understand ourselves?? I am the first one to admit that women are complicated, beautiful creatures. Women have the ability to accomplish a many of great things…and do it all with a baby on the hip…but lets be honest ladies, before we hit our thirties most of us are a hot mess. If we do not empower ourselves through education on women’s physical and mental health, we will all end up on anti-depressants by the time we are 25 (half-way kidding about this).
QUE THE FLASH BACK MUSIC…IT’S STORY TIME…
When I was 22 I visited my doctor because I was having frequent panic attacks, and I seriously thought I was having some sort of heart problems educed by my eating disorder , which is one of the HEALTH CONSEQUENCES OF AN EATING DISORDER. Turns out I was having your run-of-the-mill panic attack. My doctor asked me a few questions about my lifestyle, and other symptoms I was experiencing…and as scary as it was I was 100% honest about everything with her (even the bad stuff you really do not want to tell a doctor, in fear of being judged). After talking to her for a good 15min (kinda felt like a mini therapy session) she said to me, “you have a nervous disorder developed from post traumatic stress”. My response was “A what?! Created by, a what“?!?! At the time I was not really sure what that meant, which gave me another panic attack.
She frankly said “If I were any other doctor in this hospital, I would probably prescribe about 3 different medications to you…but I don’t think you want that”. She was right. I DID NOT want that. Instead she gave me a few books to read, and gave me some tips on how to adjust my lifestyle, so I could begin the healing process my body needed to go through to rid itself of my pent up emotions, which were having a physical effect on me.
If it were not for my, informed, doctor…who knows how I would have ended up dealing with what was happening to me. Ladies, we have to understand ourselves. We have to understand; what we personally need as an individual, our boundaries within personal relationships, HOW HORMONES AFFECT OUR BODIES, how we are affected by the media, HOW WE ARE INFLUENCED BY OUR CULTURES, health issues that are specific to women, etc…
Check out this video put together by Center For Young Women, on Health Care Visit Tips for Young Women.
“The Center for Young Women engages in extensive community outreach with community based organizations (homelessness, reproductive health, social justice, non-violence, LGBT and mental health), schools (colleges and high school), health organizations, government agencies and advocacy groups. Outreach fliers are regularly sent for all efforts.
The Center manager holds regular informational meetings with various organizations to discuss collaboration. A kick-off special event for the Center was held at a private home, where more than 70 guests were introduced to the programs, plans and several of the young women involved in the programs. In 2011, she also met with staff of several members of Congress to discuss young women’s health.” -Center For Young Women