5 Key Considerations Around Advocating for Your Health
Hi, I am Dr. Charryse Johnson, a licensed clinical therapist and founder of Jade Integrative Counseling and Wellness in Charlotte, North Carolina. Grab your coffee, your tea, your water, your beverage of choice, and pull up a chair and let’s have a conversation.
Today, I want to talk about the cost of ignoring your pain. One of the most challenging aspects as a female, as a wife, as a mom is taking the time to slow down and acknowledge where you may be hurting both emotionally or physically. I want you to consider the fact that your body is an integrated system, that being well physically and being well emotionally go hand in hand and have an impact on each other.
When we’re navigating and going through our day and going through life and managing motherhood and children and all the things; if we are in a situation where we have unresolved emotional hurt, or we haven’t taken the time to acknowledge and address our emotional challenges, then it has impact on our physical body.
Fast forward to being in a place that you recognize you’re fully struggling in areas both mind and body. You can come across situations where it may be difficult to advocate for yourself, and I want to spend the bulk of our time not only talking about the cost of ignoring our pain, but also what does it mean to be an advocate for yourself, and some considerations to keep in mind.
One, I want you to consider tracking your sleep, your daily experiences, and what you’re noticing in your body and your mind as you go throughout your day. Here’s why. A lot of times you won’t think about what’s happening unless it’s intense or recent. So, let’s say you’re at the doctor, and the doctor or the nurse says, “how have you been feeling for the past two weeks?” In your mind you think, well, if you would have asked me this a few weeks ago, I would’ve said X, Y, and Z. But in the moment, if you’re past that physical symptom or that emotional symptom and you feel okay, you’re going to have a tendency to minimize what you have felt.
When you find some small, simple way of keeping track of what you’re experiencing, then ahead of that appointment, it allows you to sit down and go, here are the things that I’ve noticed. Here are the things that haven’t changed or aren’t getting better, and I want to bring this with me and address it with my primary care provider. That’s a wealth of information that may not be present under other circumstances.
Two, ask for what you need. Your care team does not feel like you’re a burden. They are there for you, but they can’t help you if they don’t know what’s going on, which by default means you have to know what’s going on in your mind, in your body, and be willing to communicate: I’m uncertain. This makes me anxious, this concerns me, but I’m afraid to acknowledge it if it brings up other fears of past experiences or even something within your family line.
Three, challenge your beliefs around being a burden, not just being a burden to your PCP or your endocrinologist, but even within your family system. Taking care of yourself is not intended to be a burden. It is a priority. When we are filled with a greater capacity, which means we are well rested and well nourished, that allows us to care for the people in our lives better.
Four, also recognize that you may have loving and amazing people in your circle of support that don’t validate what you’re experiencing. That could be for a number of reasons. If you’re a person who is quiet and you don’t share a lot of information, or you’re an individual who is typically well spirited and positive, they may not know those quiet signs and symptoms that you aren’t doing well. I want you to recognize that if the people around you don’t validate or agree with your concerns, that does not mean that what you’re experiencing is not accurate. Please, by all means, trust yourself.
Then the last piece that I would say is, as you learn and you engage in what it means to be healthy and to cultivate wellbeing with yourself, know that the more you do it as a woman and as a mother, the more likely you will be to teach these same habits to your children. So it’s a very powerful way of paying it forward and acknowledging to everyone that who we are, what we feel and what we experience matters.
Go back, listen to these considerations as much as you need to. Then your action step to take away from this is to take a moment and go,
I hope you have an amazing rest of the day, and it’s always an honor to come and have a little coffee with you.
Dr. Charryse Johnson is an experienced licensed clinical mental health therapist offering over 20 years of experience serving as a counselor, consultant, and educator. She holds a B.A. in Human Development, an M.A. in Professional Counseling, and a PhD in Counseling Psychology. She is a strong community advocate and has been a contributor on local radio, social media, local news outlets, and documentaries and is passionate about reducing the stigma around mental health. She is founder and owner of Jade Integrative Counseling and Wellness and author of Expired Mindsets.
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