Dear Care Provider,
I am not a number on a chart, a line copied from your medical textbook, nor a statistic that always fits into carefully written criteria. I am a human being with emotions, dreams, goals and a life outside of your small exam room. I am so much more than that diagnosis code you entered into your medical files. When you see me for those brief moments once a month, you seem to make such vast assumptions about my existence. You assert your opinion on my emotional ability to deal with my illness firmly, as if your perspective is the only possible truth. You ask me how I believe I am coping with my situation, to which I state my conviction, but you do not hear me. You have already written your opinion in my record and have already made your judgment even though my belief is contrasting to your own.
"Depressed. Anxious. Moody. Emotionally Distressed."
These words now ring out loudly in my chart, ones I do not believe are true. A definition of myself that you decided after only having met with me for a fleeting moment. How could these words possibly not be true you assume, I mean, look at this life she is forced to lead: oxygen tanks, feeding tubes, central lines, chemotherapy, mobility aids, constant pain, crushed dreams and a terminal prognosis at the age of 24. This is all you see, the professional patient that I have become since autoimmune disease overthrew my life. You see a name on a chart, a laundry list of medications, an upcoming appointment list with over 16 procedures and a health summary with more diagnoses than you can count on both hands. You must feel it's safe to assume those words you describe me as since you feel there is no other feasible alternative to an emotional status.
The truth is, you know nothing of my life beyond your waiting room chairs. Your stance on my emotional standing is established by looking through a small keyhole into my situation. This keyhole supplies you a restricted view, so please do not base your convictions about me on that. Yes, I am a woman with emotions, and yes, I have probably cried in your office which, given the circumstances, I deem to be very appropriate. That does not, however, give you the right to summarize my moment of emotional frailty and frustration in your office as the interpretation of my being. While yes, I have moments of depression, anxiety, deep enveloping sadness and emotional distress, I would not classify myself by these descriptions. I find so much joy in this broken life. I write a blog, I spend time with friends, I go on adventures with my husband, I snuggle with my kitty, and I love every minute of this shattered reality. I experience great happiness, enjoyment and satisfaction through this ailment that has befallen me.
You would not know this because you never ask. Never have you inquired about my happiness, never once asking about the things that bring me pleasure and fulfillment. You focus only on the negative, never even imagining I could be happy with my imperfect life. To be honest, your judgment of me was made before I even entered those clinic doors. You made your verdict while reading my chart notes from the last doctor who, chances are, didn't ask me either.
Broken, but Happy