Advocating For Yourself

Advocating For Yourself

Remember you are not a victim. You are a survivor. You are capable of making decisions about your health. If you feel you are not, ask a trusted friend or family member to go with you to appointments and share with them before-hand what you wish to accomplish and know. Some things which have worked for me are:

  • Ask questions.
    • Why do they want you to take this medication or do this particular test?
    • What benefit will it have for you?
    • How long will you be on it?
    • What side effects does it have?


  • If your doctor cannot give you the answers you want you may consider finding one who can. I understand it is hard to find a good psychiatrist, or doctor in general, but you do have a choice. We do not have to simply accept it when a doctor says you need to take this medication or do this test.


  • Yet, I know it is hard when you are hurting emotionally or physically and need answers right away. However, I have learned, even as I’m writing this, to try not to let this weigh in my decision making.


  • Ask the hard questions. They should be able to answer them. You are the one paying the bill. You are the patient. Many times doctors do not realize what it is like to be on our side.


  • They most likely don’t realize what it is like to continue to pay bill after bill and take time off work to have a test done, or experience side effects that interfere with daily life, driving, or our general well-being.


  • Inform your doctor of everything. Make them listen. Doctors often ask what medications we are taking, but do not ask what medication we are going off of, vitamins, herbal suppliments, or oils we used, or new foods we have eaten. Share it all, and your concerns about what may be causing your issues.


  • Do your own research.


  • This is a little tricky. You cannot believe everything you see on the internet. However, the information is out there if you look for it. Find out what others have experienced with the medication your doctor prescribed, but keep in mind your experience could be different.


  • What are the withdrawal effects once you start taking it and have to go off it?
  • Do you have other options?
  • Is the test ordered the only one available?
  • Will it really give you the answers you need?


  • Be prepared.
  • Take a list with you to the doctor. With questions. Your research. Anything you wish to say to the doctor.
  • We tend to get flustered around doctors and forget what we want to say. Plus, doctors are pressured to stay within a time limit when seeing us so they don’t have time we want them to spend with us. We must make the most of the time we have.


In a kind, but firm way, we must advocate for ourselves and educate the doctors about what we go through. Remember, many doctors have not experienced what they are treating. We must help them see through our eyes.

© 2018. Susan M. Clabaugh. All Rights Reserved.