Are You an Advocate?

 

When I entered Social Work in the early years of HIV/AIDS, I was the voice for those who were unseen.  I helped those who were tossed away due to drug addiction, sexual addictions, homosexuality, and homelessness.  I was for the underdog.

underdog

It wasn’t long and I was called an advocate.  I didn’t really understand what that was.  By definition, an advocate is  “a person who speaks or writes in support or defense of a person, cause, etc.”.  Yup, that was me!  As I went from the front lines in Social Work to Non-Profit Administration, I was still an advocate.  Easily defending others and their cause.

Why is it so hard for us to do the same for ourselves?

Whether we are sharing our passion for our business or taking a stand on a personal healthy issue, we seem to struggle.  The inner gremlins get the best of us.  They convince us that we are selfish.  They tell us that our health problems aren’t as bad as someone else.  They make us doubt our abilities.  They make us think that our symptoms are all “in our head”.  All of this has really hit home as I am dealing with my own health challenge.

The old saying “Do as I say but no as I do” rings true here.

I am able to encourage my team and others with awesome ideas that will help their business.  I am able to advocate for causes that are near and dear to my heart.  I am able to give voice to others who have difficulties with medical providers.  I am able to fight on behalf of others.  I am able to help others to stand on their own.  I can advocate and make a difference in the lives of others.

Why is it so hard for us to do the same for ourselves?

Here are some tips to help YOU advocate for yourself:

  • Believe in Yourself: Remember that YOU know your body.  You know the aches and the pains that you have.  You know that your body doesn’t feel right (or normal).
  • Know Your Rights:  Know your insurance carrier and what they cover.  If you are working with a General Practitioner, ask them to refer you to a specialist.  
  • Gather Support:  I am not saying host a demonstration on their door step.  What I am saying is talk to your personal “cheerleaders“, the people who support you through good times and bad.  Talk to family and friends who have seen the signs and symptoms so they can reinforce what is happening.  
  • Express and Assert Yourself Clearly:  Being an emotional mess will NOT help the situation.  State the facts.  Be concise without a lot of added stuff or fluff.  This one is hard and may require practice.  If need be, write a list of things as they happen so that you can recap them for the doctor.  
  • Be Firm and Persistent:  Remember that there are other “fish in the sea”.  You can interview a doctor the same way you interview for a job.  Ask for second opinion or even third ones if it is necessary.  

After a horrendous experience at one “speciality center“, I looked for somewhere else.  I will admit that the inner gremlins got the best of me for a little while.  I was ready to give up.  I was ready to accept whatever they told me and stop pushing on.  I kicked, screamed and through a tantrum.  Then…..the advocate kicked in and I began to

slaying IG

Are you struggling with being your own advocate?  Need a cheerleader?  Reach out and I will be glad to help you, if I can.

Hope you have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

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