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Finding Your Voice

It can be so hard, when you’re struggling, to stand up for yourself. Even when you’re not struggling, it’s hard to speak up to someone you love or respect. There are times, however, when it’s important to do just that. As hard as it is, finding your voice is a way to gain control over your life. There will likely be pushback, but it’s critical to take charge of your treatment.

Who’s in charge?

I have a friend who has struggled with her weight for a very long time. She would gain weight, lose it, then gain it again. At one point, she lost 100 pounds in one year. One year later, she had gained it all back. She was struggling to gain control. Finally, her doctor recommended weight loss surgery. After researching it thoroughly, she decided it was something she wanted to do to gain control. She received pushback from others but, in her opinion, this was what was right for her. The question of whether or not weight loss surgery was a good or a bad idea wasn’t what mattered. For every decision, there are plusses and minuses, risks and benefits. What mattered is it was HER decision. She could have decided not to do the surgery even though her doctor recommended it, instead, and it still could have been the right decision. It’s not always what the decision is, it’s who is making the decision.

As I’ve said before, for the most part, I’ve been lucky to have good doctors. They aren’t, however, always easy to find. I suffered from a chronic stomach condition for over two years. I was in constant pain. The first doctor I saw dismissed it. He said there wasn’t anything he or I could do. So, I found another doctor who was willing to try things. It took many treatments, procedures, and two surgeries, I got second opinions and my doctors talked to other doctors, but I am now doing better than ever before. It took perseverance and faith but the outcome made it worth it. I received a lot of pushback. People who didn’t think I should do surgery. People who came to me with, “Have you tried _____?” It was all done out of love and concern and I listened to each one but ultimately it was MY body, MY life, and MY choice.

Are you making your own choices when it comes to your body or your mind? Or are you going along with what everybody else thinks and possibly losing out on something that will make a difference and get you that control back. Being in charge of your own treatment is empowering but you don’t want to go about it blindly, making random decisions.

Find the Facts

Finding your voice isn’t just about telling others what to do or disregarding others’ advice. When you make your decisions, know what you’re talking about. Don’t dismiss others’ advice without having your own opinion backed up with facts. If you don’t want to take a particular medication, know why you don’t want to and the risks to you if you don’t. If you want to try herbal supplements, for example, know the benefits and the risks to using them. You’ll have a lot less pushback if you can make a reasonable argument as to why you’re making the decisions you’re making.

Accept Responsibility

Another aspect of finding your voice is accepting the consequences of the choices you make. If you disagree with your doctor’s treatment plan, and want to do something else, be prepared for the outcome if your decision doesn’t pan out. Finding your voice isn’t about abdicating responsibility. It isn’t about being petulant and refusing to follow an effective treatment plan. It’s about taking responsibility to find an effective treatment plan for you. It means working WITH your doctors to find the medications that work. It means doing the research to discover the best treatment plan for you. And it means accepting responsibility for the outcome. Someone I’m very close to has chosen to not take medication for his illness even though I believe he would be so much happier if he was stable. I have to remind myself that this is not MY choice; it is HIS life. He’s the one who has to live with the consequences. I can advise him, let him know what my thoughts are, but who am I to tell him what to do?

Speak up

Once you’ve taken control, done your research, accepted the risks and consequences, you can make your decision and speak up for yourself. The people who love you may disagree with your decision. Don’t be surprised by pushback. Use it as another tool to really think about your decision and determine if what you want to do is what is best for you.

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