Hi! I’m Zahra, SELF magazine’s executive editor and the host of our wellness advice podcast, Checking In. In this week’s episode—the final one of the season—we’re diving into a conversation about advocating for yourself in medical situations when you have a chronic illness. If you have any kind of chronic illness or if you love someone who does, you may be all too familiar with how much of an ordeal it can be to find compassionate, comprehensive medical care from providers who take you and your concerns seriously. This can become an especially difficult ordeal if you belong to any number of marginalized groups who routinely face medical racism or bias of any kind. So, let’s dive in.
This week, our listener question comes from Victoria, who has endometriosis, which involves tissue from the uterine lining (or tissue that’s similar but has a few key differences) growing on other internal organs. This reproductive health condition isn’t fully understood, but it can very clearly cause debilitating pain among other symptoms that can make life with this health issue really hard to navigate. It can also be tough to get proper medical care for endometriosis for so many reasons. For one, there’s no cure, only treatment options meant to manage symptoms to a certain degree. Beyond that, though, people with endometriosis often have to deal with the unwarranted shame, stigma, and medical disbelief or even mistreatment that comes from having this kind of reproductive health condition. So, how does someone in this situation best advocate for themselves with all of that in mind?
To find out, I chatted with Lauren Selfridge, L.M.F.T., a psychotherapist with multiple sclerosis and the host of This Is Not What I Ordered, a podcast about “full-hearted” living with chronic illness. After featuring her on season 1 in an episode about chronic illness and relationships, we knew we needed to invite Selfridge back for her insight into this tricky, nuanced topic. To offer Victoria and anyone in a similar position some guidance, Selfridge delves into her own journey to diagnosis with multiple sclerosis and shares plenty of words of wisdom when it comes to finding what Selfridge calls an “emotionally intelligent” doctor. She also gets into the whole second opinion discussion, including how to know when it’s time to seek one out. One aspect of the discussion that I found particularly delightful came about when Victoria asked how she might also advocate for other people in her situation—Selfridge had some compelling advice there as well. Give it a listen!
New episodes of “Checking In” come out every Monday. Listen to this week’s episode above, and get more episodes of “Checking In” on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google, or wherever you listen to podcasts.
Lauren Selfridge, L.M.F.T., is a psychotherapist with multiple sclerosis. You can learn more about Lauren’s work at her website and you can follow her on Instagram @laurenselfridgeofficical. You can listen to her podcast This Is Not What I Ordered here.
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