The pivotal moment when my self-advocacy journey began was when I was nine years old, and my cardiologist (who I had been seeing since I was born) asked to speak to my parents outside of the room. I thought to myself, this is about me– I should be there too. I then spoke these words aloud. My doctor and parents fully supported my desire to be a part of the conversation. Ever since that day, I have been involved in every conversation. I just want to clarify that I am not saying that all nine-year-olds need to or should advocate for themselves. It was what I personally needed. My parents and doctor understanding this, set the precedence of empowering me to speak up for myself. Honing the skill to be my own advocate gave me a sense of control when things felt out of control, and medically has been both life sustaining and at times life saving for me.
Advocating for myself is not only something that I do in regards to my health. I am my own advocate in all aspects of my life. This skill has and continues to help me to be on my own side time and time again even if others do not agree with me. It empowers me to stand my ground, and do what I feel or know is best for me.
How can advocating for yourself in general benefit you:
- It can encourage you to establish clear boundaries.
- It can help you to say YES! to yourself by speaking up for what you want, need, and believe.
- It can motivate you to stand up for yourself, and prevent others from taking advantage of you.
- It can help you create your clear NOs (your non-negotiables).
Where in your life can you begin to say YES! to YOU and advocate for yourself?
Now let’s talk about how you can begin to say YES! to your health by advocating for yourself.
Four tips that can help you to begin whether you have ongoing health challenges or not:
- Create a mindset that supports the belief that no one knows your body like you do:
- This belief will help to remind yourself that you have an extremely important role in your health and wellness.
- The doctor knows medicine and you know YOU.
- Ask questions:
- It is essential that you have a general understanding of why you are there, and any relevant information.
- It is important to take notes for many reasons:
- It is easy to forget what was said especially if you get upsetting news and/or if you are nervous about seeing a doctor in general.
- You can read them over after the appointment, and refer back to them when needed.
- Plan ahead:
- It is also helpful to have your questions written down before you see a doctor so you do not forget to ask questions that you want answered.
Be on your own side in your life and health by finding, owning, and using your voice. These are just some pointers to get you started. Your self-advocacy journey awaits.