I Swear I’m Not Dying from A Secret Disease Or Anything

I see a therapist weekly, which is such an important part of my ability to manage my mental illnesses. This requires me to take some time away from the office each week, which in turn requires me to explain to my boss that I have a weekly medical appointment. And now I’m wondering if she thinks I am dying from some secret illness because when I checked in with her before leaving yesterday, she wished me good luck, which struck me as nice of her, but also a little odd. How often do you wish someone going to the doctor’s office luck unless you think it is serious?

It also probably doesn’t help that I take pills every day, but those pills are just baby aspirin that I take because they are beneficial for my heart and blood pressure. Still, all my boss or coworkers see is weekly medical appointments and me regularly taking medicine.

Of course I could explain the nature of the appointments. After all, doing so would be a step toward ending the stigma, which is of course part of the goal of this blog. Yet, in the professional world taking time for mental health is still seen as a weakness, while routine medical appointments are not. Simply put, the risk that the stigma associated with me explaining the truth to my boss and to HR might hold me back outweighs the benefit that would come from me fighting within my specific workplace to end the stigma, only to have to repeat the fight if and when I change jobs. Honestly, fighting with mental illness is hard enough, sometimes I simply don’t have the energy to fight the stigma battle over and over again as well.

I wish I could be open about my weekly appointments. Hopefully someday I will be able to. But as I said, any gains I make in any specific workplace might be lost at my next job and the one after that, which is why the worthier fight, and what we desperately need, is systematic change that will change how the professional world and the world at large views mental illness. Until then, I am going to focus on my recover and long term mental health, trying not to feel too guilty about the time I take to do so, while hoping that my work doesn’t secretly think I am dying.

One thought on “I Swear I’m Not Dying from A Secret Disease Or Anything”

  1. All health-related problems carry a stigma. Having just received the bills for my recent adventure in the hospital, and seeing a $10,000 dollar charge for an ambulance ride, makes me want to forgo taking care of my health. Is it worth the bother to see these huge charges for a taxi ride to the hospital? I could have driven myself, had the hospital that charged me $3,300 dollars for an Emergency Room visit and then tell me the cardiologist was on vacation and they would have to transfer me (I thought of signing out against medical advice and driving myself, but figured the insurance may get upset). I don’t know what my ultimate bill will be for three days in the hospital. It would be cheaper for me to buy my own defibrillator and cardiovert myself next year when I go into atrial fibrillation again (seems that it happens once a year). Having to face these issues, as well as a lack of support from family members, does not help my mental health issues. I may not be as brave as the author of this blog, but I have learned we all have, to some extent, mental health issues. I tried to discuss the issues with a therapist, but he did not consider my problem as significant (being an MD myself, I knew that I did not meet diagnostic criteria for the problem that was tormenting me). Maybe I will overcome these problems and succeed. Or maybe I will just say the hell with it all


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