When healthcare talk is traumatizing

I’ve been noticing a disturbing trend and I’m not sure what to do about it. It’s been brewing for a while, but a couple of conversations recently made me realize how problematic it’s become.

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First there was the conversation with a volunteer for one of the gubernatorial candidates. We were in a social situation, but when I asked about her volunteer work, the conversation turned to that. She started talking about his plan to make our state a single-payer healthcare system. I wanted to calmly explain why I didn’t think this would work. I remained mostly (but not entirely) calm on the outside, but on the inside I was boiling, thinking about the many injustices I have faced within the system and how the government certainly didn’t make it any better.

The second conversation was a few hours ago. A half dozen of us were hanging out after lunch, chatting. Then one woman asked us if we’d ever faced discrimination in healthcare due to our sexual orientation (we’re all bisexual.) This isn’t something I’ve experienced, so it was safe territory, right? But just hearing people talk about their experiences was very upsetting to me. It made me think about all of the similar experiences I’d faced that weren’t discriminatory, but were hurtful nonetheless. It made me want to share my own stories that were about healthcare, but that had nothing to do with biphobia. As they talked, I remembered incidents that I’d forgotten about. I thought about recent incidents that were still fresh.

And I got upset.

Again, I stayed mostly (but not entirely) calm on the outside, but inside I was simmering, ready to explode like a volcano. I wanted to yell, to cry, to ask for understanding, to plead for someone to help.

That’s not normal. It’s not healthy. I know it. But I don’t know what to do about it. I saw the warning signs of this many months ago and I starting looking for a therapist who had experience with chronic illness issues. But then I started having health insurance uncertainties, so I decided to hold off until they were settled. Well, they’re finally settled, but now I have a different problem. For personal reasons, I don’t want to see a therapist at one of the major hospitals. I would only see a private practice therapist. And private practice therapists generally don’t take medicare and medicaid for health insurance. And I can’t afford to pay out of pocket for someone.

The truth is, I probably should have been seeing a therapist before now anyway, but I’ve always managed to handle these things on my own. I tried therapy a few times and never got anything out of it. I’m pretty self aware, so I made do. But this is different. I don’t know how to handle the anger, frustration, fear, and desperation I feel whenever anyone talks about doctors, healthcare, or health insurance. Feeling these emotions about my own situation is bad enough, but I shouldn’t be feeling them whenever the topic is broached in a way that has nothing to do with me. I should be able to talk to a friend about their own medical condition without this kind of trigger response.

I just wish I knew how to make that happen.

What about you? Have you felt this way at all? Do you have trouble talking about other people’s medical issues? Do you know of any ways to get inexpensive mental health care in the U.S. or, even better, in Massachusetts? Please comment below and let me know about your experiences.

6 Responses to When healthcare talk is traumatizing

  1. joynpain2 says:

    Some private (group) practices will take Medicare and Medicaid. I would call around before writing off the possibility. I go to a private practice (not in a hospital setting) and they take my insurance which is Medicare-based. I do understand your frustration because I was in close to the same place as you a year ago. I could still talk about other people’s health problems, but not my own. My own experiences were very traumatic to me. I have improved greatly this past year except for one aspect…that of pain relief and the stigma that goes with it. I need daily pain medication, and I am very touchy about people thinking I’m an addict. Of course, that probably has something to do with it being thrown in my face all the time. Sorry this was so long. What I really wanted to say was that I’m sure you can find a therapist who deals with chronic illness patients outside of a hospital setting. It may take a few phone calls, but you’ll find someone. And I think it will help you work through the anger. Good luck. If I lived up there I would recommend someone, but I live in Alabama.

    • chronicrants says:

      Thanks for the encouragement, Joy. After reading this I looked around some more, and it looks like there might be some possibilities. I’ll have to keep digging, but I won’t give up yet – thanks šŸ™‚

  2. Lorna says:

    Hope someone can help with a therapist where you live.
    I think that everything is tied deeply to us because we’ve struggled so much, especially you in getting the help we deserve and the answers as well. I have triggers too but mine are anything to do with child abuse, adverts, books, movies I avoid them all. I know I have issues and am much more balanced in my mind. I have seen two therapists. One private, that lady told me I didn’t have to forgive and that made a huge difference. the second was part of the pain team. I saw her for about a year when I stopped working to help me deal with this. I am not sure how it helped but I enjoyed having someone listen to me every two weeks and I was completely truthful as well. Maybe talking helped me put it into perspective. I write things down as well sometimes that helps.
    Maybe you should write..Lol! I mean journal or list or diagram what it is that makes you angriest. Mind map a word like hospital and put all your feelings down, then you can look and see if you can pinpoint something. Also you could write letters to the Drs to let you down, you don’t have to mail them.
    Take care, hugs Lx

    • chronicrants says:

      Thanks for the suggestions, Lorna. Honestly, I don’t even remember the names of all of the doctors who have let me down! But still, writing letters is a good idea. This blog has helped immensely, too. Writing can be really great, but I think I need more than that right now. I’ll just have to keep looking.

  3. Julie Ryan says:

    I run into this a lot with political conversations (especially with my husband). I’ve learned that I have to steer conversations away from those topics that get me so stressed out. If I can’t steer the conversation I need to steer myself away from the conversation.

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