Reduce Stress at a Doctor's Office when Living with DID
Managing medical issues with dissociative disorders can include reducing stress at a doctor's office. Doctors and hospitals can be stressful and anxiety-provoking, which can increase dissociation. For some, medical issues can even be a trigger of past trauma. So what can you do to stay healthy, manage medical issues and reduce stress at a doctor's office with a dissociative disorder?
You Can Reduce Stress at the Doctor's Office -- Even with DID
Unfortunately, many in the medical profession are ill-informed on mental health issues, especially dissociative disorders. However, there are doctors who have experience with survivors of trauma. Search online, or call and ask the staff if the doctor has experience working with patients who have trauma backgrounds. You don't have to give out any personal details if you don't want to.
Ideas to Reduce Stress at the Doctor's Office or the Hospital
Write a Letter to Medical Staff Informing Them of Your Needs
Writing a letter is especially useful if you have trouble communicating your needs out loud. What you include in the letter is up to you. Some people disclose their DID diagnosis. Others choose to disclose posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) instead, as it is more familiar to medical doctors and better understood. It may also be helpful to include your therapist's name and number (with permission) in case of emergency. Keep several copies of the letter on hand, just in case you see a new doctor unexpectedly or find yourself in the hospital.
You can include the things you may need the doctor to do (or not do), such as wearing gloves, informing you what's going to happen, or stopping if you start to get emotional or dissociate. Don't be afraid to assert your needs. It is better for you and your doctor to be aware of your needs in order to make the experience the least traumatizing as possible.
Self-Soothe to Decrease Anxiety and Dissociation
Self-soothing is essential and can be especially useful when going through medical procedures or appointments that can make you uncomfortable. Self-soothing helps to distract while also keeping you grounded, which is important when we are managing medical issues at a doctor's office and have to be present.
Bring a self-soothe kit with things that engage your senses: clay, scented lotion, coloring or puzzle books, or music. It doesn't have to be anything big, just things you know will help you feel comfortable and present, as well as something comforting for your parts in case you do start to dissociate (Ways to Self-Soothe During an Emotional Crisis).
Reach Out for Support for DID to Reduce Stress at a Doctor's Office
It's okay to want support from others when trying to reduce stress at a doctor's office with DID. If you have a doctor's appointment and think you may need support, ask a trusted family member or friend to accompany you to the appointment. If no one is available or the appointment is sudden, you can ask for a nurse or aide to stay with you for extra support. You can also cope by arranging a phone call or making plans for after the appointment with someone who can support you in case you have a hard time coping or staying grounded (When to be Honest About Mental Illness and Finding Support).
It's not easy to manage stress at a doctor's office or hospital when you have a dissociative disorder, but tending to your needs and reaching out for support can make it all more manageable.
Matulewicz, C. (2017, February 22). Reduce Stress at a Doctor's Office when Living with DID, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2019, October 19 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/dissociativeliving/2017/02/managing-medical-issues-with-dissociative-identity-disorder
Author: Crystalie Matulewicz
I'm hesitant to let anyone know I'm working through DID issues- unfortunately, that also includes health care professionals. It's enough for me to keep moving forward with my own therapy without also having to deal with misconceptions and judgement from others....especially now with all the hype around the Hollywood movie, "Split"!
When I have a pending Doctor's appointment, I make a list of issues I'd like to talk about in case the stress of going causes a different self to be in front- I put the list in a prominent place so whoever's in front will see it...hopefully...
I like your suggestion of having a self soothe kit at the ready! That brings mindfulness and staying in the present closer at hand. Hopefully that will help all selves stay calm so the best one to be in front will be able to stay instead of a blanked out, nervous wreck one pop to the front!!!