Don't Stop Believin'
Updated: Jun 21
“Believe in yourself, take on your challenges, dig deep within yourself to conquer fears. Never let anyone bring you down. You got to keep going,” Chantal Sutherland.
How do you know that you’ve EVER had a sinus infection? I am relatively self-assured, and know that I have a lot to give to the world, but when a doctor asked me this, I started doubting myself in a way that I never had.
Since last summer, I have been struggling with chronic Sinus Infections and Thrush that just won’t go away no matter what we have tried. We got an MRI done at a local hospital and it turned out that I had cysts in my sinuses that were blocking the airway and contributing to the sinus infections.
We went to the first ENT who had an opening, and he wouldn’t even look at the MRI. He said I was fine. We knew that wasn’t right, so we scheduled an appointment with my current ENT, and not only did he look at the MRI, but he explained it incredibly well and said that we could try some medicinal interventions, but I would most likely need surgery.
He is an incredible doctor. He sees me as a patient, not as a patient with bipolar. He is calming and understanding when I am so anxious that I cry, and he celebrates with me when I have a good day and don’t. He knows me inside and out and has been constantly trying new things to get on top of it and is just as frustrated as I am that they keep coming back. But yesterday he was in surgery, and I’ve been pretty sick, so they fit me in with another doctor.
He looked at me quickly and said there is nothing wrong. I couldn’t understand because my throat feels sore and swollen, I am very stuffed up, and I've been running fevers every night. I know something is wrong. But he said not only was I fine, but he questioned if I had ever really been sick, suggesting it was all in my head. I suddenly wasn't sure of anything. The symptoms felt so real, but was I delusional? Does a hypochondriac really feel and believe that they are sick? Is that what's happening to me? But a friend reminded me of the MRI...I couldn't have made this up. And my ENT is brilliant, how could I have conned him into doing surgery on me. And then, I got the notes from the appointment, and in it was a note that said, her ears are totally clear and healthy....he didn't even LOOK in my ears!! That's when I knew for sure that he was looking at my mental health diagnosis and not at me.
Unfortunately, there are a lot of doctors like this across the country. In a study of PCPs, they were asked to diagnose their patients, try to identify their mental illnesses. "Nondetection rates by primary care physicians (as measured by the chart review) were as follows: 65.9% of patients with major depressive disorder, 92.7% of patients with bipolar disorder, 85.8% of patients with panic disorder, 71.0% of patients with generalized anxiety disorder, and an outstanding 97.8% of individuals with social anxiety disorder,"1 What?! I am not saying we should blame medical doctors, what I am saying is that medical doctors clearly need to have more training about mental illnesses, because so many of the patients they come across will be experiencing one on top of their physical illnesses. Also, if you are uneducated about mental illness, do NOT make assumptions about it. If anything, ask the patient. They probably know their illness far better than you do.
That doctor made me doubt myself in such a way that I swung into a super deep depression and was battling suicidal ideation. But I forgot one thing: “My message to myself is always, “If you don’t believe in yourself, who will?”” Ja Morant. You are the expert on you, don’t let anyone tell you that you are imagining things or not feeling what you are feeling. And most important of all, surround yourself with people who love you, who support you, and who will be honest with you. It definitely takes a village, and I have the best village ever. 1. Vermani, M., Marcus, M., & Katzman, M. A. (2011). Rates of Detection of Mood and Anxiety Disorders in Primary Care: A Descriptive, Cross-Sectional Study. Prim Care Companion CNS Disord, 13(2). https://doi.org/10.4088