I do understand.
Since 1998 I have been living with HIV, a socially marginalized disease — but that only partially prepared me for living with MEcfs (since 2012), a medically marginalized disease.
My medical care experiences between HIV and MEcfs could not be more traumatically stark.
With HIV the standard of care is life saving medications.
With medically marginalized illnesses like:
...the standard of medical care often is denial, dismissal and gaslighting.
Unfortunately, this can also be our experience with other health professionals like physical therapists, nurses and psychiatrists.
Worse yet, our partners, family and friends can doubt the seriousness (or existence) of our illnesses adding to the trauma, loss, feelings of betrayal, and feelings of being unsafe.
It can be challenging to find a safe space where someone understands from lived experience what it's like to live with a medically / socially marginalized chronic illness.
That's why I've focused my counseling practice to work with people living with illnesses the medical system mostly dismisses or denies.
Chronic illness impacts much more than only our physical health.
The loss that comes with a disabling - often invisible - chronic illness extends beyond our sick bodies to our careers, our finances, and relationships with our partners, family and friends.
And our relationship with ourselves. We can lose our sense of identity, our sense of purpose, our independence, and our trust in doctors.
We can feel like we've been betrayed by our bodies and by medicine --- and sometimes by those that love us.
We may experience depression and anxiety and 'brain fog' and other neuropsychiatric symptoms caused by the effects of inflammation in our brains from chronic illness.
With the trauma that often accompanies unwanted and uncontrollable chronic illness, it is normal that losing one's health, mobility, job, etc can exacerbate depression and anxiety and other mental health symptoms.
Being sick and disabled with a serious chronic illness - especially one that the medical system mostly ignores - makes nearly all aspects of life harder.
Unless they've lived with symptoms and suffering for months and years, it is nearly impossible for many people to truly understand how deeply chronic illness impacts our quality of life.
I get it. I'm living it.
Your privacy and confidentiality are important to me. Trust is key in our collaborative relationship.
Our sessions are not audio/video recorded. Any session notes are kept secured on a private computer.
I will send you my zoom room link so we can video chat. Remember to turn off your phone so we're not interrupted.
My body is not very dependable. Your body is probably also unstable. There may be days when our bodies are too sick to meet and those are not very predictable.
So if your body crashes 10 minutes before our meeting and you have to cancel, it is no problem -- I am fully aware how quickly disabling symptoms can appear or intensify.
There may also be times when I have to cancel our meeting on short notice because my body went off the rails.
Some people are too sick to meet for 60 minutes. I am flexible and adaptable to your energy window -- so we can schedule 30 or 45 minute sessions if that works better, and at a frequency that works best for you.
Others may have days when their body can handle 60 minutes, and other days it cannot --- and if we have to cut short the session, no problem, I only bill for our actual time.
Being a better counselor is an ongoing journey. While there is no such thing as 'perfect' counseling, we can always learn more and do better.
I love training other counselors, social workers and health care professionals -- it is so gratifying to see their confidence and competence strengthen, which then extends to the care and support they provide.
A key value in my training approach is to provide fulsome feedback to improve the trainee's counseling skills and processes.
So it's not surprising feedback is a value in my own counseling practice. So I will seek and encourage any feedback that would make our sessions more helpful and productive: What's working in our sessions? What could be working better?
I'm happy to answer any questions -- please email me at RemediesOnlineCounseling@gmail.com
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