My Patient Story
State: New York
Congressional District: NY16
Issues and Challenges
Jim has encountered: Mental Health Access, Gaslighting, Invisible Illness, Medical Discrimination
This is what gaslighting is.
I've had clinical depression since I was a child. I didn't know it then, not by that name anyway. That's because I grew up in a religious home with parents of great faith and love who did not to identify depression as an illness. Instead, like many religious families, they attributed the gloominess, solitude, and quietness to a crisis of faith, and treated it like one.
Out of public school into Catholic school. Family Bible readings supplemented by the spiritual personas on television. Weekly mass - sometimes more than weekly. On their own merits, meaningful practices, but as a corrective measure for depression, failures.
Faith as medicine did not make me feel accepted. It harmed my wholesale relationship with religion. My parents acted out of love, but sadly, also out of ignorance. And then my clinical depression culminated in an event that nearly ended my life.
Everything changed after 'the attempt'. My parents turned to medicine and science to find help and support for me, and for themselves. Not at the exclusion of faith and religion, but in addition.
Now, as an adult, I practice both spirituality, creative expression, and medicine to manage my depression. My depression is not a failure of faith, it is a disease. I and my family ultimately accepted that and healed together.
Gaslighting is ignoring a truth one does not feel equipped to accept. For doctors, that often means attributing pain to anxiety, or even physical signs to other physical ailments. At its heart, it is either lazy and disingenuous, or a product of ignorance. Whatever it is, people living with illness must believe in themselves or risk being fooled into thinking (gaslit) that whatever is wrong with them is their fault, and carrying that terrible burden with them.
My Motivation and Inspiration
My motivation is my parents and my siblings and my wife, all of whom to varying degrees lived with me through suffering, confusion, and ultimate revelation.
I am also motivated by the people I encounter in my role at Patients Rising - people struggling to own their illness, find a path to wellness, and be accepted and loved for who they are.