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Does Showing Emotions Make Me a Bad Patient?

It is no secret that I have had many issues with doctors wanting to blame my symptoms from psoriatic arthritis, psoriasis, endometriosis and fibromyalgia on depression. While I fully recognize that depression is linked to increased pain, it is not the source of any of my chronic conditions. Tired and frustrated from having one appointment after the next end in being told that I was depressed, I began scouring the internet for advice in regards to having a productive visit, one that only focuses on the physical issue I am there for.

Common advice

After reading hundreds of articles, I noticed a few common suggestions. The first is to arrive prepared with a list of what you want to discuss. Check! I have been doing that for years. Keep a diary or log of your symptoms to share with your physician. Check! Explain to your doctor how your symptoms have impacted your daily life. Check! And last but not least, keep your emotions out of the conversation…. This last bit of advice is not realistic.

I am not a robot

While I admit that being overly emotional will take away from the facts you are trying to convey, it is impossible for me to speak with my doctors, share what is going on with my body, and not express emotion. Here is why; I am human!!!! I have feelings, and when my body is under attack, I lack the strength to push them down or sweep them under the carpet. Unless someone is a robot I don’t see how it is possible for a woman to share with her doctor how her symptoms have made it impossible to be intimate with her husband and NOT shed a tear! It is perfectly normal to feel sadness and ridiculous to think that we never will. I have tried to keep my appointments as clinical as possible by showing little or no emotion. And guess what? Those appointments were worse than when I did allow a tear to trickle down my cheek. Why? Because the doctors assumed that my pain couldn’t have been that bad if I was able to remain calm.

Same old game

In the past year of my experimenting with this tactic, doctors have taken my lack of emotion as a challenge to burst my emotional bubble. Instead of remaining focused on the facts and my symptoms like all the articles suggested would happen, they fixate on getting me to crack. They pushed every emotional button I have by reminding me of how trying it must be to not be able to do something. I try to resist, but they just keep pushing and before you know it I become a blubbering fool! What I have discovered is this; it really doesn’t matter how much emotion I express. When my doctors have given up trying to find the source of a pain or how to address it, their focus goes to something that will allow them to shove me into the hands of someone else. At this point, I have given up playing games. Either they want to help or they don’t. The minute one pushes me to shed a tear and then suggests that I am depressed, I am done. Because the reality is that I am not depressed. I love my life, despite living with several painful chronic illnesses. What I am is a human being who is doing the best she can to fight and improve her conditions. If that makes me a bad patient, then so be it.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.


  • trixiepop
    2 years ago

    I keep getting asked if I’m depressed when I go to my appointments. I don’t think that I am. It’s irritating when the focus switches to that. It’s bad enough to feel like a crazy hypochondriac when I get seen. I’d like to talk about my labs or my joints or my flares or medication options. I get frustrated during flares and feel helpless and I do cry sometimes, but it’s because I’m frustrated from the pain and swelling. It doesn’t mean I’m depressed. Crying is natural. I don’t even like to see my rheumatologist anymore, he thinks I have osteoarthritis. Wouldn’t that show on an xray?? Bugging.

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