Are you ghosting your doctor?

Merriam-Webster defines ghosting as, “The act or practice of abruptly cutting off all contact with someone … usually without explanation, by no longer accepting or responding to phone calls, instant messages, etc.”

In one way or another we’ve all been ghosted, have ghosted, or know of a relatable experience.

The act of ghosting, or should I say the lack thereof of taking action, is prevalent in today’s society.

Have you ever gone to a doctor to get an injury, weird symptom or change in health evaluated? If the doctor offered next steps, advice and a plan – did you follow through? Or, did you walk out the office with zero intentions, zero communication expressing such, and kind of left it all in the rear view mirror?

There could be a variety of reasons an individual chooses to ghost. Maybe the thought of medical treatments invokes stress. Perhaps it’s more of a logistical issue – inability to commute to physical therapy or get to the lab for blood work. Or, it could be the person is just not really prioritizing their health.

Ghosting is unhealthy, yet it’s become commonplace and mighty easy. It requires no effort to ghost. It’s a clear example of not putting forth any effort at all. It’s an easy escape. My hope is that this behavior gets squashed before it spirals out of control.

Really all it does is leave many unanswered questions on both ends.

From a doctor’s standpoint, they could wonder if you don’t trust their judgment, if they didn’t answer questions about the suggested treatment, or if you have concerns that weren’t verbalized.

From a patient’s standpoint you’re basically walking away from potential answers to your health problems. You are diminishing your self-worth and practicing avoidance. Avoidance is “Anything that you’re doing to keep those feelings at arm’s length,” as Dr. Debra Kaysen said when discussing PTSD (Post-traumatic stress disorder) (but applicable to all medical conditions).

The more we ghost and avoid dealing with things like chronic illness, the more it serves to our own detriment.

The medication or treatment for your health condition could be just as easy as ghosting. It could also be complicated, require effort and showing up.

Nonetheless, it all goes back to requiring action.  Words are only words. Taking action shows you mean what you say. Recall that my mantra is “actions speak louder than words”?

When I show my intent through actions, a doctor shows his or her intent through actions, a friend does the same – it shifts the whole dynamic. Trust me. Once you only accept “action” in your relationships you’ll never go back to the other side.

Why put off what you could do today to get yourself on a better health track? Non-action can mean your condition could get inherently worse in a year, or unforeseen circumstances could force your hand and you land in an ambulance, emergency room-bound.

Ghosting is not the answer. Honesty, communication, and action are.

I’d say people ghost due to feelings of being scared. But that’s a normal emotion we all feel. It shouldn’t discourage you. It should be the fuel for this next journey.

The more we flip fear on its head, the less of a challenge it will be to do so in the future. When we choose to take on the extra stress and set goals to alleviate the stress, this practice will become practically automatic next time around.

How has ghosting impacted you? If you reflect back in time and wish you did things differently, remind yourself that there will be another opportunity. Take that opportunity and apply your skills.

A piece of advice from a mentor a few years back runs through my mind on occasion. He said something along the lines of “You can’t look back with regret wishing you did that sooner; the important thing is you did it now and you’re moving forward; many don’t. You’re the exception to the rule.”

By not ghosting, you gain strength. Being a patient with intention offers many health rewards.

Coming next: Motivation key to living our “best life”