Don’t settle for a situation that only hurts.

I’m an introvert through and through. As a person who is an avid listener, I haven’t always been the best at speaking up for myself. For me, part of the silver lining of having a chronic illness has been finding a voice beyond one that’s on paper or in print. I’ve learned to be an advocate for others and myself.

I’m writing this column after leaving a doctor’s office that I’m not going back to. This isn’t the first time this has happened.

Doctors take an oath to do no harm. However, I’ve been traumatized by many doctors. This sounds dramatic. However, during a visit to the doctor, my heart rate and blood pressure can rise. Sitting on the medical table can give me flashbacks to times of physical and mental pain brought on by doctors I have seen in the past.

I’ve been dismissed and given the opposite of care. I’ve left offices in tears, in agony not only from the pain I went in for, but also from the pain of being unheard. I’ve been chastised and spoken down to. I’ve been called crazy and told I’m faking. I’ve been shot down, just to find out later I was right in knowing something was wrong only after being heard when an older adult is in the room or when another doctor took the time to listen and believe me.

Even when I’ve spoken up, doctors haven’t listened. That’s where I’ve learned there’s more than one pathway in life. I just have to make a new path in another direction.

My journey is full of branches. It’s a crazy tree with weird limbs. Some are short blunt points, signs of new ideas or attempts that didn’t work out. Setbacks have helped me grow roots to help anchor the tree that I’m still trying to nurture. Sometimes, like during the lowest lows at the doctor’s office or in the hospital, I feel like I’m wilting and can’t support myself. Other times I’m able to stretch out and grow.

This has come partly from knowing when to walk away. When something isn’t going as it’s supposed to, whether that be in a friendship, relationship, job or classroom, it’s important to speak up against injustice or something that’s causing more harm than good. This is the way things can change.

Don’t settle for a situation that only hurts. However, not settling doesn’t mean everything is immediately fixed. It can feel like a never-ending fight.

I’ve been seeking an answer to new symptoms that started in February. It’s been months, but it could be years. In the world of medicine, you can find reports of stories from patients who waited years for a diagnosis.

In life, your gender, race or socioeconomic status can affect everything. It can affect your health care, education, opportunities and more.

In dealing with less than ideal situations, I am even more driven to be a journalist who can write articles that can be available to anyone. I want to report on stories that help other people learn and be aware. More than anything, I want people to read about how they matter and how one person can make a difference.

In the isolation of sickness, reading articles on stories of injustice in medicine has given me knowledge for my journey, and I hope to do that for others.

Sophie Feinberg is a UF journalism junior. Her column comes out Tuesday and Thursday.