Thursday, May 27, 2010
Expanding Your Support System
I've been debating whether this is a subject worth discussing, as it's more personal than usual, and I'm still coming to terms with this difficult decision I had to make. Ultimately, I think it's important to put my fears and pride aside and open some new doors here. I hope that if you are really struggling with your illness and its effects on your pregnancy, you will consider reaching out for help. I am so happy that I did. So here we go...
I've had a love/hate relationship with them over the past fourteen years. I haven't seen one in over six, and that is solely due to my frustration and anger over being passed off and labeled as a "crazy" when doctors couldn't find the cause of my illness. I'd see doctors. They would run tests that would undoubtedly be negative for all bad stuff. They would look at my charts and see that I'd been on antidepressants for depression (caused by feeling sick all the time). They'd send me back to my psychiatrist, stating that I was so ill in the head that it was affecting my physical health. Psychiatrists would insist I had a legitimate physical condition, but doped me up on mood stabilizers anyway. I'd see another doctor. Wash, rinse, repeat.
It got to the point where I hated (with every part of my being) the medical system, the physical doctors, the head doctors, and everything in between. (I mean, how do you begin spilling your guts to someone who has been the main source of your trust issues to begin with? And don't get me started on the idiot GPs I've encountered...)
And then my husband spoke out a few weeks ago. Never one to get bent out of shape about anything, he stated, "The quick decline in your overall mental health is terrifying to me. Your mood swings are so intense, you are down more than you are up, and you seem to have lost the drive to beat this."
I couldn't argue. I did, however, break down in tears, a common occurrence these days. But he's absolutely right. What's kept me going strong for so long is that, until the pregnancy, I've maintained a positive, proactive approach toward kicking Lyme Disease. I strongly believe that if we victimize ourselves, that stress and sadness will prevent us from completely healing. I'm also stubborn as hell by nature, and there's no way I'll let microscopic organisms ruin my life.
So why is this darkness creeping up around me? Hormones? Sure. Added pressure of protecting a fetus? Definitely. Feeling robbed of the "typical" motherhood experience? You'd better believe it! My list goes on, but that's not what's important. I'm sure you have a similar mental catalog of all things unfair, uncomfortable, and unfamiliar.
And let's face it: this is all really hard! Even if you're the most positive person in the galaxy, there will be times when you have those "woe is me" moments. That's probably healthy sometimes. We need to address our sadness, and I truly believe we need some time to mourn the loss of our old selves and learn how to get along in our "revised" bodies, which will eventually help us transition into a healthier future.
I know we are all in different stages of our recovery, and we have experienced this disease to varying degrees, but one thing we have in common is that we know how it feels to be in constant pain. We know how it feels to be isolated and misunderstood at times. Some of us have supportive families and friends, while others have suffered some serious neglect. What it comes down to is that all this sure as hell takes its toll.
To be honest, I probably wouldn't have stepped foot in a therapist's office today if my husband hadn't recognized I that need help. (I guess I wasn't s stoic as I thought I was--or I'm seriously driving him nuts!)
Sometimes, even though we know we are in trouble, it takes someone else to say, "Hey, you're going through a lot here, and as much as I am here to help you get through it, it might be beneficial to bounce ideas off of someone who isn't so emotionally invested."
So, yes, I had my first session only because I love my husband. That's not true. I also went because I love my child, and I want him to be born and placed in the arms of a mother who has done everything she can to ensure a healthy, well adjusted, loving bond.
The funny thing is, my experience today was amazing, and from now on I am going for me! It's liberating to sit there and guiltlessly dump your cares on an unbiased party. Once you're not floundering and pulling ideas out of a hat as to why you're sick and a little screwy in the head, therapy is no longer a terrifying experience.
I'm lucky to say that my therapist understands the mental issues associated with Lyme. She also understands my anger toward doctors just like her--those jerks who let me slip through the cracks of the medical system for so long. And she doesn't blame me. (Where were you a decade ago, lady?!)
Again, it was a much different experience now that I have a diagnosis and was able to say, "Here's where my recent problems come from; Will you please help give me the tools I need to cope with them effectively so I can stop being such a mean, weepy bitch?" Okay, so I didn't add that last part...
We started right away, and though it was uncomfortable digging up some ugly old feelings, it's already helped me gain some perspective.
Regardless of how much of a role your pregnancy hormones are playing, if you're suffering, I urge you to reach out and talk to someone. This goes to anyone with a chronic condition--not just pregnant women. We're not superheroes. We can't carry all this weight all of the time. Lightening the load even a little makes a significant difference.