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Help

08/31/2012

Belle

Wish.

You know what’s hard? Admitting you need help. You know what is even more difficult? Actually reaching out for help.

Turns out help will not seek you out once you come to the conclusion that yes, you could use some. You have to make the call.

I have not been doing well. Two years ago my world was turned upside down when I got sick; I went from being a regular-old healthy young woman to being a woman suffering from chronic disease. What’s worse is that no one is sure what my disease is, but they are certain it is there. In their words, not mine, “We are waiting for more complications to develop.” This is a terrifying place to be. Every morning I wake up and check myself. Does anything hurt, is anything swollen, do I have a rash, how is my vision? Once I have given myself a good once-over I am able to move on with my day, confident that I’ll be ok for the next 24 hours.

This system has worked well for months. Then, post miscarriage, something shifted. The a.m. checks turned into several times a day checks. I found myself testing my vision everywhere I went. I would frantically open and close my hand, trying to confirm if the joints really hurt or if it was just fatigued from opening and closing with reckless abandon. I would obsess over my asthma to the point that I would find myself short of breath.

Last month I went to the rheumatologist for a checkup and some skin changes were noted and a very scary disease was tossed out as suspect. However, no testing was ordered since lots of things could cause these skin changes (i.e. sun damage, hormonal shifts, pregnancy). The changes were merely observed and added to the slew of things we should be watching. I was sent home and told to call them when I was pregnant.

Rather than breathe a sigh of relief, I went home distraught with a new “potential disease” to obsess about. Since then I have fired every possible symptom into Google. I have hunted high and low for research suggesting that stem cells can cure this (it is sketchy, at best). I have stared at myself in the mirror, flexing my face and my skin trying to decide if it was changing more. I have obsessed about my breathing to the point I make myself ill. My dreams, when I actually get to sleep, are peppered with nightmares of horrible diagnosis’.

All the energy I previously put into helping my body receive and accept an embryo has been shoveled into the worst spiral of panic I have ever experienced. Did you know you can fret about a symptom so much that you FEEL it starting to happen right then? If I start thinking about my skin changing it will start to feel different. If I worry about my hands tingling my fingers will start to buzz. The power of the mind is amazing and terrifying.

The only thing worse than chronic disease is the promise of chronic disease. I can’t enjoy today for fear of what tomorrow will bring.

I’m at my breaking point. I miss being able to kick back and relax on my couch, in my adorable little house, with my wonderful husband and the annoying four large fries and not be plagued by worry. I want to be able to focus 100% on this upcoming FET. I want to give it my everything but for some reason I’m stuck, frozen in fear of another unknown.

“I think I need a therapist,” I announced to the Professor recently.

“You think?” he joked.

“Seriously, I can’t keep this up. It’s exhausting and starting to affect every element of my life. I can’t seem to turn the panic off. I have reached my limit.”

“I did not know it had gotten that bad. I’ll give you my therapist’s number if you want. I like him,” he said.

I considered calling his therapist, but felt a little weird about sharing head shrinkers. I know they are bound by confidentiality and all, but what if the shrinker let something slip? While I am incredibly open with the Professor, there are parts of my panic I don’t want him to know about. He has enough on his plate – he does not need cued into my daily struggle with food, weight, panic, illness, infertility, failure, etc. I need my own doctor.

I poked around online and found a center that looks boring and corporate. The mundane appearance of it was comforting – so little in my life is mundane these days. It is close enough to my house that I can ride my bike, giving me time after the appointment to sort through my thoughts. I picked up the phone and called. For those who know me in real life you know what a huge step this is for me. I don’t do the telephone. I’m a chronically uncomfortable phone-talker, especially when I don’t know you, especially when I have to tell you I need a counselor for miscarriage, infertility and chronic autoimmune disease.

But I did it and now tomorrow at 9 a.m. I’ll go and spill my guts to a stranger who I pay to listen. I hope, no I pray, that she can help. I want to sift through all the garbage infertility and the like has tossed on me. I want to feel light and balanced again.

How many of you have sought professional help during or after infertility? How many of you suffer from crippling anxiety and/or hypochondria? How have you managed everything and restored peace in your world?

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28 Comments

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  1. August 31, 2012

    Good for you, Belle. As someone who won’t even call to order pizza, I understand how difficult the phone call to a therapist’s office is. I made it once too, although it was years before infertility. But I’m very glad that I did. It helped me gain control over my emotions and make some big decisions.

    BG also went for a while, but he didn’t click with his therapist. Looking at both our experiences, I can’t say enough how important it is to find someone that works for you. Of course, I have a terrible time quitting people and things, so I know that isn’t as easy as it sounds.

    I hope that tomorrow’s experience is a positive one for you. I know that you’ll be okay in the end.

  2. Jen #
    August 31, 2012

    Belle, I’m so glad you are going to see a therapist. As you probably know, I was a MESS back in May & June. I was just lifeless. Depressed. Faking everything. Not really experiencing anything.

    I finally called a therapist and I honest cannot believe how much five or six measly sessions has completely changed my tune. Suddenly I am able to HANDLE things. I don’t know why it works. I’ll be honest. I was a skeptic. I’m a smart gal, educated with a Master’s Degree and have taken many counseling classes. I even TEACH a college class on communication and one of the chapters is “Emotions”. I felt like I knew all the “tricks” that my therapist might use (she would call them “strategies.”

    But somehow, it works. I’m still kind of lost on how it has worked, but I feel so much better. Give it a shot. Be totally honest. It won’t happen overnight, but my guess is in a couple of months you’ll feel at least better equipped to handle this shitty place you’re in right now (I can’t even imagine what you must be going through. Infertility + impending chronic disease – it’s no wonder you’re freaking out!

    Good luck tomorrow. I look forward to hearing how it goes!

  3. August 31, 2012

    Belle, you are making a really great step. I have never been the type of person who handles uncertainty, lack of control, or anxiety well. In my early 20s, I was unable to deal with a slew of life changes thrown my way and was becoming self destructive and depressed, using alcohol to try and numb down the incessant neurotic rant going on in my head about my body/health, my job, and my relationships. I began seeing a therapist, and she has been my therapist now for almost 10 years. I can honestly say that without that outlet I would have been in a much MUCH worse off place right now. I have always thought of therapy as a really good laxative for the psyche. By simply being able to talk about the shit build up, you can release the pressure valve from your system, and your whole body will feel better. It will open up space inside of you to process everything better. Make sure your therapist lets you do most of the talking–even if silences are uncomfortable, I have found that slight discomfort in the therapy sessions often leads to big breakthroughs. Yay you!

  4. meggola #
    August 31, 2012

    Good for you! Seriously, you are doing this for you and that is a good thing! I’ve been seeing a therapist for almost a year now. I was still dealing with crap from my miscarriage when we started fertility treatments and I started having panic attacks for the first time in my life. That’s when I decided it was time to get help. The therapist I found deals with IF – she has a daughter or daughters (I’ve never been clear if it’s more than one) that have been through it and so she went and did some special training for IF therapy. It has helped me a lot. I find myself looking forward to going. It’s so nice to have someone impartial to talk to about all of this stuff. She has no emotional investment in my situation, and therefore can provide true perspective when things feel like they’re out of control.

    My big piece of advice on this would be to make sure you find a therapist that you’re comfortable with and that you feel confident in. Just like with your RE, it’s so important that you don’t compromise on who you see. I found my therapist through the two fertility clinics that I’d been to. One had a list of IF therapists in the area, and the other clinic had a social worker on staff that I got a list of references from. I definitely think it’s been much more beneficial to me to be seeing a therapist that specializes in IF, and also that she’s a woman. My husband never understands all of my hormonal issues that I’ve had throughout all of this, but she seems to get it. I never feel like she thinks I’m faking things, or making stuff up. She understands the crazy things that hormones do to us women and that’s been really important to me.

    Good luck on this new venture! I’m proud of you for recognizing that you need help and going out there and finding it! That’s not always an easy thing to do and it shows how strong you are!

  5. Mo #
    August 31, 2012

    I am so proud of you!
    Therapy has saved me during the last couple of years. I hope it helps you too!
    Huge hugs!

  6. August 31, 2012

    Good for you for taking a step Belle. I haven’t had any experience with a therapist besides Jon and I seeing one before we got married to ensure we could keep what we had going. But I have heard amazing htings – also, don’t let the one experience lose you, if you don’t click with this person, try someone else. You have had a hell of a few years, and sometimes just having somebody to ramble at is the answer. I do have a close friend who dealt with MAJOR anxiety and she got a lot out of yoga and meditation……now if you are like me (which I kind of think you are) the thought of lying on the floor trying to clear your mind as exercise makes you want to claw your eyes out….but it really really helped her, and I saw her go from being very meek, a huge pushover and super stressed out to somebody quite confident who is out for herself in this world – and she now teaches yoga!
    Good luck, I really hope that this is a step in the right direction for you and that it helps you to accept this new little embryo with all you’ve got.

  7. August 31, 2012

    I think it’s best when we ourselves decide when it’s time to see a therapist. I’m so glad to hear that you are there. I started see my therapist after my third miscarriage. She has been my rock. She helped me heal so much through my fourth miscarriage that happened this pass June. I can’t imagine where I would be if it didn’t have her. Probably would have left my husband feeling not worthy of giving him children. My therapist fortunately very much knows what I am going through, as she herself suffered four miscarriages. I hope you get everything that you need out of this. One thing word of advise…be brutally honest in your therapy, don’t hold anything back or hold onto anything. You will feel so much better if you are honest with yourself and your doc.

  8. August 31, 2012

    “How many of you have sought professional help during or after infertility? How many of you suffer from crippling anxiety and/or hypochondria?”

    *raises hand*

    Yep, that would be me. The crippling anxiety and hypochondria (mixed in with some debilitating depression) started in my teens, and that’s when I first started seeing a therapist. The infertility shit came much later. I’ve been in and out of therapy for over 20 years (god, I’m old and fucked up). I’m not the type to stick with it for an extended period of time. I just can’t do weekly or monthly sessions for years on end, financially or mentally. I seem to go in short, intense bursts, when I need it most. But it does help. Sometimes I only feel better for that hour I’m spilling my guts, but even that is worth it, to be able to get out my deepest, darkest feelings and fears.

    I wouldn’t say that I’ve restored peace in my world, but I’m learning to cope better. And I don’t know if I can really attribute that solely to therapy. I think it was more the act of seeking help that played a part in me feeling better. Learning to recognize when I’m falling into that hole again, being aware that things are unraveling, and doing something about it is what has made all the difference to me. A lot of my therapists were, quite frankly, shitty. But it was still worthwhile, because I was DOING SOMETHING. I was practicing self-care. And the more you practice it, the better you get at it. And ultimately, the better you feel.

    I think it’s great that you’re doing this. You’re doing a wonderful thing for yourself. Even if you find that you don’t really click with your therapist, or you don’t feel that you’re making the progress you would like, keep reminding yourself that just the act of asking for help is a huge, positive step forward. You’re going to get there. I know you will. 🙂

  9. August 31, 2012

    I’m glad you are seeking help. The first meeting will not be satisfying, at least that’s my experience, so don’t expect much. It’s a getting-to-know-you type of thing, so don’t expect change or any wonderful insights. See if your personality meshes with the therapist’s personality, if you think you could trust this person. Insights and ah ha moments come later, after trust is established 🙂

    BTW, your husband’s therapist is not allowed to work with you, so the most he could have done is referred you out. Which might not be so bad if you don’t end up liking the therapist you are about to try. If your husband likes his therapist then maybe this therapist has other good therapist friends to refer you to.

    Good luck *HUGS*

  10. August 31, 2012

    I think that is a courageous step. I’ve had therapy a few times to help me cope with chronic pain when I felt I needed it the most. It helped each time and I learned techniques that I can always rely on. Sometimes it feels good just to talk to someone and vent who is outside of your inner circle.
    I hope you feel comfortable with this person and it helps to bring some relief and peace of mind

  11. August 31, 2012

    Oh, Belle, my heart hurts for you lady. I know exactly where you are right now. I was in therapy for a little while during the beginning of my infertility journey, but it wasn’t specifically for that reason. I had/have an anxiety disorder and depression which was made way worse when coupled with infertility. I tried SO MANY things, but only one helped. Zoloft. I didn’t want to do it, but when I finally gave in I realized it was the best decision I ever made. It seriously saved my life. I always wonder what people meant when they said that it would save my life because I was never suicidal or anything. What I came to realize it that is saved the QUALITY of my life in that I am actually living now.

    I’m not trying to be a pill-pusher 🙂 jsut wanted to share what worked for me. Hopefully you will find what works for you and it will bring you peace and some semblance of happiness. If you ever want to talk/vent please let me know. Thinking of you! xoxo

  12. August 31, 2012

    Oh Belle, I am so proud of you! I hope you get nothing but support and feel so much better talking to her. Going to mine, now over a year, was the best thing I ever did for myself. She has given me some amazing tools and pushed me to make some huge strides in my healing. I wish the same for you hon.

  13. August 31, 2012

    Bravo to you for admitting you need help and taking steps to get it!

    I talked with a counselor a few times once it became clear I would never have any children with my genetics. My primary goal was to grieve this loss so that I could move on. . . whether that meant moving on to feeling ready to parent children who didn’t share my genes or to childless living.

    I can honestly say that, out of the tens of thousands of dollars we spent related to infertility, it was some of the best. My counselor was great and really helped me a lot.

    I hope your experience is as positive and helpful as mine.

  14. August 31, 2012

    I’m so proud of you for asking for help. I have dealt with anxiety/panic attacks/depression since my teens. But it was most difficult during infertility treatment. My therapist (actually she is a psychiatrist because I also take meds) is a GODSEND. I love her and she is there for me 100%. There have been times of crisis when she would talk to me 2 or 3 times a day by phone if I needed it. Seriously, my life would be very different without her. I highly suggest you find a therapist, and one who is a very good fit. During better times, I still see her about once a month or every 6 weeks, to check in and keep myself balanced. She has taught me about tools, strategies, holding boundaries, self care, and being true to myself. I can’t underscore enough how helpful it can be.

  15. August 31, 2012

    Absolutely. I was crippled by both grief after losing my father and anxiety from starting a PhD program. She was amazing. I would go back to her in an instant if I still lived in that city. Echoing the thoughts of others, make sure your therapist is a good fit. There are a lot out there so you get to be choosy! Also, good for you.

  16. August 31, 2012

    Just like you describe, I have a real hard time asking for help. Making that appointment was really brave, I truly hope you click with the therapist and you can start the process of working through all that’s going on. Hugs.

  17. Theresa #
    August 31, 2012

    I have no sought help for infertility but saw a therapist for depression for many years. Making the call is always the hardest part. Then it’s getting in the door. I don’t suffer from crippling anxiety but do have low level anxiety often. I keep busy finding things I enjoy . I’m proud of you for making this step and wish you the absolute best. Hugs

  18. August 31, 2012

    In February 2011, I had a nervous breakdown – or whatever you call it when you try to be everything to everyone and handle it all on your own and finally crack under the pressure.
    I saw a counsellor through my Employee Assistance Program; and then got a referral to my medical clinic’s in-house Social Worker from my physician. I saw her for a month or so.
    The day after we lost River, I called the Social Worker to make an immediate appointment.
    I learned my lesson about asking for help.

  19. August 31, 2012

    That first step is always the hardest, but I’m so glad you took it. As you know, therapy has been a lifesaver during this whole journey for me. Without it, I shudder to think where I would be. Hoping that your first appointment is a great one.

  20. August 31, 2012

    Belle good for you for seeking out professional help – I never did – but in retrospect I believe I did myself a real disservice by not doing so. Not to panic you but you should peruse some of the side effects of the fertility meds – I had some pretty severe reactions – some involving extreme joint and bone pain as well as vision changes – these did resolve for me. I was always a little suprised that the docs & nurses never once went over any of these possible effects and always acted like the mega doses of hormones i was taking were simply par for the course. I’m pulling for you 🙂

  21. August 31, 2012

    So proud of you for taking this step, Belle. I think you’re absolutely right about how hard it is to ask for help, but this is some tough shit you’re going through, and I think it’s impossible for anyone to deal with all of it alone. I hope your first appointment goes well, but if it doesn’t, or you don’t click with this therapist, don’t be afraid to try again.

  22. September 1, 2012

    Good for you! A witty person on Twitter said the first thing one needs to do after being diagnosed with infertility is call a therapist. I’m so sorry you’ve living with fear about a lurking illness: that must be so scary. I wish your doctors could be more reassuring and less alarming (in this terribly vague) way….

  23. September 1, 2012

    Im currently in the same position as you..I just went to see a therapist and while it wasnt what I was looking for,just going and speaking to someone and doing something to take back abit of the control in my life helped alot. Ive had such a horrible time the last 2 years that it has all taken its toll on me and I am proud I actually know enough to ask for help.Dont ever be ashamed to admit when you need help, its a sign of strength to know your limits.
    I hope it all works out for you.

  24. September 1, 2012

    I congratulate you on doing this and being so open about it. I think about it myself sometimes. My anxiety regarding my autoimmune issues (“possible” ra, chronic hives for “no reason” and hashimotos) has been climbing so i know exactly what you mean. I start to panic sometimes..is that a hive starting in my mouth, is my throat going to close, etc) and then i turn into a hypochondriac. It just sucks, it’s hard, and we can’t live our lives like this.

  25. September 1, 2012

    I think you are very brave to have taken this step. It’s something I’ve been feeling an increasing need for, but have not been acting on it. Much like acupuncture, which many people keep telling me to try, I am afraid of it, so I keep saying I don’t have the time or money. Good luck with you appointment. Maybe I will follow your lead and finally bite the bullet.

  26. Amanda #
    September 1, 2012

    So I have both (double whammy)! I am infertile as can be, plus a little over a year ago I was diagnosed with Somatoform Disorder… fun stuff. The best part is that the WORST thing you can do with Somatoform is analyze every nuance you feel, but isn’t that EXACTLY what we do as fertility challenged.

    Anyway, you might look the disorder up, just to see if you feel like you might me in the spectrum. It’s related to GAD and hypochondria. I took Celexa at a very low dose for a year, and I am now managing, meds free. The meds just helped me climb down off the cliff I’d worked myself onto.

    Hoping that talking to someone can ease your mind so you can focus on making babies!

  27. Lisa @ hapahopes #
    September 2, 2012

    Good for you, Belle. So very proud of you and hope that your appointment went well.

    I grew up in an abusive household and never sought therapy about any of it until about 4 years ago. I had been popping the pills and thinking that was doing the job for me. After only a few weeks, my outlook on life had completely changed. I honestly do not believe I would have met my husband if it weren’t for therapy. I think what I learned there has helped me deal with infertility so much better than I would have otherwise too. Like others have said, you learn how to deal. Such an important thing.

  28. September 2, 2012

    My partner sees a therapist for severe anxiety. It took a long time, but he is so much better for it. It will do you the world of good! x

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