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?