2.11.2008

A Self-Diagnosis, A Story and A Thank You

Thank you, guys. Thank you for caring enough to comment, and email, and be concerned. Thank you for sharing similar experiences with me so that I don’t feel alone, so I don’t feel crazy. I don’t – on either count.

There were two kinds of responses to my last post. Those of you who have experienced PPD thought that I was experiencing PPD. Those of you who have lost a parent thought that I was experiencing grief.

This feels like grief.

My dad died when I was 8 months pregnant. His diagnosis came within mere days of my positive pregnancy test. There was not one day during my pregnancy that my dad was not dying.

The collision of two such enormous events left me unable to fully realize the sadness of one or the happiness of the other.

Now, Dove is here and my dad is not. It is now incredibly easy for me to be happy in celebrating my child, my children. But the sadness? That really is just starting to manifest, and the form that it is taking right now is part anxiety, part action.

But I think that’s ok.

I think that I have just been dealt dual life-changing circumstances, and I think that my response to them have been ok. Maybe not the healthiest, every second of every day, but I think that’s ok. I think I will get through it.

A Parable:

13 years ago I was held up at knifepoint in the middle of the afternoon, at my retail job. In a good part of town. (Hell, I now live blocks away.)

It scared me. It scared the hell out of me. For many months I was scared – of any man that I did not know, of being alone, of it happening again. I wanted to talk about it, so I went to see a therapist. After two sessions, the therapist decided that I had post-traumatic stress disorder and wrote me a prescription for an anti-depressant.

Without getting into a big thing about how I feel about psychiatric drugs, here’s what I did:

I threw out the prescription.

Here’s what I thought:

I was just held up at knifepoint. My life had been threatened. I was scared. Shouldn’t I be scared after going through that? Have I really gone beyond the realm of what’s socially acceptable on the scale of being frightened? Isn’t it ok to react the way I’m reacting, considering what I just went through?

I felt the answer was yes, and that in time, the fear would subside, leaving me cautious but stronger. It did.

Here’s what I wonder about what’s going on now:

Five months ago (tomorrow), my dad died of cancer while I was pregnant. I did not want to be sad while pregnant. Now I am not pregnant, and I am sad. And I am scared. Because I do not want to leave my children thanks to cancer the way my dad did.

Isn’t it ok that I feel this way? Isn’t this an ok reaction? Won’t it eventually subside, leaving me stronger?

I think it will.

And if it doesn’t, I won’t be ashamed to ask for help. And I know that you would help me find it.

xo

17 comments:

  1. Of course it's ok. Fear is the natural response to a life-threatening situation. Fear is what you felt when the guy held you up. Anxiety is feeling that fear when you aren't actually facing a life-threatening situation. If you take steps to avoid situations that provoke that fear, situations that aren't actually life-threatening, that's a phobia. When you begin to restrict your life, that's when it's not ok. To me, it's not about being socially acceptable or unacceptable, it's about living your life constantly in deference to the potential for fear. I don't know where you are in that spectrum; only you can know what's acceptable for you and your life.

    When I was suffering panic and anxiety, I could no longer go out for dinner at restaurants. I was ok with ordering take-out and eating at home but I couldn't eat at the restaurant. I stopped driving long distances, then I stopped driving shorter distances. As a result, it took tremendous effort to visit my family and I didn't do it as much as I would have liked if I didn't have to face the drive.

    If you want to seek help, don't go to a psychiatrist, 'cause in my experience they're just pushers. I would recommend going to a counsellor that specializes in cognitive-behavioural therapy... of course I'm not saying you need to, just that a bad experience with one lousy mental health professional doesn't mean they're all lousy.

    Oh -- and you're so right... Having suffered panic and anxiety, I think lots of other people might be suffering too...

    I hope this comment doesn't sound preachy... I'm just trying to speak from my own experience. Now I'm off to read the rest of the comments from your last post. Warm, warm thoughts...

    ReplyDelete
  2. That's what I thought too but as always you articulate it as in a way I never could.

    Kudos to everyone who needs help and gets the kind they need but there is something that also didn't sit well with me about drugs being the first line of action in response to a truly traumatic event. I guess if you have a hammer....

    Love your John and Yoko comment. Maybe next time

    ReplyDelete
  3. I think you are in tune with yourself enough to know what's right. I think you've thought and felt it through. And I hope it gets easier.

    ReplyDelete
  4. it's absolutely OK. and normal. and brave.

    xo

    ReplyDelete
  5. I wrote a VERY long story in this comment, but what it summed up to was that I agree with you and trust your knowledge of yourself.

    Grief DOES pass, eventually, but that's not really comforting.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Ohhh I wish I could have spoken with you a year ago.

    You certainly come across as someone who is very self aware and comfortable. I couldn't agree with you more that it should be okay to react the way you are reacting considering what you just went through. In fact, you seem to be handling everything very well. Thanks for writing this post and your 'Scared' post as well.

    ReplyDelete
  7. I second what Kittenpie said, from what I've read in your posts you are very self-aware. As you said there is no shame in asking for help - so true. We're always here for you xo.

    ReplyDelete
  8. You have to let yourself mourn. Take it from me, if you don't you'll suffer worse consequences later.

    ReplyDelete
  9. It's ok. And you're that much stronger for having realized it.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Gotta echo what Mrs. Chicky said. Let the grief come now, and accept it, put it on and wear it for a bit, before gently moving on. I didn't do that after my mom died and I even though it's hard to face that kind of grief and sadness and all that comes with it, it's harder to do years down the road.

    One day at a time, girl.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Good. you have thought this through.

    And I'm sorry, I did not know his cancer was preventable. The death from? Or the getting of?

    ReplyDelete
  12. It will subside, and you will be stronger. Take heart and try your best to enjoy your new gift of life. My best wishes are with you...

    ReplyDelete
  13. Crazymumma - my dad died of a unique form of pancreatic cancer, which in itself is the third most common form of cancer. He smoked a pack a day for 50 years, rarely exercised and ate a less-than-ideal diet. To me, that's preventable.
    They say that with cancer, genetics loads the gun and lifestyle pulls the trigger.
    I'm keeping my trigger finger safely in my pocket for as long as I can.

    ReplyDelete
  14. That is so wonderful that you can write so honestly about your emotions and experiences. I am so very sorry you lost your Dad, especially during a time when life should have been filled with joy and love.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Sounds like you have been through a lot. Hang in there you're stronger than you might think! And it is absolutely ok to need and ask for help. It's part of life.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Let the grief come and THEN if, in a few months you are having trouble coping, then consider seeking help.

    But I don't think you're at that stage yet. I think you're just missing your Daddy. And that, my dear friend, is normal.

    Hugs.

    (And lovely family you have my friend. LOOOVELY.)

    ReplyDelete
  17. Sounds like you are very connected to your emotions and I agree that your fears, anxieties, sadness, etc., all seem really appropriate for what has been going on the last year or so. I think it is really common for all of us to postpone emotions until we find the right time and space to let them out. It seems very normal.

    Having suffered depression myself, I think the only thing I would add is this: in addition to listening to yourself, which is key, listen to those you trust, those who you know want what is best for you and love you. If you are - or ever find yourself - suffering from depression, they might see it when you don't.
    But you sound really together.

    ReplyDelete

Talk to me.