Wednesday, January 4, 2012

A time of need

"A psychologist is someone you see only when you've given up trying to help yourself."

As I mentioned in my first post, my pregnancy really sucked.  I had severe hyperemesis from weeks 6-22, when it let up a bit but never fully went away until I gave birth.  Pregnancy for me was a very dark time and there were many times when I was on the edge of depression.  If it wasn't for the support of my wonderful husband and a handful of close friends, I don't know how I would have gotten through it all.

My physical recovery after the birth went pretty smoothly, overall.  I had to eat pretty much constantly to make up for everything I had lost for those nine long months and to keep up my milk supply for the babe and it took me 10 months to gain back all the weight, but there were no serious issues.  My psychological recovery is a different question.

I knew that because of the pregnancy complications I was at higher risk to have postpartum depression or other issues so I was on the lookout and told my husband to be, too.  After several months I felt that things just weren't right with me, so I was considering going to a psychologist to see what was wrong and fix it.  I shared this little tidbit with my friend, and the above quote is what I got back as a response.  I was so hurt and angry after that that I closed the door on that discussion with her and proceeded seeking treatment on my own.

I feel like there is a lot of stigma surrounding having any sort of psychological issue, so there are probably many people who go without treatment or do it in secret so that they don't have to deal with what other people think of them.  And you know what?  That is terrible.  Everyone should be able to get the help that they need without anyone making them feel bad about it.  The way I see it, you go to a psychologist not when you have given up helping yourself, but when you realize that your problem can be bigger than you and you are reaching out to someone else in order to help yourself better.  Does that make sense?

At any rate, post-traumatic stress isn't something where you can just "help yourself" and just get over it (ditto for postpartum depression, although thankfully that wasn't my issue).  Most women get PTSD from their births, but I got mine from my pregnancy.  My birth was fast and uneventful.

As time goes on, I am slowly coming to terms with everything that happened and accepting it as part of my life story rather than letting it control my life.  I can now look at pregnant women without getting sad or anxious; I can eat almost everything (couscous, lasagna, and bean salad are still on my Do Not Touch list); and most importantly, I can think of having more children in the future without entering panic mode and breaking down into tears.  Just talking about my horrible experiences all the time has helped me sort of process them and learn to live with them, which is part of what this blog is for - getting my experiences out there in writing so that I can look back and see where I was and how far I've come.

Of course one can never know what future pregnancies will be like, but I am preparing for the worst and hoping for the best.  If I have to live through the hell of HG again, then at least I will be prepared physically and mentally as much as is possible.

So have I given up on helping myself?  No, and I never did.  I was just searching for the missing tools that I needed in order to work things out.

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