When faced with a life changing and/or potentially life threatening diagnosis it is inevitable that one may experience sadness, anger, fear, denial, anxiety, worry, hopelessness, and helplessness. The combination of these emotions can quickly send one into depression. Each individual experiences these emotions differently, and subsequently handles it differently. Some of us bottle up our emotions and some immediately want to release. Some pray and use spirituality to cope. Some discover the power of prayer in their darkest hour. Having PCOS, there are many highs and lows due to the unpredictable symptoms. Some days I feel OK and other days I’m in pain and feeling out of sorts. Before I got my PCOS under control, I found that I needed to release my emotions…holding it in was making me sicker both mentally and physically. Although I firmly believe in the power of prayer, I felt it was important to seek some extra help… some outside counsel to cope. Seeking this help was not only for me, but for my family and friends too.
I went through a period of depression and denial during my journey. I was feeling so many different emotions. I was afraid I was going to develop other chronic illnesses due to PCOS. I was afraid I wasn’t going to ever have my own biological children. I felt alone because no one else understood my condition. I felt misunderstood because from the outside I looked fine, but I was really terribly sick. I really felt like my body was betraying me. What was worse my doctor, as sweet as she is, only offered me a pill to manage my symptoms but there was no guidance on how to achieve a better quality of life after my diagnosis. I was so overwhelmed by it all. My amazing husband, my mom, and a few close friends were the only ones that knew about my condition at this time. I would often vent to them to unload this weight I was carrying. They would offer words of encouragement and offer their prayers. Although they meant well, I still felt emotionally crippled and I’m sure they felt overwhelmed by it all too. After awhile I decided I needed an outside source of counsel to help me cope and work out these emotions.
Going to therapy was one of the best decisions I had made for myself and for my relationships. I was blessed to have a counselor with the same faith base as me, so it was a perfect match. After seeing her I was able to cope with my emotions more effectively. I began having more good days than bad. Moreover, I wasn’t dumping my “stuff” onto my friends and family. Don’t get me wrong, I know my family and friends love me and wanted to be there for me. However, it can also be a lot for family and friends to cope, especially if they know they can’t really help or fix the issue. I remember my husband telling me (during my bouts with depression) that it hurt him because he knew he couldn’t help me…he couldn’t fix it. When you think about it, it’s not really fair to our loved ones. Venting some is ok and healthy, but if most conversations seem to lead back to your condition it can become overwhelming. We’re all going through something…but constantly pouring all of your feelings onto your family and friends my leave them feeling helpless and emotionally drained.
I’ve always been an advocate of counseling/therapy. I know there is a lot of stigma connected to going to a therapist. Some see it as a sign of weakness, some believes it shows a lack of faith, some are afraid they’ll be perceived as “crazy”, and some feel it’s taboo to share their problems with an outside source. Those thoughts are absolutely FALSE. You owe it to yourself and your loved ones to release any emotions that may be holding you back from living optimally after a diagnosis. Going to a therapist allows you to work out your feelings in a healthy way, in a safe and confidential environment.
When seeking counseling there are l different options. My job has an EAP (Employee Assistance Program) option. I had six free counseling sessions per year. Once I used all of my sessions, I used my insurance and paid the co-pay. In addition to EAP, you can talk to your spiritual leader, a faith based counselor, a family counselor, or go to group therapy. Joining support groups with individuals that have the same condition is also helpful. Some also find that listening to music, exercising, journaling, crafting, or enjoying a new hobby also helps.
We’re a whole body and it is so important to care for ourselves head to toe when faced with a diagnosis. If you’re feeling a sense of being overwhelmed, feeling isolated and alone please speak up and talk to someone. For optimal recovery and life after a diagnosis it’s imperative that you are caring for yourself in totality – mind, body, and soul.