It was a long car ride with a sleeping toddler that gave me a moment of reflection. These moments are few and far between because my mind doesn’t stop. It has never stopped. My high school theater teacher told me that I wear all my emotions on my face and looking at me is like watching a roller coaster ride. I was proud of it then, but I’m ambivalent to that now.
That car ride let me pause to think about my madness. It is something that is on the forefront of my mind about once every week. It sits there like a paper cut. I can ignore it until I move my finger just the wrong way, then it sends a twinge of pain to my brain – reminding me that I’m not healed yet.
I’ve taken two paragraphs to introduce the concept of my post-partum anxiety. My child is three. He uses the word “actually” and encourages me to give him his way by asking me to “think about saying yes” to his requests. This boy is doing simple math and I’m still dealing with post-partum anxiety. I want more children, but I haven’t gotten pregnant yet. And then I don’t want more children because my brain never recovered from having the first. It’s this back and forth and it’s constant.
But that drive. It was so quiet.
In that car I decided to own my situation. I am medicated and I can go off my medication, but my anxiety will run rampant. It just annoys my husband and it doesn’t let me enjoy the small pleasures of life. Instead of sitting on the couch watching Bachelor in Paradise, I’m thinking of all the better ways I could be spending my time, or even worse, the thousands of dreadful things that could happen to my peacefully sleeping child…while he is sleeping.
I made the decision to own this.
I am someone living with post-partum anxiety.
In that car I thought of the opportunities my anxiety actually gave me. In attempts to distract myself from all that I could not control, my anxiety let me focus on my work. I received a new energy in figuring out this puzzle of pelvic pain. I dove into the “why” of this and the “why” of that. I reconsidered all the things that were “no’s” and the “impossible’s”. I started asking new questions. I grew some balls and started questioning doctors. I started researching and reading more. It was exhausting for my husband to witness. I wanted to be in control of something and my knowledge and my skills were something I could definitely control. Instead of becoming anorexic, I became aggressive.
In that car I realized that I truly am a born again therapist. To understand what that means, you have to understand that being a provider for patients in pain can be draining. We want our patients to get better, but we also understand that there is so little known about pelvic pain. It’s frustrating for everyone involved. We give so much of ourselves to our patients in listening and treating and thinking that we do burn out easily. It’s not something providers want patients to know, but Lord it is the truth. I was there. Before my maternity leave, I honestly thought I couldn’t do this work any more. I felt that way because I felt stuck in my treatments. I wasn’t asking enough questions. I wasn’t contacting enough people. I wasn’t reading enough material. When you don’t do that, you burn out more easily. My anxiety pushed me to fuel my fire. With the birth of my son came the birth of a new professional. Cheesy? Yes. Do I care? No. (Well, maybe a little.)
In that car I understood that from my anxiety came Blog About Pelvic Pain. And from Blog About Pelvic Pain came Alcove Education. And from Alcove Education I am able to reach more people with pelvic pain. And I get to teach! I’ve always loved to teach. My post-partum anxiety (note that I say “My”) opened a lot of doors.
I keep it under control and I laugh about it. My anxiety is a secret to no one. I really do own this – and lots of Sertraline. When my family asks me about something that they know is a little trigger for me, I tell them “I’m on 150mg, it’s cool.” This probably makes everyone around me a little uncomfortable. But, I could care less. That is one thing I refuse to get anxious about.
Pelvic pain isn’t like post-partum anxiety in a lot of ways. But, it is something that no one wants. It is something that many people don’t understand. It is isolating. And it is something that can go away.
I’m not saying that pelvic pain should be “owned” or “accepted” or “ignored”. I’m not saying that there is no hope. There is hope. There is a lot of hope. And I believe all pelvic pain can be resolved, with the right care.
But, what I want to know is this:
In a moment of reflection, what would you learn about your pain?
If you have any questions or comments, please leave them anonymously in the comment section below or email me at Sara@Sullivanphysicaltherapy.com