Tuesday, May 23, 2006

A Word About Therapy

Hi all! I'm back from the DC/NYC trip and it was super. Tomorrow I will swallow my last BCP and then wait for AF. Then maybe we'll get lucky and I'll have no ovarian cyst, and if I do we'll aspirate it and begin IVF injections next week.

So while I'm waiting to see how all that pans out, I thought I would share what I've been through over the past few weeks.

2 1/2 weeks ago I was sitting at dinner at my favorite sushi restaurant with my Hubs and some very close friends (another couple). In the middle of dinner with no warning, I felt a plunge of depression (or it might be described as a surge of anxiety - I am learning). I felt awful, couldn't finish my delicious meal, went to the bathroom with loose bowels and felt just hopeless. It wasn't that we were talking about anything specific (or were we?) or that I was thinking about anything I particular (or was I?) I just plunged. For the next 3 or 4 days after that, I was feeling bad, but never as bad as that initial plunge, but still bad. Depressed, anxious, hopeless. Most of all, fearful that I would continue to feel this way and not sure I could handle that.

So I went and got help. I got a referral to a coulple of therapists and I went to see one as soon as I could get in. It helped immensely. I have another appointment with her and one with another therapist later this week - they say it is good to see a few people and see who is the best fit.

I suspect that hormones played a part - a big cyst can cause some symptoms, I am told. And when I started the BCPs things got noticably better - but this was in concert with my getting professional help, so it's impossible to tell. But I remain vigilant about hormones and mental health. I remain fearful of injecting myself with the IVF drugs and also fearful of pregnancy and post-partum depressions and their hormonal connections. Part of my work will be dealing with these fears.

The first therapist I met with told me that fertility/IVF issues are second only to dealing with a death when it comes to stress levels. Moreso than a divorce, moreso than losing a job, moreso than other big life changes. (Relatively speaking, of course. Stress is different for everyone with every different situation. But it did put it in perspective.) We had a fruitful first session, and I won't go into grand detail except to say that I cried like a fountain the entire time and it felt great. And during my trip east, I also told my nuclear family about our struggles and about IVF. Reaction was tremendous. Understanding and quiet and centered on how they could support us best. This was a big breakthrough for me.

I am curious about your experiences. You, out there. My IVF/fertility issue friends. I know we often speak of loss, of stress of fear. I have read in your blogs about quite a few panic attacks and depressive episodes. I would really like to hear some positive stories about how you came through all this and felt peace again. Pregancy, baby or not.

If anyone is reading this who is feeling really bad mentally (maybe not all the time, but wish you were doing better), I cannot recommend enough the value of a mental-health professional. These folks seriously know what they're doing, and even though we feel very alone in these dark moments and can't imagine anyone else really understanding how we feel, they will tell you that there is enough similarity in how humans experience anxiety and depression that there are MANY things they can help us do to feel better.

I send you hugs and hope. (I know we sometimes hate hope, but I really don't see the point in living without it.)


sube said...

I'm glad you found someone you can talk to. I was struggling before my current cycle began and went to talk with a counselor. I don't think I would have made it through the cycle intact if I hadn't. And how wonderful about the support you received from your family. They do surprise you sometimes, don't they?

Thalia said...

I think your last point is incredibly important. Living without hope is not really living at all. I'm so glad you've found someone who can help. Well done for reaching out and making that happen.

Meg said...

Utrus - I'm really glad that you are feeling better... I've never been great with dealing with the ol' anxiety so this has been a crap time for me too. I know it's a cliche, but if we can get through this, we really can get through a hell of a lot of things. x

Jo said...

Great topic!

First IVF, I broke down at work in the bathroom, crying my eyes out for over an hour. I was a horrible mess and mentally just at the end of my rope. I called my RE who recommended a therapist that specialized in fertility issue, and was able to see her that day. She helped me understand my fears (I would not get pregnant and I hated my body for being broken) and helped me to express what I was feeling. I think we all have people close to us helping with the journey, but do our husbands/significant others really "feel" what we are feeling? I believe that having someone else to talk to that is not directly involved is one of the best things I did for myself. When that cycle ended ectopic, I was in a better place in my head to understand and later accept what happened.

I am seeing an acupuncturist now and I think he said it best yesterday.. "You need to accept that you will either be pregnant or you will not be. There are no guarantees on the outcome. You just need to be ok with that." It is a hard thing to do, but I actually do feel more relaxed thinking that way. I am doing all I can for me, the rest is out of my control.
I hope this makes sense, and sorry for horking so much space : )

Best of luck to you and here's too a cyst free appointment!

charlie's mom said...

Hugs and hope to you too. This experience is hard and it takes work. I have had lots of success with therapists as I've gone through this, but have been surprised to have hit a downward trend after I got pregnant. I am thinking about going again.

MoMo said...

I am glad you found someone to talk to...IF is such a hard thing to deal with. Unfortunately my family is not very supportive, but I find support thru my DH family, friends and all my blog sisters! I am thinking of you! Hugs!

Sarah said...

I'm so reluctant to go for counselling and yet I often regret it because part of me feels like it could really help. I guess I'm torn between admitting that I need help and feeling like I should be able to handle this without anyone else.

It was interesting to hear that IF is next to death in terms of stress. Of course, it feels that way for someone that is in it, but I don't think that people on the outside realize how stressful this is.

It is great that you feel better and still have some hope. Take care.

Anonymous said...

First, let me say I am SO glad that you were able to find someone to help and that you are feeling better. It takes a lot of courage to step into a counselor's office, no matter the reason.

Hubby and I began going to couples counseling a few months before we decided to pursue fertility testing/treatments. My problems with jealousy and anger were becoming so intrusive that it was beginning to take its toll on our relationship. We've continued going to this counselor throughout - she has known about our struggles and joys many times before any family or friends did. But having someone to help process all of the NATURAL feelings that accompany such a stressful time has been a life-saver, or a marriage-saver, take your pick.

The other thing that has helped me is feeling the freedom to discuss our situation with a few close friends and family - both in person and through my blog. Sometimes all I needed was someone to listen without offering assvice or stupid anecdotes, and I was blessed to recognize the people in our lives that could fill that role. I am certain there is NO WAY we could have made it this far with our sanity had we not had those people that we could lean on.

I'm sending many prayers of hope your way. Hugs!

beagle said...

Great post! I am glad you have found so much support both within your family and from a professional.

I too see a counselor that specializes in fertility issues. She herself has been through it. It helps to go as a coule if you can. It has helped me a lot, especially in my case where my family is not the type who can talk openly about these things.

For anyone considering psychotherapy I'd say shop around, get a referral if you can from your RE or from RESOLVE. A good therapist can be a huge help but like with anything, they're not all good.

Hugs back to you UtRus!

Mellie said...

Good for you for taking steps and finding support when you needed it most. This is such a hard journey that I do think having a team of people to rely on can only help. I'm also glad you shared the truth with your family. Having my close friends and family know what we've been doing and experiencing has been a big help. I think if I felt like I was hiding it from them it would only have compounded the stress.
And yes - you need to have hope. If hope is truly gone, then it must be time to move on to another plan.

Mary Ellen and Steve said...

I am glad that you found a good therapist, and are finding so much support in your family.

I have thought about seeing someone, but I think that part of me is afraid that would be weak.

I hope that this cycle is cyst-free and goes smoothly.


soralis said...

I am glad you found someone you can talk to... back after my second cycle that had failed I was in a very very bad place and I went to an infertility support group and it helped a lot!

I wish you luck with your cycle! Take care

seattlegal said...

I'm glad that you found someone to talk to about all this. I've been thinking about finding a therapist myself to go to along with my support group. I'm sure it will help.

Good luck with everything! Take care!

Lisa said...

I'm so glad that you've found support when you most needed it.

Thanks for sending the hugs, the hope and the positive feelings about professional help. I can use all those things.

Serenity said...

I am so glad that you have found the support you need. I have often thought about seeing a counselor, especially recently, but feel like devoting a full hour a week to talking about our IF is letting it win somehow.

I will say that we recently told my fantastic in-laws about our struggles, IVF, and subsequent m/c, and they have been amazing.

Thanks for the hugs and sharing this with us.

Sunny Jenny said...

I think the key for me is focusing on what I do have rather than what I don't have. That gives me persepcitve. Also thinking about all the people who are suffering in the world and I realize I am very blessed.

It's a process, learning how to cope with loss and grief as we move along keep me going.

x said...

I am with you on the therapy, I feel a million times better after talking to the clinic psychologist.

Lut C. said...

I went to see the fertility clinic's counselor a few weeks back.
She offers stress management therapy to IF patients. I found it very helpful.
I'm going back Monday for a second visit, unless the cycle interferes.

Anonymous said...

Hi! I totally relate to the horomone blues caused by ovarian cysts. I currently have 2 large one on my left ovary and 2 small ones on the right. I don't have PCOS. It makes me feel better to know I am not the only one growing cysts on the pill, I have done it numerous times! I am curious, have you ever been given a reason for growing them? My RE says he can't explain it and doesn't know why I grow them like I do. I have already had 4 surgeries for ovarian cysts. I was wondering if you have been offered any insight into why you keep getting them, because I know I sure haven't. I commend you for seeking the help of a therapist. I hope your next ultrasound shows no cysts and you can start a successful round of IVF. Thanks for visiting me earlier.

Bea said...

For me, I went through the bad and into some sort of patch where I seem to be able to cope - for the time being, at least.

However - it's not all yay me I can do it alone. I used the internet a great deal, and I guess I created an inner psychoanalyst from the wise words of those on whose shoulders I stand.

I think there is a time to push yourself, and a time to give yourself a break. A time to pretend everything's ok, and I time to admit it isn't.

For the last two weeks I've been pushing myself - and it helped. Today I needed a break - and I just stood up and took one.


Fertility Faux Pas said...

I had a lot of anxiety surrounding my IVF cycle. Instead of going to see a counselor (like I should have) I decided to "power through" on my own. I did a lot of yoga and acupuncture, which helped, but in hindsight I wish I had talked to someone. I think it would have made things much less scary if I had faced them rather than run from them.

Sounds like you are on the right track. Thinking of you and hoping for peaceful days to come...

Dawn said...

I know just what you are going through...I had to wait through two months of cysts before being able to start. They made me moody and emotional too. I'm seeing a counselor, taking antidepressants, and doing acupuncture and yoga to deal with all the stress. I have no clue why, but it was definitely the BCPs giving me cysts. Hold on you will make it through this! I'm thinking of you and saying a prayer for you. Thanks for the good wishes you sent my way. :)

Anonymous said...

"fertility/IVF issues are second only to dealing with a death when it comes to stress levels"

Truer words can't be found in our world. I worry a lot about how a BFN on this first IVF/ICSI will affect me - because I know I will need help. I went into this knowing it and will seek it out if it comes to that.

I'm so glad that you went to talk to someone and that your family has been supportive - both are invaluable.

Fingers crossed that the Queen of Postponement's regin is coming to an end.

ellie said...

Thanks for your sharing. I have been debating on this for some time- to see a counselor or not? Some days are better than others- and starting a blog helped me alot because I felt like at least I have some kind of outlet and I at least was not keeping it all in my head. I think your words have convinced me to step out into the world and chat with a professional real time- might help ease the stress of the ivf cycle process.


linda said...

I've had a great deal of depression over our IVF failures and often wake up in the middle of the night with anxiety over the entire situation. I have put off seeing a therapist because I haven't trusted that they could help with this matter, but maybe they can. Thanks for sharing this so that people like me can see that maybe it can help.

Anonymous said...

I think its time for us to consider your recommendation for a mental health professional. After three years of fertility battles, at least two miscarriages, and considering plastic surgery to maintain some sort or smile when the rest of the world announced pregnancies around us, we're at our wits end. We're in the IVF treatments right now, and the biggest body blow of my life came on the day of my sister-in-law-to-be's bridal shower. Guess what? She announces her pregnancy...Time for that call to the shrink, because our mental state is ticking down to oblivion...

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