Sunday, June 29, 2008

asking for help

Growing up with a mother as a therapist, I never doubted the efficacy or necessity of therapy, nor did I ever attach any sort of stigma to therapy.

Why, then, can it still be so hard to ask for help?

I've seen therapists four times in my life now. The first was over a summer while I was in college, to cope with some issues I had with my father. The second and third were during college, for much the same reason. The fourth was last summer, when I saw a counselor through my Employee Assistance Program (EAP). I had three sessions covered completely by my insurance, and needed a "boost" to get through the combination of neverending illness and the big life change of DBF moving in with me.

I have no doubt that traditional psychotherapy has helped me very much in the past. I have mild depression when my migraines are in a bad cycle, which has been particularly tenacious now that my migraines are really out of control. But I still put off calling my new EAP for a therapy referral for months.

It can be really difficult to ask for help. It's hard enough to ask DBF for help, to get me a glass of water, to make me some tea or even to come to the doctor with me. It's even harder to make a phone call to find a therapist. Is there something wrong with me, that I can't cope with this on my own?

Of course not.

Chronic illness is difficult to cope with because of its chronic nature. Chronic means, it isn't just going to go away after one treatment. It means, in my case, I will always be a migraineur. This disease is something I will always have to manage, whether with aggressive treatments and preventives, or simple relaxation techniques and acute treatment.

My particular situation has been difficult because I've had constant, daily migraine pain since sometime in November. Before that, I had daily pain from migraines or chronic daily headache. I've been in some sort of daily pain for two years now, since I first titrated off the Topamax I took all through college. Daily pain and generally feeling sick from my other migraine symptoms is enough to wear anyone down. The depression hand-in-hand with the migraines is, well, depressing.

Plus, I'm young. I'm at a time in my life when I'm establishing my career and social life. I moved to a whole new state just two years ago, where I've had to establish new ties and a new life. Balancing this with coping with chronic illness is too much for me at times.

Nothing I'm saying here I didn't know. It was still difficult for me to pick up the phone and call my EAP. But I've done it, and I feel better already. Hopefully I can get my first therapy appointment before DBF and I leave for vacation on Thursday.

Ah, yes. Vacation. DBF and I are going away for a week to our company's timeshare condo right on a lake only a few hours from here. We plan to have a relaxing week away, and since it's just the two of us, there's no pressure. The condo has a kitchen, so sticking to my restrictive diet shouldn't be too much of a problem.

So that's where I am. Therapy = good. Vacation = awesome.

Be well,


Diana Lee said...

Finding the right therapist is such a wonderful thing. I was so lucky to find mine just over a year ago. I honestly don't know what I'd do without her.

Eileen said...

Honey - I know how difficult it can be to ask for help. I am a "I'll do it myself" girl too.

I hope you have luck finding someone you can work with. A good therapist is worth their weight in gold.

I hope you have a great, relaxing, soothing, stress free vacation. You deserve it. I hope it is a wonderful time for you!!!

Much love my dear!

rain gem said...

Nothing wrong with being reluctant to ask for help - most of us, migraine people, learn to be more or less self-sufficient in dealing with our pain.

Think about it this way - you might find a therapist who'd understand. This way you'll have more people who can relate to what you are going through. That alone might be worth the effort :P

Have fun on vacation!

Leslie said...

Thanks for your nice comment, MJ!

I really related to this post. This is something I have struggled with, as well. And honestly, I applaud you for talking about it here. It is one of the subjects I have kind of avoided on my blog.

Hope you are well!


Glenn Stewart Coles said...
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