I went to the doctor the other day and we were talking about my mental health. I told her I think I had a bit of SAD (seasonal affective disorder). Truth be told, it probably goes a lot deeper than SAD, but I was glad I finally asked for help.
Since October, I’ve had a couple of life altering changes. First, I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis (RA). I didn’t think it was arthritis when it began. The pain was in my shoulders. It was so bad at times that dressing myself took 20 minutes because I had to contort my body in odd fashion to get my tops on. I would cry, but I told myself that the pain would go away. There was no cause for concern. So, I lived with the pain for a month. But then, I realized that all my joints were swelling. I had braces from the drugstore on both hands and walking became so painful that I had to end the denial.
When I went in to my fabulous primary care physician, she shook her head at me because I told her I’d been in pain for over a month. She remarked that my whole body appeared to be inflamed. We talked about all my health issues. She told me she was going to run some tests. I went back a few weeks later to be told I have RA. She said usually the tests will show some level of the protein that indicates a positive result for RA, but mine was through the roof. She said it was highly unlikely to be a false positive. She prescribe a short term dose of prednisone and an anti-inflammatory. When the prednisone ended, the pain came back and so did the inflammation. I ended up taking prednisone for 6 weeks. I’m not sure if it was my normal reaction to prednisone of my mild depression that set me up to start comfort eating, but soon, I had gained 20 pounds. For a woman who is already overweight, the weight gain has been devastating.
In early November, my daughter’s other parent got laid off causing immediate financial hardship for us. Our daughter is in the middle of a few growth spurts and it’s been hard enough to keep her clothed with child support. Without it, things seem hopeless. But of course, this is only temporary, at least I hope. My relationship with the ex and money are not even close to positive. So let’s just say, I am praying and hoping for the best.
Last week, my doctor and I talked at our monthly appointment and I was finally honest with myself. I was losing control of my emotions. I had thoughts that were not good for myself. I was losing my self-esteem. I was blowing up like a balloon. And my family, while they are supportive, they are very critical about being “emotional”. Some, not all, believe I can’t afford to be sad. So, I am taking control by taking an antidepressant. If this doesn’t work, the next step is therapy.
In order to be the best mother I can, I must take care of my mental health. There are no ifs and or buts about it. I am so glad that I don’t care about the stigma attached to mental health. When I just can’t do it myself anymore, I reach out for help.