This Is What Happened When My Therapist Didn't Understand Endometriosis
I value my mental health enormously. I believe that stress and anxiety can affect my flare-ups, dictating the severity of my physical symptoms. Since my early twenties, I have seen many mental health professionals. Some were great and helped me a lot, others not so much. When it came to my endometriosis, one therapist unwittingly caused more damage than good.
During one of our sessions, a few years ago, I complained about my low energy and painful limbs. I was frustrated at the disruptive nature of my flare-ups, and not being able to reignite my career. My therapist asked about my seeming lack of motivation. They thought I was relying too much on the comfort I had back then. I was surrounded by love and support and had my bills covered. My therapist wondered whether this was a hindrance.
Then, the most important person in my life heard this, and somewhat agreed: “Maybe if you didn’t have me caring for you, you’d be pushed to flourish by yourself”
I took those statements as facts
My mind went wild, overthinking it all. As time went by, my anxiety intensified, and I began suffering from excruciating levels of guilt. Then came the shame. If the people that I trusted the most believed I was “not motivated enough”, wouldn’t everybody else see me as a slacker?
I soon convinced myself that the person with whom I shared my life, was too good for me. Surely, I was an imposter, unworthy of their love, their care, their companionship. I grew frustrated with my body, and myself.
Now, things are much different, but not as predicted
Exiting that alleged “comfort zone” has left me struggling to pay bills. I live by myself. I can’t drive to any medical appointments because I can’t afford the four wheels that would make my life easier. Last week, I cried whilst carrying my groceries uphill. In severe pain, I came close to collapsing. I felt ancient and unloveable.
Being by myself hasn’t meant finding my dreams or a successful career. I live in a tiny studio with leaks and mold, struggling more than I ever did before. Yet what I miss, is not the comfort I had, but the emotional support and love.
The irony of it all is that I haven’t become more motivated because I've always been a fighter. I never stopped applying for jobs, saying yes to any work proposal. I am still "hustling", as hard as my health allows.
That therapist knew nothing of my disease
Chronic fatigue is not a lack of motivation. Symptoms like heavy limbs, migraines, and brain fog are real. Endometriosis also comes with a level of physical pain that makes many patients unable to hold down precious jobs.
While I believe my former therapist meant well, their words turned me into an insecure, guilt-ridden person. They also damaged the precious relationship I had beyond repair.
Any therapy must be done with a lot of care
My current therapist has inquired about my symptoms, so they can be mindful of how they affect my daily existence. They also believe my chronic fatigue is real, and that makes me feel incredibly supported. However, the most important thing they keep telling me is to not take their words as absolute truths. I am now encouraged to express what's inside of me, what feels right or wrong, and believe in my own power.
This has made me realize how incredibly essential it is to listen to our guts when having therapy.
My low self-esteem prevented me from speaking up
I should have told that therapist how wrong they were. Being afraid to communicate this was a massive red flag that should have been addressed.
A therapist that understands chronic illness is worth every cent
It took me too long to realize I needed a different therapist. I stuck to that one out of loyalty, but also because they had been extremely helpful with other aspects of my treatment. I wish I would have voiced my concerns sooner. They were clueless about my disease and my experience. The truth was inside of me.
A positive result from this ordeal is that, while sometimes I still need to remember to speak up, I've become much more confident. More than ever, I believe the person with the most knowledge of my experience, my disease, and my mental health, is me.
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