Thursday, January 10, 2013

Asking for HELLP

I come from a family that routinely downplays illness. My mother denied feeling ill up until the point that she cracked a rib coughing. I was raised with a sense that doctors were something to be avoided if at all possible and that most things could be made better simply by saying "oh, come on, it's not that bad. You're ok." This isn't to say that we didn't go to doctors - we did. There were trips to the ER for the normal bumps and bruises of childhood. But the relationship between illness and cure was always couched in terms that emphasized mind over matter. There was a tendency to minimize symptoms or just to ignore them in hopes that they would resolve. There is some value in this approach - certainly it can be harmful to run to the doctor at every small thing. Some things such as cold viruses need to just be waited out.

But this attitude nearly killed me. I didn't call my doctor when my symptoms certainly warranted it. I tried to wait it out. Of course, I also was ignorant of the possibility that they could all add up to something as insidious as HELLP syndrome or eclampsia. I struggle with that even now.

I made a promise to myself after my son was born that I would accept any and all help offered. I pretty much stuck to that. In the early days alot of people offered to help in specific and general ways. We had offers of babysitting, food, moral support, flowers, gifts, and other small gestures. I accepted help and was grateful. I still am.

But I missed out on an important part of the puzzle - I never learned to ask for help. I still have a big problem asking for help, even when I'm drowning in my own depression. Especially when I'm drowning. It's hard to ask for help. I floundered for 2 years before I pulled myself out of depression after my first son. After my second, I got help in the form of an antidepressant. I am grateful for that help - it shut down my anxiety and allowed me to function. But I never addressed the issues that caused the depression in the first place. I still have those issues.

Recently, I began therapy with my husband. We had gotten to a bad place and he forced the issue - but I'm glad in a way that he did. It has been extraordinarily rough these past few weeks. I'm stressed out and feeling raw. My anxiety is running high and I'm just not sure where everything will end up. I am holding on to the hope that this will end well. So, yes, now I am asking for help. I can't do this on my own.


  1. Wow. This speaks to me. Asking for help is not something I do either and it hurts me in the long run. I wish you success as you work on the issues. As someone who is also just starting to work on issues, it sucks and it's hard, but it is something we must do.

    1. Thank you, Denise. It seems that acknowledging depression and PTSD is not quite the same thing as dealing with it. Good luck to you to.