Wednesday, February 16, 2011

A plea to the husbands/mates/parents/etc....

Not sure what really made me sit and write this post, but I really feel like it is something that needs to be said... 

This post is for the husbands/mates, the parents, etc. of the women out there who are dealing with all of this.  I've heard so many heartbreaking stories from women whose marriages/relationships ended during this "post Mirena" time in their lives.  This woman was "different", and it simply became more to handle than some wanted.  What is so sad is that these women could get better one day, wake up, and realize that her family is gone--It's too late for her to show her loved one that the nightmare is over....and now, when she can finally have her life back (and they can have the "old her" back)...she's alone.  Husbands/Mates, Family members...I just want to "talk" to you for a bit.  This is vitally important for you to read.  Let's chat, okay?

(Ladies, if you feel like a loved one is struggling with all of this, PLEASE sit him down in front of this screen.  Maybe it will help to have him "listen" to someone's else's first-hand account of what is going on with you.  I hope it helps.)

When I was in the middle of my Mirena battle, I was truly at one of the weakest points of my entire life, and it lasted a year and a half.  I was so sick....and I was TERRIFIED of what was happening to me.   I spent months hiding how bad it was because I was embarrassed to admit that I was unable to "get a grip" on myself.  And, as I said in a previous post, to verbalize it made it true...and I didn't want to admit that it was.  I wanted desperately to just "get over it" and move on.  I quickly realized, however, that it simply wasn't that easy.  I was horribly ill.  I was at a point in my life when I needed my loved ones more than ever before.  After my ordeal was over, I sat down with my husband to truly get the insight of the one who walked through this experience with me.  I wanted him to be completely honest...and he was.  But more importantly, he was THERE to have the conversation with me because he CHOSE to stay and fight alongside his wife.  It didn't mean that he didn't have his doubts in the beginning.  It didn't mean that he never got frustrated.  He was as confused as I was for a long time....but he chose to trust me.

With all of that being said, let me begin by validating YOUR toughts out there as the loved ones in this situation:
  • I know how confusing this is for you.  You are looking at this woman, and she doesn't seem anywhere close to the woman that you once knew.
  • It seems like there is a new problem every week.  You are catching yourself actually doubting whether or not she is telling the truth....or if it is really as bad as she is saying that it is.  You wonder, "Is she overexaggerating, being overly dramatic?" 
  • She seems lazy.....unorganized.....unmotivated.....
  • You may wonder if this is worth it.  "I didn't sign up for this.".....  "Will she ever come back to me?"
Let me do the best that I can to address all of this as a woman who went through it and is now on the other side.  Again, I'm not going to sugar coat anything here because my purpose here is to be realistic.  It may also come across a bit like "rambling" because I have come to realize that, no matter how hard I try, I will truly never be able to accurately verbalize to the correct extent what it is like to be in that nightmare, so I can only do the best that I can.  Imagine, if you will, that I am that woman in your pleas are hers.  She may not be to the point where she can accurately explain things because she is still just trying to make it through the day without falling apart.  It took me awhile after I was better to be able to really compartmentalize everything and put words to what I went through, what I was thinking, and what I needed from that loved one in my life.   I ask that you PLEASE be open and receptive to what I am saying.  Put any frustration and anger towards your situation aside and just "listen".  This is probably one of the most important blog entries that I will ever write.

Here we go:

Your wife/loved one doesn't seem anywhere close to the woman that you married/once knew.  You feel like she's gone.  She doesn't smile like she used to.  She doesn't embrace life like she used to.  She doesn't react to you like she used to.  You're right--she doesn't.  But, let me make something perfectly clear:  SHE IS IN THERE.  She isn't lost...she hasn't "changed"....  She is TRAPPED in there--in a body and in a mind that SHE CAN'T MAKE WORK. 

If that didn't soak in...please read the above paragraph again...and again....and again....

That is what is so scary about all of this.  I remember thinking that it would almost be easier if I would have lost my mind enough that I didn't know what was happening--become dilusional.  That's not what happens, though--at least not with me...and not with all of other women that I've talked to about this.  SHE KNOWS THAT SOMETHING IS HORRIBLY WRONG.  Believe me, I knew that I was in big trouble LONG before I had the test results in my hand that showed I had been poisoned.  She knows that she looks all kinds of messed up.  She KNOWS that she didn't get anything done that day, or that she reacted badly to you, or she seems incapable of functioning properly.  Trust me...SHE KNOWS...and she is in there praying that she was different.  She knows that she isn't okay, but she can't help what is happening.  She may yell or cry at something that would normally not even affect her.  And you know what?  She is in there thinking, "What in the world was that?  What is wrong with me?"  I can't even begin to explain how many times I verbally snapped at my daughter for something silly or felt intense anger toward my husband when he didn't even do anything other than walk in the room...and so in order to make sure that I never said or did anything that I would regret, I would just go to another room until that feeling went away.  I can't tell you the number of hours I spent in my son's nursery, crying and rocking back and forth in the glider until some awful feeling or symptom passed and I could rejoin the world.  I couldn't simply stop feeling that way at that matter how hard I tried.  I knew that it was "wrong", I knew that it wasn't me, but I was completely unable make it go away.  That, my friends, is TERRIFYING when you don't know if it is ever going to stop.  I describe it best when I say that is honestly like feeling like being buried alive.  The "real" you is in there, screaming to get out of this shell that doesn't work right, can't think are still fully "awake" down in there...watching yourself crumble, overreact, fall apart, on the outside.  You are doing everything in your power to break though and change what she is doing, but you can't.  I know that sounds impossible.  It's not.  It's TORTURE. 

Imagine living in a mind and body that you aren't in control of anymore...but yet you are still deep down in there watching it happen and begging to GET OUT.  That is where she is right now.  She's fine one moment...and then she's not.  But, it has nothing to do with the fact that she is "gone" or "changed".  She's there, trapped...and fighting to regain herself again.  That is her LIFE right now....a constant battle of ups and downs, juggling symptoms and her own fear.  I felt like my daily success was determined on how well I was able to "fake" being okay.  Some days, I did great.  Some days, I would crumble multiple times.  But, I can tell you that I was just as much "IN THERE" on the crumbling days as on the other ones.  Those were just the days that the sickness and symptoms were too strong for me--no matter how hard I fought against them--and I was fighting constantly with everything in me. 

Think about how proud you are.  We are proud, too.  It's embarrassing and VERY difficult to admit that you aren't strong enough to beat something.  We are wives, mothers, career women...we are used to multi-tasking everything, and suddenly it is too much to unload the dishwasher or make a grocery list.    This woman in your life is scared to death....because she doesn't know why it is happening or when it is going to happen again.  I felt like I was living in limbo between being in the middle of some sort of anxiety or adenaline attack or being so scared as I waited and wondered when the next one was going to hit.  I'm telling you....that's not living.  I was juggling anxiety attacks, my brain being so foggy that I couldn't form a thought, my mind was darting all over the place 24/7, my heartbeat would become irregular, I would lose the ability to feel or use my hands, my vision deteriorated, I would go multiple days with no sleep, I felt like I couldn't breathe, and EVERYTHING was too overwhelming to handle...and that is just some of the symptoms I had.   My point is, during all of this, I was completely "me" the whole time....I WANTED to do all of these all these things.  I was just trapped way down in there and physically and/or mentally COULDN'T do it.  At those bad times, no amount of wanting to be okay made me strong enough to be so.

As far as the "Is it really that bad" question.  This the the easiest question that I've ever answered.  YES.  It's worse.  I remember wishing at times that I had the ability to just grab my husband's hand and, for those brief moments, make him be able to feel EXACTLY what I was.  It had nothing to do with me wanting him to was a need to know that he understood how horrible it felt at that moment.  I knew that I couldn't explain it anywhere close to how it really was, and I knew that if I could JUST somehow transfer it over to him through my hand, he would NEVER have to doubt or wonder again.  That may sound strange, but I thought that a lot:  "If I could just get him to REALLY know what it is like in here....just for a moment suffer this hell....he would never give up until I was okay again."

The reason that I'm writing this has nothing to do with trying to emphasize the "doom and gloom" aspect of all of this.  What I'm trying to do is make it clear that, right now, this woman NEEDS YOU more than ever before.  She needs your strength and your comfort because, at this moment, she has none of her own.  This is truly a time that she is depending on the "In sickness and in health" vow, husbands.  Don't give up on her.  Don't leave her.  Fight for her because she is fighting, too....with everything she's got. 

BE THERE.           BELIEVE IN HER.            TRUST HER.          SHE NEEDS YOU.

I remember many nights when I would be lying there at 3:00 in the morning because I couldn't sleep, and I would just sit up and stare at my husband while he slept.  I would cry and I would plead over and over in my head, "Please don't leave me. I promise that I'm in here, and I'm trying to get back to all of you.  Please don't give up on me." 

I'm actually crying as I write this because I remember those nights all too well, and just writing about it brings those feelings of desperation back.

I was one of the lucky ones.  My parents believed me--it was through their help that I was able to do the detox in the first place.  I had a husband who, even though he admittedly doubted in the beginning, chose to believe me and fight for his wife.  He literally dropped to the kitchen floor with me once and didn't get up until I did.  He would sometimes just hug me and let me cry.  He openly admits that, in the beginning--before we knew about the silicone poisoning, the damage to my hormone levels, or the Mirena in general being the problem, he was frustrated and doubtful when he would hear about some new "issue" every week and see that nothing was getting done.  You know what, though?  I don't blame him.  It's hard to believe the unbelievable.  This is not a normal situation....but I promise you, gentlemen, it is VERY real.  NO WOMAN would fake that kind of torture for that long.

It's okay to be frustrated.  This affects you, too--it's your family and the woman you love.  However, you can still chose to be the man that she desperately needs you to be right now.  Be a rock for her--some strength for her to hold on to.  BE UNDERSTANDING and BE LOVING.  Don't be mad at her.  Be mad at what this thing did to her. SHE didn't do this to you. Always remember where the blame belongs.  Like I said, she needs you right now more than she has ever needed you before, and trust me when I say that she feels guilty enough for how this has taken her away from her loved ones and her "duties."  I knew that it wasn't my fault, and yet I still felt enormous guilt every day for what I was unable to do, unable to be, for my family.  PLEASE BE THERE.  I truly believe that is one of the reasons that I was able to keep fighting as hard as I did.  Once I finally opened up to my loved ones about what I was going through, I was no longer alone in my fight.  That means more to me than anyone can ever imagine.  I held on to that EVERY SINGLE DAY.

Now, I don't want to end this post with such a negative feeling.  Let me take this time to remind you that I am writing this as a woman who beat this thing...who came back...who is the woman that I used to be.  My husband will attest to it.  He was just smiling ear-to-ear the other day when, during the kids' naps, I was outside doing yard work with him.  I was pulling weeds while we were listening to music, and I was singing and dancing around to the tunes like the big dork that he fell in love with six years ago.  He just smiles and says, "It's so great to have you back."  I agree.  It's good to be back.  I'm happy, I'm healthy, and I'm blessed.  My husband and I fought this together, and we are truly stronger now than we have EVER been.  Honestly.

This can be your story, too.  There IS an end to this...and it can be a happy ending,  I'm proof of that.  Just don't give up on her.  That is your sweetheart in there....and she needs you.

My prayers are with your marriage and family during this time.  Be strong--you can make it.