I finally managed to see my primary care doctor yesterday about the stomach/back/belly pain I've been experiencing. Since I saw her partner for a sick appointment the last time, I had to bring her up to speed on the whole scenario of what happened and what tests I've had so far. Every test has been normal, yet the pains persist.
Of course she asked me what my level of stress has been. I said, "Heh," and briefly outlined what's been going on my personal life for the last three years. She gasped here and there, and stated that it sounded like a traumatizing level of stuff. In addition to giving me a referral to a gastroenterologist, she suggested I should take antidepressants and possibly seek more counseling, since I haven't gone to any therapy since right before Little A's birth.
I expected she'd refer me to a GI doc, but the antidepressant discussion totally threw me. I get that GI problems are often linked to anxiety and stress. I'm absolutely sure some part of my stomach problems are stress, given that they began around the time of Little A's lung CT scan. And I appreciate being asked how I'm coping.
BUT ... the thing is, my doctor didn't actually ask how I was doing. She just listened and said, "You look really sad and tired. And when you were just talking, your body was really tense. You just don't look well. I think you should seek psychological counseling and possibly medication to help your mental state."
"Um ... I am tired," I stammered. "I've been up since five a.m. with my sick toddler. And I'm in pain. For three months."
"Wabi," she said. "I worry that you're a boiling frog."
I wasn't aware of the analogy, so I asked her to explain it.
"If you put a frog in a pot of boiling water, he'll try to jump out immediately. But if you put him in a pot of cold water and warm it up gradually, you can boil that frog alive and he'll just lay there and let you."
My mouth dropped open. There was so much I wanted to say, but it was all jammed up behind a huge WHAT THE FUCK that had to come out first. So I just took the referral and left, mulling and simmering for the rest of the day.
Seriously though, WHAT THE FUCK?
1) Is she saying that I'm a retarded frog just happily paddling around the boiling water, completely oblivious to the roil? Because I kind of recall telling her that I was well aware I was under lots of stress.
2) Doesn't the frog die in either scenario of the analogy?
I bet I did look stressed telling about my life. But frankly, it would have been a little bit less awkward and, well, stressful if my doctor seemed to have any memory of our last exchange about these subjects. Because we've talked about my medical history before. Then I must have done a better job at keeping my voice from cracking, because the other time her reaction was, "SQUEEEEE! Weird medical mishaps -- tell me all the details!"
Which was also disconcerting. For different reasons.
I'm the first to admit that the last couple months I haven't been twirling on a mountaintop singing with Julie Andrews. Aside from a fabulous summer, 2008 sucked. And lord knows, I've got my scars and mental tics. But I also don't drink heavily, snort coke, or smoke anything. I don't beat the kids or daydream about driving my car into the ocean. I'm basically ok. Functionally disfunctional, and cracking jokes along the way. Enjoying the kids and trying my best.
I thought I was some sort of a success at this. Moving on and getting over. And then she went and decreed I wasn't. It made me wonder if I was completely dellusional -- am I just telling myself I'm ok, when I'm really hanging by a thread?
So ... What is your idea of "good mental health" after a trauma and a tragedy? Do you have to be able to talk about it 100 percent of the time without feeling it? Do you have to stop thinking about it, or just stop minding that you think about it?