EDS, EMETOPHOBIA & MOTHERHOOD...OH MY!
EDS, EMETOPHOBIA & MOTHERHOOD...OH MY!
I am very aware that right now I’m living the dream in California but you can be living the dream on the outside while still struggling on the inside. That makes it even harder to talk about because you should be happy all the time, right?!? Wrong!! On the outside I might look like I’ve got all my shit together but you should never judge a book by the cover. I live in the sunshine with my husband and two kids, I work part time around the kids school hours, (which are much shorter over here), I am attempting to write a novel in my very little spare time, and I have friends, but life is still tough.
I have Ehlers Danlos Syndrome which means I have faulty connective tissue, which can result in pain, sprains, fatigue, brain fog, ibs and anxiety, and that’s just a small number of the many symptoms. In California the pain is less frequent because of the sunshine, it’s amazing how much better your joints work when you are warm but it hasn’t disappeared and if I push myself too much I end up in bed for a few days because the exhaustion is like nothing I can explain. You know what though, I honestly feel like the EDS is the least of my problems. The thing that affects my life much more is my anxiety and specifically my phobia. I have emetophobia which is a phobia of vomiting and it is like a huge black cloud that hangs over my life. I feel like it stops me being who I want to be, it controls me. I know it’s crazy to most people, it’s stupid, it’s irrational and if I could just switch it off then life would be so much easier. It keeps me awake at night worrying about the kids getting sick or nights out with friends who might drink too much. Car journeys with my daughter, who gets car sick, are so difficult for me that I sometimes feel like I might pass out as the panic attack takes over. I try so hard to hide it but in doing so I seem like the fun police or I get frustrated in my inability to control situations or I get angry as I take everything so personally. It makes me question everything about me, why can’t I just be normal.
So as if EDS and emetophobia weren’t hard enough, especially the fact that they are both invisible illnesses, you throw in being a Mum of two just to make life a thousand times harder. I adore my kids and honestly they are really good kids, but I’ve never found motherhood easy. I can’t cook (although I’ve been improving recently), I’m really messy (also been improving on this after attending a course called clutterology), I’m probably not much fun because I don’t want to drive more than 20 mins away in case someone’s sick and I have low patience levels (often a combination of pain, anxiety and just the way I was made). I feel sorry for my poor kids, thank goodness my husband is fun!
When they started school in Hove life got even harder. I was thrown into a situation where I felt like I was back at school. Again not being one of the cool girls and forced to stand on the sidelines and listen to them discussing their nights out that I wasn’t invited to. These women that you see five days a week like you enough to add you on their Facebook but not enough to invite you to the gatherings they are showing off all over Facebook. I think that’s why I generally feel a little uncomfortable with the terms used a lot these days on social media like ‘my tribe’ or ‘girl gang’ because to me they don’t feel inclusive. It’s all giggles and prosecco if you’re part of the tribe but what if you’re not? I know you can’t be friends with everyone but social media often highlights the fact that to some people you are a mere spectator in their lives. I am not saying that anything was intentional on the part of these women, I’m sure mostly they are oblivious to the way their actions made me feel and I have no doubt that a lot of it was perpetuated by feelings of low self worth on my part, but none the less, it still hurt. So, when we were given the chance to move to California a year ago, I was looking forward to escaping. I do still have some amazing friends back there but when you get to the stage where you have a constant feeling of dread surrounding the school drop off and pick up, it kind of consumes you.
I arrived here with a closed heart. I was so wary of people that I honestly tried to keep my distance at first, but very quickly I made friends, good friends that I am very grateful for. Friends that lift me up and accept me.
I had Cognitive Behavioral Therapy about five years ago and it did wonders for me but I’ve been slipping backwards over the last two years so I have signed up to start again because I am determined not to let this affect my kids. I don’t want it to stop them living the adventurous life they deserve. Then maybe one day, when I’ve got a grip on my phobia and anxiety, I can stop being so hard on myself.
WRITTEN BY HELEN BLICK
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Women talking unashamedly about their mental health and parenting innit.