“Child-Free” — The Choice and the Pressure on Women

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Izaya Orihara by Anna Vanes ©

A woman who chooses not to have children faces being questioned and doubted by friends, colleagues, family and strangers. When mental health difficulties play a part in this decision, the questioning and doubting can take on a more intrusive nature.

The blogger, whose post, “Child-free,” is linked below, describes her frustration with dealing with, apparently, well-meaning proponents of reproduction: “We’re not having children,” I’d say. I thought the women who were asking would understand as most of them were mothers and would get that parenting wasn’t for everybody, but very few were accepting of the fact that I didn’t want to be a mother. I’d get responses like “Oh, you’re still young enough to change your mind”, “You’ll change your mind”, “Never say never”, “Its different when it’s your own!”, and other responses that suggested that my non-existent maternal switch would magically flip on one day and I’ll be crazy for babies.

One by one, she retorts to the common urgings she hears: “Other women have tried convincing me they used to be just like me until they took an embryo to the uterine lining. I highly doubt any of them had tokophobia (on top of depression, anxiety, and Asperger’s) that brings on horrific nightmares about being pregnant, sensory issues with children screaming or crying, a stockpile of Plan B just in case a regular birth control pill is missed due to human error, and a plan to abort if the oral contraceptives and condoms fail.”

Some women do choose to raise families whilst experiencing mental health difficulties, such as social anxiety symptoms. The choice is a personal one which involves a look at a range of factors from severity of symptoms to financial situation, to the most crucial, preference: “The world acts like pregnancy is the best thing a woman can experience and that it is the ultimate bringer of joy. It’s 2020: Isn’t it about damn time we stop pretending that children are these magical creatures that bring eternal happiness to everyone and just accept that not all women are going to find having them rewarding?”

Society’s expectation that all women have children and become mothers is deep-rooted and, inevitably, must relate to an innate desire to reproduce that many have. One wonders, however, if, in part, it is, also – especially, in the case of nosey strangers – a desire to see women occupied by childcare and not challenging society’s mores and power structures – which they supposedly will find more easy if child-less.

To read the full blog-post and other intriguing tales from the blogger’s life working in a food store in the US, click below.

An old man rode up to our deli counter in one of the store’s electric scooter carts. I felt my liberal bleeding heart cringe at the sight of the “Trump 2020 Keep America Great” cap perched atop his head, but that didn’t stop me from giving the polite customer service I would give to anyone […]

via Child-Free — Don’t Worry…Do Your Best!

Image designed by Anna Vanes.

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“Walk Four And A Half Miles In My Shoes” — Shame and Embracing Difference

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Breathe by Anna Vanes ©

Shame and self-loathing can follow someone suffering social anxiety down every path. When a fear is faced, no matter how successfully, if anxiety was prominent and present, the moment can feel tainted and unsuccessful – and, even, a source of shame. If the task is, on the other hand, avoided, out of fear, shame and self-criticism will likely be present.

In the blog-post linked below, mental health advocate and social anxiety symptom sufferer, Sara, gives a personal example of this dilemma of fear and shame. Rather than experience the fear and vulnerability of calling a taxi or requesting a lift from a co-worker from work to her home, she opted to walk the 4.5 miles route for the first time.

Her self-loathing at her choice started during her walk: “wow, my social anxiety is so bad that I couldn’t ask a coworker to drive me nor could I order a taxi or rideshare service. What the hell is wrong with me? Why am I such a broken person?”

Once home, she writes: “…I felt so alone. I started to cry and I emailed my therapist to tell him what happened and that I was going to make light of it because that’s who I am, so I wanted him to know in the moment what I really felt about my walk. Then I took a shower and put on my pajamas, and started making light of my experience.”

The fear of feeling vulnerable socially and risking being hurt is exchanged for avoiding the fear and feeling humiliated in private. The socially anxious symptom sufferer may be faced all day, every day, with this painful dilemma.

Therapists advise patients to expose themselves to anxiety by resisting so-called “safety behaviours” and testing oneself. Yet, where anxiety is high and debilitating, avoidance and the predictable self-loathing can feel preferable.

The writer chose to share her experience with her therapist and then to make light of the incident. She also shared it with her husband when he got home from work. Her shame and self-loathing seems to have been at least temporarily alleviated through this process – which included the self-care of having a shower and changing into pajamas.

Disabled people are under pressure to conform to “competency” and “reliability” standards set for more able-bodied peers by work and economic pressures. Also, as blogger, Independence Chick, points out, disabled people are often celebrated for “defying” their illness or disability.

Falling below such unrealistic and unfair standards contributes to a sense of failure and shame. For disabled people and people suffering from illnesses, it is important to remind themselves of their difference in order to try and reduce the pressure of expectation which governs so much of their lives. Sympathetic and supportive peers may help reduce the shame in a social anxiety symptom sufferer’s daily life. With greater knowledge of one’s difficulties and reduction in expectations – failures can be embraced and, even, laughed at.

What are some of the more extreme things you have done because of your mental illness? In reference to my alcoholism, this answer could get scary fast. My depression has caused suicidal ideation/attempts. My hypomania contributed to the creation of some pretty spur of the moment tattoos one day a few years ago. My social […]

via Walk Four And A Half Miles In My Shoes — Don’t Stigmatize me

Image designed by Anna Vanes.

“What No One Tells You About Mental Health and Pregnancy” — Medication During Pregnancy

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Header with Oreuis by Anna Vanes ©

During pregnancy, the risks of taking antidepressant medication, including selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors (SSRIs), must be balanced against the risk to the mother and the foetus of withdrawal symptoms from ceasing intake, including depression and anxiety symptoms.

In the detailed personal account linked below, US military partner, Summer, living in Germany, followed her doctor’s advice, at six weeks, to stop taking Zoloft (Sertraline), an SSRI that she had been on for over three years – as well as Topamax, for her migraines. Whilst she does not state what the doctor’s reasoning was, she writes, having conducted her own research: “Zoloft is not as dangerous to the fetus, but it has been shown to cause withdrawals in the baby immediately after birth (like excessive crying). Topamax has up to a 3% chance of causing cleft lip and/or cleft palate if taken during the first trimester. (Source: FDA).”

The severe withdrawal symptoms of headaches, nausea and vomiting meant that Summer eventually resumed taking Zoloft. After discussions with a psychiatrist, she was put on the maximum dosage of 200 mg: ” The research seemed inconclusive as to the risks for the baby, but even more so, the risk of becoming severely depressed could be even more harmful to the baby.”

She describes feeling better and being more active but continued to experience vomiting and social anxiety about doing so in public. She also says that she lost enjoyment in doing activities she normally enjoys. At the time of writing the account, she was 24 weeks pregnant and still struggling with anxiety and sickness but describes having a routine and being physically active.

The dilemma of taking antidepressant medication during pregnancy is one that should be raised with all women who are prescribed. Withdrawal from SSRIs is recommended to be done gradually, to reduce withdrawal symptoms. In England, the health service advises that: “As a precaution, antidepressants are not usually recommended for most pregnant women, especially during the early stages of a pregnancy. This is because they might be dangerous for your baby. But exceptions can be made if the risks – including of taking Citalopram and/or Sertaline – posed by depression (or other mental health conditions) outweigh any potential risks of treatment.”

Image designed by Anna Vanes.
For stock image and other credits, click here.

To read the full blog-post by Summer on her blog, OutsideThisSmallTown.com, click the link below.

Pregnancy comes with a range of emotions — highs and lows. While it’s a beautiful thing bringing life into this world, the toll it can take on a first-time mother isn’t something commonly discussed. I want to tell you about my personal experience — my first and second trimester of pregnancy and the mental, emotional, […]

via What No One Tells You About Mental Health and Pregnancy — Outside This Small Town