Title: Its All in Your Head
My mom should have known.
I started complaining about nausea starting at age 10.
She thought I was faking it and made me go to school anyway.
When I went to sleepovers, nausea would kick in just before bedtime and she was annoyed when she had to come to pick me up.
She begrudgingly took me to a doctor when I was in high school. The diagnosis? “It’s all in her head”. Back then, those words were code for, “she’s making it up”.
Classic “crazy young lady hysteria” on the part of the doctor.
In college, I was travelling with my basketball team and woke up in the night and felt nauseous. I feared throwing up in the presence of my roommate, so I went and sat in the parking lot until I felt better. We were in Minnesota. It was 26 degrees.
In my 20’s, I went on a weekend trip with friends and had to fly through San Francisco to catch a small plane to Tahoe. I felt so sick by the time we got to San Francisco, I didn’t get on the next plane.
I can’t tell you the number of times I had tickets to see an amazing concert and had to leave before it even started.
Crap like this happened all of the time. It was a constant challenge.
In my late 20’s, I married a confusing man which made things worse. His moods were unpredictable, and he was quick to anger. We had three children. He was a good dad and a horrible dad. I became nauseated more often than not.
In my 30’s, my mom got cancer and 10 months later, she died.
Several years later, my life fell apart. A divorce. An affair. Children with challenges.
The first months of getting my life back together were awful. I felt sick all the time. The kids would go off to school and I would lie on my bedroom floor – for hours.
My therapist saved me. Or, I should say, she helped me save me. We unpacked the trauma of a difficult divorce and I restabilized. Then, we went deeper.
We excavated my childhood and brought to light the insecure attachment to my parents and its impact on my development. Guess what? The shit of my childhood caused ANXIETY. And for me, anxiety presents as nausea.
I had to wait until I went through a life crisis in my mid-40’s to understand what I started complaining about at age 10. Really? 35 years of unnecessary suffering?
Back then, mental disorders were such a taboo that it was better to say I was “making it up” than to say anxiety was the cause of my problem.
I said, “my mom should have known”. She couldn’t have. But, she should have listened.
So parents, please listen carefully. It may have been “all in my head”, but I suffered for too long. If I had been appropriately treated, my anxiety wouldn’t have 30 years of grooved habit in my brain.
With a diagnosis, I am empowered to work to keep it at bay using treatment tools and meds.
Nausea visits far less often now and I am grateful.
Libby is on a journey to “transcend the circumstances” that caused her anxiety and pain in order to create a life of fulfillment and joy. She has three young adult children and is happily remarried to a man who is kind to the core of his being. She returned to school as a middle-aged student and is seeking her Masters in Social Work. She hopes to use her knowledge to connect to the emotional experiences of others to deepen her sense of personal and interpersonal meaning.