In an exclusive interview, Lori Gottlieb, a Los Angeles-based licensed marriage and family therapist and psychotherapist, spoke with Everyday Health Producer and Senior Strategist Jamie Putman about how to manage your mental health when you’re struggling with mental illness. a chronic illness.
Gottlieb, who writes the Atlanticweekly advice column “Dear Therapist”, is the author of several books, including the New York Times Bestseller Maybe you should talk to someone.
Gottlieb shares his personal and professional insights into why living with chronic health conditions, from the time of diagnosis (or the long road to it) to physical pain to managing them day-to-day, can complicate mental health . She also talks about what you can do to feel more empowered.
Here are some highlights from an edited transcript of the interview.
Jamie Putman: Visible and stigmatized diseases such as psoriasis, thyroid eye disease, atopic dermatitis and conditions that limit mobility have their own challenges. How do these illnesses affect mental health?
Lori Gottlieb: I want to raise awareness for people living with a chronic disease. I don’t think people realize this, but 6 out of 10 Americans live with a chronic disease. If you’re not going through this yourself, you probably have a loved one or friend who is.
It’s not like you get sick and then you get better. It is something that waxes and wanes. Sometimes you feel good, sometimes you feel really bad. And a lot of people don’t understand that, so I think it’s important that we raise awareness about what chronic disease looks like.
And I think one of the most important things people can do is believe themselves when they feel something is wrong with their body. Often what happens with all kinds of chronic diseases is that something is wrong, so the person goes to the doctor. They get fired, and then they think, “Oh, it must all be in my head.” But it’s not.
JP: You have a chapter in your book called “My Wandering Womb.” Can you briefly explain the history of the Wandering Womb and how it has evolved over time?
LG: I have my own personal experience with chronic disease. I had all sorts of vague symptoms. I was tired, my hair started to fall out, I had vision problems, I couldn’t concentrate, I couldn’t concentrate – there were so many different things going on.
Doctors would say, “Oh, it’s just anxiety” or “Don’t worry, you have to take care of yourself. »
I took care of myself and it didn’t make anything better. Historically, people would say the reason women experience these symptoms is because they have a wandering uterus. And so the title of the chapter was my way of saying that things haven’t really changed that much. They don’t call it a wandering uterus anymore, they say you’re too stressed.
JP: There’s a term I’ve heard called medical gas lighting, which might kind of mirror that or reflect that. Why is it so much more prevalent among women, especially women of color?
LG: I think doctors have the best intentions and they’re not malicious, there’s just a blind spot when it comes to chronic disease. And I think the blind spot is bigger with women and especially people of color – doctors just don’t pay attention in the same way. They think, “Oh you’re tired, it’s not a medical emergency.” But actually, it’s tied to all these other things that are going on.
We know our bodies better. Doctors don’t know you, they don’t know what your baseline is. It is important that you are clear. Say, “Look, this is very different for me. My life is very different now than it was months ago, and I really need you to take this seriously. We have to get to the bottom of things.
You really have to defend yourself. Part of that is educating those around you – not just your medical team, but also your friends and family, as they too might not take your condition seriously. If you don’t, you can come to a point where you feel so isolated. You’re like, “Well, I’ve told all these people about it, but no one takes me seriously, so maybe it’s just anxiety.
JP: What are some of the consequences of medical gaslighting or misdiagnosis?
LG: The first consequence is that you do not receive treatment. Your symptoms will get worse, which really interferes with your functioning. Symptoms can make it difficult for people to work or socialize. It interferes with your quality of life, your relationships, everything.
The other part is mental health. If you are not diagnosed and treated, you start to become depressed and anxious. You start to feel defeated and helpless. You also say to yourself: “Maybe I’m crazy, because everyone tells me that I’m crazy and that I don’t have a health problem.
This is where gaslighting comes in.
JP: You’ve already answered some of these questions, but I want to ask you about the impact some of these stigmatized illnesses can have on confidence, social support, work productivity, and relationships.
LG: Often it takes months or even years for people to get a diagnosis. It can have such an impact on your mental health.
With many chronic conditions, all of a sudden you can’t do things that you normally could. You may have to tell your boss or co-workers that you couldn’t do something, so people think you’re lazy, when in fact you physically can’t do it. You say no to social things and people think you’re not a good friend because they don’t understand why you don’t show up. It affects every part of your life.
JP: What really helps people move forward and feel good about themselves?
LG: When you finally get a diagnosis, two things happen. One is relief, that you know what is happening and that it is taken seriously. Once you have a support team and a plan, you can start doing what you need to do to feel better.
But there’s also grief and loss realizing, “This is my new normal, some days are going to be tough for me, and that’s how it’s going to be.”
So many people in our culture of optimism and happiness want to say, “Oh, it’s okay now.” But no, you are going to have difficult days. If you can allow yourself to feel all that you are going to feel around it, you will also be able to see that you are very resilient.
#Therapist #Lori #Gottlieb #mental #health #toll #chronic #disease