I’m a 35-year-old mom of 2. I grew up with a narcissistic mother & absent father. In my childhood I had to deal with emotional neglect, physical & sexual abuse, and I was bullied in elementary school. With that said, I had a lot of (cognitive) therapy as an adult and I (thought) I was doing ok.
About a year ago I got physically ill and was diagnosed with a chronic tick-borne illness. I’m getting antibiotic treatment at this moment, 4 months and counting.
I have been sitting home a lot because of this, not being able to work, and am having a lot of alone-time. For the last month or so I have been noticing a change in me. I have become emotionally flat. I can’t really feel happiness or joy, but I do tend to cry a lot. I feel very uninterested towards other people. I get easily agitated and have sudden outbursts of irritable behavior, sometimes out of the blue. I don’t feel like talking. I am very indecisive, can’t seem to make up my mind on anything nor decide if any solution or action is a good or bad one. I have zero motivation. I used to love to draw and paint but neither makes me happy anymore. I don’t do many household chores, just the most essentials, but I’m not sure if that’s because of a lack of motivation or a lack of energy. Lastly, I have a lot of anxiety, like going to public places, being afraid for my & my kids’ safety, etc.
This all scares and worries me. Could it be side effects from the antibiotics, or is my trauma from the past catching up with me?
Thank you in advance.Not Doing OK
Yes, it could be medication side effects or it could be an effect of the illness itself. Another possibility is that because you are physically ill, your energy levels are depleted. Physically, when we are not well, it affects our psychological health.
Being sick also means having to rest. Resting equates to inactivity. Inactivity and sickness makes people feel irritable, tired and unproductive. Some people feel guilty when they are not productive or working. If you had the energy to work and to resume your life, you might not be experiencing these symptoms. It’s possible that once you are feeling better and resume a normal level of functioning, these problems will dissipate.
There’s also no evidence to suggest that this issue is related to your negative childhood experiences. You were an otherwise healthy, normal functioning adult until you were beset by physical illness. It could very well be that your physical illness is the source of your feelings, not your childhood.
You mentioned therapy, but it was not clear from your letter whether you are in treatment. If not, I would highly recommend it. Having extra support during a difficult time can help tremendously. It would also be advantageous to surround yourself with as many supportive people as possible. Avoid isolating yourself even if you feel the urge to do so. You might also join a support group for people living with chronic illnesses. That might help you to cope with the psychological strain of physical health problems. Hopefully, the antibiotics will help to restore your health and you can resume your life as soon as possible. Thanks for your question. Please take care.
Dr. Kristina Randle