Through personal life events, professional employment, and scientific research I have discovered a lack of information about the medical management of emotions people experience through major life events.
For example, when people live with chronic disease medical professionals often discuss options to deal with the disease, with little or no discussion about emotional health in response to the disease.
This wasn’t more evident to me than when I underwent emergency neurosurgery eight months after giving birth to my first son in 2012. A fortuitous CT angio scan found two middle cerebral aneurysms. While I am grateful to have survived and have a second chance at life, I have developed a condition called anosmia, which a loss of sense of smell. While I feel lucky to be alive I am saddened about losing my smell, and live with the fear of recurrent aneurysms.
While losing my sense of smell has been a difficult aspect of recover what was more interesting to me during my recovery, was that very few friends or family asked me about how I felt. We discussed the operation, the loss of smell, some avoided the subject altogether.
While I am fortunate to have wonderful support through my husband, and have found an outlet to discuss my emotional journey,I often wonder how my emotional health would have suffered had my feelings not been discussed.
During my professional work experience, I worked on a medical education program targeting doctors who sought medico-legal advice. We focused on how these events affected their mental health. I learnt that the avoidance of discussing how events effect our wellbeing can be detrimental to our recovery.
Even more alarming, delays to self-helping often leads to more serious mental health issues such as depression.
To help wellbeing for those living with chronic disease or other life altering events, we as a community must support each other. This means ensuring we are well connected and take a ‘living-in-a-village’ response to our most vulnerable members.