From the desk of Linda M. Rio, M.A. – Marriage & Family Therapist – Last week I was feeling particularly “down”. You know, just one of those times. I had previously been asked to speak at a conference about pituitary disorders and was actually quite excited at this opportunity since I had not spoken to this group before. I also was excited because I was asked to speak not only to patients but a group of physicians as well. Getting an opportunity to spread my message that attending to the mental health side of such disorders is important, sometimes critical to mental and physical health is exciting for me. Alas, I received word that my invitation to speak was canceled. Just a few days later I received word that the proposal I submitted to a mental health professional organization to present, also on this topic, was also not accepted. Not news that bolsters the ego.
I am very aware that the message I am trying to spread is a ‘hard-sell’, that is one that just about everyone needs to know but they don’t want to hear it. It is a message you don’t know that you don’t know. When I began attempts to find a publisher for my book, The Hormone Factor in Mental Health: Bridging the Mind-body Gap (2014), one of the questions asked by publishers is: on what ‘shelf’ does the book belong? Is this a medical book for physicians? Is this a text for psychiatrists, psychologists, marriage and family therapists, mental health counselor professionals? Is this something for nurses, chiropractors, the lay public etc.? Yes. Unfortunately, this is not specific enough for publishing efforts to market a product. Although mental health and pituitary and other hormonal disorders often go hand-in-hand this is not easily identified into a neat category. Is it a mental health issue or physical health issue? I say, yes, it is both. But, the world likes things that are easy to understand and it has been an uphill struggle to get people to hear the message that it is all connected: the endocrine system, the emotional system, the family/relationship system all are connected.
So, at the end of my week of rejections (I’m almost getting used to these by now) I received an email that turned it all around for me! Over the years I have received many, many messages from pituitary patients and their family members. Actually, these messages are what inspired me, gave me the impetus to write/edit my book. The stories from real people about their real struggles and triumphs are what caused me to be unable to ignore this issue any longer (and yes, I was one of those who didn’t know what I didn’t know). The depth of their pain: the pain of not only having an illness but of being ignored, doubted, dismissed over and over and over by seemingly well-trained medical and mental health professionals could no longer be ignored by me. These communications to me from so many people caused me to venture into my own struggle of trying to bridge the worlds of medicine and mental health because the need was just so glaringly obvious in hearing the stories. Over the years there have been times when I was discouraged but then got a message of hope, and one of gratitude.
I have permission to share a portion of this particular message I received and do so because I believe this may not only appreciate all those awesome professionals who contributed to my book (with no compensation) but also to patients and their families to hear that your feedback means a lot! Doctors, nurses, therapists and others do important jobs but it means so very much to hear that our efforts are worthwhile. It is never expected but sure is nice to know that your life’s work is making a difference! So, these are the words (edited for brevity and privacy) that helped me this week:
I thought I would follow-up with you since I emailed you about my son and the crisis he was in last fall. It has been one hell of a ride since then, and I felt like I was in the battle of my life, but we finally have some answers and are heading down the right path, albeit very slowly.
After (realizing he needed) psychiatric help… I went on a mission to try and convince (the psychiatrist, son, family)… that his hormones were playing a bigger role than they realized. At first, I was told to stay out of it and I was just making excuses for him. However, (son) made a dr. appointment to tell his endo all he was experiencing and lo and behold, the dr. said it’s all related! (He) was indeed in a hormonal crisis with HGH levels through the roof, so much so that the dr. took him off that entirely. His other hormones are all over the place.
The progress is very slow and after years of being accused of emotions and behaviors that are related to his disease, he still has a hard time accepting things. All this to say, we have at least begun a dialog and can now talk about it (somewhat). I believe awareness and education is empowerment. In fact, I will go so far as to say that your book not only saved my life (and my son’s), it empowered me to speak up. I purchased two hard copies, one for my son, and one for him to give his therapist. I also purchased the Kindle edition for myself. I have read and reread it and it has become an invaluable tool for me. For that I want to thank you and am deeply grateful.
In deepest gratitude,
I plan to send this message to all the professionals who contributed to my book. I imagine this will make their day/week as well. And, to all the patients, family members who may read this please know that there are professionals who are really trying to make a positive difference in your lives and we hear you when you describe your physical and emotional pain and when you tell us what we are doing helps! Read other articles from Linda M Rio published in PWN.
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