the most impactful thing my therapist ever said to me

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Written by Meg Kant

CONTENT NOTE: Discussion of Pregnancy Loss

the most impactful thing my therapist ever said to me

In 2018 my oldest son was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease. Navigating the physical supports and schedule changes needed was an incredibly difficult time. But a challenge that I hadn’t expected was the guilt and shame I would feel around his diagnosis. 

Before I became pregnant with my oldest, I experienced a second trimester miscarriage at 4.5 months pregnant. I was induced and gave birth to my son Zennon on April 11, 2014. Losing him and experiencing that grief was like nothing I had ever been through before. I had not known a heartbreak that big, and it knocked me off my feet.

the shittiest time in my life

Four months after losing Zennon I got pregnant with my oldest son. As I have shared in previous blogs, during that pregnancy I developed severe antenatal depression and anxiety in my third trimester. I had to stop working, I wasn’t really eating or sleeping and it was one of the shittiest periods of my life. (You can read more about my experience with PMAD’s here). 

It wasn’t until I started medication, therapy and my son arrived safely that my anxiety and depression began to lift. I was also able to process and understand how my antenatal depression and anxiety were very much linked to the loss of Zennon.

diagnosis and shame

Fast forward to 2018, my oldest is 3 and he is diagnosed with an autoimmune disease. As a birth worker/doula I know about the correlation between stress in pregnancy and chronic health issues in infants/children. So in addition to trying to support him in navigating this huge transition, I was also wracked with guilt and shame. 

I felt like his diagnosis was my fault. Even though I know that correlation does not mean causation, I still couldn’t help but feel that this was something I did to him. If I hadn’t been so stressed in my pregnancy then this wouldn’t have happened. If I had taken better care of my mental health, or just learned to regulate my emotions better than I could have prevented this from happening. Of course I will never know if any of that is true, but it’s where my thoughts took me.

what my therapist said

When I told my therapist how I was feeling I anticipated her response would be something to the effect of “you can’t think like that” or “it wasn’t your fault, don’t worry”. But what she said was surprisingly simple and impactful: 

“Of course you were depressed, your baby died”.

Rather than trying to talk me out of how I was feeling, she gave me permission to lean into those feelings. She didn’t minimize them or try to help me rationalize them. In that moment I felt so seen, so supported and so understood. Instead of blame and shame I felt myself breathe into that sadness and give myself the level of compassion I would give to someone else. I didn’t feel like a bad mom who was responsible for her son’s diagnosis, I felt like a human whose heart was broken and whose emotions were in alignment with that grief.

passing along the compassion

This thoughtful reframing has helped not only me personally, but also people close to me. This way of thinking applies to so many people’s experiences. 

A friend of mine lost someone close to her when she was pregnant with her oldest child. Now her child is five and has been diagnosed with a neurodevelopmental disorder. My friend shared with me her shame and fear around her deep depression during her pregnancy and her child’s diagnosis. I reminded her that she was sad for a reason and she was doing her best while navigating the worst loss of her life.

She has shared with me since then, that this is a sentiment that she reminds herself often. That it provides comfort and calm to her heart when it feels heavy.

reminder we are all human

What I think makes this insight feel so impactful is that it cuts through so much of the noise and thoughts surrounding difficult experiences and brings us back to our humanness. It allows us grace, empathy and understanding of ourselves and what we’ve been through. It can also help us focus less on shame and blame and connect more comfortably to the reasons for our feelings.

 

I share this story over on TikTok, if you want to hear me say it outloud :)


What is the most impactful thing a therapist, or trusted person in your life given you?  Feel free to share in the comments.

the most impactful thing my therapist ever said to me

Xoxo,

Meg Kant

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