Dealing With Uncertainty 2


I want certainty. And I can’t have it.

Those of you facing a medical challenge – or just dealing with life in these uncertain times – will relate.

I want to know for certain that the protocol I’m on to address my anxiety and depression works. My psychiatrist has me taking some medications and doing frequent electroshock (ECT) therapy. The ECT doctor just switched me from weekly to bimonthly ECT treatments. My neurologist has recently prescribed a new medication.

But there is no way to know for sure what is the best amount of any of this, or if I’m on the right path at all. I’ve had my ups and downs in the last few weeks. Are they due to the ECT schedule? The new medication from the neurologist? The combination? I’m not much of a pill popper so I feel ambivalent about the medications. (In the past some have had major side effects, and others’ benefits have been short-lived.) What, if any, impact are they having?

ECT seems to have played a part in my overall general improvement in the last few months, but it has a huge downside in terms of memory loss. Every time I get electroshock therapy, I feel nervous and ambivalent. How many treatments should I be getting? No one knows for sure.

Sometimes I feel like there is something larger at work than any of the pills or medical protocols that explains my ups and downs. Early on, I had a variety of physical pains which all mysteriously disappeared without any treatment. Could I be suffering from an illness with its own agenda and in some natural healing process that takes its own course?

One thing is for sure: recovering from an illness involves a lot of uncertainty.

One way to cope is to appreciate the things in your life that are firm and predictable while accepting what is uncertain and realizing that uncertainty is part of life. This afternoon my younger daughter pointed out that her love for me is certain, and I can say that of all my family members. My husband has been there every day for me of the difficult past three years. I look forward to dining with him every night.

Swimming every day in our pool has helped keep me sane. My sister-in-law’s frequent calls have become a regular source of support. A pint of ice cream after dinner helps get me through the day (I won’t cut back though my husband tells me to.) In these uncertain times, my little rituals  sustain me.

I guess what’s really behind the uncertainty is fear, and I’ll just have to accept it. The fear of being on the wrong track; the concern that I’ll damage my brain with too much ECT; the worry that I’ll never really get better – it’s all part of the price of trying to recover. You get the best medical advice you can and go from there.

But every day I wish the path felt more predictable and safer and that there were some wise wizard who could guide me back to myself.


Are you dealing with uncertainty? Share by commenting below!


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  • Nancy

    December 23, 2016 at 1:57 am

    Elusive certainty. But, Jenn is anything really certain in life? Or is life a journey? The only sure thing is what […] Read MoreElusive certainty. But, Jenn is anything really certain in life? Or is life a journey? The only sure thing is what is in front of us right now. Live in the moment. Write and photograph a lot to augment the memory's. Love fully in the moment. It sounds like you have an amazing team working to support your wellness and an amazing family by your side. Take it one day at a time. You are an inspiration.... Read Less

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A former journalist for The Wall Street Journal and Time, Jennifer is the award-winning author of Beyond One: Growing a Family and Getting a Life and pens the MidAge Mom blog.

She’s profiled exceptional women from the Middle East to Latin America. Widely published, her essays have been included in two anthologies.

Jennifer is also a frequent radio and TV guest. Full Bio

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