Being a Superwoman Is Not the Same as Being a Healthy Woman

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by Carlos Briceño |

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Last week, my wife, Jill, who is gene-positive for Huntington’s disease, appeared on a Help 4 HD Live! podcast, which is an online radio program for the Huntington’s community.

The program is hosted by Lauren Holder, who also is gene-positive for Huntington’s. Lauren reached out to Jill after reading my column on depression during the holidays. Lauren’s father, also gene-positive, died in January. He loved the Thanksgiving holiday, and Lauren had a difficult time this year because it was her first one without him.

Lauren has a full-time job and is a mother of two children, but she makes time to host the podcast, which is a labor of love for her.

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Being a busy mom came up during the episode. It’s something Jill is very familiar with.

For years, as a single mom and a caregiver for her father, who was also gene-positive for Huntington’s, Jill played the role of superwoman. During the podcast, she said that it has been difficult to admit that she isn’t a superwoman anymore; she is beginning to display symptoms of Huntington’s, has trouble recalling words, and is dealing with anxiety and depression. It’s also difficult for her to admit she needs antidepressants, and must focus on taking care of herself .

In short, Jill is in uncharted territory.

Lauren admitted her depression leads, at times, to a lack of energy. But she tries to stay busy for her children, which led Jill to advise her that it’s OK for her children to see her sad.

When her daughter, Alexus, was a child, Jill never tried to show any sadness, especially about her father’s deteriorating health. She was being true to form as superwoman, able to leap over any obstacle without any sign of weakness. But one day, when Alexus was 5, Jill learned a valuable lesson when Alexus said to her, “Mommy, you don’t have to cry in the shower. It’s OK to be sad.”

Jill thought that being tough was a way to protect her daughter. But she realized that, by burying her true feelings, she wasn’t showing her child how to deal with sadness in a healthy way. She knew then that it was time to change her thinking.

“It’s OK to fall apart every once in a while,” Jill said.

Jill explained that women put so much pressure on themselves that they often forget they are not perfect, and they fear being judged for being a bad mom, for not doing things the “right” way. She’s realized that being a bad mom actually means not taking the time to figure out how to care for herself.

Jill is doing a better job of that now. We hope that sharing her story will help others realize that being vulnerable and seeking help for any health issue, including mental health, is what truly makes someone super.

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Note: Huntington’s Disease News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Huntington’s Disease News or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Huntington’s disease.

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