Female hysteria was a once-common medical diagnosis, made exclusively in women, which is today no longer recognized by modern medical authorities as a medical disorder. Its diagnosis and treatment was routine for many hundreds of years in Western Europe. Hysteria was widely discussed in the medical literature of the Victorian era. Women considered to be suffering from it exhibited a wide array of symptoms including faintness, nervousness, insomnia, fluid retention, heaviness in abdomen, muscle spasm, shortness of breath, irritability, loss of appetite for food or sex, and “a tendency to cause trouble”.
It’s been difficult to post the last few days because I’ve been falling apart. Normally, I’m a pretty healthy person, but the last two weeks I just feel sick.
It started with some kind of infection in my middle finger. My co-worker suggested perhaps I had overused the finger to flip people off, but I think the problem is I haven’t used the finger enough. I ended up having to have it lanced. This week I’m having issues with my left eye.
I think my body is rebelling because it’s trying to force me to take some time for myself. I keep telling my husband I need a break and he just doesn’t get it.
When I was pregnant I had to take Zoloft because of severe panic attacks. I had panic attacks long before pregnancy and never considered taking medicine because I had “nobler” ways of dealing. During pregnancy, I did not have the luxury of being so judgemental. I needed help and I was unbelievably grateful when I found relief.
A few weeks back, I decided that perhaps it was time to stop taking the medication. It seemed that the risk of postpartum depression had passed and I really wanted not to be medicated. Well, I think I jumped the gun. I did fine for a week or so then all these physical ailments began manifesting. I’ve since started back on the Zoloft.
The truth is that the medicine does not make me feel medicated; it makes me feel like “me” and right now when I’m not on it, I feel out of sorts. Someday I will be able to do without, but for now I am so blessed to live in an era where my concerns are taken seriously and not just dismissed as Female Hysteria. Although, I wouldn’t mind getting a pelvic “massage” from my husband.
Since ancient times women considered to be suffering from hysteria would sometimes undergo “pelvic massage” — manual stimulation of the anterior wall of the vagina by the doctor until the patient experienced “hysterical paroxysm”.