When I had a deep vein thrombosis (DVT) in my left leg, I was a 19-year-old college freshman who had never heard of blood clots before. I assumed I’d broken my leg and hobbled to two classes before going to the hospital. When I got examined at the hospital – a rural one with only four beds in the ER – I was transferred by ambulance to a larger hospital 50 minutes away. My clot extended from my left knee to my groin and was present in my left iliac vein. I was treated with heparin, t-PA, and three surgical procedures to remove the clot. 3 stents were also inserted to correct my venous deformity.
After my blood clot diagnosis, I discovered that I had May Thurner Syndrome and Antiphospholipid Antibody Syndrome that contributed to my clotting experience in addition to a hip injury and the estrogen-based birth control I was on.
Although my clot was a relatively simple fix medically, I was deeply traumatized by the experience. Even though I grew up with OCD, I never expected my mental health to be tested in such a severe way. Two years after the clot, I descended so far into panic attacks, PTSD, and medicine interactions that I experienced suicidal ideation.
It took me another year to feel more like myself and I am now passionate about educating others on the connection between blood clots and mental health breakdowns. As a “lifer” on blood thinners, I hope to continue this advocacy as I work through problems like excessive menstrual bleeding.
Even after recovering from my post-DVT mental health crisis, I am permanently changed by my experience. I am more cautious and have developed an intense fear of medical situations, but have discovered a deep well of courage that I can tap into if I truly need to.
I have learned to pay attention to changes in my body and that blood clots can happen to anyone – even someone who’s “too young.” NBCA has shown me the importance of strong data and community. My advice to others is to take care of your mental health after a blood clot. Even if your clot is removed or fixed relatively easily, your life has changed suddenly and trauma hits like a truck.
- Women and Blood Clots
- Blood Clot Treatment
- CLUES Mental Health Study
- PEP Talk: Patients Education Patients
- New Patient Resource Guide