Friday, July 13, 2007

Diagnosis: Depression

I was diagnosed with Post-Partum depression in February 2007. It has taken me until now to be able to talk about it. I've been writing (more like crafting) this post since April...carefully choosing my words....trying to properly describe what I've been dealing with. It's been difficult. I would write a couple of paragraphs, and then not touch it for a week. Then I would read what I had wrote, and scrap most of it...this has been going on for almost 4 months. I think this is as good as it's gonna get, folks....

Carlos and I were aware of the symptoms...we knew the signs to look for. We had discussed PPD and "baby blues" in our prenatal classes when we were expecting Zander. We were reminded of what to watch for by our doctor after each of our boys were born. But I was ambushed...it snuck up on me...on us...

I went through my days thinking that everything was okay. Until one day in January. Zander looked at me suddenly with an odd look on his face...and then started to laugh. What was he laughing at? I was sobbing...sobbing without realizing I was sobbing...how did I not know I was sobbing? And Zander, being 18 months old and not understanding what mommy was really doing, thought the whole thing was funny.

It was as if I was being rudely awakened by a splash of ice water. What was going on? What had been going on...for too long. I had a sudden clarity akin to an out-of-body experience. I was floating over my life...looking down on myself for the past few months. I didn't like what I was seeing.

I had been so deeply disappointed by the inability to breastfeed either of my sons. More so than I realized until now. Looking back, I cried. I cried daily. It would take the littlest thing to set me off...sometimes nothing. Feeding Logan a bottle. Zander resting his hand on my breast while I was carrying him upstairs for a nap. Seeing anything to do with babies, mothers, breastfeeding, anything on TV.

Sometimes I would be fine after shedding just a few tears. Sometimes it was almost impossible to stop.

I had so much guilt. Too much guilt. Guilt over everything to do with my sons. If one or both of them got sick, it wouldn't have happened if I had been able to breastfeed...why didn't I try harder? Why did I give up after only six months of torture and agony? A good mom would have kept trying. If Logan had a bad episode with his GERD, it wouldn't have happened if he hadn't been premature. I must have done something to make my water break early. I shouldn't have lifted that box. I should have taken it easier. How could I do this to my child? How could I have put this awful disease on him? How could I have caused my son so much pain and agony...what kind of mother does that? If Zander fell while he was running around playing, I should have been there to catch him. I should have stopped him from getting hurt. I should have picked up all of the toys over and over again all day so that there was no chance he would trip on one of them. Sounds ridiculous now, but back then these thoughts seemed completely rational.

I would cry at the drop of a hat. When I saw a silly commercial. Whenever one or both of the boys would do something funny, silly, cute...I would just lose it. While I watched movies, whether they were sad, funny, scary...didn't matter. Whenever I saw a live musical performance of any kind on TV I would cry...it was so odd.

Libido? What is that? I won't get into any detail...'cause there aren't any to tell. Suffice it to say, my husband is an amazingly patient man.

My fatigue was almost debilitating at times. I could have sleep all day if I had been given the opportunity. I caught myself falling asleep while watching the boys during the day....I slept while they slept...as soon as Carlos got home I would take a nap. It just went on and on.

I started to have anxiety attacks when Logan was only a few months old. Every time Logan had an episode. Every time Zander would gag on the tiniest bit of texture in his food and throw up. Every time we had to leave the house. Every. time. I would transform into Mrs. Hyde. I had no control of what I was doing. It was like I was sitting in the corner of the room watching this crazy lady yelling, screaming, crying, slamming doors, throwing things, hyperventilating. And the worst part of all of this was that my boys were witness to this temporary insanity. That still upsets me.

I was so sensitive about everything that an innocent comment would be perceived as harsh criticism, or even a personal attack.

And even though all of this seemed like completely normal and rational behavior to me at the time, I was hiding it from my husband. It was as if a subconscious part of me new something was wrong but thought I could deal with it on my own. I was fully aware of how hurt and sad I could get when I thought of missing out on the joys of breastfeeding, of how easily I shed my tears...but I'll get over it...it will get better day by day...there's no need to worry Carlos about this. He has enough on his plate already.

It was Zander's laughter at my sobs that woke me up. It was a slap on the face. My little boy thought it was funny that I was sobbing. My little boy had seen me sobbing often enough that it didn't scare him...it was a normal occurrence.

That night I told Carlos all about what I was going through...what I had been going through for months. He was blindsided. I had been hiding it so well that he had no idea what was going on. He's never said as much, but I believe he feels he should have seen the signs...recognized I was in trouble. I don't think he understands how subconsciously determined I was to keep all of this from him...if he found out he will think I am a weak person and a bad mother....I could deal with this on my own.

The next day I called the doctor's office to make an appointment. Carlos took time off work to come with me while my mom watched the boys.

I sat in front of my doctor, as Carlos held my hand, and started to tell her what had been happening...and then the tears came. I couldn't hold them back...they flowed freely and fiercely as I described my worst moments from the last few months.

My doctor, who is so caring and friendly, smiled softly and said something that surprised me. "I've been expecting this. Women with babies who have health problems have a much higher risk of PPD...and you have two very high-needs children".

After much tearful discussion, my doctor prescribed me some medication. Within a few days I felt more like myself than I had in months. That first weekend was the first time I didn't have an anxiety attack while getting myself and the boys ready to have dinner with my in-laws. It was incredible. Carlos actually noticed the change before I did. I have felt so good ever since.

Unfortunately, with everything that's been going on with the sale of our current house and negotiations for the new house, with Zander's eating disorder, with Logan's teething, with my isolation from everyone (due to my allergies to....well....being outside in pretty much any weather, I can't go anywhere with the boys by myself, so I'm stuck here at home alone during the day. Logan's GERD turned us into a family of hermits who were scared to go anywhere, my family is 2.5 hours away and Carlos' family lives on the opposite side of the city.), I have felt myself starting to slip again. The anxiety is creeping back. The over-sensitivity is creeping back. That fatigue is here. This time, though, I realize I can't do this on my own. I have an appointment to talk to my doctor about a medication change.

I have to say, as hard as all of this has been, I can't imagine how much more difficult it could have been...would have been...had I not had my blog to vent all of my thoughts....had I not had so many wonderful people...so many strong fellow-moms...lending their support, as well as sharing their own experiences, no matter how personal. I shudder to think how much more difficult this could have been...and I thank all of the amazing Blogland friends I have made. I can never tell you know much you have helped me during these past few months...

***I just noticed that I am finally publishing this...on Friday the 13th...which coincidentally has always been my lucky day....hopefully that's a good omen...

add to sk*rt

20 comments:

Kimberly said...

I went through something so similar that reading your post was almost eerie...definitely surreal. You expressed it so beautifully, I had tears in my eyes as I finished reading.

I think the more we talk about it, the better we feel. It gives the experience reality, and I think we need that in order to cope. Thank you so much for pushing yourself to post about this. It helps, it really, really helps.

Amanda said...

Diagnosis: Delightful. Seriously, for what it's worth, I love reading your stuff. You lay it all out there and you exude a beauty of character that is irresistible.

Jennifer aka Binky Bitch said...

I'm speechless.

Your post is so open and honest and heartwrenching. There are so many parts I could have written myself.

Thank you, thank you for writing this. Please hang in. Email anytime. In fact, if you ever want to talk, I'll give you my number.

Queen Heather said...

Great post Cate!

Brillig said...

Cate, this was beautiful, bold, and brave. I can only imagine you much you've probably helped someone by writing this out. Incredible. Thanks for the honesty. You have truly opened my eyes.

Anonymous said...

This post is absolutely brilliant and very moving. It hit a nerve as I could relate to it.

andi said...

Wow, Cate. It must have taken a lot of courage to write this post. Thanks for sharing this.

moosh in indy. said...

I can relate, oh boy can I relate. I'm so happy you had the courage to write this, I know it was hard. Hopefully the flood of support you will receive for such a wonderful post will lift you when you need it most.
We've got your back girl.

tulipmom said...

Your courage and strength shine through every word of this post. I wish I read something like this when I was experiencing PPD. I'm sure you are helping someone out there more than you know. What your doctor said makes so much sense.

karla said...

Oh Cate. Just think of how many women reading this will relate, find validation in their feeligns, and draw strength from your bravery and courage to open up so candidly and honestly.

You are a truly admirable woman Cate.

Absolutely Bananas said...

Wow. What a moving and honest post... it gave me goose bumps reading it! Hang in there!

compulsive writer said...

Thanks for sharing this. I had a similar experience with my oldest, who is now almost 18. He was diagnosed with "Failure to Thrive" because of my struggles with breastfeeding so I had even more guilt thrown onto the pile.

Only when I went to the doctor all I got was "It's all in your head." He was wrong and the only reason he and doctors like him are coming around is because women have started standing up for themselves and speaking out about things like this.

That's why telling your story is so important and such a brave thing to do. Thanks!

In the Trenches of Mommyhood said...

Yep, I can relate too. How brave of you to write it down so eloquently and honestly.

kellypea said...

That was gut-wrenching, and very much a reminder of feelings I had with one of mine so many years ago -- but no where near as severe as yours. Thank goodness you sought assistance. You must be an incredibly strong person.

shauna said...

How brave, open, honest, and real. Thank you for sharing such a trying time with the blogworld. I hope you're finding the love and support you so need and deserve.

Anonymous said...

I'm so sorry for what you and your family have experienced! I, too, had very similar PPD that was never caught until it was, in my opinion, far too late. I started counseling when my son was 15 months old and feel so much better now, but still grieve for all the lost months of his babyhood that I was totally incapable of enjoying. Hang in there - and I am so happy that you got help! How very brave of you :-)

Kimberly said...

This is my first visit to your blog. That you for sharing your story and your pain. It's so hard sometimes to share the dark things of our hears, but often when we do, it sets us free.
It also can be an encouragement to those around us, as well as a motivator to others who are going through the same things that likewise need to seek help.
Blessings to you!

Suburban Oblivion said...

I've had this post bookmarked and kept meaning to come back and comment. Obviously you know I have been there myself, although not under such difficult circumstances as your own :( I'd reach out and give you a huge hug if I could!!

Do you have decent calling rate to the US? I'd love to talk sometime.

((Hugs))

Shauna said...

I've read this post several times over the past couple of days. So beautifully said. My heart is with you. I wish the world were a better place for people to talk more openly about their troubles. I hope you find that here. Email me anytime.

karla said...

Hey Cate. Just popping in to say hi, and that I've been thinking of you.

Hugs
k.