Thursday, July 31, 2008

I can't afford for you to have a hard time...

As I slowly started to figure out what was going on with my life I become more and more aware of the burden I had been. I KNOW Ryan would never say anything like that, but I could see how often he had to pick up the slack. He was SO tremendously busy, but never complained. I think what ate me up the most about all of that was seeing the exhaustion in Ryan's eyes, but not having the emotional strength to do anything about it.

At times I felt emotionally like a child. I couldn't handle it when Ryan wasn't superhuman...and they didn't happen very often. We'd be lying in bed talking after a long day and he would fall asleep. I would be SO frustrated with him, but at the same time I knew that I was being unfair, but again, I almost felt like I couldn't help it.

Or he might be a little short tempered (and I mean a VERY little...he is truly amazing) and then I'd get all mopey and sad. I'd turn my barely rational self into an irrationally 8 year old. Again, I could see what I was doing, but I didn't seem to be able to change how I was feeling.

Thankfully over time I've become better at trying to be considerate of him, but it is definitely a constant fight. My hat goes off to all of those spouses, family members, and friends that pay the price for depression even when they don't have it.

$93 for 15 minutes of what...?

One thing that I have found very frustrating is the monthly doctors visits that you're supposed to have when taking an anti-depressant. I really loved my OBGYN, but it was still frustrating to have the "check-up" visits, especially because I only had catastrophic insurance. Basically I would go to see him for 15 minutes (MAX) and then I'd be charged $93. Luckily I did convince my OBGYN to let me come once every 2 months, so that helped. I realize doctors have put in their dues, but it was still very frustrating to pay that while on a student budget.

The payment would have been more tolerable if I really felt like anything productive was happening. Basically my doctor would ask me some Likert scale (i.e. 1-being the worst, 10-being the best) questions like "On a scale from one to ten how is your energy level?" Could there be a more subjective way of finding out how I'm doing?!

Seriously, I HATE Likert scales. I mean are we talking about my energy level before I had depression, or before I had kids, or on a good day, or compared to our last visit, or how I've been overall since our last visit, or how I'm feeling today...BLAH! And what if my doctor looks at things from a different perspective? What then? I realize doctors only have so much to go on, but I really wish that there was a more precise way of judging how things are going. I also wish I could just make a phone call and answer these questions or be allowed to call in when I'm not feeling well.

I know it's not how it works, but there really should be some better way of assessing things. I wish I had the right answer so it could be better for everyone that has to go through it. This is really more of a vent, than anything else, but it all added to the stress of the situation...especially since as I mentioned earlier, we were on a student budget at the time and any additional costs really didn't fit. Not to mention the $76/month I was paying for the Zoloft (and that was from a cheap Canadian pharmacy).

Depression SO many ways!

Monday, July 28, 2008


I started my prescription for Zoloft the day after Thanksgiving in 2006. Even though I weaned myself in just like instructed it was a very low weekend. Friday was fine, and Saturday wasn't too bad, but Sunday was horrible. I vividly remember sitting in Relief Society* trying to focus on the lesson, but all I could do was control the tears. I was in a darker place than I had ever encountered or ever hope to encounter.

Thankfully Ryan warned me that this might happen so I wasn't caught totally off guard, but then again, what can truly prepare you for the way I was feeling? I'm not sure I even have words to describe it. I think before I was feeling more hollow and apathetic. I think as a defense mechanism my body had shut down any real feelings; which in and of itself, is a strange place to be. You're low, but in some ways more because you have had to cut off a part of yourself and so you don't really feel the highs and happy times either.

At the time I would have never described it that way, but after starting the medication and taking the MAJOR dip in emotions, there is no question that I wasn't fully feeling how bad things were. Again, I just wish I had the words to describe it...or maybe I don't? I'm not sure I would want anyone else to feel so low. In many ways I felt like I had been cut off from all happiness and maybe even God.

Now being cut off from God may not be a big deal for everyone, but as a devout member of **The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints it was the worst possible thing that could happen. My Heavenly Father and His son, Jesus Christ, are so much more to me than a distant and scary controller of the universe. I truly feel that I have a personal relationship with them. I believe that Heavenly Father is truly my father. Not of my physical body, but of my spirit. But just like the ideal earthly father, our Heavenly Father is there for us in good and bad times. He loves us more than we can even comprehend. He wants us to come to Him and I truly believe He wants nothing more than to hold us in His all loving arms when we are in times of pain.

I believe our Savior, Jesus Christ, is my spiritual brother who truly suffered for each and everyone of my sins, but during this time of trial even more importantly, He bore the weight of my pains. He KNOWS what I was feeling. He KNOWS the depth of my despair. He is the ONLY one that can 100% understand what I was feeling.

So here I was feeling like I had lost the loving arms of my Heavenly Father and the understanding from the one person who truly knew how I was feeling. I imagine it must be to some degree what Hell must feel like. Even just describing this nearly 2 years later, I find myself overcome with emotion...

As I mentioned before, here I was a mother feeling so cut off from my Father. I can only imagine the depth of His pain for me. I know when I watch one of my young sons suffer through something a simple as a cold, my heart aches for them. I have NO DOUBT that my Heavenly Father was weeping for me and pleading that I realize that He had not, NOR WILL EVER leave me.

It was the deepest darkness and despair I've ever felt.

Mercifully the Lord did not allow the the depth of that trial to last more than a few days.

Slowly, as the medication took effect in my body, my emotions were able to level off to a certain extent and I was not completely consumed by darkness.

*The 3rd hour of LDS church services is divided into various groups. Relief Society is the group for the women 18 and older in the church.

**Also known as Mormons

Friday, July 25, 2008

2 kids are harder than 1

My mother came and went. My husband returned to work and his Ph.D. program. The dinners and visits stopped coming. My life was a whirlwind of nursing, diaper changing, and chasing Bradley, my 2 year old. Sleep was an unfulfilled dream. I'd snatch an hour or two here or there, but I never left the state of exhaustion.

I admit I wondered why I was so worn out, but then again, I'd never had two children. Two is harder than one, right? Millions of women on the earth at that very moment had at least two children and with more and they were still functioning and functioning well.

I didn't know how to ask for help...that's not something a "real women" has to do, right? I was so mixed up in this world of supposed dos and don'ts. I was the one that everyone came to for help and advice. I was the strong one...or so I thought.

Inside I was slowly dying.

Each day my stamina would decrease. The exhaustion was taking over and things weren't getting easier like they were supposed to.

In the past I would spend hours filling Bradley's mind. He has always been eager to learn and I secretly prided myself for fostering his above age level intelligence. Before Braeden's birth I had prepared all sorts of fun games and activities to do with Bradley. I wanted him to know he was still right there at the top of my priorities list...he just had to share the room a little bit more.

Braeden turned 3 months.

My delivery scars had long since healed, but my emotional ones were more infected and sore than ever.

My daily routine was feed my boys and lie on the couch until Ryan would come home from school to take over. Showers were too much effort and were only taken to keep some level of cleanliness. Our once bright and open apartment was usually dark behind pulled blinds. Bradley was learning and growing in his TV watching and GameCube playing skills...not exactly what I had planned for my smart little boy.

While I was lost in my own darkness, my husband was standing by watching the decent. I was breaking his heart. He was in the middle of his Ph.D. studies to become a Marriage and Family Therapist. He knew what was happening, but I couldn't hear his pleas that I get help.

"The kind of people that needed medicine and therapy had a problem, I was just tired. You know at least you don't have to be home with the boys all day." I'd often respond.

How hypocritical I was. I really thought I was above such help. I could barely even appreciate the marvelous work that my husband did for so many people.

"And honestly, how much could someone really help anyone. What good is talking about it? I talk to you about my problems all the time and that hasn't changed them."

How those words must have stung. Could I have been more insensitive?

Then a bittersweet event long sick Grandfather passed away. How could we afford to go on a graduate student budget? I told my parents we just weren't going to be able to make it. My parents graciously offered to pay our way. I felt panicked.

Money was no longer the obstacle, but going without Ryan seemed like I was being asked to walk the 2000 miles with my boys on my back.

There was no way on such short notice that Ryan could break away from his CRAZY schedule. I cried and pleaded for him to come. I knew it made no sense, but I didn't know if I could handle it on my own.

I love my family dearly, but there had been some tough things in the past and I always relied on Ryan to pull me through our visits. How could he expect me to go to such an emotionally charged event by myself. I was frustrated. I was mad. I was hurt. I was irrational.

Finally in a moment of divine help I accepted going with Braeden and leaving Bradley home...2 kids was more than I could handle. The trip was rough, but everything turned out alright, but something needed to change.

By this point I could no longer accept that there was nothing wrong. I was barely functioning. Most of the housework was put on Ryan's willing shoulders, not to mention any real quality time with the kids, oh and of course his course work, private counseling, and BUSY church responsibilities.

I finally heard the music and made a tearful call to my OB's office. They prescribed a low level of Zoloft and scheduled a follow up appointment 2 weeks later.

...I had Postpartum depression.

It was just hormones...

I was sitting in the tiny hospital room; my bed nearly touching the walls. I was thankful for the solitude, but desperately lonely at the same time. I was feeling frantic. I could barely read (reading is usually like breathing for me) and the thought of making my long list of phone calls was more than I could handle. Something wasn't quite right.

My trip to the hospital was not for injury, but for something infinitely more 2nd son's why wasn't I happy? My dear sweet husband was there by my side the entire labor and delivery...he's always there...but due to our living thousands of miles from our parents and over 400 miles to our closest realtive he had a responsibility to our then 2 year old son. Great friends of ours watched him during the delivery, but now that all of that was done and since I sent young Braeden to the nursery except to eat, I should have been able to handle it...but I couldn't.

Needless to say I was more than happy to leave the next day after my allowed 24 hour stay. When my husband came back to pick us up my mood started to level out and I attributed my anxiety from the night before to hormones and put it behind me.