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Friday, March 18, 2011

PPD

Today I finally acknowledged something that has been going on. My mood is not right. I think I have Postpartum Depression.

It is very hard for me to acknowledge this. As a mental health professional, I know all of the causes and the treatments. I know that the people who come into my office often struggle to just make it through the day. I know that this is not weakness on their parts, that this is not how they would live if they had a choice. I know I have no choice in this...and yet...

The depression is steadily growing worse. It is not particularly disabling yet in that I am still able to function. I feel nothing though. I see my kids laugh, I play with them, I talk and laugh with my husband....all the while I feel dead on the inside. I have no motivation to clean my house, to exercise, to make sure my family is taken care of and eating their veggies, etc. Just tonight my husband and daughter went outside to practice hurdles for track and I had no desire to join them or watch. I even told Elizabeth that I did not want to go outside with them. I could happily sleep for hours on end and still be tired. I feel listless, overwhelmed, and yet so very very ice cold all at once.

I must be very good at hiding this because Charles almost fell over when I told him. He asked why I had not mentioned this before. I say it is because I thought it would go away. And I truly did, she who should know better. I thought that it was due to sleep deprivation. But wait...Charlie basically sleeps through the night. I thought I was being over dramatic. Then why is it getting worse? I still laugh, right? I still get out of bed and get the kids to school, go to work, maintain my hygiene. Why do I need to FEEL? I am certainly not ACTING depressed. But inside is a different story.

Inside I am screaming. I know there is something wrong. Just a few weeks ago, I was ok. I did not even get the baby blues too terribly badly this time around. I thought I was out of the woods. Not so much. Inside there is ice surrounding what used to be the warmest parts of my heart. I still love my family and I am NOT having thoughts of hurting them or myself...I know enough to make sure that this never ever goes that far. But what kills me is that I feel nothing now, and while I intellectually know that this should bug me...really, it does not. And that is not fair to my children, my husband, or me. I refuse to live my life like this when a few short weeks ago Elizabeth's accomplishments at school made me burst with pride; Alexis's antics made me laugh; Charlie's smile made me into a pile of mush, and Charles's touch never failed to turn me on. Now, I lack even the motivation to pursue the things that I know used to bring me joy.

That is not life. I saw how good things could be, and I am not going to let my brain's screwed up biochemistry take that from me. So I will get over myself and drag my ass to the doctor's. I will go on antidepressants. I will go to therapy if needed. I will not do that to my children or my husband. I WILL live life.

This will not beat me.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Commands

So the bad part about going PRN for my job is that I am now in the office more often than I was when I was doing home-based therapy. Much less stress, because I don't have people calling me saying, "My son is holding a knife to my throat, WTF do I do?" Too bad I am always professional, because I usually really want to say, "WTF do you mean, 'WTF do I do?' Why the hell are you on the phone with me? CALL THE COPS!!!"

Anywho, being in the office more is not bad because I particularly dislike it there or any of the people that are usually at the office. It is bad because of the abundance of chocolate that is there. Specifically, Dove Dark chocolate. One of my colleagues has it on her desk, just free for the taking. I think I want to have her babies...but again, I digress. And I can usually do pretty well with avoiding it, but I have had my monthly free pass for chocolate (AKA my period) coming up, so I indulged. If you can call "indulging" being the same thing as "you have eaten enough of this chocolate that you might need to enter a 12 step program for chocolate addiction ".

I slowed down enough in my frantic shoveling in of the chocolate to notice that there were little sayings printed on the inside of the wrappers. Things like, "Enjoy a sunset!" or "Hug someone!" Just little sayings, giving you commands on how to improve your life. And of course, this got me thinking about how sometimes I feel that there are so many vague entities in my life who are giving me commands. "Look this way!" "Be this thin!" "No, be thinner!" "You need to do XYZ or you are a horrible parent!" "You need to do XYZ to be a good wife!" "Oh, and don't forget to make time for yourself...but you are horrible if you do!" Etc., Etc. These invisible forces, sometimes a creation of my own socialization/mind, sometimes overt messages, sometimes covert messages...I often feel as though I am bombarded by these commands that I can never obey. Or that if I do obey this command, I will be bombarded with commands from the invisible entity on the other side.

Perfect example...I really wanted to nurse Charlie. I nursed Alexis like I was born to do it (which some will argue I was!) It was easy with her. Charlie, not so much...but I was lucky that I knew I had 8 weeks to take off work, so I had time to work through the issues. And we did. Then I found out that I had to stop after I stopped taking my heparin because of the medicines I would take that replaced the heparin. Holy guilt.

The commands were telling me that my baby was going to be slow, unhealthy, get cancer, and die a horrible death if I did not nurse. They were also telling me that a good mom sacrifices EVERYTHING for her child. Then I had the ones on the other side...that being formula fed was not a death sentence (Elizabeth was formula fed, and she is just fine), that I had to take care of myself to take care of my baby...the war was on. Ultimately, I stopped nursing because I am pretty fond of this thing called life, and my medications have saved my life. But the commands keep coming, usually unleashed by an unwitting source...the ads for "Breast is best", a coworker who innocently assumes that I am still nursing...

So those little labels on the inside of the chocolate? Innocent, yes. However, I really wish that I had not seen them as they just remind me of all the things I "should" be doing. When did society make women HAVE to be superwomen? When will I learn to ignore the commands so I can just enjoy my PMS relief?

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Lucky

I have been thinking about my son a lot lately. I am not really sure of the reason why. It has always kind of been like this for me....while I do think of him each and every day, there are periods of time when I seem to be more consumed by it. (Side note here...I never thought that it was possible to think of someone who was deceased every day when I was a child. I remember reading something about a woman who had miscarried and how she did this and distinctly remember thinking, "Yeah right. Surely there are SOME days she does not think of that." Boy, was I wrong...) Sure, there are the obvious ones...the day he was born, my due date, etc. But the end of February/beginning of March has no obvious correlation to anything to do with Gabe, really. It seems to come and go with out rhyme or reason; sometimes triggered by a song or a movie or an innocent comment. Sometimes triggered by nothing at all. This is one of those times.

As I was driving to work yesterday, I heard on the radio Carrie Underwood's "This is Just a Dream". While the song actually appears to be about a woman who loses her husband to a war, it has always resonated to me with regards to Gabe. It did and still does feel like a dream. I still can't believe the events that have sprung from losing him. I lost so much more after I lost him. A child; most definitely...but also my innocence when it comes to pregnancy, my beliefs that I do in fact have my health, and lastly, my sisters-in-law on my husband's side.

Honestly, that last one is mostly not that big a loss to me. I never had much use for my husband's sisters. I tried, truly I did. We are just cut from very different cloth. So I kinda went along with having a semi-good relationship with them until they both made the decision to not come to Gabe's funeral. I have no use for them now. People tell me to forgive and move on, but I lose no sleep over losing these relationships. I actually have significantly LESS stress than I did before. In a way, cutting them off also enabled me to take a look at other relationships in my life and evaluate what I was getting out of them. This may seem cold, but I learned a valuable lesson here...you DON'T have to stay around people that are sucking you dry. Conversely, I learned that you can't expect perfection out of people. You do, however, have the choice to weigh whether the good outweighs the bad. In this case, the answer was that it did not.

I am speaking of this because tonight my husband told me that his one sister wants to see Charlie. My first reaction is why the hell should I allow them to see her? Fair weather family is what that is...only wanting to be a part of our lives when things are all good. I am sure for people around me that it is hard to acknowledge my son. I even wrote about having to forever apologize to people for his existence in past posts. But IMHO, a TRUE family member won't try to brush the uncomfortable under the rug. My husband's family has a habit of doing this. I won't allow it when it comes to my son. He existed, and it hurt the hell out of us. So sorry if that is not convenient for you. Life SUCKS sometimes.

My second reaction was that it is always like this with her. She has moved out of state, and every time she comes back she expects everyone to fall all over themselves to run out and see her. It was like this even before Gabe, and quite frankly, it annoys the shit out of me.

My third reaction was one of concern for my husband. I know that if he takes Charlie over there, his mother will have thought that she has "won" and that he will magically forgive his sisters and all will be all better and she can pretend that nothing is wrong. While there may come a day when he decides to attempt a relationship with them again, it is not now and nor will it be because his mother demanded it. As irritating as her thinking that is, my main concern is that he will get hurt, again, because of the selfishness of his sisters. That they will demand from him now what he is not willing to give yet. I asked him to not let Charlie be alone with them if they do go. He has agreed; this shows me yet again how much this man truly loves me. He is willing to stay in a room with someone that hurt him deeply (and mind you, he was closer to this sister as well...) so that I don't have to go through that discomfort and pain again.

That is the final thing I learned from Gabe. How very lucky I am.