Monday, March 29, 2010

dark and, pitch and bright.

A few blogs ago I vowed to complain less. Well, then I didn't blog for a while because sadly I didn't have anything good to say. I've always been very forthcoming about my personal journey with mental health issues. It's the one soapbox I'm always more than happy to get on. Depression is as near and dear to my heart as one would ever WANT depression to be. I've struggled with depression and anxiety most of my adult life (and probably earlier). Thankfully I've never been ashamed or scared to get help. Nor have I ever shied away from being open and talking about my symptoms, my relapses, my losses, my victories, my doctors and therapists, meds that I've loved, meds that I've hated, and how all of it affected me.
Just in the last month, a cold Grace brought home and kindly shared turned into pneumonia for me. I felt exhausted, drained, and still so nauseous. Every morning was a struggle to get out of bed and the day was only an uphill battle from there. It was only then I realized that I felt overwhelmed, lethargic, catatonic, hopeless, and beat down. When I announced to Rob that I was going to see a doctor for the hole I was sunk in addition to the respiratory issues, his response was, "Finally." Often times I don't recognize just how far I've fallen until I'm there.
Fast forward 3-4 weeks. A therapeutic dose of antibiotics and Zoloft later, suddenly I'm a new woman. I will stubbornly admit that I'd had the prescription for the Zoloft since my first OB appointment last fall. You just don't leave a gal who loves and thrives on Cymbalta hanging with nothing for nine months; that's just asking to take a nose dive off the edge of emotional wellness. My doc was very proactive about this and made sure I left with my prescription in hand. It was my omnipotent self that ventured into a hyper-emetic pregnancy SSRI-less with nothing more than some saltines, ginger ale, and Flintstones vitamins to try and see me through until delivery. Not only am I slightly crazy, I'm also fucking stupid.
I know better. I SO know better! In my defense, I had used Zoloft in my early twenties without noticeable improvement and moved on to try something else (under the supervision of someone qualified, of course). If during pregnancy it wasn't safe to take the drug that I knew worked best for me (Cymbalta), then why the hell was I going to bother with "something safe" that I was pretty convinced would not be working for me. If my go-to wasn't proven safe, then nothing was safe in my opinion. So stubborn and so stupid, WHY?! I'll tell you why, because I'm pregnant. Any mother would do anything and everything she could to protect her child. I want my children to be happy and healthy, but more than anything depression-free. My biggest worry is that the meds I would take now would mess with the development of their neurotransmitters and make them that much more likely to develop mental health issues. I braved Grace's pregnancy with nothing (not unscathed either) and was determined to battle through even the darkest days for this little guy on my maternal drives alone. Yeah right, tell that to my depression.
The dark takes over the light. For me the spectrum is so broad that I would even describe my best and my worst as a bright, amazing, fabulously fulfilling life versus a pitch black darkness able to void everything I love about this life. Please don't worry that I have thoughts about hurting myself or others, especially Grace. Depression leaves me voided. It is the absence of light that is so prevalent and unmovable that I feel. Cymbalta changes all of that. 60 mg a day helps me be me. It's that simple. There is no amazing superhuman emotional strength from that bottle. I have good days and bad, just like everyone else. The stark difference is that I CAN where before everything is a something I simply can not handle.
The darkest dark of this pregnancy occurred in December when I was so sick I needed to be hospitalized for IV rehydration. Secretly I longed for the baby to just go away. Life had become such a physical and mental struggle that I just wanted to be myself again. The recent memory of how fabulous life was lingered heavily on my mind, and I wanted to get back there at any cost. Now that I'm rolling through my 3rd trimester and so enamored with the son I'm going to have, I feel so sad for the me that was then. I needed help and some mental relief, it's just too bad I didn't get it until now.
In a rare moment of clarity recently, Grace and I were sitting in her room singing, cuddling, and laughing before nap time. I realized that I was happy and enjoying the moment and that I hadn't been enjoying these moments with her for a long time. It pains me that depression turns my acts of mothering into a chore. I knew I was getting myself back in that moment; my clouds opened up and there was light. Like a long overdue smile from a dear friend, there was my happiness. Pregnancy may have to ability to bring me so low, but (with a little pharmaceutical help) it is being a mother that also brings me so much joy.

1 comment:

  1. Lilah,

    Thanks for posting this. There's a lot of people who could be inspired enough by your lack of shame and fear in sharing this to get help for themselves.

    I, too, have struggled with depression and anxiety most of my adult life (and probably earlier), but I was too ashamed, scared and stubborn to get help until recently. I felt like I was weak for not being able to handle life on my own, but a good friend made me realize that it takes strength to get help. She convinced me that there was nothing to be ashamed of as a lot of people suffer from depression and anxiety. Before seeking help, I was miserable and hopeless and couldn't control my anger, so I would lash out... and usually at the people I cared about most. I definitely wasn't the Kimberly I aspired to be and it was definitely time to do something about it!

    But getting help isn't always easy because what works for one person might not work for another, and so it can seem like a roller coaster ride until you find what works. I first tried Lexipro which made my depression and anxiety 10 times worse and I had a complete breakdown. Then I tried clonopin which relaxed me, but a little too much... I felt like a zombie. Then my doctor had me try zoloft but that made me irritable and restless because I felt like my skin was crawling. I nearly gave up because I felt like a pin cushion so-to-speak. But I gave it one last try and the perfect combination was finally found... A daily dose of Welbutrin and Valium and voila! I'm ME!

    It's just important for those seeking help to not give up and also to remember that, like you pointed out Lilah, even with medication you will still have good days and bad days. The difference is that with the you can handle the ups and downs, because you know there are brighter days ahead.

    Well, I guess my friend was right and so I'm grateful and glad I finally listened!

    Thanks Lilah. Stay healthy, stay well and stay Lilah :-)