Tuesday, April 15, 2008

And Now For Something Completely Different

I wanted to write something funny for my first post. Something that would make you giggle and grin and say, "Oh yeah, you got that right, chick!" Instead, something really serious seems to have been clawing at my insides. You ever have that experience? That feeling that something needs to be written?

I felt like I'd been sucker punched in the brain. No warning. No cerebral sourced shout of "Duck!" One moment I felt even keeled, stable, and in control. The next I was seriously whacked out, given to sudden fits of irrational weeping, and contemplating how much better the world would be without me in it.

And no angel was going to come show me the error of my thinking.

I was pregnant, and it was Neil's last year of grad school. The year where he worked in various clinics gaining invaluable experience and whatnot. The year that we moved every three months and thought that it made more sense to sleep on an air mattress than cart a huge mattress and boxspring around.

Remember that me being pregnant bit? Yup. That didn't go so well.

I decided something had to change. I needed help. So naturally I emailed Oprah. Our newest in a long line of apartments came with free cable, and I'd become rather enamoured with her. A week later, I received a phone call and was interviewed as a potential guest on the show. I cried. A lot. And they didn't call back. Can't blame 'em really. Still, it kind of dropped me to a new low.

I was so pathetic even Oprah didn't want me.

Next stop was my doctor. I told her that things had been getting really bad. I remember giving a hollow little laugh and telling her we were into the realm of the curled up in the fetal position sobbing like mad, that I'd had horrible dark thoughts about how my family would be better off without me. I cracked up a bit over that. She just sat there, listened dispassionatley, and then told me it was situational. My life was unstable, ergo, I was as well.

I had confessed to her my deepest, darkest secret. That I'd started having suicidal thoughts. She brushed it off, said I hadn't had depressive issues during my first pregnancy, so there was no way I would with my second. Once we settled down somewhere I'd feel better. No, no chance I'd have post partum depression. No worries, Kim, on your way now. Next patient, please.

I cried a lot on the drive home. To the point I had to pull over and sob in a Safeway parking lot because I couldn't see through the snot and tears.

I had my second child. I coped as best I could. I started having paralyzing anxiety attacks. My chest would seize up and I'd hyperventilate like mad. My vision would swim, black blooming spots would start to take over, and I'd have to grasp at something for support. I began to get really, really angry. I started slamming cupboard doors, losing patience with Emma several times a day, and then weeping uncontrollably the second the guilt set it.

And then my mother-in-law visited for two weeks. Let's just say, it's a wonder she's still speaking to me. A wonder.

Once Neil graduated and we settled down, I expected things to get better. I had a nice house, a lovely community to become a part of, and I quickly made some good friends.

The expected change never happened. I got worse. The anger turned into shouting and rage. The depression became all consuming, to the point that my previously oblivious friends and family began to be alarmed.

And then there came a week where I cried literally every...single...day. Sobbing into the phone one morning, a friend threatened to drive up to 100 Mile House and drag me to the doctor by my hair if necessary.

I'm a wuss and I have a sensitive scalp, so I elected to go on my own. The doctor I saw here sent me for a barrage of blood tests, expressed sympathy, put me on a super low dose of an anti-depressant, and literally twenty-four hours I felt fine.

Fine.

Neil made a comment about the wonders of the placebo effect. I wanted to smack him.

A year and a half later I'm off the medication, and I have my ups and downs. Those down times seriously freak me out. I think I'm going down that path again. That I'm going to be curled up in a ball crying and thinking scary dark thoughts again. But the great thing about ups and downs is that there are ups.

I have my own personal theories about depression. I think the link between nutrition and mood is a pretty solid one, and I've noticed mood trends that seem sourced in the sort of foods I eat.

Eating three bowls of Corn Pops in the morning? Bad, bad idea.

That's not the entirety of it though, and I hate to hear the raving judgments that fly about these days. Talk of depression as an excuse or a cop out. Something imaginary. An attention getter. Laziness incarnate. People can be really, really cruel, often without intending or realizing the fact.

To me though, it's something very, very real. Something that had me in its soul sucking grip for far, far too long, and seems often to wait there on the edges ready to snatch me up again. I feel the tears well at the thought. I am so much better than I was a year ago but I am still very, very much afraid.

13 comments:

HILLARY said...

came here by way of Mombabe. If not her it woulda been Celiafae!

Just wanted to say, your not alone. I recently had a breakdown. I've had postpart in the past, but this was different. I posted about how I was feeling. Thank goodness for meds. I feel fully functional again. Hang in there!

The MomBabe said...

Oh honey, I know. I know, I know, I know. I hate when depression gets trivialized. It's a very real, and very scary disease. The pain it causes, the rage it brings, the thoughts, and hurt, it's all very real.

We're here for you. And as silly as it seems, on those really tough days? Just remember that your internet friends are here, and that we understand, and that we want the best for you.

Tristi Pinkston said...

Thanks for sharing this, Kimberly -- I think more people need to understand just what depression means, that it is very real. I also think they need to give it a new name -- for a long time, we've said, "I'm depressed" when we mean, "I feel a little sad today," adn it puts the two on the same scale. True depression needs a name of its own so it can get its own attention and understanding, not to be made something trivial.

Kathy Covey said...

I don't know you, but I totally understand! My postpartum depression came after a miscarriage... I never had it after any of my 4 kids and it totally threw me for a loop before I realized what it was and could do anything about it. And I totally agree with you about the link with food. The thing that really helped me turn it around was the book "Potatoes not Prozac." I HIGHLY recommend it! Best wishes!

Ms.L said...

Ohh beautiful! This is a great post!
I had the same experience with my second child. My doctor said I was just 'nervous' about childbirth.
Whaaa??? and did nothing to help.
After she was born,I went nuts of course and would say it's only been up til recently that I'm 'normal' again.
I agree with you about food and mood,having a kid with ADHD and experiencing symptoms myself..
ANYways,my point is You're not alone,as I'm sure you can see and I am with ya,on changing the stereotypes and stopping hurting behavior towards folks with metal health issues.

An Ordinary Mom said...

I think every person in the world should read this post. People everywhere need to understand how serious depression is and that it is very real.

I can't believe how unsympathetic and out of touch with life your first doctor was?!? I am glad you finally saw another more competent one.

We love you!

Nichole said...

I can't imagine! I've only had the depressed days Tristi referenced. They're scary enough!
I also just read about a similar experience the author of Love Works Like This had. Frightening stuff. . . but thank GOD women like you are at least talking about it!!

Celia Fae said...

First things first. Oprah called you? Really? That is so cool. Who cares if you flunked the interview.

When I was knocked up with my third I went to the dr and told him I had prepartum depression. He told me there was no such thing and that I was just moody.

Turns out there is prepartum, only it is called antepartum, depression. You better believe I got treated for it before, during and after the fourth.

Way to be your own advocate. I'm glad the drug free lifestyle is working for you. Watch closely for breakthrough depression though. It bites the buttock area.

Michal said...

kimberly,
love the new digs! this is going to be a great read.
i had some milder (but still very real) ppd after my second. although some of it may have been situational and much of it hormonal, it didn't change my situation or my hormones. it was a dark time and i felt so much guilt over not bonding with my baby more, about the yelling, about not being the mom that i thought i was.
i think i had that experience so as to not be judgmental. i now longer think of people who struggle with depression as weak. sometimes we are given our trials in order to empathize with others later on.
i'm so glad that the second doctor figured out what was going on. you poor thing to go on that long without help.

holly said...

see now usually i don't experience snot and tears until i *get* to safeway. are you sure this wasn't just your proximity to safeway bothering you? cuz that would be justified...

love and hearts. :)

Jo Beaufoix said...

Brill post Kim. And you know I've been there too with this so I really know how you feel. I'm just starting to look at how the food I eat affects me. There's so much to learn but I can't wait to find out more. Hugs.

Carolyn said...

Powerful post Kim. You're awesome.

Stella said...

I can't stand when people just brush depression off or say it will pass. IT does not pass. IT does not always get better. IT is not easy. IT is not an excuse. And it does not cause pain only to the person who is suffering with it, it causes everyone around it pain.

I am afraid some days, too. Afraid it is back. Afraid it is consuming me and my family again.

Thank you so much for sharing yourself with us. Something so difficult and personal. Something so many of us have dealt with and deal with each day. You are brave and strong. We are here for you.