Wednesday, October 26, 2016

How My Medication Saved Your Life

Whenever I start helping a new mom, the first thing she tells me is that she doesn't know how to ask for help. She's afraid to ask for help. Her partner doesn't understand and a doctor probably won't either. So she stays quiet. She thinks those thoughts and feelings are shameful and should be kept to herself and she needs to accept this as her new life. She can never go back to the person she was.

I am calling bullshit.

If you were once a happy person, enjoyed life, found pleasures in the simple things, or were able to leave your house, you can be that person again. It is not impossible. And shame on anyone in your life that would make you think you can't be that person again. Shame on anyone that makes you think nothing is wrong. Shame on them for not being there for you when you needed them the most.

After I hear this heartbreaking new reality for these new moms, the next thing I tell them is this: admitting something is wrong is the hardest part of getting better.

Admitting to myself was the worst. I cried every day. I dreaded Hubs leaving me home alone, even if it was only for a few minutes. I knew something was wrong, but I wasn't going to have postpartum anything; I was fine. But around week 5 I knew this wasn't going to pass and was in fact, only going to get worse. Thankfully, my postpartum check up was right around the corner. (PS - if you think you are suffering, you DO NOT need to wait for this appointment. If you are one week postpartum, you can call. If you are 2 days postpartum, call and make the appointment). I feel so lucky that I only suffered for 6 weeks before finding the strength to ask for help. And my help wasn't even gifted to me through asking, but by my lack of ability to hold my shit together when my doctor cheerfully asked me how I was doing at my postpartum checkup and bursting into uncontrollable tears so horrible a nurse had to come take my daughter from the room because I couldn't hold her.

So I awkwardly laid there at my postpartum checkup while my doctor examined how I was healing as she explained she knew exactly how I was feeling and knew what I needed to feel better. She was going to write me a prescription for Prozac. Ya'll, I have never filled a prescription for something so fast in my life. I needed those pills. I had reached a point of desperation and anguish that I needed it to go away and go away NOW! I knew it would take almost a whole month to build up in my system to fulling start working, but after just a few days I started only crying once a day instead of all day, so I knew they were working. But then a mysterious rash started on my back and abdomen and was diagnosed with hives. I was allergic to fucking Prozac! My doctor then prescribed me Wellbutrin. The pharmacy told me it would take four days to get the medication in. I couldn't handle it. I was unmedicated, allergic to the one thing that gave me relief in almost 2 months and now I can't even get Option B. I called my nurse crying. My nurse, whose name was Jackie and I will never forget how absolutely amazing this woman was, called the pharmacy and miraculously they were able to fill it for me same day. (There is a special place in heaven for Jackie). After a week of the new medication, I didn't feel any better. In fact, I felt worse. I went back yet again to my doctor. I was miserable. She admitted she had been thinking about me since my last appointment and didn't think I was allergic to Prozac. Well hallelujah. Apparently my rash was something that most often occurred in postpartum women, but typically right after birth and not almost 2 months later. Go figure. So I was back on the Prozac. Things started to get better.

But why couldn't you just go to therapy?

I will tell you why. I was not just depressed. I had postpartum OCD, anxiety and depression. I wasn't 'just sad.' I feared things I had never feared before and in irrational volumes. I thought things I knew I shouldn't be thinking, and that made me fear doing much of anything. If I was driving the car with my daughter in the backseat, I would wonder what would happen if I just didn't stop at a stoplight, or didn't turn the wheel when the road turned.....I would be holding P and vividly see myself dropping her, or leaving her outside strapped in her carseat on the back step (in negative temperatures). I didn't think I would actually do these things, but how could I possibly know that? I never hurt P or myself, but those thoughts were scary and I was afraid for the one day I wasn't able to control them. I honestly believe that help came just in time.

Medication saved my life and it saved my babies life. I don't know what this disease could have done to me if I hadn't been able to admit, seek and begin treatment. I could have hurt others. I would have hurt others. I'm sure of it. My treatment was not easy. It can't always be a walk in the park. It's really hard. There are bumps in the road that are sometimes so huge you don't even want to attempt to get over them. But eventually it levels out and you get to live your life again.

Just when I thought I was better, I fell low again and needed medication to bring me back up. This time, I did need therapy too, which helped immensely, but I needed something to help control the emotions and irrational actions. We're trying this again, Hubs and I, and hoping for a full recovery. There are only a few pills left in the bottle I haven't touched in almost a month now. I hope I never need them again, but I can't be ashamed to admit when I'm wrong and when I need help. Admitting will always the hardest, but the outcome is so incredibly worth it. How could you possibly know how great your life can really be if you don't give yourself a chance? You're worth being the best you for you. Don't forget that.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016


I've rewritten this blog post about 400 times this week, but since I have a great bout of insomnia going, I figure I would give it one last shot before posting it for the world to see.

Make that 402. I just wrote this post, twice, and deleted it, twice. I want to write to you about burdens and mental illness, but I cannot for the life of me figure out how to put that into words. So maybe the key is to just write without thinking because if I don't get it out I fear I will never sleep again. So here goes.

I feel like my mental illness is a burden on others. Mostly, on Hubs and P. Is that true? I don't know for sure. What I do know is that they get the brunt of my illness. They have to deal with my emotions and my actions more than anyone else. There are days when I know what I'm doing is wrong and that I'm burdening them with my own issues, and on those days I feel like a super horrible mom. I'm such a bad mom. I still don't really know how to do this whole mom thing and I try to figure it out, but clearly some of you got the manual and I didn't because there are so many reminders on what I'm doing wrong. And I'm a bad wife. I don't remember my vows word for word anymore, but I'm sure I'm not living up to the expectations I set for our marriage on that day. And depression and anxiety are not my illness, but my families'; I may suffer from it, but they are carry the burden. My family lives with this everyday, and I bet there are days they get really sick of it. Me too. I am tired, ya'll (emotionally, not physically, because that would just be too good to be true).

I read an excerpt the other day about light and shadows and no matter how much we try to move, the light continues to cast a shadow behind us. The darkness, the shadow, is behind us. We cannot be in our own shadow; it's a mere reflection. It got more complicated after that, and I think it was actually a comparison to Heaven (not really sure), but as I read it I could only compare it to mental illness. This illness is a reflection of darkness, but there is light around it too.

So basically what this means is I have this thing that won't go away no matter how hard I try and there are good days and there are bad days and light and darkness and it all comes together to symbolically remind us that everything will be okay, but at the end of the day there is still a burden. (Yeah, it was really unhelpful when I read it, too).

I love my family. I don't want to burden them or make them feel bad or think they are in any way to blame for why things are the way they are and I just want everything to be better. To be okay. To be how it used to be. And then I try to remember what life felt like before we all became burdened and I really don't even know because it doesn't seem so bad now as it did before, but it's still not the same. And I don't know what any of this means, really, but what I do know is that there is a weight, a really heavy weight, and it's on my shoulders all the time. The weight cannot be lifted through selfcare (which I am a very fluent practitioner of), or rest or hugs or prayer (trust me). The weight, much like physical weight, will dissipate with time and hard work.

In the mean time, we suffer. And I somehow have to keep moving forward on days when I don't want to, and I still need to get out of bed even if sometimes I really need to convince myself that I can do it. And my family does too. They will keep tolerating me through my outbursts and keep loving me even when they don't like who I am in that moment and together we'll keep trying to lift this weight and push it off, into the shadows behind us, forever.

This is probably the only blog post that truly upset me because there was no solution at the end. I don't know what the answers are. I want to, does that count? I wish this story had a happy ending with a successful plan of action that you could put into place in your own life to feel less burdensome, but I don't have that today. And that's what this blog is for. I promised in my first post that this would be real and raw. So here it is.

22 months later. No cure yet. Will check again tomorrow.

Edit to add: If you read this entire post, thank you. I needed to get this out, which meant I didn't spell check or re-read anything. This was the result of that. I accept full responsibility of any spelling or grammatical errors.