Friday, January 4, 2008

Saturday, June 30, 2007 - "Me and My Shadow"

Some days I barely even notice it. Other days, it shows up thick and ugly and mean as a snake. Most days, it's just there, and no matter what I do, I can't seem to shake it. It's the big "D" word....
DEPRESSION.
I've been lugging it around for the past 10 years, since my firstborn joined the family. I thought it was just an innocent case of baby blues, but lo and behold, that sucker rented a U-Haul and just moved right in with me.
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It took me a long time to figure it out, too. Depression is like that - elusive, like a shadow. It starts off lurking around, and maybe you don't notice it so much. Like in my case, I thought it was "baby blues", like everyone told me I would have after giving birth to a bouncing baby human. For the first few weeks, it was pretty blatant. But it settled down for the most part after that. Then, 2 years later we added another little human to the mix. What do you get when you put one mom, one 2 yr. old, and an infant together in one little house all day? Answer: psycho-mom! There were days when I called my dh so many times at work that it was a miracle he didn't get fired. I'd call him bawling my eyes out, as if there were anything he could do about it from his workplace. Sometimes he'd break free and come home to check on me. But then he'd have to leave again, so it almost made it worse. I'm not kidding you, it was scary. I remember feeling so desperate at that point. And then, I didn't even realize just HOW desperate I was. I had tried to talk to my doctor about it. He said, "Oh, just give it a few weeks and you'll feel better." And in the depressed state that I was in, I took that to mean, "You're being silly. There's nothing wrong with you. Stop complaining and get used to your new life - trapped at home FOREVER!” Sound a little extreme? Try being depressed - everything seems extreme. Seriously.
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Just to give you a visual on how bad this was, when my 2nd child was born, I weighed 150 lbs. That's post-pregnancy and all. By the time she was 6 months old, I weighed 200 lbs.. No joke. 50 pounds in 6 months. Can we say "warning signs"!? Hello!? My friends were dropping like flies, since no one could stand to be around me. Even my nearest, dearest friend, who was there for me through everything before... did not understand. Dropped me like a hot rock. I was just no fun to be around - I'll admit it. I was obsessive about all the baby's things being absolutely spotless and sanitary. If we were out somewhere and the paci fell on the floor - that was it, we HAD to go home and BOIL it immediately. That actually happened one time, and the friends we were out with really thought I had gone mad. I guess, in a way, I had. Hindsight is 20/20, eh?
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(I hate looking back at the times when my kids were small with such despair. I don't want to make it sound like it was all so horrible, because it wasn't. There were lots and lots of great times and we have some great memories, so don't go thinking I'm a horrible mom. I'm just trying to relate a state of mind, so that means talking about the not-so-fun stuff.)
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So, my doctor didn’t listen to me. For my 3rd pregnancy, I switched doctors. My new doctor was much more understanding and knowledgeable about postpartum depression, and he introduced me to a new medication called Zoloft that would help balance out my serotonin levels. Within a few weeks of starting the medication, I felt like a new person. Once I started feeling better, it became apparent to me just how depressed I had really been for all that time. It was actually very scary to look back at those down times.
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Today, I’m still on medication for depression, and most of the time, I feel fine. But it always seems to be there, lurking in the shadows. Even with the meds, there are times when I feel myself slipping back into it. For example, late afternoons are always the hardest part of the day for me. For the longest time I thought it was just coincidence, but recently I’ve been reading about others who experience the same feelings in late afternoon. Maybe there’s more to it than I realize. There’s just something about that time of day that really gets to me. I wish I could put my finger on it, figure it out, and do away with it once and for all. I’d really like to kick this “shadow” out of my life for good.
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