Nope. Right now I want to talk about that thing people like to call "the baby blues." ...Postpartum depression (PPD)...the weepies. I know that there is approximately a bajillion blog posts out there about PPD (My personal favorite being dooce. She was admitted into a psychiatric ward for her severe PPD. I think she does an amazing job describing depression and I love her and I'm moving on now.) but I've decided not to let that keep me from telling MY story. I'm constantly reminded of how little we know about depression. I've had too many of my friends tell me that they've always been such "happy people" that they can't even conceive of being depressed...especially after they've had babies. Not enough of us know that being a happy person has pretty much nothing to do with whether or not you may experience depression of any kind. And so, here's my story:
Let's start with a little back-story. I was first diagnosed with depression and anxiety in graduate school, about 6 months after N8tr0n and I got married. I still tell myself that the combination of marriage, moving (to northwest Washington nonetheless), and beginning an intense graduate program was too much for my system. A wire was tripped and I was depressed. Regardless of the cause I was a panicked crying mess in the fetal position on our bed or the couch anytime I wasn't at school. I was completely overwhelmed by the list of things I had to do, and whenever I tried to open up a book to study I would burst into tears because there was ABSOLUTELY NO WAY I was going to be able to make a dent in my homework so why even try SOB. I didn't even know anything about speech pathology. THEY GAVE ME CLIENTS THE FIRST WEEK OF SCHOOL. I was going to completely ruin some little kid's life. I had to have gotten accepted to grad school on some crazy fluke. I was dropping out. Quitting school. I'll go back later. Right now I just need to go to sleep. And cry. And clean the house. And cry.
I don't remember how long it took me to talk to N8tr0n about what was going on. I do remember sitting on our bed thinking "Okay...you have to tell him. He won't think you're stupid, he loves you. But he might think you're making this up for attention...because that's what you're doing right? Things have gotten a little hard to you're just going to cry and quit right? But you're going to quit school and you can't just quit without telling him. Can you?" I shuffled out into the living room, put my head on his chest and said, "I think I have depression" and started sobbing. I felt so stupid and cliched. So stupid. So cliched. Bless you N8tr0n for saying that you thought so too...and then helping me to make an appointment with the school counselors, and eventually with a doctor.
I didn't drop out of school. Instead I got a full-time TA position and became the clinic coordinator which paid for a huge chunk of my tuition. It sounds like a good deal but it only made things worse. I hadn't gotten my depression and anxiety under control yet. I still wanted to quit school more than anything. Only now if I quit school I would be letting EVERYBODY down. N8tr0n, his parents, my parents, my professors, every client that ever walked through the doors of the clinic EVERYBODY. No matter that all of those people (with the exception of "all the people who walked through the doors" people) had told me that they would support me in any decision that I made. When you are depressed, your brain doesn't operate with a little thing some like to call logic.
Oh and I've barely mentioned the anxiety! Anxiety? You mean like, fear? Over what? I don't know. Driving (terrified). Reading. Waking up. Ruining a child by writing the wrong treatment goals. Failure. Constant gripping fear (remember -no logic- is the key). I remember telling my doctor after a few weeks on Wellbutrin that it was working okay, as in: "I'm still anxious all the time but now I don't cry about it." That is when I started taking BuSpar in addition to the Wellbutrin.
Here's the best way I can describe what my depression felt like back then. It felt like an icy cold grip on my heart. Exactly that. My dad actually coined that phrase. One night he called to see how I was doing and we talked about his brief experience with depression. He said it was like an icy cold grip on your heart. Yes.
Hmm...so I'm remembering that this post is supposed to be about POSTPARTUM depression and not POSTUNDERGRADUATE depression (though I think the latter may be equally prolific) so let's just say that eventually I got the depression/anxiety under control, didn't drop out of school, graduated barely know a thing about speech pathology (yeah I said it) and decided to have a baby. By then I was no longer taking anti-anythings. Nothing for depression or anxiety. I was hoping that living in a sunnier climate and not having the stress of graduate school weighing on me would make me free of daily medications. And for a while, that was true.
Z-cakes was born in February and six weeks later I was on medication for depression/anxiety yet again.
***I've divided this into two parts for two reasons (1) getting ridiculously long and (2) the second part has been much more difficult to write. But now I'm committed because you all want to know what happens next see?