Not a happy topic I know, but one that I’ve been tripping over a lot lately.
First I read this over at Blogher about how people are trying to block a law that would encourage the screening of mothers for Post Partum Depression.
Read it and read the supporting links. I especially liked the piece that makes the point that drugs are not always the solution, and the drug that works for one may not work for another.
Then I read a post over at Joy Unexpected. She closed the comments, so I couldn’t give her an Internet hug and tell her it is time to give her doctor the proverbial kick in the pants and demand referrals to an endocrinologist AND a mental health professional. Life’s too short to be this miserable honey. A few days later she posted saying that she recognized that she was battling depression. Yeah Y! Oh Y, so glad you recognize the signs, now do something to make it stop. I know you love your doctor, but from the outside looking in, it just doesn’t sound like he’s taking care of you this time. Pick up the phone and demand that meathead give you a referral to a mental health professional. PLEASE.
Then I read this over at Suburban Oblivion and I thought it was the most freakin’ spot on description of depression I’d ever read. Sarah said
“Depression is not having a bad day, or even a bad week. It’s normal emotions, amplified. Minor annoyances become rage, forgetting something at the store turns into a crying breakdown, and you are so exhausted a simple load of laundry is as overwhelming as a trip up Mount Everest.“
This definition really resonated with me.
As in been there . . . done that.
I was pretty solid after the birth of my first child. But times were different. We were on solid financial footing and I was fortunate to be surrounded by close friends all with young kids. I didn’t have to worry about working so much, so I could spend my days sitting at the mall playground with my baby and my friends getting out, and getting the support I needed.
Times were different after the birth of my second 4 years later.
Finances were REALLY tight and we were living in another state with no mommy-meeting-place and an hour and a half away from my closest friends. I had my husband’s family, but it was different. I fought like hell to make it work, but I just could not get it together. I was having a hard time focusing. I felt like I was constantly chasing my tail and I was an emotional wreck. I would cry and the drop of a hat and the littlest slights would send me into a rage. I remember sitting on the stairs sobbing. The baby was sleeping my husband had taken our daughter to the dump and I had just finished balancing the check book. We were actually in the black, but it had taken me hours to complete the task at hand. I couldn’t deal. I was overwhelmed, sluggish and angry and the most frustrating part was that I didn’t know why. It was 7 months before I would take the advice of a dear friend and seek help.
I finally made an appointment with my doctor. I must have sounded bad because they created and appointment slot for me and warned me to be prompt. So naturally the morning of the appointment was a disaster or so it seemed to me at the time. My daughter was sick, and we just could not get our act together to get out the door. I dropped my son at daycare and heard on the traffic report that the road I needed to take was backed up with traffic. I was going to be a few minutes late. This little nugget of information was enough to send me over the edge. I was driving down said road (which wasn’t bad at all) tears streaming down my face.
I see a physician’s assistant, we have a lot in common, we’re both working mom’s with 2 young kids. We’re both carrying too much extra weight and struggling to find time for ourselves. When I saw Wendy that day, she was understanding, but very matter of fact. “You’re older, you’re stressed. It is a chemical imbalance. There’s nothing wrong with you. This is a physical issue. Don’t beat yourself up. Read this, let’s try a low dose of Zoloft, call me if you need me otherwise I’ll see you in six weeks.”
So, I started on the requisite 25mg dose and worked up to 50mg per day. A relatively low dose. All I can say is AHHHHHHHHH. With in days, I felt more like myself than I had in months. It wasn’t a magic pill, all was not immediately perfect in the kingdom (never will be), but I was in a much better place to handle the stress of life.
I’m not much of a pill popper. So, six months later I wanted to try and wean off the medication. Wendy reminded me I had a chemical imbalance and that I might need the drugs for the rest of my life, but she was supportive of my desire to try and wean. I went from 50mg to 25mg and then to nothing. Um, BIG MISTAKE. All my symptoms came back. I couldn’t think straight, I cried at the drop of a hat, I was anxious. Wendy was equally supportive when I said “Write me a life time prescription for that stuff.”
I’m not always on top of things as I should be and sometimes a day (or two) goes by and I have forgotten my pills. Mommy’s fuse is REALLY short, my thoughts are scattered, it is ugly. Zoloft is now available in generic form Yahoo!! Down from a $25 dollar co-pay to a $10 co-pay. Frankly, I don’t care, I’d pay full price out of pocket (but don’t tell my insurance company m’kay?).
Unless you’ve been there, you just can’t understand it. I’m a fairly resilient person and I have a very low tolerance for victims. But for many people depression isn’t something you can just “get over”.
I believe that drugs aren’t always the solution and different drugs affect different people well differently. I got lucky to find a PA who had a clue and that the first medicine we tried worked for me. But not everyone is that lucky. It is crucial that people in general, but postpartum women and women dealing with hormone balances in particular get the support they need. For some, it is a mother’s group. For others it is one on one counseling and for others it is medication or some combination of the three.
Please don’t be embarrassed to get the help you need.
Educate yourself about the options.