Monday, March 19, 2012

But I don't feel depressed.

It seemed to start in November. I thought it was PMS. For about a week, I felt full of rage, impatient, not myself. Then I got my period and things returned to normal. I felt happy. Thrilled to be home with the kids, finally having left my job. So excited about the coming holidays. Looking forward to my sister flying home from CA for an extended visit. Life was good. I had everything I've ever wanted. I certainly did not feel depressed. In December, the hormonal swing came on stronger and lasted longer. For two weeks, I felt like someone had taken over my body. She was a raging bitch. She was sarcastic with my children, short with my husband, full of rage and possessing zero patience. I hated her. My period came, and once again, I felt normal. Happy. But confused. And scared. Was this PMDD? I made an appt. to see my OB to go on birth control, thinking it would level out my hormones. The appt. was scheduled for February; her soonest opening. Until then, I'd ride it out.

In January, the crazy, rageful me came out stronger than ever. Kyle came home from work one day and I declared I was done. DONE. I shut myself in the bathroom and let him handle the kids...dinner, bedtime, all of it. I thought the bath would unwind me, help me relax. Instead, I lay in the warm water and was flooded by sudden and disturbing intrusive thoughts. It scared me. I scheduled an appointment with my PCP for the following morning.

And here's the sad reality. I recognized something was wrong. I took every step I knew to intervene, get myself back on track. It was too little, too late. The next month is a blur.

PCP prescribes Zoloft. Allergic reaction. PCP switches me to Paxil. I take it for several weeks, until it becomes apparent that Paxil and I do not get along. Instead of helping get my moods under control, it makes the instrusive thoughts much more vivid and tortourous. I start thinking of killing myself. Not because I want to die, but because I can't take the torture of my crazy mind any more. Terrified, I fess up to Kyle. I call Postpartum Support International. I get connected to a therapist who specializes in PPD. I see my OB and start on a hormone stabilizing birth control. My OB tells me to stop taking the Paxil, suspecting it's making my thoughts more vivid and violent. I stop cold turkey. Begin going through SSRI withdrawals. My anxiety goes through the roof. I constantly feel like I'm crawling out of my skin. For the first time since all of this started, I feel deeply depressed. I become totally overwhelmed by my life. My children. I throw myself into cleaning and baking. I steam mop my floors three times a day. I steam mop the toilets, the bathtubs, the counter tops. I vacuum constantly. My tiny kitchen is taken over by bubbling vats of sourdough starter. Anything I can do to escape the crazy. I'm too overwhelmed and anxious to be alone with the kids.  We set up a schedule of friends and family who come over every day to help me while Kyle is at work. While they're there, I wander my house in a frenzy, starting 100 projects and finishing none. I have some good days. Mostly I have bad days.

And then, I have "the day." Where my distorted thoughts stop feeling distorted and start sounding logical. Imagine you're walking across a bridge. You're just out for a walk, and the bridge is in front of you. Naturally, you start to cross it. And the next thing you know, instead of crossing it, you're standing on the edge. Your next step will be to jump. And what the fuck? You're just out for a walk. You don't want to die. This wasn't your plan. But here you are. Confused. Terrified.

It wasn't an actual bridge for me. What it was is deeply personal, deeply painful, and deeply sad. But as I stood on that metaphorical railing, I knew it was crazy. Crazy. I called for help. And with help, I climbed back down.

The next day I checked myself into a psych ward. It was the best thing I've ever done for myself.


freckletree. said...

My dear, strong soldier of a mama, I love you.

Anonymous said...

You are awesome and inspiring. Really. Truly.

rae ann said...

i don't know how long i've been following you... you've been in my google reader since i set it up, i'm sure. i'm a self professed lurker.

your story is powerful. i've read the last few posts as you've written them and i'm floored every time (intense emotions, tears, flecks of pain that i make me remember my own PPD). i know it's probably hard to see through the muck right now, but your courage and strength are still inside of you and they're glowing out on to the pages you type.

keep writing. keep being transparent. keep processing. keep asking for help.


Jenny said...

Just wanted to say how much it truly does help others when women like you are honest on their blogs. Postpartum with my firstborn, I was having intrusive thoughts of the worst sort. It was terrifying. I told my OB a small part of it, that I was anxious and couldn't seem to enjoy my time with my baby, and was prescribed Zoloft. But the truth was that because of the intrusive thoughts, I dreaded my husband leaving for work each day. I felt panic at the notion of giving the baby a bath. I thought if I told the whole truth, there was a chance my baby might be taken away, and I loved her and only wanted to take good care of her. I somehow miserably got through it, and then during my pregnancy with #2 was told by a therapist to get an OCD Workbook. I got to the section on intrusive thoughts, and they had put into actual print some of the exact unspeakable things that had been attacking my mind daily. I burst into tears of relief as I read them out loud to my husband and admitted that that was me, too, and now I knew I wasn't in danger of losing my mind and acting on them. I wonder how many more mothers are suffering alone this way. How incredibly powerful would it be if more of us were honest? I'm so sorry you're going through this. But thank you.