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Archive for the ‘PPD’ Category

I Stay

I was Alison’s age when my mom left. 

That’s all I could think about when I walked out the other night.  I left the kids in the bath, their hair full of shampoo.  I’d been trying to rinse them when they thought it would be funny to kick their legs and drench me as I leaned down over the tub.

It was just too much.  Too much disrespect, too much neediness, not enough appreciation, for days and days on end.  In that moment, water dripping from my face, I felt defeated.

And so I walked away.  Left them to their dad, who was so horribly sick, he hadn’t been able to get out of bed by himself in over 24 hours.  All I could do was put one foot in front of the other.

I was Alison’s age when my mom left. 

I remember her saying that it wasn’t anything I did, she was just overwhelmed and needed to get well.  But I stood there, my hand on the front door, my keys in my hand, and I wondered if she knew, back then, how much I appreciated the things she did for me.

But did I?  Did I appreciate how hard she worked?  All the sacrifices she made for me, for us?  When she was having a bad day, did I shower her with hugs and kisses and give her some space?  Or did I pick a fight with my sister, tell her I hated what she made for dinner, refuse to go to bed, splash her as she tried to rinse my hair?

If I had paid a little closer attention, shown a little empathy, treated her with more respect, would things have been different for her?

One day, she was gone, and we had to figure out how to live our lives without her there.  Without her to clap with joy for something done well, without her cool hand in mine as I crossed the street, without her gentle voice as I fell asleep.  I never even knew she was struggling, never even noticed.

I was Alison’s age when my mom left, and I walked out the door, anyway.

But instead of getting into my car and driving away, I went to the backyard and picked up a puppy.  I breathed in that scrumptious puppy smell and rested my face on the little guy’s head and I closed my eyes.  My tears fell on his soft fur and he snuggled into my chest.

I thought of the way Alison smiles when I sing her favorite song.

The way Blythe’s eyes sparkle when we dance.

The way Jeremy takes care of me when I remember to tell him that I need help.

My girls came to find me, dressed in their pajamas, damp hair a mess of tangles down their backs. 

“We’re sorry we splashed you, Mommy,” Alison said. 

“I don’t like to make you sad, Mommy,” said Blythe.

They hugged me tight, wiped my tears and I told them that I love them.  They are kids, being kids.  Sometimes they are ornery and ungrateful, but other times they are thoughtful and kind and giving.

    

It was just too much, in that moment, but the truth is, this isn’t about them.  It’s about me.

For three years I have struggled with some form of depression, and all that time, in the back of my mind, I’ve thought of how my mom had to leave in order to get better.  I ask myself, is it possible to give so much of myself to their needs, every moment of the day, and still have the strength to climb this mountain? 

In my darkest moments I wonder, am I destined to follow in her footsteps?  Will my kids one day look back and remember how old they were when I left?  Struggling to find balance in their own adult lives, will they wonder if they are strong enough to stay?  Or strong enough to leave if they need to?

I stay.  No matter how hard things get for me, how low I get when my hormones are out of balance and life is overwhelming me and I feel like I have nothing left, absolutely nothing left to give them, I know I will always stay, because I am working, constantly, to get better.

I know that the darkness will pass.  Because unlike my mother before me, I have someone who understands.  Someone who has been there and had to walk away in order to get better.  She reminds me, in those moments, that I am not alone.

I stay.  I stay.  I promise I will always, always, stay.

Withdrawal from Lexapro: Part 1


Disclaimer: This post is long.  Mainly because I was a wimp and didn’t post the first part last week, as I should have.  So, two posts in one = long ass post.

Nine months ago, I was suffering from depression and anxiety so severe, I felt as though I was struggling to live my life from the bottom of a deep hole.

Fortunately, I have a wonderful doctor who gently suggested that I try some medication, coupled with therapy. Just for a little while, just to make it so that I could put one foot in front of the other without feeling completely overwhelmed.

The plan, initially, was for me to start with 10mg of Lexapro and re-evaluate my situation in nine months. I have no doubt that Lexapro saved me from myself. Because of it, I was able to function, to interact with people, to care for my kids in a manner that was acceptable to me.

However… for the past few months, the side effects from the Lexapro have been outweighing the benefits. I feel myself walking through a constant fog of apathy accentuated with days of extreme sadness. Every single aspect of my life feels overwhelming, and yet I have no energy or desire to tackle even the smallest item on my to-do list. No matter what I eat, or how little I eat, I gain an average of 2-3 pounds per week. Even worse, my body fat percentage jumped six percent in four weeks.

I complain, constantly, and can’t see the sunshine in my life, even as it blinds me.

Four weeks ago, I decided that I need to either up my dosage of Lexapro, or kick it to the curb.

Me? I choose to reclaim my life, and quit the meds with a plan in place, a safety net, and my therapist on speed-dial.

———

I wrote that last week. I never published it, because I wasn’t sure I would go through with it. I had little confidence in my ability to swallow that last pill and walk away.

But today? Today is day four without my meds. Today I feel amazing. Today I feel as though the fog is lifting and I can see my surroundings for the first time in a very, very long time.

And, bonus – my body fat has already dropped 2% with no exercise what-so-ever.  Unless wearing my Sketchers Shape-Ups while sitting on the couch reading People Magazine counts as exercise.  Doubtful.

I have experienced some negative side-effects from Lexapro Withdrawal so far. The worst, for me, is the vertigo and the muscle cramps. I have also experienced some brain zaps, a racing heart, and short bouts of rage and crying.  But I know they are temporary. And thanks to an amazing therapist and an incredible book, I know how to fight them and an even mor

My saving grace has been the book Depression Free, Naturally, written by Joan Mathews Larson, PH.D. who works in conjunction with the Health Recovery Center.  My friend Kelly, who is familiar with my struggles, recommended I read this book.

By the way, Kelly – I owe you, big time. This book helped me to create a plan for myself, not only for the days and weeks following my last dosage of Lexapro, but for keeping myself mentally and hormonally healthy for the rest of my life.

Currently, to combat the horrid side effects of Lexapro Withdrawal, I am taking the following supplements:

Breakfast:
3 – Amino Acid Combos
1 – B Vitamin Complex
1 – Omega 3
1 – Magnesium
1 – Chewable Vit. C

Lunch:
1 – B Vitamin Complex
3 – Amino Acid Combos
1 – Iron
1 – Zinc

After Dinner:
3 – Amino Acid Combos
1 – B Vitamin Complex
1 – Chewable Vit. C
2 – Tryptophan

And, when I need it for anxiety, I’m taking Hyland’s Nerve Tonic.

I know that seems like a lot, and it is! But without these, my symptoms would be much, much worse. Based on my research, the symptoms of Lexapro Withdrawal can be so severe that normally sane people contemplate suicide, hear voices, and go without sleep for weeks at a time. I didn’t want that to be me.


In fact, the first night I took the Tryptophan, I had a good night of sleep for the first time in nearly ten years. It is my new best friend.


The next few weeks will be rough, I know that. But I am so excited about the future. I am incredibly happy to start getting to know my true self again, and to introduce her to all of you.


Thank you for supporting me as I navigate the journey that is my life – it means so very much to me.

Raw and Unfiltered

Dear Heather,

I just re-read the email I sent you earlier, and it made my face burn with shame.  I didn’t say anything I set out to say.  As I read, all I could see were the excuses I made for my postpartum depression.  The things that made it “acceptable”.  And while all of the things I wrote are true, they are not what you need to hear.  Reading that made me realize that I am still so afraid of my depression, and of what I fear it says about me as a mother.

Rather than tell you the logistics of my situation, I wanted to tell you how I felt.  About my fears and anxiety.  I wanted you to not just see my words, but say to yourself as you read, “I am not alone”.  Because you aren’t.

Even though I felt alone every hour of the day as I went through PPD, in truth there were many people around me who knew I wasn’t myself.  They seemed so far away, though, as if I were on the other side of a deep chasm. 

I felt so ungrateful.  I had just knocked on death’s door and lived to tell about it, yet there was no happiness, no joy.  People would say, “You are so blessed!” and I would nod my head emphatically, because I knew it was true.  But I didn’t feel blessed.  I felt burdened

More than anything, I was afraid.  Horrible thoughts went through my head.  At times I felt resentful of other people’s happiness.  My own sweet baby that I tried so hard to have, irritated me when she needed to be cared for.  I went through the motions, meeting her needs, but my heart wasn’t in it.

Every day, I felt helpless.  Every task overwhelmed me.  I read books as often as I could, because they allowed me to escape my mind, if only for a little while.  My family and friends would ask me if I was OK, and I always said things new mothers say – I’m just tired, I’m so in love with the baby, Life is Good.  I put on a mask and pretended my way through my life.

I was terrified of what they would think of me if they knew what kind of darkness reached way down deep into my very soul.  I fantasized about leaving, because I thought my family would be better off without me.  Because I felt incapable of being a good mother, a good wife.  I felt like I was failing at every part of my life, with no end in sight.

But the end came, Heather.  There is a light at the end of the tunnel.  You have to search for it, ask directions.  There’s no sense wandering around in the dark when people are there, just beyond the bend, and all you have to do is reach out to them.  They are there to catch you, to build you a bridge across the chasm, to show you the way. 

I am so proud of you for reaching.

I pray you clap your hands, right along with Maddie and Mike, and mean it with all your heart.

Be Well,

Andrea

Baby Bruises

You all remember the poop?  Well it was joined by the vomit, and they both ruled this household ALL DANG WEEK.  Fortunately Blythe was the only one actually doing any poopin’ (well, you know – everyone poops but I’m talking about projectile pooping) and vomiting but the rest of us got to console her and manage to live here with the stench.  By Thursday afternoon she was just a sad little pathetic mess, and I decided I’d better get her to the doctor.  She lost almost 3 pounds (!!) in just 9 days, so we had to go over to the hospital and get some IV fluids. 

Let me tell you, people, I have never been so traumatized as to hold down my 10 month old baby while they try over, and over, and over again to find a vein.  Here’s how the conversation in my head went, “Please God, I will never again complain about how many times my kids wake me up in the night if you will just let them find a vein.  Please, please, please”.  And then when they finally found one in her foot (the second location tried, the first one being her left hand) it went like this, “Oh God, thank you, I will keep my promise, I sure will.”  And then when the vein blew and Blythe’s blood squirted all over the hospital bed, it went like this, “Oh God, that was so mean.  Are you kidding me, here?  Ok, I promise I’ll never again complain about how often I have to deal with poop in a day.  Will that do?  Please, God, please, please, please”.  And in the meantime, Blythe is crying her head off, and looking me right in the eye as she screams, “MAMA!”.  She doesn’t understand why I’m letting these people strap her down and poke her, and all I’m doing petting her head, drying her tears and saying, “Mama’s here”.  What kind of consolation is THAT?  They finally found a good vein in her right arm, and we spent another 4 hours entertaining each other on the hospital bed before she got released. 

I think one of the worst parts of PPD is how you don’t really connect with people when you’re in that state.  Over the past couple of months since I’ve started getting better, I’ve bonded pretty well with Blythe.  But those 4 hours when we HAD to sit on a bed together with nothing to distract us… I must say, we connected in a way we never had before.  Every day since then, we’ve spent some quiet time, just the two of us, bonding.  So through all of that, and the ensuing bruises she sported with her little pink Easter dress today, there was some good in the end. 

The first step

I’ve just recently admitted to Jeremy (and now the world, hello INTERNET!) that I am, that I have for months, been suffering from Post Partum Depression.  Just talking about it, actually putting my feelings and thoughts into words, has lifted an amazingly heavy weight from my shoulders.  It may sound cliche, but I really do feel like admission is the first step to recovery in my case.  Being a childbirth educator, I am schooled on the symptoms and warning signs of PPD, but it’s a pretty blurry line to cross.  PPD or baby blues, or just exhausted from lack of sleep?  Who knows? 

When Blythe was about 3 weeks old, it occured to me that I might be suffering from PPD.  I had only been out of the hospital following my post-partum hemorrhage for a few days, so I attributed my failure to cope with that.  Months went by, and I continued to struggle every day.  I know that I didn’t hide it well, I couldn’t have even if I tried, but I don’t think I ever let on to anyone just how very hard life was for me.  I was completely self-absorbed and struggled to hold even the shortest conversations.  The slightest hiccup in my day would send me into a downward spiral.  October came, Blythe was 5 months old, and I thought I was finally over the huge, invisible mountain I had been trying to climb every day.  It’s all down hill from here, right?  But then back down I went, on the wrong side of the mountain, over and over again.  I just couldn’t understand why.  Excuse after excuse went through my head, trying to make sense of all of the crazy thoughts and emotions that just WOULD NOT GO AWAY.  

Last week I fantasized about running away.  It’s what made me realize I DO have a problem, what made me have the courage to talk to Jeremy about it.  I don’t want to run away – I love my family, I love my life and I know, in my clearer moments, how good my life is.  But that doesn’t change the fact that it sometimes seems perfectly rational to me that my children and my husband would be better off if I weren’t around.

I love my husband, he is everything I never new I wanted in a mate.  I love Alison, and I love Blythe.  I love them in a way that I can’t even put into words.  But when I’m down, I struggle to feel.  I’m detached.  I’m easily irritated, easily distracted.  It’s easier for me to engage in mundane tasks that don’t require human interaction.  I get hyper-focused and the world comes crashing down around me when something breaks my concentration.  With a 4 year old and an infant around, I’m interrupted by someone or something about every 3 minutes, so you can imagine how pleasant I have been.  It breaks my heart that I am failing them (and myself, and everyone in my life) in so many ways.  The girls are taken care of, yes, but I know I’ve not been half the mother I could be.  That I used to be. 

I’ve been trying to read about other people’s struggle with PPD, and that has helped tremendously.  Knowing that I’m not alone in what I’m feeling helps me let go of some of the shame and guilt I’ve been feeling all this time.  It’s been so hard to cope with EVERY. SINGLE. THING. and feeling like people would look at me differently if they knew how I felt has kept me from talking about it.  Until now.  Because I can’t conquer this mountain alone!