The one I've been afraid to write

11/13/2012 at 5:31 pm | Posted in me | 10 Comments
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Because it’s about depression. And reading about depression is just not fun.

This blog is called pretty swell for a reason: because I want to focus on the good stuff.

But it’s time to get real(er) up in here. And maybe if there’s someone out there struggling with depression or anxiety, scouring the web looking for a sliver of comfort from a total stranger, this post will help. Just one person. You never know.

The first thing I need you to know is I AM FINE.

I always hesitate to write about my mental health because friends and family make up about 125 percent of my readership. I promise (especially to you, Mom and Dad) that when I am in a bad place, I get the help I need. I learned that lesson after Lily was born, and I’ve never let it go.

It’s hard to describe what’s been happening inside my head. Whether it’s the onset of fall, the stress of raising two kids under the age of five, or post-post-partum anxiety, maybe? Does that exist?

This darkness just keeps creeping on in.

Looking in from the outside, my life is pretty darn perfect. We have our health, jobs we love, a full pantry, family and friends who love us. Sure, it’s stressful, but not anywhere near the burden so many other people have to bear every single day. (This constantly makes me feel guilty for praying, by the way, for asking for help when so many others are in such dire need. More on that later.)

But the anxiety creeps in and fills up all the cracks that I wish were flooded with light instead.

I’m afraid of any number of terrible things happening to my kids. I worry that I’m failing them with every harsh or shouted word. Sleep is elusive. Deadlines crush me. And most days, even in truly happy times, my chest feels sort of tight.

But, in some ways, this is just me. I’ve been high-strung as long as I can remember. I’m just old enough now to know that I can do something about it, and feeling that way doesn’t have to be the norm.

So I met with my doctor and switched up my medication. And after a few weeks of silly crying (the kind where you know you shouldn’t be crying but can’t stop) from the chemistry change, I’m starting to see glimmers of the other side. I’m also practicing meditative breathing and trying to exercise more often. And hugging my kids is the best therapy of all. I seriously squeeze on them all day long.

And I feel better. I do.

It’s not sudden change. It’s slow and sort of surprising. Just last weekend in the mountains, I kept having these moments that knocked me over the head: I realized I was truly happy. I really felt it. And it was incredible.

So I continue to climb out of the pit, getting a little bit braver as I go. My anxiety can be paralyzing — like when I’m standing in the middle of my dirty kitchen trying to decide which pile of chores to tackle first — but I feel like I have more space in my brain to deal with it now.

Everything is starting to feel a little lighter. A little less big.

And I know I’m coming out on the other side because I’ve been here before. I can feel myself smiling. I hear myself laughing. And I’m relieved.

I just wish someone could promise me that it would stick. It’s tough trying to keep my eyes forward when I know how likely it is for me to slip back into the hole.

But I keep on.

Because I want more than anything to find peace. To feel like me.

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10 Comments »

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  1. This post is truly beautiful, Suzanne. And I’m so glad you’re on your way out of it all. I think you’re allowed to write whatever you want in this space, as it is YOURS. Your sacred space. Here for you to use however works.

    Also, would it be weird for me to offer you my # for future use, should you need a hand to help pull you out? I know sometimes it’s helpful to have a voice at the other end of the line that isn’t related to you. If it’s weird, ignore me, if not, let me know. We could do coffee, tea or chocolate. 🙂

    And by the way, it WILL stick. It just takes time. And I can’t say it won’t slip now and then, cause for me it SO does. And yes, I think it’s PPA or PPPA, because you’re always sort of considered postpartum when you’re a mom, right? So why not refer to it that way? Anyway … it’ll stick and you’ll continue to laugh. And I send you loads of hugs to ensure you do.

  2. Suzanne, Sometimes when I realize I haven’t smiled for days I think of your big beautiful beaming face and it gives me some hope. Not to put pressure on you because I know no person smiles all the time.
    I went to a ‘wise woman’ healer whom I love and she gave me freedom to talk, some good but hard advice and a homeopathic remedy. Days later I realized that I was finally able to smile at a small child w/o feeling guilty (I have not done this since my twins died two summers ago). It is so amazing to realize the veil can be lifted.
    A few months later as I neared my monthly hormonal swing I could feel that veil coming back to crash upon me.
    So yes some of this is about me but just to let you know that you aren’t alone. You are sometimes a sunshine and you are sometimes a storm cloud. So am I. I love you. I am trying to love me.

  3. Thank you thank you thank you for hitting publish. Super brave to share such news in your space, even braver for recognizing you needed help.

    About a year ago, I switched to a different birth control pill. I’m not joking when I say I’m the happiest I’ve ever been in my life. It’s weird really, nothing has changed except hormones, but getting the right chemistry balance was a huge tipping point in finding REAL happiness. I hope this new medication finds you in the same place.

  4. Suzanne, thanks for sharing something so personal and so important. Too many people are afraid to talk about it. I feel like you could have been describing me right here:

    {I’m afraid of any number of terrible things happening to my kids. I worry that I’m failing them with every harsh or shouted word. Sleep is elusive. Deadlines crush me. And most days, even in truly happy times, my chest feels sort of tight.

    But, in some ways, this is just me. I’ve been high-strung as long as I can remember. I’m just old enough now to know that I can do something about it, and feeling that way doesn’t have to be the norm.}

    Back when I was pregnant, a friend of mine put an e-mail together to share some of those things that people and books don’t tell you about. I was so grateful. That e-mail has been through four more pregnant friends and each one adds her two cents for the next one. I made sure I mentioned in my comments to NOT be afraid or ashamed to ask for help/support if you need it. When you’re in that situation, it does feel silly to be sad when you have so much to be thankful for, but that’s just the anxiety/depression talking.

    Thanks again for sharing. ❤

  5. I’m so glad you shared this. It is so important for us to be real–it benefits us as much as it benefits those reading. I struggle with writing about what’s going on with me mentally, too, because of the same reason you mentioned: my family and friends read my blog.

    I am a PPD/PPA survivor who considers myself naturally high-strung, like you, my whole life. I have periodic bouts of mild depression and the occasional anxiety attack, and I definitely experience SAD every fall/winter. I do not take any medication, but rather rely on exercise, sunlight, omega 3s, and so on. However, I sometimes do not think this is enough and start to consider medication. I’m in that phase right now of working up the courage to talk to my doctor about my options for medication. I want to feel happiness. It’s been so long since I did, which is hard to admit. But when I read posts such as this one, I take one step closer to making an appointment. I hope you keep writing posts like this.

  6. Anxiety sucks and I can relate. I am type A and have always had anxiety but I learned to live with it. After my first child, from the moment they placed him in my arms I thought I was going to puke. I had deep, dark and scary thoughts, but after two weeks, it went away. I attributed this to first time mom syndrome. When I was pregnant with baby number 2, I prayed that I wouldn’t have the anxiety the way I did with my first. It was magical. I was completely happy and in love-until we got home. Until the reality hit that I had two children. And like a spider, anxiety delicately and quickly weaved it’s web around me and I was tied up with uncertainty, fear and sadness. I wanted to be Deacon’s mom only. I felt like I made the biggest mistake of my life. What a horrible feeling. The nurses I called kept assuring me it was just the baby blues. but after 4 weeks I had enough. My life and my family were being impacted. So I made the step towards healing and got on some medication.

    Anxiety and depression isn’t fun and there isn’t a quick fix. Medicines work, some don’t and it is a game of Russian Roulette when trying to find the right one for you. Some made me worse, others worked but made me gain weight. Finally, after a year, I found the perfect medication. However, the biggest step I’ve taken towards my healing is therapy. Knowing I have a place to go every week and unleash everything has been the most amazing gift I have ever given myself. I am a better wife, mother and friend because of it. I know look at my anxiety as a blessing. Why? because I can relate to those who suffer with it and tell them they aren’t alone. That is exactly, what you have done and I KNOW you have touched the hearts of many with this piece. Thanks for sharing your vulnerability because sometimes I need the reminder that I am not alone in this journey either.

  7. I can relate to you on a lot of this. And I’m so glad that you’re finding your way out.

  8. I love you sis. You’ve been a light at the end of my newborn tunnel. Thank you for being wonderful, real, beautiful you.

  9. Beautiful and real; like always. I am so sorry to hear you are struggling my friend. Wish I could give you a big ole’ hug right through my computer. I am glad you are taking the time for yourself and trying to take care of yourself, something I need to work on. I feel it too lately, creeping in with the time change. It is hard and on going, but completely beatable; I have to believe that. Hugs to you and your beautiful girls. *hugs*

  10. *sigh* I get this. I get the wanting it to stick. I keep hoping I’m going to stumble on the magic, permanent bullet.


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