Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Depression Series: Just Plain Depressed

Last week, I shared a little bit about my experience with postpartum depression.  Today, I wanted to tell you about my journey with depression beyond the postpartum phase.  I keep writing and re-writing the beginning to this post, mostly because I am in one of my bad days.  Before the bad day arrived, I had thought about sharing some of the ways I know the darkness is lifting and the rays of light I can see in my daily life, things I have begun to notice and enjoy in ways I wasn't able to before. But right now, I'm not sure any of that matters. In fact, I'm sure I couldn't find or articulate any of those moments that I was acutely aware of just a few days prior to now.

Right now, I am in the depths of a hole wondering if there will be a day I stop finding myself here. I wonder if I will ever be normal, with ups and downs like a normal person and without the days that I wonder if I'll ever be up again. I'm sure I'll share more in another post about my journey coming off of medication after PPD, my wonderings about whether I have PMDD (Premenstrual dysphoric disorder), and how I'm handling the depression now.  That's what I always planned to do in this series, but then a few days like this hit me.

I can't ever seem to prepare myself for days like this. It comes seemingly out of nowhere. I start to get more impatient with my family. I get antsy and cranky. I start to crave food just for the sake of eating stuff I know is not good for me. I get angry, sad, and overwhelmed. I want to eat not because I'm living vegan and feel deprived, but because I want to eat so much junk that I'll feel ill in order to distract me from what I am feeling right now. My kids ask me to play and all I can say is Mommy just can't right now. Suddenly, in a matter of hours, all the progress I've made over weeks, months, and even years disappears and I am puddle of goo on the couch not sure how I'm going to make it through the day, the night or why in the world my family puts up with this.  After today's suicide scare from a mom blogger on twitter, I feel blessed that thoughts of harming myself or my children don't ever cross my mind, but it doesn't make this any easier to deal with for me in the here and now.

I'm not sure about the triggers of this all. I believe it has something to do with hormone levels for me. I also believe stress plays a big role. I'm still figuring out the rest. I go from a completely functioning and nearly thriving mother to a giant mess with a pit in stomach that simply hurts in a matter of hours. I fight this for a few days, and then suddenly it's lifted as soon as it arrived.  When it lifts, I'll feel silly for all the drama (most of which is internal) of the past few days.  I'll feel stupid for not being able to fight it harder when it goes so quickly. And I'll wonder and hope that maybe it won't happen again... that is until I am blindsided once more.

I don't want to hit publish on this post. I don't want to accept the stigma that comes with being the crazy, unstable, or insert your own negative assumption here depressed girl. As much as it's not easy to have PPD and deal with all the misconceptions and media portrayals of what that means, being just plain depressed is even worse. But in the same spirit of my post on postpartum depression, I will hit publish.  I will share my story, the ups and the downs, the moments of clarity and the days of despair.

I repeat: I have lived with, struggled with, coped with, and failed to cope with depression. It's a part of who I am, and I am not ashamed of it despite the stigma I know that comes with it. Alone it does not define me, but I will not hide from it.

5 comments:

  1. {{You know you can call me if you ever need to talk/vent/whatever in the middle of the day...}}

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  2. Thank you for your bravery in posting this. I'm sorry you are going through a hard time right now. There are a lot of people who understand and accept. The more people who come out and speak about psychological disorders, the less stigma there will be. It shouldn't be stigmatized and one day that will change. Everyone has been affected by depression either personally or someone they care about and if they say they haven't then there's some denial work that needs to happen.

    Again, thank you for speaking about this. Reading your words has given me a little brightness in the dark.

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  3. I've been there, too. For well over a year I slowly sank into a very dark place, before realizing that EVERY day was a bad day and I needed help. Every time a bad day or two rolls I around I add to the problem by becoming overwhelmed with anxiety that I'm headed back there again. You are not alone and I think it's amazing you were able to share your story while in the midst of it.

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  4. Jamie,
    Thank you so much for sharing this.
    I hope that you will find some joy in this weekend.
    I also hope that you will be able to find a place where you can ... "share[ing] some of the ways I know the darkness is lifting and the rays of light I can see in my daily life..." because those things DO matter. The more you can focus on those moments and bring energy and importance to those things, the more positive energy they will bring you. If you give power to your light moments, they will be what has power over you, and the dark, bad days will have less ability to take hold.
    I also don't think you are crazy or un-normal. I think MOST people have dark days. And everyone has dark moments. That IS normal.
    You have the power and the light in you to rise above.
    I'm sending you strength. And empathy.
    ((hugs))

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  5. The gentle affirmations you all provide are a wonderful gift, and I thank each of you for them.

    I look forward to posting this week with some of how I cope and the light I see in my life, because Kelly, you're right it does matter. Most days, I know that and can celebrate that now which is such a sign of growth for me.

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