Tuesday, May 24, 2005

The journey

About 4 years ago, I went to my doctor complaining about a variety of symptoms. I figured he'd say it was something like my thyroid, give me pills, and make me better. He suggested I might be depressed. Depressed?! Why would I be depressed? Hubby had just gotten a good job, we were finally moving out of his parents house, my marriage was great, etc etc. I burst into tears, told him there was no way I was depressed, and stormed out of his office. The patient man didn't even blink when I came back a week later, ready to listen. He gave me a prescription, talked to me awhile, and things got better.
2 months later, I got pregnant with Girl Terror. I quit the drugs (cold turkey - like a fool) and tried to convince myself that all pregnant women felt the same as I did. After the baby was born, I decided that everything was fine, and I was strong, and didn't need any chemicals. I had a beautiful baby girl, Hubby had been promoted, life was good. Eventually a kind health nurse looked me right in the eye, and said "Are you okay? It seems to me that you are just hanging on by a thread. How can I help?" And I burst into tears. I just didn't get it. What was there to be depressed about? Where did the blackness come from? And why wasn't I able to beat this thing on my own?
Back on the drugs, I could look back and see that the nurse was right. I had been just barely making it. I wasn't enjoying my baby, I was just running blindly. Maybe the doctor was right, and a chemical was missing in my brain.
When Girl Terror was a year old, we planned a major trip across the country. We were going to stop in BC to visit my birth mother, for the longest time we had ever spent together since reuniting. Then we were off to the east coast to see my adopted family and old friends. Things did not go as planned, to say the least. My adopted parents and I still had too many issues for us to visit. Feelings were hurt, ties were severed. We decided to go ahead with the trip, and just visit friends down east. For some unknown and foolish reason, I decided to quit the drugs before going. I guess that I wanted to prove that I could do this on my own, under my own steam. Closet skeletons were going to rattle, demons were going to be poked, and I needed to say I won the battle, fair and square. So I gained 30 pounds, got well and truly moody, and off we went.
The visit with Beth (my mother) was great. It was worth everything to see her and my daughter, her first grandchild, together. I got to know her so much better, and we talked about so many things. Unfortunately, my memory of the time is fuzzy. The black clouds had rolled in, the cotton was in my head, and I was on autopilot for most of the time. When I look back at the pictures, I can see the blankness in my eyes. One of my clearest memories of the trip is the panic attack in the airplane. My child's first plane trip, and I can't even picture her there.
When we returned home, I shuffled along. I went camping alone for 2 days, and did a lot of thinking. I went back to the doctor, and he suggested that as soon as I knew whether or not we'd be having another baby in the near future, he could work with me to return to the medication. Neither of us realized I was already pregnant!
Around 6 months into the pregnancy, my doctor asked how it was going. He listened, and he heard not only the words I said but what I left out. He wrote a prescription for me. I said I didn't want to do that, I was worried for the baby, but he said something that finally got through. "You can suffer like this, just surviving, but doing it on your own. Or you can accept the problem, take the medication, and be the best possible mother to your children." Looking back, he was right, of course.
Since then, I've thought several times about quitting. But why? Why do we have such an issue admitting to mental health problems? What makes it so socially unacceptable to admit we need help just living each day? I know from reading other people's blogs that I am not alone here. Lots of you have talked about the days/weeks/months where you just can't seem to struggle to the surface. But I bet you don't talk about it with your close friends and family.
I still have bad times. It's not like I'm living on cloud nine. Somedays, like yesterday, the dark, heavy fog rolls over me, and threatens to suffocate me. I can't do anything but sit and wait it out, and hope that eventually my vision will clear and I will be able to rejoin the world.