Saturday, 9 March 2013
Well, the demon that is postpartum depression has reared its ugly head again. I've been debating with myself over the last week whether or not to write this post. On the one hand it is very embarrassing and depressing for me to talk about my struggle. But on the other hand I know that there are other people out there going through similar hells and I am finding that most people just don't really understand what it is that we are really going through. I get a lot of the "if it makes you feel any better my baby didn't __________ (insert crappy thing about baby here)". Let me get this really clear: the only thing that would make me feel better while going through an acute depressive event is a frontal lobotomy. Or 8 hours of solid, uninterrupted sleep. Neither of which, we know, is going to happen.
I'm still not sure what really happened. Things were going pretty well for about 4 months. Sure, I had a couple of days here and there where I was exhausted and weepy and generally miserable (i.e. baby blues) but nothing that I would classify as depressed. Then the Baby hit month 4, he started waking up more at night, and he started napping worse during the day. You know, normal baby stuff. The thing is though, is that my trigger is sleep, or the lack thereof. I need consolidated sleep, at least 6 hours, to feel somewhat normal. So no, sleeping when the baby sleeps is not an option (thank you very much to whoever that asshole was who came up with that phrase). Napping during the day just meant that I wouldn't be able to fall asleep at night. And when I did fall asleep, just to wake up 3 hours later to feed the beast, it would take me at least an hour to fall back asleep. And no, drinking lots of wine did not help. So one night of sleep deprivation morphed into 3 weeks and I was losing my mind.
Definition of me losing my mind: me wanting to kill myself. Please note, this is quite different than the slang phrase of "I just wanted to die". This is me thinking that my children and my husband would be better off without me being around, because my inability to cope (and in my mind parent)was going to turn my children into crack heads and make my husband have an affair. This is me thinking that the best thing for my family would be if I checked out in the form of a closed garage, a running vehicle, and some nice carbon monoxide.
Pretty fucking sad.
Hitting rock bottom for me meant saying the ugliest thing you could ever imagine to the 4 year old Kiddo and seeing in her eyes the amount of pain that I had caused. How do you teach your kids to be good people when you can't control the things that come out of your mouth? My husband tried to help, he really did. But he's an engineer (nothing against the profession of course but they are lacking in certain aspects). When he knows I'm suicidal he just wants to fix me, and this isn't something that you can fix with a protractor and a calculus equation.
The first time this happened with the Kiddo it was my family doc that saved me. So I called her office. I asked if I could get into to see her on an urgent basis. I explained my predicament, i.e. tears and the words depression, to the receptionist. Nope, my doc was not available today. And I could only get in to see another doc tomorrow. Would this work for me? Did I need the number for Healthlink? Here folks is the major reason why primary care has failed for the mental health community. In nursing school there was a huge buzzword in our classes: rapport. What this means to me is that I need to 1. trust the person I am talking to, and 2. not have to repeat my story to every doc and nurse that I meet. Is calling Healthlink going to help? I highly doubt it. I am absolutely convinced that if I called Healthlink and told them that I was suicidal that I would end up in the psych rooms at the local emerg, brought in on a mental health form, and shot up with Versed and Ativan. May not be true, but I don't know those nurses on the phone. I want to see the same person that helped me last time, and I want to see them right away. If that receptionist had gotten up, found my doc, explained that I just needed 5 minutes of her time to make sure that I was still alive tomorrow, I am sure she would have fit me in.
Instead I saw a new doctor and had to explain my whole story from the beginning. And fill out a really horrible survey that made me cry because of my answers. Which we didn't even talk about during the appoitment. Were my thoughts of suicide fleeting or did I have a plan? Because there's a fucking difference? Is it worse if I have a plan? Why do we even ask this question? Her first recommendation: talking to someone. Is that not what I was doing? Look, I tried that before. I met a really nice counsellor that explained to me how to take deep breaths and all that shit and it doesn't fucking work for me. I never take deep breaths. I don't do yoga. I hate that shit. Next option was meeting with a support group. Yes, that's exactly what I want. To spend an hour sitting in a circle with a bunch of other losers talking about how sad they are and how much having a baby sucks. No thank you. I get enough whining out of the Kiddo. I don't need to hear grownups whine too. Finally, she suggested what I knew that I needed: more serotonin. Up my meds. While in retrospect I'm sure that I could have easily done this on my own, I was a bit leery because of the breastfeeding etc.
Fortunately, either due to an actual increase in circulating serotonin or a placebo effect, I started feeling better in just a few days. And currently I am doing great. So please, do not try to stage an intervention. I will very angry. More angry than my normal baseline.
So the real question is, how do we help? What do you, or I, do when we know someone is suffering like this? And the answer is: I don't know. I know what worked for me. But I don't know if it works that way for everyone. I think more importantly to know is that it is best to just listen rather than to try to console. We all know that this will pass, that they won't be babies forever, and that someday we will sleep again. But the sickness tells us that this is our forever, and that we are worthless pieces of shit. And the sickness is triple Venti latte while our common sense is a herbal tea. If you haven't been there before, don't say "I understand" because you don't. Until you've thought about jumping off of the Stoney Trail bridge (not really the best plan in the world because it's frigging cold outside and a really long walk to a proper height) to spare your children the suffering of growing up with you as a mother you actually don't understand.
Instead, just nod and smile and maybe offer a hug. Because in this case, I'd be okay to hug it out. And you know when I'm okay with a hug, it must be serious.
Next time I promise not to be such a whiny loser.