Sunday, May 14, 2017

A Mother's Day Message to My Daughter

It was dry heaving as the morphine took hold. It was seeing this wet, screaming, angry face. It was sobbing while trying to have you latch on. It was listening to your screaming as I tried to soothe you. It was staying with you in the hospital at 5 months old and worrying that I had damaged you in some way. It was being with you in a treatment room at midnight while the doctor inserted a feeding tube through your nose. It was struggling to teach you to drink formula at the same time as teaching you to drink from a bottle. It was hearing you throw up through the baby monitor and then thinking through how to manage the clean up of you and your crib. It was being with you in the hospital at 8 months old and worrying about your weight. It was worrying about you reaching your developmental milestones. It was worrying about strengthening your legs to be able to walk and it was worrying about your feeding therapy. It was laying with you when you had a 102 degree fever. It was holding you tight while you kicked and screamed when you got your flu shot. It was holding you and reassuring you when you got your ears pierced.  It was talking with you while you cried about an incident at school.

These are the times that truly made me and make me a mother. The love and care came at that first second when I took that pregnancy test and saw two lines. The full heart, warmth, joy and excitement are the easy parts of being your mother. It is the hard times, the times that test my very being, will and strength that really make me your mother. You make me feel humbled, proud and speechless. You are my child and I am your mother.

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Deeper Facts of My Depression


Most people have some level of understanding of depressive symptoms: sadness, hopelessness, sleep issues, appetite issues, etc. There is so much more though that people may not realize.

Firstly, the person with depression may not be thinking clearly, for example, a friend told me how hopeful she is that I will feel better soon and my interpretation of that was that she did not actually care about me. One plus one does not always equal two in the mind of someone who is depressed. My cognition is greatly impaired and while I can be aware at times of this impairment, the thoughts and feelings feel very real to me. It leaves me in a constant struggle internally which is heartbreaking and energy consuming. This is on top of those “known” symptoms of hopelessness, helplessness, extreme fatigue, low appetite and feelings and thoughts of worthlessness.

Also, my experience is that there is no rhyme or reason in terms of the severity and timing of symptoms. Yesterday morning I felt okay whereas this morning I woke feeling a lot of anxiety. Each day is different right now which is also exhausting. I have no idea what to expect.

I also need what I call “babysitting.” My husband does not want me to be alone for a long period of time. While I can understand this from his perspective, from mine it simply means I am needy and weak and have to impose on others when my husband is not around. I feel like a child and embarrassed. I do not like to put people out and I do not like changing people’s schedules in order to benefit myself. I realize this may not sound like someone who is grateful to have such wonderful people supporting her but this is how my cognition is currently running.

I also feel as if every slight and every unfortunate life incident is my fault, whether it be dropping and breaking a glass or tripping and falling. My inner monologue: Of course, these are all my fault and if I weren’t so stupid these things would not have happened.

What my friends may not realize is that the quick text checking in or the quick call is so helpful. Even if I am not talkative in that moment, I know they are there and will be there to help in any way they can. This may not be well conveyed by me but I mean it. There are not any grand gestures they need to do. Just knowing they are there is extremely supportive and helpful for me.

This is my life right now, every hour, sometimes I feel it every second. It is relentless and to say it is exhausting is not giving it the power it has. My negative thoughts can be terrifying at times and only adds another layer to this experience that I am fighting with all that I can.

This is hard. This is scary. This is real. This is more of what my depression does to me and my life.


Wednesday, April 5, 2017

It Really Is What It Is


Relapse, deteriorating, worsening…symptomatic, sick, not well, dip. What should this be called? It came on so quickly, I am simply not sure how to label it and yet it feels like it needs to be labeled as something. It needs to have a name so I can feel some validation of my experience. It’s not a big deal but it kind of is, to me, in my head. Within one week I went from a relatively normal mom and wife, with everyday worries about my family and life in general to a woman with such darkness inside, self-hatred, no self-compassion, difficulty sleeping, eating just to eat and not really enjoying the food, extreme fatigue and hopelessness. Damn, it came so fast. I envision depression as a black ink blot that can fluidly move wherever and whenever it wants. When it wins, which it did as of last week, it is bolstered with more energy and more stamina while mine becomes depleted.

Lessons learned: Last week my husband told me to call my psychiatrist and my TMS (Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation) nurse. Each day I would give another excuse as to why I did not call. Honestly, I thought with each new day that I would begin to feel better. I also did not want this to be real. Who can blame me? It’s been a trying few years and if I were to call this #4 (4th depressive episode within 3 years) it would give it too much power even if that was my reality. My husband now knows he should not believe me when I say I will reach out at these times, because, most likely, I won’t. I am usually not thinking clearly and should not be trusted. He has permission to contact any of my treatment team on my behalf. In a way, it is empowering for us both as he can play a vital part in my treatment and recovery.

I had TMS this afternoon after returning to Hartford from Boston where I saw my therapist. While I felt numb and negative this morning, following my therapy session, I felt a bit more clear about what I need to do. I need to jump on this shit and beat it down. I am worth it and even when I do not believe that, I will still be worth it. My husband and daughter are worth it. I can do this. I can try not to wallow. I can advocate for myself and am ready for a battle with my insurance company re: TMS treatments, if necessary. It basically comes down to the TMS. That is what will pull me back out of this and that will be my ongoing treatment to ward off any further episodes.

So, what do I want to call this? Well, it’s depression and it’s being treated very early on. It could be a relapse or a deterioration but why can’t I call it what it simply is? I have depression. That fits and that feels right. I don’t want to get too caught up with semantics but one thing I have learned from DBT (Dialectical Behavioral Therapy) is the importance of having one’s thoughts and feelings validated. My thoughts and feelings are mine and they are experienced by me. I feel depressed. I am not comfortable calling it my relapse, my deterioration, my dip. It does not feel right for me. There does not need to be any fanfare and I am now doing what I am supposed to do to get better. I am depressed. There it is. That is what it is so let’s just go with that.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

What Happens in Therapy Doesn't Stay in Therapy

Imagine sitting in a room which is comfortable, sitting across from the same person for years. Imagine doing this once or twice a week for 45 minutes for years on end. Imagine sitting in front of this person and looking at her, noticing her, listening to her. Imagine thinking you have a relationship that, for what it is, is normal. Imagine questioning this person's care and attention over and over and over. Imagine believing what you think about this person, how you perceive this person is normal...reality based. Imagine being blown away 23 years after first meeting this person to realize you never actually were sitting across from her and seeing her, really seeing her. Imagine having this realization over the course of several weeks, maybe months and having to process this intense and emotional realization. Imagine feeling this in your head, your heart, your upset stomach and not completely understanding what is happening to you. Imagine talking to this person, in that comfortable room, and explaining these confusing and amazing thoughts and feelings. Imagine recognizing that what was believed before was not quite the reality. Imagine looking to someone for constant reassurance that what is happening is okay and safe. Imagine seeing someone for the first time after only looking at them for 23 years. Imagine feeling a new sense of safety in that comfortable room and a new sense of calm as well as utter fear. Imagine experiencing something that is slightly confusing yet emotionally amazing at the same time. Imagine feeling uneasy and terrified while feeling emotionally amazing. Imagine feeling as if you accomplished something so big, so important and so vital, not only for this relationship but for others in your life.
Imagine this. Imagine this is what can be accomplished in therapy. Imagine doing the work, hard work in order to get to this point, this point of unknown. Imagine seeing someone as real, positives and flaws and all. Imagine the relief.