Monday, January 10, 2011

Using the D word

This is, by far, the hardest post I’ve ever written. I’ve drafted countless versions and dithered over whether to actually post it. So here I go.

I am officially declaring myself in the grips of depression.

It’s been a long, slow slide down, but having been down here before, I recognize the signs and symptoms.

When I get up in the morning, instead of looking forward to the day ahead, I start counting the hours until I can crawl back in to my sanctuary and pull the covers over my head.

Throughout my adult life, whenever I get stressed and my world spins out of control, I lose my appetite and stop eating. And while I’m still eating right now, it’s a daily struggle. I have no desire to eat at all – I even turned down cupcakes last week AND left another birthday party before cake was served. I never turn down baked goods.

I am a recluse by nature, but when I am depressed, I become even more housebound. Going to social events leaves me shaking and trembling with anxiety afterwards. Two weeks before Christmas, I went to a work meeting and left with my hands shaking and my teeth chattering so hard I could barely talk. I excused myself to the others by saying I was cold, but it was pure stress. It took me five minutes of sitting in the car before I could pull myself together to drive. I’ve gotten to the point where I don’t  want to go out with my closest friends.

More and more I’m finding myself short-tempered and impatient with the kids. I know that part of it is because of the prednisone I’m on for asthma, but it’s been going on for longer than I’ve been on the meds. 

This has all been a long time coming. During the fall I kept hoping the next week would be better, and then the next and then the next. Then I pinned my hopes on the trip to New York City and the marathon to lift me out of the funk. And it did, for the five days I was gone. Then I came back to a mountain of laundry and a lice outbreak. As soon as I’d cleared up all the sheets and bedding and such, everyone got a stomach bug, and I had to start over again.

I feel like I can’t catch a break and like I’m barely keeping my head above the water.

I also feel like I’m being whiny and self-indulgent. I don’t have time for this. I have four kids, a husband, a house, a freelance job – I don’t have the time to sit around and feel sorry for myself.  Besides, what do I have to be depressed about? I have a pretty good life. While it’s a bit on the small side, I have a nice, safe roof over my head. I don’t have to worry about where our next paycheck or meal is going to come from. I have four kid who are thriving, current illnesses aside. I have a husband, who, after 16 years together, is still my favorite person to hang out with. I have a loving, supportive family and a wealth of friends. What the hell is my problem?

But here I am. Depressed.

In the past few weeks, two of my closest friends - one face-to-face, one in a kind and thoughtful e-mail - suggested that maybe it was time for me to get some help because it is obvious that I’m not doing well.

And so Friday I made a call to a therapist. It was the hardest call I’ve made in a long, long time.

I hate admitting that I need help, and I really, really hate asking for help.

If I was asked for one word to describe myself, I’d pick capable. I’m the one who can handle things. I’m the one who can wrangle four kids while running a house and working part time. I’m the one who is supposed to be able to take whatever life throws at me. But lately, I can’t.

The funny thing is, now that I’ve taken the steps of admitting that I’m depressed – to myself, to my husband, to my family, to you – and making the call for help, I’m feeling a tiny bit better. What I’m dealing with does have a name and it does have a treatment. And I’ve taken the first two steps to getting back to being a better wife, mother, friend and self.

I’ve been down in this hole before, and I know I can climb out now that I’ve asked for help. It may take a while, but I’ll get there.


Wendi said...

I'm sorry for what you're feeling, but super proud of you for taking the first step. You've had a lot of your plate lately, and it'd be hard for anyone.

And whenever you feel like getting out, I'll definitely let you buy me a few drinks.


Lisa Page Rosenberg said...

Being depressed is not the same as feeling sorry for yourself or being self-indulgent. You didn't ask for this. It's an illness like any other.

Brava to you for asking for help.

donna said...

Courageous is the word I would use to describe you. Courageous to recognise and validate the way you feel and do something positive about dealing with it. That in itself is huge.
Navigating a way through life is full of a whole heap of course corrections and adjustments...some easy...a lot of them not. I'm sure you will come through this with a new found peace and resilience.
{thinking of you}

Bejewell said...

I could have written this post myself about six months ago. And I only have the ONE kid. The good news is, I got help and came out of it, and things are looking up. They will for you, too. Promise. Hang in there, hon. XOXOXO

Unknown said...

"Besides, what do I have to be depressed about?"

Lack of the correct amount of brain chemicals, for one. Stop the self blame and recriminations and allow yourself to feel this. Get the help you have already reached for and you and your family will all benefit.

I have so been there, and am daily on the edge of there so I know exactly how you feel, I really do.

Here's a huge hug, and may I suggest Lexapro?

Tasha said...

Please know that you have my support from Cape Cod.

amy said...

I'm sorry you're feeling so crappy. Seriously, this is a chemical issue, not a capability one. I've been on anti-depressants for years and have finally gotten over the idea that it's because I'm being wimpy. You'd treat any other illness with medical care, so it makes sense to treat this one, too. Besides, life is so much better for everyone involved when you're feeling like yourself.

Hang in there!

Barb Matijevich said...

What Becca said. This is not about anything you've done or haven't done. It's about brain chemistry --and maybe a little bit about the unrelenting nature of motherhood.

I do that thing, too, where I wonder what I have to be depressed about. It turns out that isn't really the question. The question is, how can I take better care of myself? I think you are very brave--for me, once I'm really depressed, it's all I can do to get out of bed, much less make that call.

Be good to yourself, Heather. And know that there's someone in New York who understands and is sending you love and healing.

Anonymous said...

Therapy = BEST thing I ever did!

UltraMamaC said...

Big hugs. You are not alone. It's awful to feel like you have absolutely nothing to complain about but yet you walk around all day like something is missing and live on the verge of tears for no discernible reason. don't ask me how I know.

Breathe deep. You have asked for help, you are getting help. Things will get better.

Thank you for having the courage to share this. It isn't easy to admit, even though it's not your fault, and you might have helped someone else who is feeling the same way.

joanna said...

Climb on, Heather! You are awesome in every way. Thank you for sharing and count me on your team.

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry to hear you're going through this--I have, too, at certain parts of my life. The important thing is by admitting to having depression, you can start making the changes to get out of it. Take care. :) XOXO Cathy

Liz @ ewmcguire said...

You have lots of reasons (I can name 5 in your house right now) to reach out and get some help. And you deserve to feel better. Good for you for taking the first step.

Seamus O'Pine said...

So frickin' proud of you, Heather!!! You are amazing. The irony here is that, by choosing to seek help, you are actually proving how "capable" you are. You know that sometimes you need help solving problems. I'm here for you. Let me know if you need anything.

Becky said...

Oh sweetie. You KNOW I have been there. Recently too. You have my email so PLEASE PLEASE email if you want.

You aren't alone in this.

I'm here for you sista!!

Jennifer @thesearedays said...

Heather. I am so in awe of you and the courage to say all this out loud (and write it out loud, too). You are amazing. You have so many who love and support you. You are going to be okay. You are never, ever alone.
So much love and xoxoxoxo.

Karen said...

Thank you for talking about this, I know it is not easy. And never feel alone. Depression makes no sense, you logically know you should be able to be happy but somehow it doesn't work out.

I am so glad you are looking into help. If you choose a path that includes chemical help, may I suggest you ask your doctor about things that work with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). I know I have many more depressive episodes in the winter, and some people have trouble with the summer. Possibly something to think about...

Just know we love you and we are here for you :)

ckh said...

I'm sorry I hadn't noticed sooner. It's a chemical thing and I can totally relate. When you feel bad you want to be alone, but the interaction helps, as you've found.

The thing that always gets me through whatever it is that I'm going through is the knowledge that it's temporary. Even when you can't see the light at the end, KNOW there will be a light.

I'm glad you're getting help and it is not a character flaw to need something for yourself. And I'm not telling you anything I haven't told myself countless times.

Just say the words and you will not be alone.

Tony Cooke said...

Everyone has low points, but not everyone has four children that need attention and a husband that has had health issues. Also, not everyone gives so much of themselves.

This, to me, is your body/soul telling you that you need a break or, possibly, to make a change. I don't see it as an unhealthy stage unless you ignore it, which you are not. You are kind enough to do so much for your family that you wear yourself out, but you're also smart enough to know when you need a little help.

Heather, your house is perfectly located between my work and house. It would make me happy to be able to run you errands or go shopping or pick up the kids or whatever during this time. I'd love to help you, B, and the little ones. Let me know if that's possible.

Take your time. Know you are appreciated. Please know that we all hit lows and need help, and that you are loved and appreciated enough to have people that want to help.

..and once again, take your time.

Murr Brewster said...

The last three paragraphs are telling. I've had two major depressions. Both times I was not facing some kind of truth, and my brain went flat trying not to come to grips with it. The first time, among other things, I had a lot invested in the idea that I was very stable and serene. It was an image I wanted to present to the world, and to myself, and unfortunately, I bought it. Admitting finally that I MIGHT have a problem was the bottom of it, and then I climbed out. You're on the way. Drugs are helpful I guess--they weren't available when I needed them--but therapy even more so. Find someone you can admit the scary things to (to yourself, too). Not the lice and the sicknesses--the things like "do I really want this life? Am I sufficiently in love?" something like that. It can all be gotten over, once you're not trying to shut your own mind down.

Unknown said...

Aw, girl, I'm sorry I missed this on Monday... Not as sorry to hear you are going through such a tough time, though. I know you will pull out of it and be back to yourself soon, but take the time you need for yourself to get there. And be as self-indulgent as you need to, because, as my husband says (only half-joking), "If Amy's not happy, I'M MISERABLE." :)

Huge hugs to you and I wish I was there to buy you a margarita.

shrink on the couch said...

I'm so glad you made the courageous decision to get help. I suffer from recurrent bouts of depression, too, and feel down on myself for having to admit and seek help. And? If there's ever an excuse to tumble down the depressive hole, battling lice is the one. I know this first hand.

Alexandra said...

My depression, something I've lived with since I can literally remember, has gotten so bad as I've gotten older.

Now, it's a daily effort.

And I am 50, and the meds, they just don't work.

I have good days, and good moments.

Mostly, though, I have my friends on the internet, to lift me up.

Blogging has made all the difference in the world with my depression. I am not alone anymore.

Big deal for me. HUGE.

I hope things get better for you. For me, things definitely spiraled downward as I entered menopause.

There is a great book by Dr Christine Northrup on aging and woman. I leaned on this book so much. I got it from the library....talking helps, and meds help, and exercise help, and sleep helps, and not feeling isolated many parts to the puzzle.

But, I am here, loving on you, and telling you that I realy, really care. A.lot.

Baino said...

Ah Heather, no wonder my recent post had resonance. I'm late catching up on yours. I wish everyone in this situation would fess up and seek some help. It'll take time and the old black dog tends to reappear now and then but admitting there's an issue in the first place is half the cure. Your friend was brave and sensible to suggest you seek some help. No man or woman is an island despite thinking that we can be.

Marinka said...

I think asking for help is such a brave thing to do and I'm glad that you had the strength to do it.

I hope that very soon you will wake up and look forward to the day ahead.