WARNING: this is a really LONG post. If you don't want to read the details, the basic story is: I'm CRAZY, but I'm also NOT CRAZY.
I have been trying to get this story written out for, well, WEEKS at least. Maybe longer? I know I have alluded to feeling crazy in more than one recent post, but there is so much more to it than that.
I guess to tell this story properly, I have to go back about 11 years. Knucklehead's birth was fantastic - I mean, for childbirth. He was my third baby, so I pretty much knew what to expect: weeks of very convincing 'false labor' followed by a fast ACTUAL labor and super-fast delivery. What I did not expect was the deep feeling of sadness that settled on me by the time the baby was about a month old.
I would cry for no reason, and was so embarrassed about this that I would hide it - I cried in the shower, cried in the car by myself, cried in the laundry room, the closet, etc. This was when I perfected the 'silent cry' so I could even cry in bed next to Jarhead, without interrupting his sleep. I figured I had a textbook case of the baby blues, which meant it should resolve itself in a matter of weeks.
By the time I finally sought professional help, I had been living in this inexplicable DESPAIR for nearly three months. Knucklehead was about four months old, and though I loved him deeply, I found it hard to find ANY reason to 'go on'. I had begun fantasizing about ways to die - popping pills seemed the easiest, but I didn't want my kids to find my body. Yes, I thought it through THAT much. I figured I could drive off a cliff and everyone would think it was an accident, but the thought of leaving my children motherless kept me from going any farther than just IMAGINING being dead. Airhead was ten, and Bonehead just five years old.
My psychiatrist told me that I was NOT, in fact, crazy, but was suffering from
POST-PARTUM DEPRESSION. I had kind of suspected this already, but was relieved to be officially diagnosed with something - especially something TREATABLE. I was still breastfeeding Knucklehead, and since I wanted to continue to nurse him for as long as possible, my medication choices were limited. Luckily we found one right away that worked well for me, and when combined with weekly therapy sessions it stopped the suicidal ideations.
After about six months of medication and therapy, I felt better, and stopped treatment. About six months later, I began to feel extremely depressed again. By this time we had moved to a new city, so I put off getting help for awhile. I finally made myself find a new doctor and get back on meds when the depression became so severe that it limited my functioning. There is no 'magic pill' but the drugs I took helped me get a handle on my life again. Since then, I have gone back on meds three other times, for at least 5 or 6 months each time. I have officially been diagnosed with CLINICAL DEPRESSION, and threw in some Generalized Anxiety Disorder a few years ago, too. Throughout all of it I had severe insomnia, but only took sleep medication in 2008/2009. I do love me some Ambien!
So, when Jarhead and I decided to try to get pregnant in late 2009, I had been off of my anti-depressants for almost a year already, and had not suffered a panic attack in almost two years. I only had to stop taking my birth control and my sleeping pills, and was fine.
Beyond fine - our first attempt at getting pregnant was a success.
The same week we got pregnant, we also got orders for deployment. This meant my hubby had to miss half of the pregnancy, as well as the delivery - which I think would make MOST women at least a little depressed. This is known as 'situational depression'...and for the most part, I think I handled it well. If you've followed this blog from the beginning, you probably noticed the bouts of mild depression during and shortly after the pregnancy.
Jarhead came home when Bobblehead was three months old, and I was THRILLED to have him home. At first. I noticed right away that something wasn't right, that we just weren't connecting. I felt isolated, hurt, angry, and really ripped off - after all, I had waited SO LONG for our family to be whole again, and then got this ridiculous sham of a relationship out of it???? WTF??? It's like the kid in the old sitcom/movie/book who saves his money to send away for some awesome 'real' boat/plane/car/whatever, and waits for it, checking the mail every day, until finally it arrives and its made of corrugated cardboard. Disappointment.
With all of that in mind, the minor depression I felt back in December was again 'situational'. Totally rational, normal depression. No suicidal thoughts, and no endless crying 'for no reason'. Nothing to make me think PPD, or even to make me think I needed meds again.
By mid-January I felt like I was losing my mind. Bobblehead turned four months old, we had him baptised as planned, and life seemed to be going on all around me - without me really participating other than to meet everyone's basic needs. I was Rosie the Robot from The Jetsons. I was just going through the motions. Except I really was FEELING things; feeling too much, feeling overwhelmed by everything.
I went back to work in January too, so I chalked some of the crazy feelings up to the stress from that. Also around that time, I began to finally admit that there was more wrong with my hubby than just the typical detachment that comes with deployment/redeployment.
I knew there was something wrong with him (probably PTSD) and I knew there was something wrong with me - but it felt nothing like the PPD (Post Partum Depression) that I experienced a decade ago. I wasn't SAD. I wasn't suicidal. I wasn't crying all-the-time. I was just going freaking OUT OF MY MIND.
It was only by a series of coincidences that I ended up at a special presentation for Doulas and Midwives about PPD. Of course I am neither a Doula nor a Midwife, but like I said, a series of coincidences got me there. I now believe that I was MEANT to be there, because the therapist who presented her personal story gave me so much insight into PPD! The one thing she told us was that, in her experience, PPD felt like "having a nervous breakdown". I had actually said those exact words the day before, describing to my sister how completely INSANE I felt. I didn't feel that deep sadness that I had come to associate with PPD, so I didn't think to ask for help with this new brand of crazy - nor did I think that help would be so freaking SIMPLE!
After that presentation, I went back on a low dose of my anti-depressant, which made a huge difference, and I started weekly therapy sessions. Now, after only three sessions, I already feel SO MUCH like my old self! I still don't recognize my husband as the man he used to be - and still hope he will get some help and work through whatever issues are keeping him locked away so deep inside of himself. I still don't see 'US' when I look at us. I don't feel like we even ARE an 'us'....and honestly have to face the possibility that we might never be US again.
But I am determined to find a way to be ME again, regardless of what our future as a couple holds. I owe it to my children, my husband, and most of all to MYSELF to get well.
Healing will not be as easy as I am making this sound, but taking the first difficult steps of admitting there's a problem, and identifying the problem, has given me hope.
I can do this. I WILL do this.
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