Hustle and Bustle

Last week at work was brutal. I am not quite sure how I made it through. I think I’m still recovering.

Amidst the stress of work, I had THREE posts published elsewhere. I revamped and combined my prior posts about my dad for World Aids Day and posted it on Band Back Together, and I wrote a brand new piece for Postpartum Voice in which I talk about the details of my postpartum depression for the first time. The third I won’t directly link here due to its sensitive nature, but you can hit me up on Twitter or via email if you are interested in it (and haven’t already read it).

We’re still dealing with fear at home. Jack is sleeping with his bedroom light on every night now, which is a change from the first 5 years of his life. He now watches Dora the Explorer and Berenstein Bears instead of Scooby-Doo and Ben 10. We’ve acquired the Scaredy Squirrel books and “When I Feel Afraid.” Nothing seems to be particularly helpful. We may just have to ride this one out.

With that said, and while I know that this is a phase that kids Jack’s age go through, I’m wondering if some of the stresses his families are dealing with (unemployment in both households, for one) might be contributing and/or if school issues may be having an impact on him. It seems like he has more trouble sleeping and is tired more often these days.

Jack’s teacher has started sending his incomplete classwork home for him to finish. This is super fun (not)! I don’t even know what to do about that. For now we are just continuing to encourage him to finish his projects in class and emphasizing that we all want him to do his work well. This may be another area where the reward of money will motivate him (that’s how he potty trained)…hm…

On the good news front, I recently won a $500 Apple gift card thanks to my attendance and participation in a Twitter party hosted by LiveOn.com. WOOHOO!! The site is pretty cool – you can basically create a digital scrapbook of life’s events with photos and such and it’s got some nifty social media enhancements. I haven’t had much time to play around with it but I did create an account and will definitely futz with it. It looks fun!

I also won passes to the new Children’s Creativity Museum in San Francisco. I’m super psyched to take Jack there!

My birthday is at the end of this week and so the promise of cake and dinner with friends is keeping me in decent spirits. Oh and I’ve gotten nearly all of my Christmas shopping done and the presents are mostly wrapped, too! Now I just need to take down the Halloween decorations…

Mental Health Month

May is Mental Health Month.  I attended a WEGO webinar earlier this week to learn how to participate in spreading awareness, so you will likely be seeing some informational posts and/or tweets from me throughout the month.  I’d also like to let you all know that if you have any questions about mental health, particularly in relation to the things I am intimately familiar (Depression, Anxiety, Dissociative Disorder, Post-Traumatic Stress, Post-Partum Depression), please feel free to ask.  I have been dealing with these issues for over 15 years and have no problem sharing the wealth of information and resources I’ve collected in the mean time.  It’s important to continue talking about mental health issues to battle stigmas.  [Note: I do have a post written up about a lot of these issues but it is password protected for my family’s sake.  If you would like the information to access it, please send me an email.]

While I plan to be involved in the activities to spread awareness throughout May, I am (appropriately?) enmeshed in a depressive episode and my posting may be sporatic.  Depression often creates some brutal writer’s block for me, which is…depressing.  😛  I’m trying to pull back from commitments where I can to focus on getting back on track mentally.  In the mean time, I appreciate your patience and hope that you continue to engage when I *am* around.

If you are looking for mental health resources, the National Institute of Mental Health and WEGO Health Mental Health Community are two great places to start.  In addition, a dear friend of mine Sarahndipitea is a community health educator with WEGO and also writes a weekly column on Savings.com called Balanced that focuses on simple and inexpensive ways to maintain your overall health.

Now, if you wouldn’t mind sharing – how have mental health issues touched your life?  What is your perspective on helping others who suffer from mental health disorders?

And now it’s time for a book review

I had a lot of blog visitors after posting about my depression (thank you all for the support!).  I figured there are at least some of you out there who are going through something similar or know someone in my situation, so I would like to share a book with you:


I found out about Tracy Thompson’s blog a few years ago and then immediately added her book to my wishlist.  Joe bought it for me for my first Mother’s Day, I believe, but I didn’t get around to reading it.  I finally picked it up after posting this week and it’s the perfect thing right now!  I can read tidbits here and there, pick it up and set it back down over and over, and still know what the heck is going on.

I haven’t found other books like this out there – a book about the uniqueness of depression in mothers written by a mother with depression herself, who includes research and testimonials from other mothers in this situation.  There are many books out there written by experts, doctors, scientists, etc. and while they include good information about treatment and symptoms, there is not much in the way of comiseration.  I’ve rarely come away reading a book addressing depression and thought, “They are talking about me.  This information could help ME.”

Additionally, the subject (depression related to parenthood) has been talked about so little outside of PPD, and depression is still often misunderstood (i.e. “what are you depressed about?”), so it’s nice to find information targeted specifically toward me by someone who has been on the “inside.”  The book discusses Major Depression and how it morphs when motherhood becomes part of the picture – when the affected parent must meet the needs of their child, those of which often conflict with what the parent needs to stay healthy.

I haven’t even gotten halfway through the book yet and I’m glad I’m reading.  It is very much worth checking out if you are depressed or even if you know someone who is.  The author addresses the subject with a delicacy that I don’t think I have myself!  There is so much good information and it’s presented in a way that isn’t going to be scary to family members and friends.

By the way, I am not receiving any compensation for providing this recommendation, and I have not been in contact with the author.  I just really like this book and think it could help a lot of people out there!

Spotty

I’ve been taking anti-depressants for a month now but I have admitted to myself and my counselors that they aren’t working as they should be.  Some things have gotten better, and some things have gotten worse.  I am feeling a bit afraid at this point. I’m afraid I’m going to go crazy. I’m afraid I’ll really screw up my marriage, that I had no business thinking that I could handle being a mother, that this illness will leave me incapacitated. Mostly I’m not afraid for myself, just that I will burden those I love. I feel like I’m losing my sense of self, and I don’t want to go back to the hell of 3 years ago.

I am working on getting help and getting things going in the right direction but it will take some time.  I don’t know how long and I don’t know how often I’ll be able to update here in the mean time.  I hope you are all here whenever I get back.

Depression Status Check

I’ve been on depression medication for about two weeks now.  I’m over the side effects for the most part and am feeling less like a stranger is taking over my body.  I still have stressful days (like yesterday), which is of course normal, but instead of the stress rendering me despondent, I am able to see clearly enough to acknowledge my feelings and deal with them.

Now that I’m feeling more with it, I can try to describe what the worst of this depression has been like.  It literally felt as if I was a casual observer of all that was going on, that the world around me was flying past so quickly that I could not keep up with the plot.  I was often so confused and my thoughts so scattered that I was even having trouble deciphering the meaning of sentences.  Words were like puzzle pieces but instead of my brain stringing them together to process an idea, it scattered and jumbled them so I was only able to capture a small piece of the meaning.  I am not sure that I can really articulate it well.  I guess I’ll just say that instead of feeling cemented to my chair because I’m in slow-motion while the rest of the world is playing normally, I now feel like part of the goings-on.  I can participate in life!

I still have work to do.  There are a lot of things that have been put on hold because I just couldn’t deal.  The top of the list is my marriage.  I haven’t figured out how to be fair to be a wife, a mother, and an independent woman.  Joe and I are planning to regularly swap babysitting duty with my bro- and sis-in-law in the near future so that we can all get date nights and remember a little of what came before the babies!  I know that will be immensely helpful and a big step in the right direction.

I am scheduled to take a course on depression management and continuing to see my psychiatrist, who is awesome and reminds me of Dustin Hoffman’s character in Stranger than Fiction (if you haven’t seen it, do!).  With my history, the doctor advised me to consider medication as part of my vitamin regimen for the rest of my life.  Instead of treating each episode of depression as if they were individual illnesses to be treated, I will instead strive to break the pattern with preventative medicine.

Most of all I must remember that with medication I’m still living the same life but now the light switch is turned on and I can see everything more clearly.