Monday, April 11, 2011

The one where I stop being scared to talk about depression.

I've struggled with depression a little bit in the past.

I've had 3 counselors over the years. 4 if you count the one I met with one time before my divorce. But I just say 3.

Although I believe the counselling was helpful, I really only remember one thing from each counselor.

Spencer, my first one, (I was about 13) after asking me what I thought I should do for my dad for fathers day and I said, "buy him a tie" he told me a better idea would be to write him a letter.

My dad and I have always had a rocky relationship. It's been more than a hundred times better the past 10 years or so, but during my teenage years we wanted to kill each other. Every once in a while Spencer's advice would pop into my head. Just remembering that simple advice has slowly helped me learn to understand and communicate better with my dad. I don't think it worked that year on fathers day, but it eventually did.

Dr. Kolby, my second one, (I was 15) she's the only one who I met with in a regular office instead of a home office so I think it made me feel more crazy and I wasn't a fan. It was at some behavioral and mental health clinic in Ogden, Utah. She was also the only female I saw. The thing I remember about her was on my first visit she asked me some leading questions and I said, "You don't know me and I don't know you, so lets not pretend like we do. My parents are going to pay you 90 dollars whether we talk or whether we shut up, so how about we just shut up." I don't remember her response, but I remember it made me completely open up and I started to look forward to the days where I got checked out of high school to go see her.

Woody, my third one, (I was 24) was actually retired, but still met with people for free because he was so passionate about helping others. Now that I'm writing this, I remember two things he said to me. One: "90% of counselling is just hearing ourselves say, out loud, the things we're really feeling and struggling with." I really believe that, because with him, I did most of the talking, but I always left feeling empowered and happy. The other thing he said to me was, "You should write a book someday. So many people could benefit just by hearing your story." My response, "I have a story, but I don't have any profound advice or ways of helping people through similar situations." His response, "You don't need answers, just telling people that you've been through similar things as they're going through is often more helpful than telling them how to fix it." My 'story' that he was helping me deal with wasn't harder or easier than anything that I'm sure every person on earth has dealt with, but it was my trial during that time in my life, and I needed help. And who knows, maybe someday telling that story can help someone else.

I don't really know why I wrote about those 3 experiences, other than that I've been thinking about them and trying to recall those times in my life for the past couple months.

I'm depressed. I have been since I was about half way done cooking Garrett. I never told anyone because I felt so guilty for being depressed. I was about to have what millions of women want but never get. I was surrounded by friends, co-workers, neighbors and fellow bloggers who were struggling with fertility problems, having miscarriages, failing at in vetro over and over, and even starting the adoption process because of all the years and pain and loss they'd experienced. Paul and I had one crazy new years eve where we miscounted days, and 9 months later we had a kid. I didn't have a right or a good reason to be depressed. I thought if I told anyone that they'd think I was an ungrateful b*tch, because I felt like I was. I also thought seeing that little beautiful baby would make it go away. So I waited...

He came, and it didn't go away, in fact, it got worse. 'Postpartum depression' is the term. A term that earlier in my life I thought was a ridiculous cop-out that women who didn't appreciate what they'd been blessed with, used. My apologies.

My thoughts when I tried to face the depression this time around were things like: I have a wonderful hard working husband who would get a second job if he needed to so I could stay home. I have the most beautiful baby I've ever seen and I get to keep him. He's an actual little human being that I grew inside of me, and part of who he is is me! My body grew that body! Those thoughts were always amazing miracles to me. We have a safe place to live. We have supportive family. I have so many things to be thankful for and I shouldn't feel this way. I didn't always feel depressed, in fact, I loved (and still love) being a mom, and I had (and have) a lot of very happy days. But I was always battling a dark and overwhelming place in the back of my mind. I could feel it coming on, sometimes at the strangest times, and there was nothing I could do to stop it.

When I look back at my life, and at pictures, (I've always been a picture taker, and a lot of my life can be told through pictures), I can remember times that where much darker than others. I've have wonderfully happy times, for even years at a time, but depression has been a struggle for me from time to time. Not always there, and not always something that I spent much or any time thinking about, just something I knew had been there before and could possibly show itself again.

When I was searching for someone to help Garrett with his torticollis, we went to a massage therapist in Bountiful. She specialized in craniosacral therapy. She did some work on Garrett and when we were about to leave she said to me, "You should make an appointment to come back and have some craniosacral therapy yourself." I said, "why do you say that?" She said, "It would really help you." Then she said, "Brook Shields had craniosacral therapy when she had postpartum depression and it really helped her." My first thought was, who does she think she is, just assuming that I'm depressed?? But my deep down thought was, thank God someone can see that I'm not ok!

I had a few sessions of craniosacral therapy, I enjoyed it, but it didn't 'fix' me. I continued to put Garrett and Paul before myself. I continued to try and fight this depression alone. We moved to California, which was really convenient because I had a new thing to blame my depression on. It didn't get better, and it didn't stay the same. It got worse, and worse, and worse...

Paul knew I was struggling, but I think we both just wanted things to get better on their own. It wasn't until a little over a month ago at a BJ's restaurant in San Diego where I had an epic breakdown that Paul (and I) realized that I needed some help.

I saw a doctor a couple days later, we received two great referrals for psychologists, and we've found one we like, a lot. Paul goes with me. At first I wanted to go alone, but Randy (the therapist) explained to me how important it is that Paul see and hear and understand where I am, and also get educated on how to help me. And help us. Because I'd be a huge liar if I said my depression hasn't had any negative affect on our marriage.

I don't like being like this. I don't like that sometimes the sadness I feel is unexplainable. I don't like how dark my world can be at times. But I like that there are people who will help. I like that I'm learning to make me a priority. And I like that I'm learning not to beat myself up when a new PA at the doctors office looks at my like I'm the worst mom in the world because I don't read books to my baby EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. I have the best husband who's assured me he's not going anywhere. I have the cutest baby boy in the world who smiles at me all day long for no reason. I have parents who love me. I have brothers who love me. I have a sister-in-law who sends me TOMS in the mail just for fun. I have a brand new fridge with an ice maker and lights inside that actually work. I have thousands of pictures of incredible places I've been and people I've met that I'll never forget. I have a nice place to live. And I have the best french dip sandwich I've ever tasted at a restaurant right across the street.

If you've made it this far, good for you. I probably wouldn't have made it this far if this was your blog. I'll probably touch back on this topic from time to time, but for the most part I'll try to be my 'normal' happy self.

Also, I'm not contagious, and I still laugh a lot and have fun a lot, so feel free to come visit.

7 comments:

ErinandShane said...

It's hard to comment on such an important topic, but it feels wrong to read your blog and not comment so here it goes:

You're not alone, most of us need somebody or something to help us, depression IS real. You can do it.

Randi Kay said...

Oh, Andrea. How I love thee. In a very selfish way, I love it when people publicly talk about their depression. It makes me feel normal. So, thank you. And if you every need someone to talk to, I am here. I may not have dealt with postpartum depression, but I do have seven years of unexplainable depression under my belt.
Let's be friends. I think you are cool.

megantonesforever said...

Thanks for telling people, I get sick of reading blogs and everyone feels just as happy as can be.
I've struggled with it most my life, (mainly seasonal and during pregnancy), it almost has become who I am. You are right about the feeling guilty part. We have countless blessings and yet we still feel that darkness creep up sometimes. You wouldn't be the person you are today without going through what you've gone through, and are still going to go through. Just know you are loved beyond belief and "Just keep swimming, just keep swimming", sorry my kids are on a Finding Nemo kick!

Melanie said...

Thanks for sharing. Apart for the seeing a therapist, I probably could have written this! It sucks to actually feel depressed -about being depressed, kind of counter-productive to say the least.

Jill said...

Andrea,

Thanks for sharing. I have been battling depression for about two years now, in and out of it. There have been some dark and lonely days/nights of my own thoughts and I will testify to the CHALLENGE it is to let someone else in on that pain (significant other). It is much easier to be single through it in my opinion and there were times where I tried to push him away and thought about calling things off... but the other part of my wanted him there. You probably understand what I am saying... it made me feel crazy on top of it all. SO I commend you for your courage to let someone in to that. Just because you're married doesn't mean its easier to stay committed... thats what I think but I can't really say since I'm not married. The point is... I'm proud of you. I also wanted to thank you for being so courageous as to post this. I think people being depressed is way more common than its expressed in general. I could go off about that... anyways, i love you girl. email me anytime jrlewie85@yahoo.com

Heidi said...

My favorite billboard ever says, "You wouldn't say 'Snap out of it. It's just diabetes.'" I'm so glad that you're getting help. Depression can't be fought alone.

Elizabeth said...

Thanks for being open and honest. I had postpartum as well. Not that you want to hear my advice, but my experience was that I had some major nutritional deficiencies- and my body couldn't make all the happy hormones it needed to, especially after being depleted from pregnancy and nursing. Cod liver oil, although not a "silver bullet" really saved me. And I knew when I hadn't taken it in a while. It still helps me with my moods. If you are interested, this is the best: http://www.greenpasture.org/public/Home/index.cfm
And this has great info on rebuilding from depression from a nutritional viewpoint:http://www.rebuild-from-depression.com/blog/
I'm only sharing because it helps me! It's a constant balancing act I suppose.