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Wednesday, August 22, 2012

A very personal, private struggle

I need to write. Some know, but many don't know of the struggle that I have gone through these past 4 months. In reality, all of 2012 has been an accumulation of so many trials and struggles, that at times it has been nearly more than I have literally been able to bear. I am thinking of a certain scripture that promises we will not be faced with any trial that is more than we are able to bear, but that doesn't mean you don't get crazy close. Too much happened all at once. Too much change and trial and difficulty. I have snapped many times, have broken in many places, feel too many cracks in my courage, in my drive, in my faith and perseverance. That's not to say my testimony has decreased. If anything, it has strengthened. I have felt the Lord's hand in all of this. I haven't been left alone. I've had so much support and love, more than enough. But no one can take away thoughts. No one can rescue me from myself. Jesus Christ of course knows exactly how I feel, and can strengthen me, but there is also a certain amount of free will. He can not force me to change my thoughts. He could take all my trials away if he wanted to, but he won't, because I wouldn't learn anything. So I know I must go on. But this brain...it has been a nightmare. I often feel trapped. No matter what I do, the voices in my head are there to tell me exactly what I am doing wrong, and where I fall short, and how pathetic and hopeless I am. I find myself wanting to scream. Scream louder than those voices. Movement often helps, music, distraction. But they never really go away, and sometimes nothing helps, and I'm drowning.

 Please don't tell me I need therapy; I'm getting it. Or that I need medication; I'm on it, or rather on as much as I can be on while pregnant. You don't have many options when your body is connected to another. I have literally scaled the internet and picked doctors minds many times for an answer, for help, but I always seem to run into a big, fat wall. If you are pregnant, suck it up and deal with anything you are going through, because anything and everything will/could hurt the baby. Now there are things like, "Take a walk, get some fresh air, exercise, meditation etc..." but what if that's not enough? And furthermore, what if you are so sick, taking a walk sounds like torture and is downright impossible? WHAT ELSE is there? NOTHING. I have never wanted to go to medical school and into researching so bad as I have now. I would study pregnancy, and find and do legitimate studies on women who opt to take medication and provide accurate data on the effects on the fetus before, during and after birth. Right now, the few studies that have been attempted are inconclusive or illegitimate and flawed. They end up assuming and classifying just about every drug as a Category C, which is "We don't know so, just don't take it or something might maybe could happen." The studies they have done are deeply flawed. They will be doing a study on Ambien, and have women who are taking it join the study, but don't control anything else they take, or any other harmful habits they have ie smoking, drinking etc. So how can anyone know what really caused a problem when it could have been many different substances, or just coincidence? It's very frustrating, because I know I am not the only woman that has felt this way.

Most women don't go through major depression during pregnancy, but there are still a great many who do. And guess what, it's dangerous as hell. So then women are faced with either risking their life by not treating the depression with medication when nothing else works, or risking hurting their precious baby. Which is worse? When you are so low that you can barely take care of your kids that are already here, or be a decent wife, or even sleep or eat, and you've just about lost the will to live, what is more dangerous? And WHY, WHY oh WHY can't someone figure out some drug or supplement that ISN'T harmful? Why can't we get non-smoking, non-drinking women that are not on any other medication save one and do a study on those? Of course, these women would have already decided they were going to be on it. This would show a lot more accurate results, and I cannot think of a single reason why no one has figured this out.

Now, I need to explain something very, very important. I am unimaginably grateful that I am pregnant again. I am blessed beyond belief with an absolutely adorable son who is my little shadow and helper, who is so smart and quick to please, who has slept through the night since he was two months old and takes 2+ hour naps every day, who takes care of me when he knows I'm sick, and is just my best friend. I am so amazed that I get to be his mommy. He is always the solid reason I keep going. And this little life growing inside of me is already so loved. I can feel it's little spirit, and I know it is just so excited to come here.

I guess that is why I am so concerned about being enough. Being the best mommy my children deserves. But more so than that, I am concerned that they will see mommy depressed or anxious, and not know what to do. That they will feel insecure and worried. I am concerned that both might already feel that. But I know that I am literally doing my best. I just wish that I wouldn't fall so short so many times. I wish I could break through this wall that has formed.

In my entire life, I have never experienced anything like this. If you knew me when I was younger, even up till graduating high school, you would know that this isn't the real me. I had plenty of friends that struggled with depression all growing up, and I would feel so bad for them, and try to be there for them, but I never fully understood how they felt. I just didn't get it. But it's not like I didn't see it in my own family. Depression runs rampant in my family like a disease. Most of it has been discreetly hidden, and under the radar. But I have learned more and more through an adults eyes and as I have gone through my own what my family has gone through all this time. I remember my mother pulling me aside one day and trying to tell me that one day I may experience depression, and if I ever do that I should not just try and keep it quiet and not get any help. I remember looking at her and telling her to not worry; I am just not like that. I always loved the lime light. I never had social anxiety or depression. I was confident. I was free from that.

But slowly it changed. I started getting anxiety. I remember the first time it hit me. I was in a group of people, and the attention was all on me, and all of the sudden, for the first time in my life, I was anxious. I couldn't control it. I had to go in the bathroom and calm myself down. I didn't know what was happening to me. From that point on, it would hit at completely random times, sometimes out of nowhere, and sometimes physically incapacitating. I didn't understand what was happening to me. Then I got pregnant. The pregnancy was physically rough, but emotionally it wasn't anything abnormal, until I gave birth. Postpartum Depression hit me like a brick wall. It was so foreign, so scary, so NOT ME. I quickly went to the doctor and got on meds, and was able to control it. But I knew that the depression was still there, just subdued by the medication, ready to jump out in a moment of major stress.

With the desire to have another child, I slowly weened myself off of the anti depressants and anti anxiety meds, determined I was not going to use them while pregnant. I started taking this supplement, called Neuroreplete, to replace all of that. It helped. I was so happy. It worked even better than the drugs. I got pregnant, and immediately I knew something was wrong. 8 1/2 weeks into the pregnancy, I found out my baby had died at only 5 1/2 weeks, but hadn't miscarried yet. I had a D&C my birthday weekend, and with the up and down of all those hormones, and with lots of other added unrelated stress, I lost it.

Scott and I took an emergency trip to Oregon to heal. We came back and found out we had to be out of our apartment we had been in for 2 1/2 years in just a little over a month. We bought a house and moved in just 5 1/2 weeks later, and I got pregnant that month again. I just didn't have a chance. Too much change, too many hormones, too easy for the depression to sneak up. And it did, with a vengeance. Neuroreplete stopped working entirely. My sleeping pills stopped working. I turned into a person I don't even know. I was completely out of control, and it scared the hell out of me. I tried so hard not to go on meds. I remember the day I knew I couldn't go without it any longer, or I'd die. I went to the doc the very next day. I got a blessing and Scott and I prayed that we would know that we were making the right decision. I got on the meds, and I felt better in just 3 days, like my brain was literally starving for serotonin. I started taking Neuroreplete again and  seeing a therapist, which has helped quite a bit, and with all of them, I have been able to function. It literally saved my life. But the anxiety will not go away.

This is a problem I wish I could solve, and I'm working on it daily. I have ideas of what the cause is, but I haven't been able to fix it. I have moments where I hate my house. I feel trapped, caged in. I get so sick of being home. My husband doesn't understand this. He can't imagine why I would hate being here. Four walls drive me nuts after awhile. I hate seeing everything I should be cleaning or fixing, everything that really needs to get done, but I don't/can't do it. It's overwhelming.

I am thinking this won't last forever. And I truly do love my life, my kids and my husband. I am perfectly aware of how blessed my life is, and I guess that is the most frustrating part. With everything I have, With all the love and blessings and people I share this life with, why on EARTH would I be depressed/anxious?! WHY? It makes no logical sense.

I know all of this was deeply personal. I know that some may not want to know this or shy away from it because they don't know how to respond or how to help, and that is just fine. I have wanted to keep this away, but I guess this is a personal cry for help from anyone who has gone through something similar, but also I believe it helps so much to read about other peoples difficulties, knowing you are not the only one, and if I can help someone know that, then this is worth it. I hate feeling alone.

Note to reader: I do not always feel like this. I have lots of really good days too. And I cherish those days.

3 comments:

Rochelle said...

I wish I could say I totally understand what you are going through but I have definitely had anxiety attacks before and I can totally understand how awful that can feel...And I definitely get the feeling like you aren't enough or completely guilty for not being happy with so many wonderful things around you. I think as women and mothers we put too much pressure on ourselves to be perfect, and I am a number example of that.
Thinking my house should be cleaned all the time, my kids should be clean and well behaved all the time and that I should be doing this and that with them that I see other moms do - but guess what there is no way ever I will be able to do everything perfectly or everything I want...and its a struggle living with the guilt and feeling inadequate. So don't feel alone and I wish I had some wisdom to help you but I don't. You never know what others are struggling with and we all have our demons...our own issues and no one should ever judge someone else for there downfalls when they have their own.
You are human and you are trying the best you can for your husband and kids and that's all that anyone can ask of you. And I think it's brave that you wrote this. You are an amazing woman!

DeNeise said...

My dear sweet Latissa, Words can't describe the love I have for you and the emotions I have while reading your experience with depression and anxiety. Many prayers and thoughts have been said in behalf of you and your sweet family. As I was reading, I couldn't help but remember my pregnancies and feeling some of the same emotions and anxieties that you have expressed. I do understand more than you might know. I'm so grateful that you have been born in a time that you can call out for help and there is some, although few, options. We've come a long ways in this field but there needs to be an urgency for more testing, especially for woman who are pregnant. I know how it feels to go to a Dr. for help and they seem to know nothing about your problem. It is very frustrating. Your doing exactly what you need to do. Your reaching out to friends and family and letting them help. You have let your Heavenly Father in on all that is going on and letting him guide you in your decisions. Listen to that quieter voice that can give you direction and calmness. You are going to be okay and if there are times or days you don't know this than pick up the phone, come over and be with your invalid mommy!!! And every chance you get snuggle up to Scott and your little Carson and let them wash away all the pains. I have found that sometimes the best medicine is just touch.
I love you Latissa. You are an amazing woman. I look up to you in so many ways. You are strong and you will get through this because of that strength. Stay close to your family and friends and more importantly you Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. I second what Rochelle said....Your Amazing!!!

lurel said...

Hey Latissa!
So not a lot of people know this, but I was in really rough shape for a long time. My dad has struggled with mental illnesses for decades, and I was always scared that I would have to deal with the same things. For a few years I denied that anything was actually wrong with me and just "suffered in silence". I also ended up with an abusive boyfriend, and since I felt so awful anyway I just put up with it and ended up even worse. I developed an eating disorder that was largely linked to the depression and anxiety that I was feeling. I dealt with that for a couple of years, then started a half-hearted recovery period. Eventually I was ready to actually try to get better and felt like I was "worth the trouble". Anyway, I also did counselling, support groups, and pretty much everything that was available. I'm on an anti-depressant/anxiety medication which helps a LOT, and I also take ambien when I can't sleep. We're trying to conceive right now, and I plan to stop the ambien at that point, but I'm going to stay on the other medication. I guess I figure that my health is really important too, and it would be more dangerous for me to be off of it than the possible risk to be on it. I go absolutely nutty if I miss even one day, and I don't think I can handle going back to how I was before. There is some risk with the medication, but I'm lucky that a type that is supposed to be fairly safe during pregnancy is working for me. I guess I figure that the only other option would be to not have kids at all, since there's no way I would be able to be a good wife or mother as the wreck I used to be. It's scary.
I really think the hardest part when I'm in a weird frame of mind is that I know my life is great, but my emotions refuse to do anything but the polar opposite. It's really frustrating to not be able to just make myself be happy when I know I should be.
I'm so sorry that you're going through this, and I know that sometimes the things people say to try to make you feel better have no impact, but what you said about not being challenged above what you can handle is so true. It gets pretty darn close sometimes, but Christ is definitely looking out for you, and so are the people who love you! If you ever want to talk I'm here, too.
Thanks for sharing and letting yourself open up and be vulnerable. That's a very hard thing to do, especially when a lot of people won't completely understand, but I think it is very helpful to others to help them get it a little more and helps people in similar situations realize that they are not alone.