August 15, 2006
After posting the Journey to the Center of the Save As Draft Function entry last week, I got so.much.nice.email. And guess what! I even answered a lot of it! I know! I read my months-old rants about "I get tooooo much eeeemail, waaaaaah" and rolled my damn eyes, because seriously: NICE EMAIL. WHAT AN AWFUL TRAGEDY. SAY HI TO THE NICE PEOPLE ALREADY.
So I did. And it was FUN, and reminded me why I like you Internet people so much. I mean, some of you. Sometimes. You know.
Anyway, a LOT of that nice email included nice requests for that "Plot Holes" entry I never got around to writing -- in particular, about my recovery from depression in 2004. Whee! Now there's a rollicking good topic.
Even now, it's a tough thing to revisit. It was a tough time. There was a lot of stuff I never shared with the Internet, but picking through all the drama and the crazy for the stuff that makes me sound merely delightfully unbalanced instead of holy shit, she's just plain fucking insane seems dishonest and self-serving.
(I adore this column by Heather, by the way, particularly this quote: I realize that I was trying to appear as the most reasonable insane person I could possibly be. If I was going to be insane, I would do it as perfectly and neatly as I could.)
But I can be totally honest about one thing: I'm not that girl anymore. I look back on the way I was with a very hazy recollection, like it couldn't really have been that bad, could it?
It was that bad. But it's better now. And I can tell you about it because it's better.
By the time I began writing publicly about my little downward spiral into depression, I'd already been suffering in silence for several months. Nothing was helping. I could barely get up the energy to write about anything, much less anything "funny."
People in real life suspected something was up anyway. So I started writing, hoping I could work something out and get to the bottom of whatever it was and maybe connect with other people who had gone through the same thing.
Honestly, I kind of wish I hadn't done that.
Because while it's one thing to get pigeonholed as a Mommy Blog, it's quite another to be a Depression Blog. That's all I ended up talking about. It's all people wanted to email me about. I became fixated on this one small part of me and bought into the whole "it's a disease, there's nothing you can do about it" passive approach to recovery and just sunk deeper and deeper into the funk.
By the time I turned a corner in the fall of 2004, I realized that my recovery needed to be done in private, and I slowly stopped mentioning "It."
Anyway. That's why I wrote about It and that's why I stopped writing about It. Here's what you missed:
I believe I started getting sick after my very first round of Clomid, a fertility drug. The hormonal surges were intense, and coupled with month after month of failure, I got very blue and irrationally moody.
The whole babybabybaybaaaaayyyybeeee quest that I was on drove a wedge between Jason and me, because I felt he wasn't being supportive and he felt I was obsessed and pushing him into something he was convinced would still happen on its own. And then I would flip out because what, was he telling me to "just relax?" Did he not listen to my doctor? Oh, THAT'S RIGHT, I went to all the appointments by MYSELF, because he wasn't being supportive and he felt I was obsessed and round and round we go! The carousel of How to Fuck Up a Really Good Marriage Without Really Trying!
I started making some really bad decisions. One of which was to let my doctor medicate me to the gills without ever suggesting I get some sort of therapy. And I'm not talking about a nice dose of Zoloft. I'm talking about Tom-Cruise-Would-Have-A-Point-If-He-Weren't-Such-An-Idiot doses of heavy mood stabilizers and stuff traditionally prescribed for bipolar disorder and schizophrenia.
I'd weathered depression and panic successfully before -- once, like everybody else in America, after 9/11 and then a more severe bout during the reign of the D.C. sniper. A relatively mild course of medications worked, which is why I was more than willing to offer my brain up to the Pfizer gods once again. When I didn't respond to the usual protocol (probably because of the hormonal changes brought on by the fertility treatment), I freaked out and let my doctor dope me up to her heart's content.
I did not need these drugs. Of that I am very sure. My doctor gave me a lot of additional medications in order to treat what were essentially SIDE EFFECTS of other medications. She upped doses after a week (or less) and did not listen to me when I tried to tell her about some of the very real problems in my life. I completely defined myself by the mini-pharmacy on the nightstand.
I Take Anti-Psychotics, Therefore I Am. I mean, I must be. Right?
It's no surprise that I absolutely disintegrated in her care. The medications destroyed me. I got my days and nights
switched around. I developed OCD and all sorts of tics and twitches. I
had panic attacks every time I left the house. I trembled constantly. I started to hurt myself
and hallucinate. I scratched at my wrists until I bled. I basically dared Jason to leave me, because I saw
myself as irrevocably broken and fucked up.
Break with reality much? JESUS.
One night I went to take some Excederin for a headache and I just. Kept. Swallowing. Pills. My doctor suggested it was time to consider hospitalization. I called a therapist instead.
She listened. She told me to knock it off and get a fucking grip on myself. That I was sick because I spent so much time obsessing about being sick and letting my other doctor treat me like I was sick and I was using the "sickness" as an excuse for truly wretched, childish behavior. She said I was "ambivalent about being a grown-up." She said I had "zero coping skills." Then she gave me a hug and told me that I was Not Crazy. She told me everything was going to be okay.
I started backing off the medications just a few weeks later. My therapist challenged me, questioned me and helped me immeasurably. It was harder and a hell of a lot more expensive than medication. I confronted some horrible, ugly things about my past. It was painful. And private. Thank you.
Is this the approach I think everyone should take? Hell no. It's not even the approach I would always take. But it's what worked for me then, so there you go.
I was med-free by December and pregnant by January.
I've been doing really pretty okay ever since.