Going off the Deep End

I have long been aware that I suffer from depression.  Before I spent R350 – R700.00 an hour for someone to tell me that I suffered from chronic depression combined with anxiety disorder – I always felt there was just something off about me.

I would often describe myself as a sad person with happy moments – some times those happy moments would get shorter and further removed.

After I welcomed my first child into the world, and the dust settled – it is safe to say that things got a bit hairy and I sought professional help, because I really thought I was going mad.

I think the birth of your child really really brings things into sharper focus for you – even the mean and ugly things that you have been hiding from most of your adult life.

It was so difficult to explain what was going on in my head, but it got debilitating and I knew that though I was no friend to “normal” what I was experiencing was really far off the map of normal.

I felt isolated and that something just was not right.  I initially started with a psychologist and it was such a huge relief to be “diagnosed with something.”  That alone was really great and such a relief.

With my initial psychologist possibly I was not committed to the treatment or possibly she really was not any good.  (I would go with the latter as since then I have met several who are really good). Either way, it really did not go anywhere and I really just felt I was writing out cheques and that was all I was getting out of it, so I stopped and then languished in this state of hopelessness for a further year or two.

In 2004 I finally was referred to a psychiatrist by my GP as I really was not coping well.  Going through therapy should never be underestimated in terms of how difficult and soul wrenching it is.

One of the problems with therapy (I found), is that you walk in with one issue that you wish to start unpacking and once the Pandora’s box is opened, all the monsters come crawling out and it is very difficult to control them when they all start lurching and leering out of the box.

For me it was quite a traumatic year and the jury is out as to whether it did more damage than good.  I ended the year with my medication being increased and increased after what felt like each visit.

Eventually I could not function in what society would call “normal” parameters, avoided all social contact and really just wanted to lie in bed and hide under the duvet.

It got to the point where I felt I was standing in one corner and always observing myself from a distance – really out of check, really emotionally removed from anything and everything.

My behavior to my son got very erratic and I though I did not think I was going to hurt him, I really do not think I was doing him any good, because at best my reactions were probably quite traumatic for him.  He is also such a soft-hearted lamb-chop that he would easily feel my reactions to things and he in turn would then react.

When the end came with a dark thump,  I checked myself into a psychiatric facility for a two or three week stay. I really needed to run away from reality and everything that I felt was just adding weight to this drowning sensation I was feeling.

I do understand the labeling that comes along when you admit to being a little “psycho” but for me it feels more like a badge of honour (I might be going out on a limb here).  I encountered the dragon of all dragons and had the fight of my life.

Some days the dragon won – actually to be honest, most days the dragon won, who am I kidding – he is still winning.

I walked away from it with scorched eye-brows and sulphur smelling clothing.  I learnt more about myself in that year than I ever thought possible.  I know some of my triggers and know the signs of when things are going South for the winter.

I readily admit that I do not have the mechanisms to stop it occurring, but at least I can observe when it is happening and know when to put up my white flag for “help – rescue me.”

Various things occurred after the year plus of therapy and I decided to break from my therapist and not seek further therapy, I also went off all the medication, which to put it subtly was a bit a mind-stump if ever there was one.

Many many moons have passed since then, and I returned to a psychologist after my second child was born and also remained with her for about a year – it was great, and she did wonders to build my self esteem and sense of who I was in the world.

History is repeating itself and right now I feel like I am drowning in a sea of cold dark water and need help.   I can recognize the downward spiral as it has started to happen, and have made an appointment with a psychiatrist to go and have a little visit and maybe a cup of tea if it is offered.

This time around I will probably seek the medication route.  I can feel the extreme state that things are at right now, and have started waving my white flag hell-bent-for-leather.

I think if you have learnt anything from this rather depressing yet honest read, it is that there should be no shame to seek help.  Our bodies and minds take such a hammering during pregnancy and birth.

That period after birth with you and your baby at home, are hellishly hard.  I really do not think people realize how hard and area always up-selling how special it is, but not really always appreciating what it does to your mind and sense of self.  Throw a little sleep deprivation and relationship stresses into it and you have a Malakoff Cocktail.

I think we all have childhood issues that we drag into adulthood.  Some of us are better at letting them go than others, but I think when you bring your own child into the world, it is suddenly as if all your issues from childhood are immediately brought to the fore in brilliant techni-colour!!

So I am skipping along to see my new psychiatrist, I hope that you also take good care of yourself, and if it means making an appointment for therapy or just being honest with your friends, you will be surprised at how people respond to you when you are in your hour of need.

Everyone needs a white flag!

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Birth Order of Children

My friend Alice sent this to me and never has there been a truer word spoken or emailed.

Maternity Clothing:

1st baby: You begin wearing maternity clothes as soon as your doctor confirms your pregnancy.

2nd baby: You wear your regular clothes for as long as possible.

3rd baby: Your maternity clothes ARE your regular clothes.

Preparing for the Birth:

1st baby: You practice your breathing religiously.

2nd baby: You don’t bother because you remember that last time breathing didn’t do a thing.

3rd baby : You ask for an epidural in your eighth month.

The Layette :

1st baby: You pre-wash newborn’s clothes, color coordinate them, and fold them neatly in the baby’s little bureau.

2nd baby: You check to make sure that the clothes are clean and discard only the ones with the darkest stains.

3rd baby: Boys can wear pink, can’t they?

Worries:

1st baby: At the first sign of distress–a whimper, a frown–you pick up the baby.

2nd baby: You pick the baby up when her wails threaten to wake your firstborn.

3rd baby: You teach your three-year-old how to rewind the mechanical swing.

Dummy:

1st baby: If the dummy falls on the floor, you put it away until you can go home and wash and boil it.

2nd baby: When the dummy falls on the floor, you squirt it off with some juice from the baby’s bottle.

3rd baby: You wipe it off on your shirt and pop it back in.

Nappies:

1st baby: You change your baby’s nappy every hour, whether they need it or not.

2nd baby: You change their nappy every two to three hours, if needed.

3rd baby: You try to change their nappy before others start to complain about the smell or you see it sagging to their knees.

Activities:

1st baby: You take your infant to Baby Gymnastics, Baby Swing, and Baby Story Hour.

2nd baby: You take your infant to Baby Gymnastics.

3rd baby: You take your infant to the supermarket and the dry cleaner.

Going Out:

1st baby: The first time you leave your baby with a sitter, you call home five times.

2nd baby: Just before you walk out the door, you remember to leave a number where you can be reached

3rd baby: You leave instructions for the sitter to call only if she sees blood.

At Home:

1st baby : You spend a good bit of every day just gazing at the baby.

2nd baby: You spend a bit of everyday watching to be sure your older child isn’t squeezing, poking, or hitting the baby.

3rd baby: You spend a little bit of every day hiding from the children.

Swallowing Coins:

1st child: When first child swallows a coin, you rush the child to the hospital and demand x-rays.

2nd child: When second child swallows a coin, you carefully watch for the coin to pass.

3rd child: When third child swallows a coin, you deduct it from his pocket money.