I was sitting in my therapist’s office, listening to Andrea Bocelli crooning from an iPod from one end table, while ocean waves crashed from a sound machine on another table.
I was reading a psychology magazine while waiting for my appointment and saw an article about depression.
I struggled with depression as a teenager and young adult, finally weaning myself off of anti-depression meds when I met my husband in 2005.
It had been smooth sailing until I had my daughter.
Suddenly, sleepless nights, no alone time, hormones, and a demanding schedule had taken their toll and I found myself on meds again to treat my postpartum depression. After a year of that, I weaned myself off again and suddenly found myself wondering why things had gotten so out of hand.
Why I was so angry and short tempered.
Why I had so little patience.
Why I hated being a mom.
Hated being a wife.
Wanted to run away.
Looking back, it should have been instantly obvious that going off the meds led to me feeling miserable again. I did bring up the idea to my husband, but he told me that it actually started before I went off the meds. Despite my memory conflicting with this idea, I took his explanation and ran with it.
And I tried EVERYTHING I could think of.
I tried getting up before my daughter so I could start my day with Zen focus and calm. That only lasted until her first whine.
I tried yoga. It sorta helped, but not for long.
I tried essential oils. They smell nice, but that’s about it.
I took magnesium supplements.
I enrolled my daughter in daycare two days a week and went to work with my husband.
I don’t even remember all the stuff I tried.
And when none of it worked, I blamed my marriage.
Confessing all this to my husband one evening is what led me to the therapist’s office in the first place. She is incredibly understanding and helpful, but I don’t think anything helped me as much as that magazine I found in her office waiting room.
I picked up the article and started reading about depression. What it looks like and feels like and how to treat it. Then, I stumbled across the most interesting nugget of information I had seen in a long time.
Depression might not manifest as sadness. You might feel more irritated than normal, angry even.
The light bulb instantly went on. That was me! Could it be possible that my anger and annoyance stemmed from depression?
I brought it up to my therapist as well as my doctor at my checkup, which conveniently happened to be the following week. As I filled out the questionnaire, it began to slowly dawn on me that what I was feeling and experiencing was a dangerous combination of depression and anxiety.
I left the doctor’s office that day feeling so much lighter, even before I took a single Zoloft. Just like that, I had a reason for why I couldn’t seem to make myself feel better all on my own.
It wasn’t my marriage or motherhood, it was me. It was something I could easily change. Without tearing my family apart by running away.
It took about six months, but my doctor and I have landed on a medication combo that works. We talk about going back off the meds when my daughter is a little older and I can go back to my old coping methods (solitude).
For now, this is what works for me. I know several people who shun pharmaceutical help, and that’s totally their choice. It’s what makes sense for them.
But for me, I need the meds to get through my day.
I have a lot more patience. I’m much more content. My attitude toward my husband has improved, which means my marriage has improved.
I still have bad days. (I yelled at my daughter approximately 60 times this morning.) But I’ve also discovered a few new coping mechanisms.
I drink a glass (okay, two glasses) of wine in the evenings to relax and feel indulgent after an overwhelming day. I meditate using the Simple Habit app. (It’s great for falling asleep.) I no longer feel guilty about letting my daughter watch TV or play on her iPad on days when I just can’t even. I weeded out “perfect parenting” posts from my Pinterest board. (I see a lot more posts on feminism and Benedict Cumberbatch.)
And I’m blogging again. Hi.
I also realized that I’m not the only person who feels this way. And that parenting with a mental illness doesn’t look like everyone else’s parenting. And that’s okay.