The other week I finished reading Heather Armstrong’s book (title above) and spent a good deal of time laughing out loud. The book is a detailed account of her pregancy with Leta and dealing with PPD. Armstrong is very honest on her blog (www.dooce.com) as well as in the book about her struggles with depression.
I was talking to a friend about the book and while she admitted to dealing with the “baby blues” after her children, she felt that by announcing it or talking with someone about it; voicing it would make her seem weak. That admission stopped me in my tracks. As women, we have all heard of some woman, somewhere suffering and either harming themselves or their child.
As someone who has dealt with depression in my own life and is dealing with panic attacks; I don’t find that by seeking out help I am weak. On the contray, I find that by talking about my panic attacks, the medication I take and what I do to calm myself down should I end up having one, helps me and possibly others.
It is a sad world when people are judged by the medication that they take or that they admit to going to therapy. During the two weeks it took for my medication to get into my system were probably the crappiest. The first week I was unable to stay at my apartment at night. Being independent was and still is, such a part of me, that admitting that I couldn’t stay there without someone there was one of the hardest things I had ever done. I spent most of the week at a friend’s home, sleeping on the couch. I also had to take an additional pill during those two weeks to keep me from going over the edge. The panic attack I had (almost two years ago now) landed me in the emergency room. My friend sat there, trying to keep me calm but my heart was racing and took forever to settle back down. I didn’t sleep a wink that night due to the fear of having another panic attack. That is something I didn’t realize, even though I had had panic attacks before, once you have a bad one, the fear of having another can paralyze you.
I have had a few since then but mainly those are caused if I drink too much alcohol, which doesn’t happen too often because I know my limit. The triggers are weird because with the exception of one, the rest have not been caused due to stress, depression or being scared.
Which leads me back to the book. . . I have heard friends say that taking a pill isn’t the cure all and sometimes they feel like popping a pill is the easy way to deal with it. Armstrong has been “attacked” on her blog due to the medications she has taken before, during and after pregancy but she feels confident with her decision (and her doctor’s advice) to do what needs to be done in order to live a full life without crying, screaming or falling apart. The medication is not a cure all in terms of making anyone happy all the time, what the medication does is balance out those chemicals that can take a toll on your daily life.
Reading her blog and her book has allowed me to see that continuing with my course of treatment is the right thing to do. I need to be able to function daily, get a good night’s sleep and not head to the ER everytime my heart feels like it is getting to jump out of my chest. I deal with the comments made from time to time but I take comfort in the reality that no one (including my mom) has to deal with this and it is my body.
As for the depression or the darkness as I like to call it, I am still struggling with it but am working through it. I know for my mental health, it is important for me to take it one day at a time, to do what is needed and if I break down in a sobbing mess, that it is okay to do so.
If you haven’t read the book or Armstrong’s blog, I highly recommend both. You will find yourself laughing at parts as well as get a great look into someone’s life who is managing, even at times when life can suck, to find the humor in it all. Plus the pictures of Chuck and Coco (her dogs) will make you smile.