Swim don’t sink

Let’s get real. There have been some things floating around the blogosphere lately that have got me thinking. Heavy things but things that need to be addressed. It started with Bitter Infertiles latest podcast. If you haven’t tuned into these ladies, I highly recommend it. You will laugh, you will cry, you will shout “Hell yeah!”. It is wonderful. During their last episode the spoke about an anonymous listener who was struggling with depression after a miscarriage. She was concerned about taking anti-depression medication that had been prescribed by her doctor. As they talked about this situation I really related to all those feelings of concern, doubt, and even weakness. Then Belle made a post today addressing the situation. I have never wanted to hop through the computer screen and hug a blogger more.

I have been on anxiety / depression medication since I was 18. It started with something that is extremely hard for me to admit. I’m not sure if I have ever admitted this to anyone other than my mother. Not even J. But since I was young I have struggled with something called Trichotillomania. Basically it is where you deliberately pull out your own hair. When I was probably 11 I had no eyelashes because I pulled them all out. When I was in high school there were many times that I had to strategically part my hair a certain way in order to hide the bald spots where I had pulled out all my hair. It was just how I deal with stress. Most of the time I do not even realize I’m doing it.

Of course my parents took my to a psychologist but it didn’t work out. I kept feeling like he was trying to uncover some deep secret that made me act the way I did. But there is no cause. I had a great childhood, loving parents, and no trauma. I am just an extremely anxious/stressed out person. So they put me on medication.

It has helped. I doubt I’ll ever be “cured” but it is definitely under control. I no longer pull out my eyebrows or eyelashes and I haven’t had bald spots in years. But I still pull throughout the day. Sometimes it is only once or twice, sometimes it is much worse. Right after my D&C it was awful. I found that I was scared of myself and what I was doing. But I don’t know how to stop or how to channel my anxiousness elsewhere.

Why do I mention this? Because its real. It is who I am and something I will always have to deal with. Isn’t it embarrassing to admit this? Yes. Painfully so. My heart is pounding as I am writing all this out. I’m afraid that people won’t understand or say “why don’t you just stop doing it?”. But that, to me, is like telling an infertile to “just adopt”. I can stop about as easily as I can adopt tomorrow.

My point is we all go through things. Sometimes we are dealt with a rough hand and we have no choice but to try to cope with it. In my opinion, seeking help or medication is not a weakness. It’s a strength. To admit to someone else that you are not strong enough to deal with things on your own is not easy. People don’t like to feel weak or lose face. But by doing so we gain so much.

There have been a few times over the past 2 years that I have gotten off of my medication. The first time was when we decided to start trying. I was off my medication for 6 months. At first I did great, positive that my baby was coming and that I didn’t want to take anything that could possibly harm it. After our second round of Clomid I admitted defeat. This wasn’t going to be a walk it the park and I could feel a dark cloud constantly hovering around me. So I went back to my doctor and got back on my medication.

I stopped again when I found out I was pregnant in April. For 2 weeks I was happy but nervous. We all know how that turned out, but I was optimistic. Optimistic that it was a fluke and our take-home baby wasn’t far off, so I decided to try to stay off it. In June I started feeling down again. I made an appointment with my Dr. and got my prescription refilled. I was about to start taking it again when I found out I was again pregnant. Pure bliss. That was how I describe the next 6 weeks. I knew this was it, this was our baby finally, and I was happier than I had ever been. Then the fall. The day that still haunts my dreams. My baby was gone and I knew I would never be the same. I opened that medication bottle the next day without hesitation. I have never felt more depressed than I did during the next couple of weeks. There were times that I just didn’t want to go on anymore. But I forced myself to at least try.

I know it helps me. There are still days that I am down and rightfully so. But it also keeps me more even. I am planning on continuing my medication through my next pregnancy. My doctors are in agreement and I feel that it is for the best as I know any pregnancy I now have will be filled with nothing but panic and anxiety. For me the risk does not out-weight the benefits. I know if order to do what is best for my future baby I need to be in a good place mentally.

Do what you need to do in order to cope. The reality that we are all going through right now is not an easy one. There should never be any need to feel weak or scared to admit you need help. I’m not saying everyone should be on medication, but find what works for you. Be that RESOLVE, a therapist, running, or medication. Anything really.

I found a sense of strength in  a place I never would have imagined. In a necklace that I wear close to my heart.

Aquamarine for the baby boy that should have been born March 2nd. Blue Topaz for the unknown baby that should have been born December 16th.

At first I worried that this necklace would only cut the wounds deeper. But instead, during the day I find myself reaching up to touch the tiny birthstones and I think of my babies with happiness instead of dispar. I wish I could have known them. But now the are always near me and I think they know how much I still love them.

If you ever find yourself sinking and you don’t know if you can swim up, please don’t be afraid. Please know that you are treasured and that you deserve all the happiness that life can give you. It is never going to be easy but please try. And know there are people out there that truly understand. This journey is the hardest think I have ever been through and I have had to fight more demons than I ever thought I’d have to. But I’m determined not to let this win. I might not ever get a baby, but I won’t lose anymore of myself. I can’t let it take what makes me me away.

 

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21 Comments

Filed under Depression, Healing, Infertility, It's not always about me, Living Life, Miscarriage

21 responses to “Swim don’t sink

  1. I am so proud of you for this post. I also have been on medication for depression and anxiety since my teens. I have only tried going off once, with catastrophic results. I also believe the risks of going off meds are too great and I have chosen to stay on them throughout pregnancy and afterwards. When I wrote a post about this, most people supported me but I did get attacked by a troll. I fully support you 100% – your future babies need you to be as healthy as possible, which includes emotionally.

    The necklace is so beautiful. Thinking of you.

  2. AMEN!!!!! Too often, people forgo their health in pursuit of baby. We neglect ourselves assuming that all will be okay once they’re holding their child, everything will be alright. Yet we know that postpartum depression hits IFers hardest. And as Mo said, you need to be a happy mama to be a good mama.

    So, find a way to heal. Be it with medication or without, find that way.

    I love the necklace. Fitting and beautiful reminder/memorial for both your children.

  3. Mo

    hear hear! What a brave, wonderful post.
    Huge hugs

  4. Love this. There is no shame in finding what works for you. It hard to see people hiding that part of them which is ultimately the strongest, the part that asks for help.
    More power to ya sister.

  5. Thank you for having the courage and strength to write this post, sharing a part of your life that is so personal and difficult. I know several young women with the same diagnosis, and I know it’s incredibly difficult. I’m glad that meds have helped you to cope with the different kinds of crap that life serves up… no shame at all in admitting you need help to swim and not sink.
    I stopped taking my depression meds after our BFP and there are days when I question whether that decision was right. Healthy moms-to-be make healthier babies… a very true and important statement. One we all need to remember when we make decisions about how to take care of ourselves.

    Thanks again for sharing with us, Trisha. Keep swimming and doing what you need to do to stay as healthy as you can, mentally and physically!

  6. What a beautiful, honest post. You are so strong and brave to share this part of yourself with your readers, and I’m glad the medication has helped you when you needed it. And I love your necklace! It looks very much like mine…even one of the birthstones is the same as our baby was due Dec 6. I’m glad it’s giving you as much peace and comfort as mine has given me. Hugs to you!

  7. Kelly

    You are so brave and I love you for posting this. Trichotillomania is surely a real disease and I for one will not deny your suffering. But you make another excellent point–that it is so important to take care of yourself and sometimes that means making tough choices and being a little selfish for the sake of your physical and mental health and you (and Belle and anyone else) dont deserve to feel judged or guilty for it! And kudos to you for preachin’ it!

    Beautiful necklaces too, BTW 🙂

  8. This left my breathless, there was so much emotion was poured into this post. You are in my thoughts. The necklace is such a wonderful way to commemorate your babies.

  9. Thank you for being so honest…it is so important to remember to take care of ourselves during this process. Best wishes!

  10. theyellowblanket

    Great post! You’re not alone in your difficult manifestation of anxiety. I’m a skin-picker when I’m really down and out, and it can get reaaaaally bad. My sister has trich. My other sister is a hoarder. So we’re like a crayon box of anxiety disordered little ladies. You are not alone and I applaud you for sharing your truth!

  11. Jen

    Thank you for sharing your experiences – I cannot imagine how tough this must have been to put it all in black and what on the screen, but I know I (and I’m guessing your other readers) really appreciate and value your honesty and strength! I’m proud of you for putting it out there and for knowing when you’ve got to make yourself healthy however you can!

  12. I’m so glad you shared your story. I knew from reading your blog the past few months that you were strong and brave and this just shows how much. I am here supporting you and praying for you all the way.

  13. I love every ounce of you. And the additional pieces I find out about here, make me love you even more. We all have *stuff*. It’s just a matter of if we try to heal through them or if we let them consume us. These are battles that are worth the fight.

    I love your necklace and I’m so glad you are finding it healing. I too find I reach for mine throughout the day. It’s beautiful tribute.

  14. Trisha, I’d love to chat with you in a less “open” context. I looked for your email address on here, but couldn’t find it. We have a lot in common, so I’d love to share. Cudos to you for doing what works for you and for being strong enough to share.

    You can contact me @ amanda.greavu@gmail.com

  15. This is a really wonderful post. Thank you for sharing your experiences and the ways you have found to help you cope. Someone I am close with also suffers from Trichotillomania, and I know how it comes with a unique set of challenges, although since it’s not my story to tell, I won’t go into any details. It makes me so happy to hear you write with such strength.

  16. I read this last night while in the parking lot of CVS and cried and cried. I have been mulling over a response ever since. Trisha, how brave. How true. I understand the “Why don’t you just stop” mentality from people. I have confided in a handful of highly educated people about my irrational thoughts and I get the same response over and over, “That’s ridiculous. Just stop.” I can’t. I have been like this for as long as I can remember – not about disease necessarily (but sometimes), but latching onto something to the point of unhealthy obsession. It is a rotten way to live and I’m so glad to learn there are options, treatments and alternatives. Thank you for opening up about this. From one anxious human to another – I’m always here if you need someone. I promise to never question your struggles. xoxo

  17. Thank you for writing this.

  18. KelBel

    Thank you so much for sharing your story. Your strength shines throughout this post. I love your necklace…I have one with three charms, I too, find comfort in reaching up and touching it.

  19. Stacey

    Big hugs from a lurker and fellow ivf survivor.

  20. That is really beautiful – I have been listening to Bitter Infertiles too and they really leave me with a lot to think about. Thank you for sharing your story.

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