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.