17 December 2016

PPD

It has been two months since I last had an antidepressant, four months since I last took a full dose. And I still have withdrawal effects. I usually have about one a day, but lately I can sometimes get two or three days per week without symptoms. A friend recommend a book called The Mood Cure, which I immediately jumped on. I read it in two days, started following the diet by the next meal, and rushed out to buy the recommend supplements. I have a soft spot for alternative/nutritional cures.


When I was 19, I was diagnosed with a colon disease and put on a battery of medications. After a while they stopped working, so the doctor recommend I increase my dose. "You might have to take four in the morning and four at night, or five in the morning and five at night, or even six in the morning and six at night. Just keep increasing the dose until the symptoms go away." Six pills twice a day was twice the manufacturer's recommended amount. And the side effects of the medication were the same as the symptoms of the disease. I was floored. How long would I have to keep up this dosage? He didn't know. Would it ever go away? Probably not. What if I did nothing? I'd have cancer by my 30s or 40s. Frustrated and angry, I went to see a nutritionist my mom was raving about. I sat down and told her my diagnosis.
"Oh my husband had that," she said turning around to grab a reference book.
"What do you mean 'had that'? You can't get rid of it."
"Oh sure you can," she said, like I was complaining about an acne flair up.
She wrote out a diet and made a list of supplements for me. The diet was tough, no coffee, soda, alcohol (not that I was a big drinker at 19), whole grains, raw veggies, nuts, granola, chocolate (that was a tough one) and a few other things. I drank daily protein shakes, took fish oil pills, and had an intense probiotics lineup. One year later, I was completely cured. 100%. I occasionally get flair ups, especially when I'm pregnant, but I just go back on the diet and within a few weeks, I'm back to normal.


I tried all the doctor recommended alternatives for depression after my first three pregnancies (including the miscarriage), but, as you know, they aren't working this time around. I'm ready to get really alternative here, flirting with essential oils and wondering if I can stomach enough needles to try acupuncture, so after I read The Mood Cure, I was pretty stoked. So many symptoms of a deficient amino acid are things I've had my whole life and never know were related. The grinding of the teeth, the anemia, the hypoglycemia, migraines. If I lived in the "olden days," I'd be one of those women wasting away in her bedroom of "consumption." Or at least it feels like that sometimes. So I jumped into the deep end with both feet.

I woke up the next morning like a new woman, or, feeling more like myself than I have in a really long time. I was happy, like, really happy, I could hop out of bed in the morning instead of dragging, I skipped coffee and didn't even notice. I didn't lose my temper as I got Abigail ready and out the door to school. I handled Eleanor's terrible twos calmly. I was available for Theodore. It was amazing. I took my afternoon dose and was still on cloud 9. Until about 5pm. When I started having a bad reaction to one of the supplements. It got really bad. Matt had to take the next day off work because I couldn't get out of bed. It took a full 36 hours to recover. But I'm going to try again.

I'm not going to give up - the author acknowledges that some people do have a reaction and recommends a few alternatives. So I'm going to give myself another day to recover, then I'm going to try the supplements again, much smaller dose and one at a time until I can identify which one is bothering me. Then I'll eliminate the trouble-maker and try an alternative. I'm not giving up. I'm still praying Rosaries and reading Mother Theresa's book. I'll try everything I can think of, and if nothing works, I'll start over and try the list again. I can't resign myself to depression and I'm not ready to embrace an SSRI (at least not after 12 months after birth). I refuse to give up hope.



08 December 2016

Happily Married

My husband had a meeting with one of his bosses the other day, one of those "how are you doing in achieving your goals?" check-ups, and said boss told Matt a story about how difficult the stress of private practice is/was on his marriage. 

It is really stressful, definitely more stressful than working in the public sector or being in law school. Lately Matt has been working on a huge project with a looming deadline that was just unexpectedly moved up. He has been coming home from work after the kids go down, working from home into the night, and going into the office on the weekends.

But our marriage isn't falling apart. It's really strong, actually. I want to call up his boss and have my own little meeting. "What was your goal in telling him that story? If he isn't willing to sacrifice his marriage he shouldn't be in private practice? Were you trying warn him of the dangers without offering any advice? Do you really want an office full of overworked, divorced assholes? Do you think if you supported your employees' families, you would have a team of people who are dedicated and loyal to the firm?"

We got married young and we had a baby in law school and my husband works 10-12 hour days and Matt has never spent the night on the couch. We've never been close to divorce. We resolve our arguments like respectful adults. For 8.5 years, we've been a really strong couple. The boss' story falls on deaf, happily married ears.


01 December 2016

Fertility, a blessing and a burden

Sometimes I have nightmares that I'm pregnant. But even on my darkest of days, even though I sometimes joke, I don't really want to be done having kids.

Physically, I need a break. I had a miscarriage in 2013, Eleanor in 2014, and Theodore in 2015. My body and my hormones need a break. And the toll that postpartum depression takes can be debilitating. Add in daily life: three kids in diapers, three kids who can't put on their own shirts, three kids who have trouble scooping up rice with a fork. It's exhausting. If I added a pregnant belly and then a newborn into the mix, I think I'd have a nervous breakdown. Sometimes I get really mad at the Catholic Church's stance on contraception. I furiously search Google trying to find some authoritative source somewhere that says that I am in serious enough straits to warrant something else. I never find it, instead usually stumbling upon something more uplifting. Somehow God always gives me the strength to persevere. We're doing a "belt and suspenders" method: mucus + cervix + the Clear Blue Fertility monitor. Theodore is now 12 months old and we are definitely not pregnant.

But I don't want to be done yet either. I don't want Theodore's first word to be my last first word; his first steps to be my last first steps. I'm not ready to sell the bassinet and part with the newborn clothes. I used to want to be a young mom, done having kids by my early 30s, but then I read a really interesting article about the benefits of having a family that spans a wider age range, and now I'm thinking maybe I want Eleanor and Theodore to be teenagers with little siblings at home and it be cool for my future babies to have older siblings as role models. A lot of lessons in love and compassion there. A lot of wisdom and responsibility to be taught. I need to carry more little newborns around in my carriers, milky breath and sleepy eyes.

But first I need Eleanor to be able to contribute a bit more. I need someone who can feed the dog, take the trash out, sweep under the table after dinner. Someone who can brush her own teeth and wash her own hands. I need Theodore where Eleanor is now: mostly listens to my commands, is able to fetch his own coat and shoes, can take his own plate to the sink. I don't know where Abigail is going to be. I think it'd be great if we could make it through 2017 without getting pregnant. Then for our 10th anniversary in April of 2018, maybe Matt and I can go away. A little all inclusive vacation package somewhere really fun, like Hawaii. Theodore will be 2.5, maybe he will even be potty trained? Or close? We'll leave all three kids with relatives for a few days. Then we'll try again. I'll be 31, that's not too old.

Anyway, I leave this out there for any other Catholic moms struggling with church teaching, finding it hard to keep going at times, contemplating the possibility of sitting in the pews instead of going up for communion. We can make it. I can make it. You can make it. We'll preserve.