29 November 2010

Insert thought provoking title here...

Well, I'm 21 weeks pregnant and so far my Thyroid has been behaving. I go to my regular appointments at my OB/GYN practice, and I'm being seen by a perinatal specialist to monitor for problems that could be related to the Thyroid. I've noticed a big difference between this pregnancy and my last one, and I can't help but wonder how much of that is related to the fact that I'm on Synthroid and my Thyroid is thus being kept under control.

I posted this recently on my Facebook:

I was thinking tonight about my time in the hospital last year with PostPartum Depression. I remember all too well how lonely, how buried, how lost and utterly hopeless I felt, how dark everything seemed, how I felt like the world's worst wife/mom/person and the biggest failure at life in general. I remember one incident in particular. It was early on, before they started me on meds, while they were hoping "talk therapy" would help (it didn't, not by itself). Mom and Eruc came to visit at supper time and brought Elizabeth with them. I was looking forwards to seeing them and to trying to nurse Elizabeth. Well, she wouldn't nurse and then she got fussy and wouldn't calm down for me but would calm down for Mom. Looking back now, I suspect that she was picking up on my anxiety, but at the time I didn't see that, all I saw was that my baby liked my mom better than she liked me and that one simple thing I should be able to do I was failing at. I got pretty agitated at her crying and Mom ended up taking Elizabeth out and she and Eric traded off who had her and who was visiting me. I felt so incredibly guilty and angry and upset. After a few days of medication I started to feel better and could cope a little bit better and could cope with realizing when I couldn't cope and what my triggers were and then Elizabeth started responding better to me. Or maybe I was responding better to her, or maybe both.

I remember those dark times and I am so thankful to be out of them. Honestly, I worry a little bit about what happens if I end up wrestling with PPD again with Corn Puff. I really really don't want to go back to that place (PPD, there were far worse places than Laurel Ridge that I could have been). But, I comfort myself with the knowledge of several things...
1. We know now that hypothyroidism was the cause of the PPD. The thyroid is being monitored closely and keeping that under control should keep the PPD under control.
2. I am educated and know what to look for and know that asking for help early on is nothing to be ashamed of.
3. My family and friends will keep an eye on me, both IRL friends and online ones (because my posting on the internet most definitely reflected my spiral downwards last time), and won't let me let it get as bad as it did before. They already know what to watch for, and can expect to receive articles and links soon to lists of symptoms and related writings. They WILL be educated. LOL
4. If I do wrestle with it, whether I end up in the hospital or not, my family and friends will support and love me, and this I know from experience.
5. Most importantly, I know that God is with me and is watching over me and will take care of me. If He allows me to struggle with PPD again, it will be for a purpose, just as it was for a purpose before. And if He doesn't ask that of me, that too will be for a purpose. But whatever happens I stand firm in my faith and belief that He will be beside me through everything. I have a strong testimony of His care for me and that testimony can only grow stronger.

03 August 2010

Big News!

Yesterday, August 2, 2010, I got a BFP. Know what that means? It means I'm going to be a mommy again!

This time, I know to watch for signs that the depression is coming back and/or that my thyroid is getting out of whack, and will talk to the doctor immediately. I'll also be asking at my appointment on August 11 how often they will draw my blood to monitor my thyroid levels.

27 July 2010

You don't always know.

Recently, I saw someone say online that women suffering from PPD know it. That's a myth. I speak from experience that sometimes you don't realize that's what's going on. One of the things that can come along with PPD is a feeling of emotional and mental numbness. I had that. I didn't care about anything and I didn't feel much. When I did feel anything it was usually sadness, anger, or some other negative emotion. If I had realized earlier on that I was dealing with PPD, I would have gone to a doctor sooner instead of waiting until it reached a crisis point requiring an ER visit and hospitalization. That's part of why it's so important for everyone to know the warning signs and be educated about PPD. If you know someone who has recently had a baby, keep a close eye on them. Know the warning signs of Post Partum Depression.

From http://helpguide.org/mental/postpartum_depression.htm

  • Lack of interest in your baby
  • Negative feelings towards your baby
  • Worrying about hurting your baby
  • Lack of concern for yourself
  • Loss of pleasure
  • Lack of energy and motivation
  • Feelings of worthlessness and guilt
  • Changes in appetite or weight
  • Sleeping more or less than usual
  • Recurrent thoughts of death or suicide

Postpartum depression usually sets in soon after childbirth and develops gradually over a period of several months. But postpartum depression can also come on suddenly, and in some women, the first signs don’t appear until months after they’ve given birth. Because of the possibility of delayed onset, if you have a depressive episode within six months of having a baby, postpartum depression should be considered.

If someone you know is not acting like their normal self and you think it could be PPD, talk to them. If you have to, talk to another family member of theirs. Do what you need to do to get them help before it gets too bad.

24 July 2010

The voice of a friend

A very dear friend read my blog and shared with me her point of view on my PPD, I thought it was very good and got her permission to post it here.

So I went to see my friend and her baby at the hospital. Both looked tired but happy, but birth is such a wonderful thing you focus on the positive.

Then a couple of days later, when my friend got home, I brought her food for a couple of days. Instead of being her over the top grateful self, she was a little more like, "yeah, fine, thanks." I felt like I was intruding.

So about a week after the birth I came by to see what I could do to help and to get my cooler and dishes. This is the first time I never saw my friend smile. Not even a tired one or a faked one. But I wrote it off to the fatigue of being a new mom. I don't have kids so I don't know how it is. I didn't want to be that childless friend who started telling a new mom "how it is".

After picking up my cooler, I went home and spoke to my husband. He looked at the situation very matter of factly. DH asked, "What would you do if someone said I am worried you have psych issues?" And honestly, as much as I hate to say it, I would be taken aback. I would like to think that I would know that the person was coming to me with my best interest at heart, but I don't know if I would.

Over the next couple of weeks, my phone calls were going unanswered. Even offers to come over and clean, do dishes, do laundry didn't get a reply. With my background in medicine, I knew about PPD, but reading it in a text book or seeing it in a patient with severe psych issues is different. My friend had no prior psych issues that I knew of, but I was too scared to ask. How do you ask someone "Hey, have you ever had a problem?"

So I started doubting myself. "Did I do something to step on her toes?", "Am I 'smothering' her?", "Maybe she and her husband really have everything under control and don't need help, but don't want to call me back because they feel like I am begging an invitation over."

By about the six week mark, I took it personally. My friend still wasn't returning calls, so I stopped really calling. Occassionally I would check in with her husband, but even those conversations were 'off'. He was short, terse with me. When I asked how things are, I got a lot of one word answers. Again, instead of seeing this as a sign I needed to step further into the situation, I saw this as my cue to exit.

A few months after the baby was born, I hear through the grapevine that my friend went to the ER and has been hospitalized. I have pretty extensive medical knowledge and this scared me. I felt shame. I should have seen this. I should have helped her stop things sooner. PPD shouldn't be that tough to "diagnose", I was failing her as a friend for not catching this. But once again, I figured if she was in the hospital the best I can do is support her amazing husband. He welcomed the support with open arms.

When she got out she was better, but things still weren't right. And I knew I wasn't seeing the worst of it. I knew she wasn't sleeping, but what could I do. I knew she was having anxiety issues, but again felt like my hands were tied. Then I began to wonder if there was more than I was being told about.

Unfortunately there was. She ended up being hospitalized a second time. This time I stepped up. I finally asked myself, "Would you rather be 'hated' for helping too much than for not being there when she needed you?" And my answer was clear.

Her husband and I went up to visit her. (And I had my first experience with a diaper change requiring a bath.) I had some worries about going to a psych hospital. What if someone I know sees me going in there? What if I say something to make her worse, are they going to kick me out and make a scene? What if something about me sets off a trigger and they think I need help?

After that I babysat (as much as I could). I would make it a point to talk to my friend at least once each week and actually talk. I would inquire how things are and if I felt she was giving me a "one word answer", I would push it. "No really, I want to know how you are." I would offer to come over and help clean. I would encourage her to come out with me.

This was a learning experience. This woman and mother is my closest friend where I live now. I fear I could have lost her because I was too scared to ask the questions. I was terrified to honestly tell her that I saw a problem.

To be blunt would you rather:
A) lose a friend who is wandering through a dark place, looking for help and not seeing it, and eventually comes to a choice that will alter her life forever
Or B) lose a friend for being too interested, too helpful, or too honest?

20 July 2010

You can be your own best advocate

Well, I got the results of the latest bloodwork testing my thyroid levels, everything is still within normal limits. Since this is 2 tests over 6 months I am now officially considered "Succesfully treated". I'll stay on the Synthroid at the dosage I've been taking and don't need to be tested more than once a year unless I start showing symptoms again. It's amazing to me that this one little issue that was so easily "fixed" is what was behind my Post Partum Depression. If only the doctors had diagnosed it sooner.

This brings me to another issue for anyone who thinks something is wrong: you can be your own best advocate. If you think something's wrong, talk to your doctor. If they forget to address the issue remind them about it. If they brush you off, revisit your concerns. Keep pushing until you get the answers you're looking for. Don't ignore your gut instincts, you have them for a reason. If I had followed all this advice, I could have been diagnosed with hypothyroidism and begun treatment a few months sooner and kicked the PPD earlier.

25 June 2010

A flashback

I had a little bit of a flashback today to how I used to feel before the depression was diagnosed and gotten under control. Elizabeth got away from me upstairs and made it to the staircase before I did. Yes, indeed, she took a nice long tumble down 16 stairs. Fortunately, she rolled instead of going head over heels. I immediately took her to the ER to get checked out and they said that she looks okay and there doesn't appear to be any damage other than scrapes and bruises. We just have to keep an eye on her tonight to make sure nothing bad develops.

I felt SO guilty. I know deep down inside that it's an accident but still. This little voice inside me goes "Your her mother. You're supposed to protect her and take care of her. You failed.". The guilt has been awful and I feel like the worst mother ever. I keep flashing back to her tumble and hearing and seeing the thuds and cries and then her screams at the bottom of the stairs. The longest and thus far, most horrifying few seconds of my life. It felt like it was forever.

It reminds me of how I felt when I went to the ER with PPD. The difference is, this time I can cope better. This time I can tell myself "It's not your fault" and sort of kind of believe it. I still don't feel any better about what happened but at least I can COPE. When I start to get the panic attacks, instead of having to take an Ativan, I can stop and insert reality and breathe slowly for a few minutes. When I think "She could have been killed or badly injured!" I remind myself that she wasn't really injured at all and that this is one of those things that happens with kids. The fact that I can even stop and think it through, much less calm myself down without medication, is a HUGE deal and I consider it a big milestone.

21 June 2010

Still going strong

It's been almost 3 months since I came off of the Celexa and I am doing great. I haven't had a need to go to the ER or talk to a therapist, I haven't had to take Ativan... no more depression, yay! I posted this recently on a forum I'm part of...

Ok. So I realized that it has been 6 months since I took any Ambien or Ativan. Even better, it's been 3 months since I took antidepressants and in that 3 months, I haven't NEEDED to take anything and I haven't had to go to the therapist or the ER or anything like that! It may seem like not that big a deal but it's a HUGE deal to me. Considering that this time a year ago I was in the middle of PPD and just didn't know that's what it was, and I was sure I would never feel normal again, I'm so happy to be off the meds and that everything is under control with the Synthroid.


11 months ago, I was being admitted to the hospital and stayed for a little over a week. I felt like the worst mama and wife in the world, I pretty literally couldn't stop crying, and I didn't believe any of the doctors or nurses or staff at the hospital who told me I really would be okay and that it wouldn't last forever. I was so ashamed of what was going on and felt like it was my fault in some way and I thought I would never feel "right" or "normal" again. It's a great feeling to know that I beat that. It was such a rough fight and it really shed a lot of light for me on the stigma and lack of understanding that accompanies any type of mental or emotional issue like PPD. Even DH didn't understand how long it could last and felt like I should have been "better" sooner than I was and got frustrated. I got frustrated with myself. Now I look back and I'm so proud of myself for making it past something I thought was insurmountable and for making myself get the help that I needed even though I was ashamed to. I'm proud of the fact that I'm not ashamed anymore and that I can openly talk about what I went through in hopes of helping someone else, and I'm so happy to have been able to help others who have been in my situation and needed to know they weren't alone. I think this is something God has given me that I can use as a ministry to reach out to others. I'm thankful that I had access to the help I needed and the resources to help me through it. I'm thankful for a husband who supported me even when he didn't understand what was going on, for a family that supported me, for friends who helped out with watching Muffin and getting me out of the house, and for friends online who supported me and were actually part of why I finally admitted I needed to go to the ER.

I used to be ashamed of what happened to me, of what I was dealing with. Now, I know that it wasn't my fault and it didn't say ANYTHING about me as a person, it certainly didn't make me a bad Christian or a bad wife or mother. I thank God for getting me through what He has and for bringing me out a stronger woman. I share my experiences now with people and I'm proud of the fact that I've been able to help others know they're not alone in this. I know what to watch for in myself after I have the next baby and others close to me know what to watch for in me. I no longer see it as a mark of shame but as a badge of courage that I made it. I survived. Last year, I literally wasn't sure I would.

12 April 2010

I'm me!

3 months of medication for my thyroid has done what the Celexa and Lexapro and Ativan never could quite do... I feel like myself again! I think it's a misnomer to say that I feel like my old self again, I will never feel like my old self again because I will never BE my old self again. I've had a daughter, adjusted to motherhood, struggled with PPD and suicidal ideations and all the feelings of guilt and inadequacy that come with PPD, and some much more. I'd like to think that I am a stronger woman and to some degree, wiser and more mature although I don't know how far that goes. :P However, I am happy with who I am and where I am and I feel like a PERSON again. I feel like I've stepped out of a land of shadows into the daylight.

I've come off of the antidepressants totally, the last time Celexa touched my lips was March 30 and I haven't had Ativan since December. I'm doing great, I haven't had any relapses into wanting to hurt or kill myself or anyone else, I haven't been sick or anything, I've barely even had any issues with RLS. I'm so incredibly happy to finally be off the meds. It was with the blessing of my psychologist and the GP I saw at the Family Medicine Clinic. It feels like a huge weight has been lifted from my shoulders. All the glory for this belongs to God. As incredibly off as my thyroid was (the numbers were HIDEOUS), there's no way that I *should* have gotten to Within Normal Limits in 3 months and on only the second dose they put me on (started on .25 and am now holding steady at .50) but I am not only okay on my thyroid, I'm off the antidepressants faster and easier than I *should* have been.