Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Better living through chemistry, or, Fuck you, Tom Cruise.

Since I started this blog, a couple of friends have remarked (positively) on my willingness to write so openly about suffering from depression. I don't do it as a badge of honor, to provide a PSA, or as part of championing a cause or anything like that. But it's part of me and when it creeps up on me, it's what I'm thinking about. And as a result, what I'm writing about.

I'm not embarrassed or ashamed of it. Like all fucked-up adults, I just blame my parents.*

But being unexpectedly hit with post-partum depression brought on a great deal of shame on my part. I didn't have PPD with Zeke, and managed to last almost 2 months after Josie before it reared its ugly head. I think going back to work, with all of the stresses that brought, finally put me over the edge.

And what a horrifying, unnerving edge it was. Because for a couple of days, I was convinced I was a monster who had no love - or any regard, truthfully - for my newborn daughter. Or anyone in my immediate family, for that matter.

As it always does, the onset of depression brought crushing insomnia with it. So many nights last week, I would lie in bed, wide awake for hours during the dead of night, cursing my husband and my children. Wishing I was single and childless again. Resenting them for heaping upon me the responsibilities of maintaining a household and tending to them, and for robbing me of any shred of free time.

But really, it was even worse than that. Resentment and exhaustion are to be expected. But in those dark, bleak stretches of sleeplessness, I found myself wishing them ill. Going through "what-ifs" too horrible to contemplate in the light of day. Fatal accidents. SIDS. Awful events that would liberate me.

It pains me to admit these things.

It passed, of course. Things are somehow never as grim in the morning. Still, I was shaken. I sat at my desk last Friday, weeping and feeling evil. My mother and Kathleen both helped talk me off the ledge, as did Jason and my Facebook buddies.

But really, they only reinforced what I already knew. I was not well, and I needed to do something about it.

I will say this for myself: I may be crazy, but I also am keenly aware of when the craziness is coming on. I've dealt with depression for so long, and am blessed (or perhaps cursed) with such an overdeveloped sense of self-awareness, that I can feel the spiral almost the minute it starts to pitch rapidly downward.

Luckily, I had a Zoloft prescription that I had neglected to fill for a couple of months, so all I had to do was call Walgreen's. As ever, the act of taking a step toward feeling better was as much of a remedy as the pills themselves.

It's been about 4 days now, and I feel fine. I look at Josie and marvel at how pretty she's getting. I coo at her and talk to her and feel the love that I know was there all along.

But Jesus, I frightened myself for a while there.

*I kid, I kid. Though it is definitely inherited from my dad and our long line of bat-shit lunatic ancestors.


  1. Again, you amaze me with your strength and your courage. I miss you so much. There is no one next door to talk to, so I deal alone. Then I read something you've written, I exhale and I know I can and have to keep moving forward.

  2. Ugh, I'm so sorry it got that bad. But I'm so glad you recognized what was going on and took charge of the situation. PPD is incredibly terrible, and makes you think such awful things. It sounds like life is back to good now, and that makes me happy for all of you.

  3. I'm glad you're feeling better and also glad you're so honest and open. If there's one thing I've learned battling my own demons, (in my case alcoholism) it's that the shame will kill me faster than even the booze!

    God bless anti-ds!

  4. Michelle LeGault11:32 AM

    Wendy, so glad you took charge and didn't suffer without chemical aids for very long. I can't imagine how you folks with young children and full-time jobs keep it all together in the best of times. Big hug, Michelle