Opening Up

I finally scheduled a doctor’s appointment to get referrals – one for the scary mole on the back of my arm and one for the scary shouting I can’t seem to control. The appointment was at 9 am on a Thursday at the military healthcare building. On Wednesday, I realized my car didn’t have updated stickers and I couldn’t get on base without stickers.

I went to get new stickers.

I couldn’t get stickers because my ID had just expired, so the guy gave me a temporary pass to get to the ID office.

I went to get my ID.

I couldn’t get a new ID because my sponsor – my husband – has to be with me OR I needed a power of attorney OR he needed to come in and fill out a form.

I called my husband.

No, he couldn’t come. No, he had to be at work. No, he couldn’t do it on his lunch break. No, he couldn’t do it tonight. No, there is no way it could be done before my appointment tomorrow.

I started to cry.

“FINE!” I screamed into the phone, “I hope your job is REAL HAPPY when your wife goes FUCKING CRAZY because you couldn’t take TWO MINUTES to come sign a piece of paper. GOOD LUCK WITH THAT.” I hung up.

No stickers, no ID, no form, no appointment. No no no no no no no no no.

I watched the kids run back and forth in the grass outside the building and wondered if I was just imagining going crazy or if it was something that was actually happening. It was 55 degrees in January, after all. Maybe this wasn’t real life.

————————————————————————————————

 The next day I was really embarrassed about my temper tantrum, just like I always am. I calmly rescheduled my appointment and couldn’t figure out why it had felt SO URGENT only a few hours before. I should just stop overreacting and calm down. There’s no reason to be so angry. Good mothers don’t shout so much. I told myself I just suck at everything and need to get over it. Just like I said the time before, and the time before that, and the time before that, and the time before that… I kept my appointment.

————————————————————————————————

I talked to my doctor for a long time on Tuesday and filled out her questionnaires as honestly as possible. She said it sounded like anxiety – which I was just calling OVERREACTING TO ALL THE THINGS – with mild depression. I don’t know if it’s technically postpartum anything but when the doctor said “It’s OK, you’re not imagining things, I can help” I felt better than I have in months.

I took my first tiny Zoloft pill last Tuesday. I am still not sure how I feel about it. I am still not sure that it’s working. But I AM sure talking to my doctor was the right thing to do. I can’t believe I waited so long. I can’t believe I still feel so reluctant to share this. In my online life I know so many women who have dealt with or are fighting  or have overcome postpartum depression or anxiety or OCD or some other form of baby-related hormonal brain disease. Some days I wondered if I was crazy for NOT having postpartum depression. And then when things started to feel out of control I wondered if I was just exaggerating so I could fit in. Oh look, another mommy blogger on medication. What a cliche. Doesn’t she know Dooce already did that? It’s so 2009. Besides, my “baby” is 13 months old – didn’t my ticket to postpartum mental disorder town expire in December?

Although I know the internet is FULL of support, in my real life things like this are Not Talked About. The only person I’ve ever heard mention PPD was the sad, weepy, exhausted mom at breastfeeding support group who was so obviously depressed I wanted to bundle her into my car and drive her to a therapist myself. I’ve never felt like that. No one has ever said “You look like you’re struggling.” My husband has never taken the baby away from me and suggested I talk to someone.  I think my family is going to be really surprised to read this. I’m worried what they’re going to think. But hopefully soon, I won’t have to worry so much about what I think.

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55 Responses to “Opening Up”

  1. Swistle says:

    I like this post VERY MUCH. I don’t handle frustration well AT ALL, so I can identify strongly.

  2. cakeburnette says:

    Hey you. I knew what the next sentence after, “I couldn’t get stickers because my ID had just expired, so the guy gave me a temporary pass to get to the ID office.

    I went to get my ID” was without reading. And you know what? Mild anxiety/depression or not, THAT WARRANTED SOME YELLING. (hee, hee–see how I “yelled” right there along with you?) The pass & ID rules are stupid and bizarre and you know how I feel about DEERS. Trust me when I say, there is so much about AD life I’m NOT missing.

    And hang in there. Two toddlers + military husband with terrible hours, deployments & TDYs = a lovely prescription for Lexapro for me, too. I have been so blessed that I never felt weird about it. I have to take pills for high blood pressure and high cholesterol, and a million pills for seasonal allergy problems, so it seems reasonable to take anti-anxiety meds if needed. I’m of the mindset that that medication exists for a reason and if I have that reason, by God I am going to be taking it! :) And I loved knowing almost immediately that the pills worked–the stuff that would have me enraged or weeping were NORMAL reactions again. And that’s a good thing, so the pills are a good thing. Hope you have the support I did from my family and IRL friends! You’ve got mine here in the interwebs!

  3. Sara says:

    I had no idea you could take that kind of medication whilst breasftfeeding. Great to know, I have a couple of friends who are worried that if they get PPD they will have to give up BF.

    I wish you the best. I think your life sounds both incredibly busy and very selfless, since you are always catering to others. I am not a mother, and I’m sorry if this sounds insensitive and/or impossible, but is it possible for you to take a weekend off, go see a friend, get your hair done, just relax and not DO anything for 36 hours? I know this is not a remedy but I babysit my good friend’s kid for a weekend as a present each year and she goes off to just read a book in a park, catch up on movies, etc.

    • bebehblog says:

      Luckily, it’s one of the most common and most studied medications and it’s been proven safe during both pregnancy and nursing.

      We do have a vacation coming up that I am REALLY looking forward to, but even on the days where I did get a break and some sleep and was doing everything “right” for my own mental health I didn’t feel much better so I knew it was time for a bigger step.

      • Sara says:

        Oh definitely you are right to go further and take meds (I suffer from depression and have no problems talking about my own med taking) but reading your blog (which admittedly is only a tiny bit of your life) I wonder if you are not generally pushing yourself too much. Bringing up children is absolutely exhausting. I also seem to have understood that at some point your husband will be on a ship for a few months?
        You write in such an open and cozy way that I feel comfortable commenting in this personal way, again, apologies if I sound nosy and weird. I truly believe that we put too much pressure on ourselves as women…can’t even imagine what motherhood ads to that!

  4. I’m so sorry you feel this way, and I hope the Zoloft helps you. Adam has anxiety, too, and the difference when he is on medication is incredible.

  5. Mom D says:

    Evan the first’s mother would save clorox bottles and when things got more than she could handle, she would go and beat the crap out of them. I think the medication will be quieter than beating plastic bottles :)

    • cakeburnette says:

      This post cracked me up! And Suzanne, I think your family is okay with the meds. Love this support!

    • I think I love Evan the first’s mother. The other day I was so pissed off that I TRIED to break a sippy cup throwing it in the sink. Beating up Clorox bottles seems more sane.

      Zoloft and I have a very long and co-dependent relationship.

  6. Erin says:

    I wanted to say more about this on the phone and failed. I think that it’s great that you are stepping up to this and facing it with outside support. We all tend to put on our best face for other people and you rarely let me see how you are really feeling. I don’t mean whether or not something made you mad, but how things are really affecting you. You have my total love and support and I am very proud of you for bringing us all into this.

  7. MommaExpat says:

    Have to make my therapy plug when it’s appropriate….. seeking treatment through medication is great, and you should be extremely proud of yourself for taking that first step. At the risk of sounding preachy….. therapy might be a really good outlet for you as well. It’s time away from hubs, kids, from life. A view from someone on the outside. And might have additional ways for you to deal with some anxiety issues…. Just a thought. Hugs to you… from someone with an anxiety “elephant” on their back.

    • bebehblog says:

      My original plan was to ask for a referral to a therapist, but trying to work out the logistics of it – WHERE can I go and WHEN can I go and WHO is going to watch the kids and HOW much will insurance cover and WHAT HAPPENS when E is on duty or I need to reschedule – was making me so much more anxious my doctor said she’d like to start with the medication. I am still planning to talk to someone, but I felt like the end of my rope was getting closer and closer and now was the time to do SOMETHING.

      • MommaExpat says:

        Absolutely makes sense, better to get some relief asap when you really need it.

      • Megan T Beach says:

        I so know what you are saying here! Even trying to make time for help is sooo hard. Trying to make tim for everything is sooo hard. Good for you for taking the first step! Will you let us know how it goes, side effects, etc?

  8. Audrey says:

    Oh sweetie. I’m sorry that you have been going through this essentially alone. I know what that’s like. The Zoloft will work, you have to let it build up in your system. I had to take it in college when I was under tremendous stress. Of course I was an idiot and threw it all out when my father expressed disapproval (I come from a family that does not believe in therapists or medicating for emotions)… so don’t do that. Just remember that in taking care of yourself, you are taking care of your children. And they love you and are not going to hold any yelling against you. You are an awesome person, an awesome mom and I’m sure E would say an awesome wife. We all hit speed bumps.

  9. Leah says:

    Ahhh yes, the super ragey shouting. I am well familiar with THAT. And this is why you are awesome, you know that you should reach out to someone.

    TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF, LADY. I like you too much.

  10. Lacey says:

    Good for you for keeping the appointment when everything seemed to be trying to prevent you from getting there. That alone would have made me so frustrated I would likely have given up! You have to be your own advocate…you’re the only one living in your head, after all! :P

    Hope it works wonders for you!

  11. MomEinstein says:

    I’m glad you took the step to make the appointment and I hope the Zoloft makes a difference. Thanks for sharing your experience. I’ll be thinking of you.

  12. molly says:

    I’m so sorry you’ve been feeling like this, my dear friend. You know me and I totally agree that you made the right decision to see your doctor. I mean, seriously, why do we torture ourselves and prolong getting help? It seems like all moms do that.

    That if there were something wrong or “not quite right” with our kids we would be on the phone to the pediatrician within minutes. But when it comes to our health, mental or otherwise, we seem to wait and wait and wait until the problem is pretty bad. I will never have the answer to that but I do it too even when I know how important it is for me to see my doctor(s).

    I’m so glad you got help though. I hope you start feeling better very soon. Zoloft was seriously a lifesaver for me when I had antenatal depression with Brigham. I nursed him for five months while taking it and had NO problems whatsoever.

  13. 1. You are awesome. And brave. And awesome. And an awesome mother/wife. And Awesome.
    2. Anti-depressants take at least 2 weeks to feel ANY kind of effect and 3-6 weeks for full efficacy. It hasn’t even been a week. If after 2 months you’re still not feeling different, then try something new.
    3. You’re awesome.
    4. I just had a great training on depression. I want you to know one thing: Depression is a BIOLOGICAL condition. It’s not “all in your head” like some people tend to think. It’s something that needs outside help to manage. It’s no different than diabetes or heart conditions. You are doing the absolute right thing by starting to take medication.
    5. You are awesome.

  14. Meg says:

    Just know that there is NO SHAME in having anxiety and mild depression. I have, too…and you’ll find that talking about it helps! Because more people than you know share your struggle.

    Also, give the meds some time–you will notice a difference soon! Sending lots of support your way.

  15. Dad D says:

    I also think your family will be quite “OK” with the Zoloft. We just hope and pray that it works out well, and that it doesn’t take TOO LONG to get the dosage right.

    Raising “Ginger Babies” is enough of a challenge without medical issues complicating things!

  16. I am so glad you have taken this step and that you are comfortable talking about it here. You know I’ve been through it, and I get it. These same things you have described are basically what I’ve lived (on and off, even while I was on medication) for the past 10 months. You definitely have my support, and you know where to find me if you ever want to talk about anything!

  17. Mom of almost two says:

    I so admire your honesty. Zoloft has been my friend many times for various reasons (not to mention I used to work at the company, which I swear used to encourage use for morale purposes). Keep powering on and things will even out soon.

  18. Emily says:

    I’m pretty sure all moms have some form of medication, be it the aforementioned banging of Clorox bottles or a tiny pill. You’re a good mom for recognizing you need a little help managing everything without losing your shit. And you are a brave woman to share this with your readers. There is no shame in getting help.

  19. Robyn says:

    I probably should have mentioned this the other day when i emailed you, but i didn’t even make the connection until you mentioned Zoloft in this post, but i was put on Zoloft for a while after Rory was born. It was that first winter, when i was back to work and home alone all night with Dustin working the night shift. i was doing ok until they changed my work schedule and i had to start working 2 out of every 3 weekends (in addition to 40 hours during the week) and the stress of it was too much for me. they said it was postpartum, but i think they just use that term when it’s less than a year since you’ve had a baby. the Zoloft helped, a lot, but it took some time. looking back on that time, and pretty much most of my adult like, i think i have seasonal depression, since i get like this every winter. i’m struggling a little this winter too. and it’s not in my head, i know that now. it’s not in your head either. if you want to talk about it, please feel free to email.

    Oh, and just a little tip, when i went off anti-depressants before, i got really nauseous and dizzy, so this last time i weaned myself, even thought the dr. said it wasn’t necessary, and it was much better.

  20. I support you.

    {{{hugs}}}

    & I think the best way moms can help each other is by BEING HONEST!

  21. I can totally relate to this. I have been struggling with anxiety and mild depression for way too long now. The other day, I finally opened up to my close friends about it and 2 weeks ago I spoke to my doctor about it. Since I’m pregnant I don’t really want to take anything, but I plan to after the baby is born. It’s good to open up to people about your feelings. You’ll be amazed how much better you’ll start feeling now.

  22. Robyn says:

    I just wanted to add another thing I was just thinking about. Sometimes people need medication and/pr real therapy. I needed medication a few times in my past, and I know therapy would have helped even more. But now, I seem to be able to curtail my seasonal depression by noticing it early, and taking some steps that really help me. I just thought I’d mention this in case there are other people reading this that would benefit from my comments.
    It really helps me to keep my mind busy. I don’t just mean being super busy raising children, working, going to school, and all that other stuff. I need to keep my mind busy with things that are fun for me to think about. Reading really good books helps me a ton. Working on crafts helps me a lot too. Doing things for me really helps. It’s hard as a mother, especially a mother with small children, but I know that if I make a point of giving myself this extra time when I need it, my kid will truly benefit.
    So maybe you can add some more me time and see if that helps too, it might be a great add on therapy.

  23. I am glad that you are not settling with being not okay with the way things are and are looking for answers. You are not weird, incompetent, crazy, or a bad mother. Be kind to yourself.

  24. Nicole says:

    Hugs from over here too, and I hope you see some good effect from the Zoloft soon. It worked very well for me when I took it–that was before I had kids, in my early twenties–and I won’t try and tell you there haven’t been times when I’ve thought I should go back to it. You’re right about how people tend to see these things. Depressives are more out and proud, or at least functionally present, on the internet. In real life, you have guys like my Dad, who is in every way a good person, but who grew up in a time when any whisper of mental illness could cost you everything: job, marriage, prospects, savings, dignity, community, church, you name it. Plenty of well-meaning people make life difficult for people being treated for anxiety and depression.

  25. merin says:

    You have to take care of yourself first before you can be fully present for others. I’m so glad to hear that you are doing that. Having two small children, no matter how much you love them, is no picnic-I am learning that real fast around here. Seeking help in whatever form works for you should be celebrated. Thank you for being so honest!!

  26. April says:

    Suzanne, I admire your courage for sharing this – as you share so much already. I agree – My form of zoloft is physical – I stomp my feet – break boxes of plates from goodwill, and smack the crap out of beer fridges with base ball bats. I think you have womaned up and took the most mature route. I think Rx should come with the Military ID card at times. Thank you for your openess – it is assuring and inspring – in a world where people pretend to be perfect – you choose to be authentic. Thank you!

  27. Kimberly says:

    You are so brave to put this out there, and I am so proud of you. I’ve been on lexapro for a couple months for anxiety and mild depression, and it has made a world of difference. Our situations are different, but therapy has helped a lot, too. I get a babysitter and feel okay about it because I know it is helping me be a better mom. I am always here if you ever need to chat.

  28. barbra says:

    I”m glad you posted this. I think your family will be supportive. And if anyone isn’t, your medication is not their business. Confide in those that are supportive, and you know that your online community is so very supportive. We got your back, girl!!!!

    Take care of yourself, you and your family deserve that. That old cliche “if mama ain’t happy, nobody’s happy” is so true!!!!

  29. Michelle says:

    When you can, find a therapist. Took me a year to feel like finding one, but it has made a world of difference.

  30. Joni says:

    When my now 12 year old was a wee 7 month old I went to my GP after realizing that I was basically losing my mind. Or I felt like it anyway. I wasn’t literally but the mother I had become I didn’t like. At all. I was becoming my own mother.

    Anyway all this is to say medication probably quite literally saved my life. This was a lot of years ago when PPD was like a dirty word that described mothers who couldn’t handle their shit. Not at all the real condition of moms who do too much, get too little rest and have too little help.

    You are not alone. Thank you for sharing this do that other moms may feel that way too.

    And hugs.

  31. Kayla says:

    Oh, Suzanne. I’m so sorry you’ve been feeling like this, I know it’s rough. Thank you for sharing about it, though. And I’m so glad you’re taking a few more brave steps! I have been dealing with depression/anxiety/general crazy for about a year now, and I’m FINALLY doing something about it (besides complain..ha). The husband and I have recently been going to counseling together, but I finally asked about seeing someone for just me, as well. My first appointment is Wednesday, and I am…nervous. I don’t know why things like this make us so nervous and uneasy, but it is scary. So, thank you for being so brave and honest and open. I’ll be thinking about you, and I hope the Zoloft works well for you and you get to see a therapist soon. Hugs.

  32. Finn says:

    You are brave.
    You are honest.
    You are authentic.
    You are amazing to share your story.
    I was told once that to be a good Mom, I needed to be a healthy one. I live by that now.
    Keep up your awesomeness!

  33. so happy you are on the road to feeling better. that in itself must feel better right? lots of hugs & high fives here, friend :)

  34. Sarah says:

    I really needed this. You are an amazingly strong, fabulous person for posting this… I feel that you just put into writing what so may moms and other women are feeling. I think I will be calling my doctor tomorrow. While my son is the joy of my life I do find that in other aspects of my life I could use some improvement. I never thought I could be this person, yet here I am. I would say it wa no coincidence I stumbled upon your blog.
    Please keep posting on this….
    Thank you for being brave enough to share this.

  35. Laura says:

    I think postpartum issues sometimes creep up on a woman — kind of like a slowly boiled frog. By the time you notice a pattern and think that something might actually be not quite right, it may have been going on for a while. But you’re not sure how long; you can’t necessarily pinpoint it. Sleep deprivation and hormones/emotions add to the blur. And let’s not forget the stress of parenting and how it affects your relationship/marriage. You think tomorrow will be better and so you decide to wait just a little longer and see how things go. Getting to the point where you actually talk to someone about how you feel (a friend or a doctor or whoever) is a huge step. I’m proud of you for coming this far, and I hope your journey, wherever it takes you, is ultimately a positive one.

  36. Lyka Ricks says:

    It is a good thing you have poured out your feelings for you to breath. We sometimes have these feelings that we just want to keep as we are scared that others may think odd about us. They might misunderstood us but deep inside we really need comfort. Hugs for you!

  37. Krista says:

    Dude. I know I’m three days late on this, which is FOREVER on the internet, but I want to say how much I love your honesty. And that I get it. I might even be there a little bit because there sure are days I just want to sit in a corner and cry or scream and throw things and punch my thigh until it turns black and blue, but I have to keep moving forward. And most days I can move forward but only because I feel like there’s no other choice. Because there’s a job to do and kids to bath and bills to pay. And the moving forward is good, right? So I must be OK right? (not really looking for an answer, just thinking out loud).
    Anyway, you’re not alone in this and whether it’s PPD or whatever, I’m glad that you feel better. Taking care of YOU is important!

  38. Suz says:

    Hugs & love to you!

  39. andrea says:

    I hope you start feeling better very soon! I can imagine how difficult it must have been for you to deal with this, but I am sure you did the right thing and I know you will get better. I am sending you tons and tons of good energies and happy thoughts. I am always here if you need to talk or just want to vent. I really am. I might not have answers, but I am a good listener. You have my email and we can always skype or talk over the phone… or via watsap. I mean it 100% from the bottom of my heart. Love you tons!!

  40. I find that I yell a lot too. I think that unfortunately, it’s a symptom of having children ;-) But good for you for recognizing in yourself that it might be something more. It’s so hard to talk about this kind of stuff, but it’s better when you do. Because then you have this WHOLE community of people that come out of the woodwork to support you and you know that you’re not alone. Hugs.

  41. Melissa says:

    This post is so honest and real. Thank you for posting it!

  42. Megan T Beach says:

    One more thing – are the Drs calling this post partum? I had a baby a couple weeks after you and have been having some problems for about 6 months, but I keep thinking “no, this can’t be post-partum, I’m too far along for that….”

    Your other post from a little while ago about not wanting to do anything really spoke to me. EVERYTHING feels like way too much work for me right now.

  43. GAH, this is SUPER TIMELY. I have been so busy with traveling and work and babies and whatnot that I didn’t even see this post until Swistle linked to it (which is weird, because you are normally one of the first blogs I check). If you have been reading my bloggy blog lately, you will see that I am going through a different version of the same shit. I just got a Xanax prescription and was also like “Oh look at me, with my mommy’s little helpers. I am a cliche and a half.” I hope you will continue to be as open about your progress with Zoloft as you are with everything else, because that’s the next step for me if the situational meds don’t cut it.

    I really wish we lived in the same town, so we could be each other’s person to talk about Not Talked About things in real life. Obviously feel free to email if you want to compare notes.

    • bebehblog says:

      I did just see your posts about anxiety and was sort of amazed at the timing. I also just realized TODAY that you live in Ohio and although I know it is a big place we go there fairly often (E’s family lives there) and now I am dreaming of in-person note comparing and pill popping.

  44. Amanda says:

    Oh hugs to you!

    My therapist and I had a good long talk about this article:
    http://www.thedailybeast.com/newsweek/2011/10/30/andrew-weil-s-spontaneous-happiness-our-nature-deficit-disorder.html
    Our brains haven’t caught up with the crazy that we deal with in everyday life. 100 years ago people didn’t have to have their stickers up to date and have this person sign that form and the husband be there and blah blah blah all to see their doctor. There weren’t the same hoops. Our brains haven’t caught up yet. It’s not your fault, it’s brain chemistry.

  45. Much Better says:

    […] was nice and all, but wasn’t really the same as doing something about my own anxiety. Then I did something, and IMMEDIATELY felt better. So immediately better, in fact, that I started to doubt the […]

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