Saturday, January 31, 2009

Giving in

So the last week has pretty much been hell for me. Part of it was the trauma of my family leaving, which meant the end of a month and a half of visiting and the beginning of a long stretch with no family in sight. Part of it was letting my advisor know about my ambivalence about my program, and anticipating a meeting with her that will end I don't know how (though I think she's going to be more than understanding and supportive, judging by our past conversations and what others have told me). And money is really starting to become a pressure, as more and more schools adopt hiring freezes and/or send rejection notices.

But actually what really has put me over the edge has been an inability to tolerate my husband (not matter what he says or does - just completely irrational fighting), a growing despair over dealing with my child (who has been in a fussy/clingy phase, almost as bad as when she was a newborn with the nonstop screaming, and we've been getting almost no sleep), and most tellingly, I began to "lose" time - that strange phenomenon when you have no memory of what happened in the last few days at certain intervals. And then the "fog out" periods were causing me to make mistakes that were stupid (like leaving the car lights on and killing the battery twice, and losing my keys for 4 days) and things that could be potentially dangerous (I don't really want to go into a fog while driving my daughter around).

This last issue was symptomatic of my previous depression. And the middle one, I know, is a sign of post partum depression. All this time I'd been watching out for PPD, because I knew I was at high risk. And all this time, no matter how bad things got, I always could hold on to the love I had for her. She was my anchor, my joy, my light. But when that started to fade, and I found myself not exactly wanting to hurt her, but not exactly loving my time with her, then I knew I needed to get help. I lost my ability to get creative and maintain constant chipperness in the face of her nonstop need. She actually is gaining the awareness of wanting her way and reacting very angrily when she doesn't get it...she will look me in the eye and just scream, and I can tell she's not hurt or sad, she is mad. Then she'll smile at J, then look back at me (who is the one keeping her from whatever she wants) and scream in my face. It's really hard not to think she's becoming a brat. I don't know what age they can start being manipulative (I've read it's not until 2 or so), but man, she seems advanced in that area. Anyway.

My insomnia came roaring back too, which sucks when you are up every hour with a hungry infant (well, one that thinks she needs to eat, anyway). And the anxiety, the obsessing over little errors, the all hit really quite fast. But I knew what it was.

So I went to see the p-sychiatrist, and after waiting an hour and a half (!!) I finally got to see him, and he was wonderful and really proactive. He even worked with me to make sure I got my meds in the cheapest way (not through Kaiser) and offered to follow up with phone calls instead of visits if the co-pays were too much for us. He really took care of me, I felt. That went a long way towards healing some of the idiocy I've experienced with the Kaiser people up here.

Plus, bonus! He is referring me to his colleague, a woman who just happens to be an international expert on women's health and specifically hormonal issues. She will hopefully be able to work with me through not only the PPD but also some of my sexual crap that gets in the way of living happily. It's really wonderful that she's there.

Since I have experience on medication, it was easy to just try what has worked in the past, and fortunately it's one of the ones that has been studied well in breastfeeding and is considered safe. And as my doctor said, it's more dangerous for me to be in the state I was in, than for my baby to get 1/1000th of a dose of paxil. This keeps being confirmed for me (paxil doesn't work overnight) - that just about anything is better than my child continuing in the toxic environment that is our house right now. Poor thing wants me, but my arms aren't a very good place for her either.

So that is where I'm at. You blog readers have probably seen this coming for a while; and many of my face-to-face friends will be like "duh." Nowadays this blog imports into Facebook, so there's this whole new audience amassed of old high school acquaintances and new colleagues and random people from around the world...going to be interesting for them to start seeing how bare I lay myself in writing.

Oh and one thing: I do realize there are many alternatives to medication for helping with depression, and I have tried most of them over the last 8 mos - that's why I've managed so far. But please trust me that I knew this time that sunlight, walks, baths, and journaling just couldn't cut it. When your brain starts rebelling on you, you have to take measures to correct the chemical imbalance. I realize advice is always given with good intentions, but at this point, I want to listen to my doctor's advice mostly.

OK, it is a gorgeous day in Berkeley, and I need to get myself outside for a while. Later.


rbarenblat said...

Brava. I'm so glad you're taking steps to make this situation better, for yourself and for your family. And thank you for being open about these challenges here; as I read these posts, I'm making all kinds of mental notes for the someday when we have a newborn, and it's really helpful for me as a woman who doesn't yet have kids to read about the realities of your experience.

Wishing you healing.

Gail P Smith said...

Sorry to hear about your insomnia--it's something I pray about a lot for you and also for Josiah. I think Grammy needs to come out for a visit--I'm feeling very mopey lateley myself, missing family members who've died and really tired of the cold weather (wind chill below 0 today).
Remember YOU ARE LOVED and being thought of, missed and prayed for everyday.