12-3-2014

It’s been a good, long while since my last post. It’s not that I get busy, or that I forget, I am just really bad about being consistent and seeing projects through to the end. I also feel like I should actually have something to write about. That being said, there has been a lot on my mind lately. This Year been heavy and hard and I think that it all finally caught up with me and has left me overwhelmed. Goodness, where to start.

First, if I’m being totally honest, other than Norah’s first birthday in January, I don’t remember much from this year that happened before May unless I look at Instagram. I know that sounds terrible, but ever since May, life has been, well, real. In May we moved. We were planning on growing our family and decided we needed that we needed a bit more space and after searching for what seemed like forever, we found a place. I love our new home. It’s certainly the newest home that we have lived in, having been built in the 50s. It’s mid-century feel suits mine and Brad’s style, our furniture looks good, and I finally have everything decorated the way I like (it only took 6 years and 9,000 pinned ideas, thanks Pinterest), not to mention when you turn down our street it feels like you left Texas and entered Southern California. The weekend after we moved in, we found out that we were pregnant! Perfect timing. The next few weeks were spent researching and planning. Our first pregnancy ended in an unwanted and unplanned but necessary cesarean due to Norah being breech, but with this baby we wanted a home birth. After lots of phone calls, I found my midwife. By the time I went in for my first appointment, I was already 11 weeks pregnant. We had an exhaustive conversation with the midwife and then it was time for our ultrasound. This was going to be the best part of my day. I remembered the first time I saw Norah on that screen and heard her hummingbird heart beating away and my heart swelled. After several moments, I knew something was wrong. I knew what was supposed to be on that screen and there was nothing there. Nothing that resembled new life, no heartbeat, no baby, nothing. Just empty space. That moment is the single, most horrible thing I have ever endured and it will be forever burned into my memory. The midwife told us that we had a blighted ovum and a missed miscarriage. Basically, we were pregnant, but the baby did not make it past implantation, however, my body continued to think that it was pregnant up until almost 9 weeks into the pregnancy. We were given some options; we could have a procedure done that would clean everything out, or wait and let my body handle it naturally. We decided to wait. Since about two weeks had lapsed since my body got the memo that there was no baby and my first ultrasound, we didn’t have to wait long. My appointment had been on a Monday and by Wednesday I was bleeding. By Sunday it was over. To date, I have never experienced anything more painful emotionally or physically than this. Grief is a force that works you over like being caught up in an undertow and every time you think you can stand, the waves crash over you again. It has taken me a long time to be able to write about this and even now, there is much that is still unsaid. A few know all the details. Looking back over the past couple of years, reading through previous blog posts, I felt as though God was preparing me for this. Everything had been so dark for so long and I was finally coming out of that dark place and clinging to the light, holding tight to Him. The One who rescues me. The One who knows me. The One who was holding me as I walked through this. If He hadn’t softened my heart when He did, I might have have turned my back on Him in this. As a result of His relentless pursuit of me, oh, how I clung to Him.

1 O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.
2 So I have looked upon you in the sanctuary, beholding your power and glory.
3 Because your steadfast love is better than life, my lips will praise you.
4 So I will bless you as long as I live; in your name I will lift up my hands.
5 My soul will be satisfied as with fat and rich food, and my mouth will praise you with joyful lips,
6 when I remember you upon my bed, and meditate on you in the watches of the night;
7 for you have been my help, and in the shadow of your wings I will sing for joy.
8 My soul clings to you; your right hand upholds me.

Psalm 63:1-8

I am through the wilderness, but every now and then I get caught up in the shadows of grief. I miss what I lost. But I have hope. Hope that one day I will be blessed again with a baby. Hope that one day I will see the child I lost. I know that my baby has gone home to be with my gracious Father in Heaven and that they have been made whole and perfect and new. It took several weeks, but I decided that I needed to do something that would make a record of the life that so briefly existed here on earth, something that would validate it, and give me some measure of closure. So, I have a little box with flowers, my positive pregnancy test, a copy of the ultrasound, even though baby was gone long before then, and a name: Hope. I never got to find out what we were having, but despite all of my grief, I was filled with Hope and that seemed a fitting name for our baby.

It’s hard to believe that just a little over four months ago we found out we lost our child. So much has happened since then. More than I can write in a single blog post. There are a few people who know all that has gone on. Those that keep up with us anyway. The past six months have been hard. I’m not exactly a private person, as hard as I try to hide and as introverted as I am, I tend to wear my heart and my emotions on my sleeve. That being said, this past year, especially the last six months, I have felt like I have navigated the waves mostly alone. Not sure if I should have done something different, been more public about everything, I feel as though I was pretty transparent through it all. It was just lonely.

I think things have finally settled a bit. Life seems to have slowed down, even amidst the hustle and bustle of the holidays. Christmas is just weeks away and we are that much closer to the end of another year. How does time pass so quickly?! I love this time of year though. I’ve been doing a lot of research lately. If you’ve been reading any of my sporadic posts, you know that I struggle with depression. Earlier in the year I decided to get off my antidepressants. It’s not that they weren’t working, they were, I even had some pleasant side effects to go along with it, can we say “aggression”? I just never intended to be on medication long term. I have nothing against medication, in fact, I am very grateful that we have the technology to help people when necessary. I was just more interested in seeing if there was a way to manage some of my symptoms, maybe even correct the problem all together by dieting and making other lifestyle changes. Well, time has this funny habit of passing rather quickly and things happen, I got caught up in life and here we are, in December. I’ve been struggling the past few weeks. I have problems with producing enough serotonin and I think that the past several months depleted what reserves I had so I have been a little depressed. I was contemplating getting back on antidepressants for a bit, at least to get me through the holidays, but Brad has been doing some research and suggested that I try some amino acid therapy. So, I am currently taking tryptophan. Yes, that’s what is in your thanksgiving turkey, but there’s not as much in that turkey as you think. Anyways, your body needs tryptophan. Your body cannot make it, so you must get it from your food. There is so much that I have learned, that I need another post to just talk about it, but, long story short, tryptophan, once in your body turns into serotonin, which I lack. Tryptophan also creates more melatonin which helps you sleep, something else I struggle with. A lot of the reading I have done suggests that tryptophan can be as effective as antidepressants in most cases and doesn’t have all the side effects. Win-win in my book. I have only been taking tryptophan for about a week, but have noticed a difference. For one, I am a lot less tense, not as blah and I can sleep!!! I’m going to give it a bit longer and then I will probably do a post devoted to tryptophan. This is probably where I should insert my disclaimer: *I am not a doctor. The information and testimonies I include are not intended and should not be construed as medical advice. If you, the reader or any other person has a medical concern, please consult with an appropriately licensed physician or healthcare worker.*

So, this is where I’m at. This year has been a struggle, but I am getting through it. I’ve grown a lot. God has been good to me, even after trials and pain I can look back and see His mercies and I’m glad I won’t be the same person going into 2015 as I was in 2014.

Moving Forward

In my last post, I was approaching the one week mark since getting help for my depression. Last Thursday, I had a follow up appointment with my midwife to go over the results from my blood work and to talk about how I was doing on my antidepressant. We started off by updating her about how the past week had been. Everything was positive. I explained to her that I felt different after the first dose and how I had not expected to feel anything that soon. She seemed surprised too as it normally takes a few weeks to get any results, but that my brain must have really been needing the dopamine. I was happier, and so much slower to anger. I felt more cheerful and not quite so blah. In all actuality, I was beginning to feel like a different person, or rather, more like my old self. I was starting to feel human again.

My blood work all came back normal as can be, which is both disappointing and a relief. Disappointing, because I was hoping to have some more answers into why I had felt the way that I had for so long, but I was relieved that there was  nothing else wrong. My thyroid, cortisol, everything was as normal as can be. The only thing that was ‘off’ was that I had a vitamin D deficiency, but that’s as exciting as it got. So, while I may not have gotten the ‘answers’ that I hoped for, all in all, the appointment was positive. She did say that my vitamin D deficiency could be contributing to some of my symptoms, like my fatigue, sleeplessness, poor concentration, and even my depression itself. Since I had an improvement in some areas and not others, she decided to increase my dose of the Wellbutrin (antidepressant). She also prescribed Vitamin D2, 50,000 units per week! On top of that, I am taking 1000-2000 mg of DHA/EPA and Omega 3’s. So LOTS of vitamin D. The point of this was to get my vitamin D levels up where they needed to be, but to also help my body start producing more on its own as well.

My midwife also encouraged me to see our homeopathic doctor as well and even start seeing my chiropractor. She said that even though all of my blood work came back normal and I don’t officially have a diagnosis, based on Western Medicine, all of my symptoms are congruent with Hypothyroidism and Adrenal Fatigue, and would most likely benefit treating those with alternative medicine. I haven’t done this yet, but I intend to. She also didn’t want to get hung up on being depressed, so she didn’t even give me a diagnosis of ‘depression’. I am appreciative of that, although, if that is what this is, than so be it. I am not defined by it.

So today marks two weeks. Two whole weeks of feeling human again, two weeks of a happier me, and two weeks of me actually giving a darn! The first couple of days were rough, with the new dosage; I felt pretty crummy with headaches and nausea, but I am so grateful that I am feeling more and more like me every day! I am looking forward to more good days!

Update

So tomorrow will mark one week since I got medical help fory depression. Tomorrow I go in again and will get the results from my blood work. I’m not anxious but I am. Well, maybe anxious isn’t the right word, but I am nervous.  Normally when you get blood work back you are hoping for everything to be normal and that everything checks out. I on the other hand, am hoping that they find something that will give us some insight in to my depression. I think I would be discouraged if everything came back normal and I was just ‘depressed’ with no real answers. 
 
I will also discuss my medication with my midwife. Tomorrow also marks a week that I have been on antidepressants. So far I have had a positive experience. I am definitely feeling better. My stress is going down, I am slower to anger, I am feeling happier and starting to enjoy things again. I am still struggling with sleep. I can lay in bed for hours before falling asleep and with a baby that still wakes frequently in the night, this is very hard. I also still have a really hard time focusing. I seem to have moments that ‘disappear’. For example, I can be having a conversation with someone and at some point in that conversation, I completely zone out to the point that I have no recollection of what was said. I see the person talking, their lips moving, but I hear nothing and don’t remember what was said, if that makes sense. Maybe that has nothing to do with depression itself, it could be that it’s just a coping mechanism I have developed over time to manage stress and anxiety, but again, I don’t know. And while I am am slower to anger, when I finally do hit that breaking point, there’s not a lot of variation in the emotion, it’s still pretty intense. All things that I will bring up tomorrow. 
 
I have been sharing my experience and struggle with depression this past week and I think there’s a lot of ‘baggage’ that comes with depression. People don’t really talk about depression, or at least very few do. People seem much more willing to talk about cancer or some other sickness than discuss ‘mental illness’. Maybe I just haven’t known enough people who have had depression, but I am finding it encouraging to share my struggle with it. First off, it’s sort of therapeutic. But it also lets people know how they can pray for me, they can ask me how I’m doing, but be specific so that I am actually forced to give a real answer instead of “I’m fine.” I think being open to sharing helps others too. If my being brave and saying, “I’m depressed” gives someone else the courage to seek help, then that’s a great thing! Being depressed sucks, being depressed and alone really sucks. I was alone in my struggle for a long time, it wasn’t good and I certainly didn’t benefit from it. 
 
Tonight I shared with my City Group. It wasn’t hard to share content wise, oh but how I hate being the center of attention! I’m proud of myself though. I told everyone there and got through it with out crying too much. And I was able to explain it and make sense! Normally I get so nervous I think I end up babbling. I am so grateful for the people that God has placed in my life. I have some amazing friends. It was encouraging to be able to share and then be prayed for and know that these people love and support me. I’m so very grateful. 
 
Anyways, this was supposed to just be a quick update and it’s become a lot longer than I planned. Tomorrow I will know more and then I can give a more detailed update. Until then, thank you to everyone who has reached out. It has meant a lot to have your support and encouragement. 

Depression

How does one even begin a post like this? Is there really a way to gently ease into the subject or some joke or metaphor to make it less heavy? Probably not.

On July 27, (I know, specific right?) I was in Houston visiting with a friend before heading off to a beach vacation with family, when I had finally got enough courage to tell her that I had been “feeling” off. I say “feeling” because I really wasn’t feeling much of anything these days, except for maybe, guilt, apathy, anger and an extremely overwhelming emptiness. After a long conversation and contemplating what could possibly be wrong, I ventured down the road of depression.

Truth be told, this wasn’t something that had recently developed. I had been feeling this way, with gradual intensity, for the last 10-12 years. I had always wondered if I was suffering from depression, but would quickly banish those thoughts from my brain as I did not want to have the label “depressed” attached to me. I had only negative associations with the word and thought that surely I would be judged if I had spoken up. So, I brushed it off as just needing to try harder and make my own happiness. Naturally, I tend to lean more towards being an introvert, so I used that as my scapegoat with excuses like, “I’m just not good at being social”, “I am not good at small talk”, to even exaggerating on the good qualities that I already possessed, like being a good listener.

Of course, in the beginning, I didn’t always feel depressed. I would have days, maybe weeks, where I felt happy, creative and energized. The more time that went by, the fewer good days there were. I started to lose interest in the things that I loved and was so passionate about.

Fast forward a few years. In 2009 I got married. This was an exciting and VERY much anticipated event for me. I had been dating my husband for six years before he proposed, so I was ready. The morning of my big day that I had been waiting for so long for, was here! I remember sitting down to breakfast with my parents and them asking if I was nervous or excited. I was excited, I had wanted this day more than anything, but it wasn’t the exhilarating excitement I was expecting. I have a lot of moments like this. They have increased in length over time.

Eventually, it got to the point to where I needed to force, and over compensate for my lack of happiness or excitement. I didn’t want people to think that I didn’t care or that I was not happy for them. I was…….but, I wasn’t. Depression is a strange thing. Depression doesn’t always mean that you feel sad, but empty. I certainly felt this. Sometimes, I think that I mistook my lack of sympathy and emotion for an “I don’t give a crap” attitude. I thought that I was “tough” or “thick skinned”. Truth was, I was neither one of those. I was so weak. I constantly felt scrutinized and judged. I was racked with guilt and self loathing and eventually saw myself unworthy of happiness. I started to have paranoia, I feared that my husband, then boyfriend, was cheating and that at any moment he would break up with me. I began to read in between the lines of conversations I had with people, assuming that they meant something other than what they said, and felt like I deserved their scrutiny and judgement. Depression can really distort your perspective and cloud your judgement.

So, now I have been married for four years, and we recently welcomed a daughter. Another excuse that I told myself was that maybe I am just a super mellow person, and I just don’t excite easily, but surely a life changing event like finding out your pregnant would cause some over the top excitement. Nope. I WAS happy. I couldn’t believe it, but I was happy that I was expecting. Again, the excitement that I had hoped to feel, just wasn’t there. I was disappointed, sad that I couldn’t feel the joy that I was sure everyone felt. Now, I didn’t have the easiest pregnancy. I was sick for almost all of it. It was either morning sickness, the stomach bug or a staph infection. I felt like crap the whole time, and then had several stressful incidents throughout the pregnancy concerning her development and testing for chromosomal abnormalities to finding out that she was breech a week and a half from my due date and scheduling a cesarean days later. It was devastating. Everything that I had been planning for, hoping for some fluctuation in emotion and a sense of empowerment had been stripped away.

So, now, I have my beautiful baby at home and we are adjusting to a life as a family of three. I am not only learning the ropes of caring for a newborn, but am recovering from surgery, which was not easy. I got an infection due to an allergic reaction that I had to my sutures and was in pain for a couple months. Having a new baby is hard. Having a new baby and having the baby blues is really hard. During my pregnancy, I wondered if I would have the baby blues or postpartum depression. I wondered deep down if I was depressed, and felt like I might be predisposed to them. While I was convinced that I was suffering PPD, for reasons I had never told anyone, people assured me that it was just the baby blues and that it was normal and a common thing. I left it at that.

My daughter is now six months old, and the “blues” have not gone away. In fact they are worse than they have ever been. I had no joy, no happiness. I was angry and impatient all the time. My bad days were terrible and my “good days” were just less so. I had bad days and blah days.

Three weeks ago I decided that I had to say something. I had been having an exceptionally hard time. I was not necessarily suicidal, but was having thoughts of my own death. Since I obviously couldn’t feel happy, I thought that maybe I didn’t deserve to feel happy. Maybe everything and everyone would be better off if I was just not here. I was angry all the time. I was always in a bad mood and short with my husband. I was impatient with my child, and my anxiety was at an all time high. I didn’t want to be around people. I just wanted to be alone. But I didn’t. I was broken over the fact that I just didn’t have joy in anything. I didn’t even enjoy my child! This broke my heart, but I just couldn’t get out from under the dark cloud that has followed me for so long. So I spoke to a friend, I spoke to my husband and I spoke to my mom. I think that I am depressed. I have no idea who I am anymore, the person that I was has seemed to disappear. I don’t like myself and I don’t want to feel like this anymore. Something is wrong with me. I shouldn’t feel this empty.

So, here I am. I spoke to my midwife on August 8. Explained to her everything, relived moments over the past 10-12 years that made me pause and wonder about depression. I am depressed. I have realized that this is not something that I should be ashamed of. While depression by no means, defines me, it is a part of me. Treatment, generally, is medication, but does not have to be forever, which is positive. I had some bloodwork done and I am currently waiting for results. My midwife thinks that possibly, I may have a dopamine deficiency which would explain my lows and mediums but not “highs” or enjoyment. She is checking for other things as well, like my thyroid and cortisol levels. I also only have one kidney and one adrenal gland which could be problematic as well. The one adrenal gland that I have could be over compensating creating an imbalance. Thursday I find out the results and hopefully will have a bit more insight into my depression. Thursday will also be a week that I have been on medication to hopefully help my brain keep what dopamine I do have, circulating long enough to use it. Instantly, I seemed to feel better. I was lighter. I was not as impatient and angry. The more days that I am on it, the better I feel. By no means am I rainbows and sunshine, but I am seeing more and more of my old self each day.

I know that this is a terribly long post, and if you have made it all the way through, then thank you. I do not seek pity or special treatment, I am not ill. I have held all of this in for so long, that a post like this was a long time coming. I was not prescribed therapy, but in a sense, sharing is therapy. Depression is not a skeleton in the closet, you don’t have to hide it or be ashamed of it. I should have brought this up a long time ago though. If by chance, there is anyone who reads this, and suspects that maybe, the person you are now is not who you REALLY are, and there is a chance you are depressed, there is no shame in seeking help. It is OK to not be OK, but you don’t have to let it be your identity.