Depression. I know you see that word and instantly get uncomfortable. Even the word makes me uncomfortable. I’m sorry that there is such a stigma attached with that label. It makes people view me differently and if make me view myself differently.
Depression was always something I worried about. It runs rampant in my family,even if some haven’t been diagnosed and treated, many have. I always knew deep down that my happy days were numbered and that eventually it would get me too. Then I had my daughter, “Roo” life was perfect, I had my boy and now my girl. I got up every day looked at myself in the mirror and called myself a fake. I recognized the face in the mirror but not the person. The person I saw was smiling and happy and doing it all! Housework, errands, kids/family and doing it with ease. The person that I knew was a fraud. None of it was real. Just beneath the surface of that smile was an angry woman, hating herself, the circumstances and life in general. I internally wished my husband would realize something was terribly wrong with me, but yet I made choices that kept the dirty secret hidden. In the shower I
cried sobbed until my bones ached. then I got out, got dressed nicely, applied just enough makeup to cover the dark circles under my exhausted eyes. Giving myself a pep talk in the mirror, a reminder that if I didn’t keep it all together “they” would take my kids away. Afterwards I walked out of the bathroom dressed and composed and ready to fake my way through another day. Not knowing that carefully crafted facade was days away from a hairline fracture.
During a conversation with my husband I let my guard down for a split second and asked him to stay home. He laughed it off told me not to be silly and headed to work. I sat down and cried. The facade had cracked ever so slightly. It was a small crack but one that was ready to blow. A few days went by and once again I felt like I needed help but didn’t know how to ask for it. I asked my hubby to please stay home with me. Again he explained that financially we couldn’t afford it and that he couldn’t just stay home because I wanted him to. Out of frustration I snapped. The rage flew out, the anger took over and I warned him that if he left something bad might happen. I have no idea what that meant. I wasn’t thinking about self harm or hurting our child, but I needed him to know that something was wrong with me. He was so shocked and upset that I would even say such a thing. He told me he thought maybe I should go see my Dr. I didn’t. What I did was the one thing I enjoyed most. I wrote about what happened and how I was feeling on a local “mommy forum”. What happened next was the best thing imaginable in my situation. The person who replied was so caring and compassionate. She really seemed to understand what I was was feeling. She urged me to come out to a support group for women dealing with Post Partum Mood issues. Deep down I knew that was what was wrong with me so after a few attempts to go I finally made it. I walked through the door and wept in the arms of the woman who was running it. I got real advice and people understood me, I felt safe there. Eventually I did go to my Doctor and was diagnosed with Post Partum Depression (PPD) and anxiety. Over time we tried different meds and finally after a very long struggle with PPD I started to get better. People commented that it was nice to see the old me again, nice to see me smile, just nice to be around me again.
6 weeks after that fog began to lift I was slammed with the news that I had cancer.
Nearly 3 years after my diagnosis of PPD and PPA I am still struggling with it. No longer does it fit into the Post Partum category. Now it’s just clinical depression and anxiety. I am in a scary place right now as the “experts” are trying to work on my diagnosis and meds. For me it’s a chicken vs. egg situation. We all know that the thyroid plays a huge role in our mood, so what came first? The depression or the cancer, could the cancer have caused it all? I’ll never know. but I know I’m still angry, and I still hurt, and life is a struggle, but one that I am willing to fight for. I’ll never give up. I’ve been through too much and survived to just give up.