21 April 2014

Depression Sneaks Up On You

I was first diagnosed with "Major Depression" when I was 14. Sometimes I think it was less "depression" and more "teenage angst". The time period was filled with Eminem music, black clothes, smoking pot, and crying about how unfair life was. I have always, even as a child, had what I describe as a "melancholic personality". I'm just kind of sad-looking, quiet, and introverted. Which is totally fine by me and I've learned that there are just somethings about my personality that aren't going to change. I don't think I could actually be described as "depressed" until I had Cecilia.

The first wave of postpartum depression came in, ran my already exhausted self over, and then sat on me, sucking out all of the life in me. Cecilia was a colicky baby and those first few months of nursing constantly, plus trying to be and "attachment parent" (because somewhere I read that if you weren't, you'd be a bad mom), and the irrational fears I had about SIDS, Cecilia hating me, or that I was going to fail at life for having a baby at 17 years old, just about did me in. I had panic attacks and I screamed at Cecilia. Sometimes my mom would have to take her from me because I was afraid of myself. My (idiot) doctor wouldn't help me, so my mom stepped in and got me into some counseling. It helped, but what really helped was moving to Yakima with Hector to live when Cecilia was 6 months old. I missed my mom and dad and cried for them, but I also now had constant help with Cecilia, who was still colicky, but the nursing constantly had slowed down some and I was finally getting some much needed sleep. I got my first job, and I got some time away from Cecilia and my house and I started to feel better. Yakima has TONS of sunshine every year and it was Spring and I was starting to just feel better. The depression stayed away for several years, even after Isaias was born.
We took selfies before they were cool- August 2006. I honestly have no recollection of that horrid Hawaiian print top.

The depression didn't come back until Hector was deported. I, all of a sudden, had to figure out how to work and raise to kids, plus save money, and balance my growing family, with my home family. I had to learn, overnight, how to be a single mom who wasn't single, plus rewrite all of our family goals. I was overwhelmed and consumed. I was sad, but I didn't have time to be depressed.

But time dragged on. I work a lot these days. At first, I was just insanely tired. My body ached and I was tired from waking up so early. Hector and I began fighting more and more, but I was tucking those away and not dealing with them- they took away energy from my being able to do my work during the day. I felt angry at the kids for being in my way- I had work to do and figuring out babysitting made it harder- I had to use more energy to do that, and I barely had enough to cover all of my shifts. I was becoming more and more selfish with every day, only worrying about me.

I was working a night shift when my hands and feet swelled up. This scared me because it happened when I was pregnant with Isaias and I knew it meant high blood pressure. I had severe pain and I ended up in the ER. They said I was fine, but my blood pressure was high. Then again, it happened and I ended up in the ER (twice in one month) from chest pain and palpitations. I felt awful. Again, the ER doctors said I was fine, just a little high blood pressure.

So I made an appointment to have my blood pressure done. I knew it was high; I monitor it at work. But my doctor seemed to agree with the ER doctors: it was in my brain. She started asking me all kinds of questions about feeling hopeless and having no energy. I told her I couldn't even get out of bed to cook my babies dinner. I broke down, right there in her office. I told her I was sick and tired of being sick and tired. She suggested Celexa.

I had used anti-depressants as a teenager, but I didn't have any success with them, so I was hesitant. She also prescribed me a Vitamin D supplement, because here in Oregon, no one gets enough Vitamin D. She said come back in a month of taking those and we will see how it's all doing. I began taking the Celexa and the vitamin and at first, I was still exhausted. I cut back on saying "yes!" to extra shifts, and I tried to be home more. I took that trip to Mexico in March, and I got some much needed sleep. Well, on Good Friday I had my one-month check-in. My little depression questionnaire showed improvement. And I think I can finally feel that improvement. Yes, I'm still tired. I'm still depressed and melancholy. I'm still struggling with energy for my kids and balancing my personal time with mom time. But I am doing a lot better. I feel like my head is above the water, I can breathe again.

I knew that I couldn't get over it this time. Depression didn't feel like sadness- it was just exhaustion. My word for 2014 is BRAVE. And the bravest thing I've ever done is go to the doctor when I really felt like I couldn't take anymore. I admitted to myself that I can't do everything alone. Things are looking a little brighter around here.


  1. This really hits home. I remember those days with you and I was right there with you. I think they were valid feelings, but perhaps you didn't know how to express them so it just seemed like "teenage angst." And it really does sneak up on you. Once you fix the issue (i.e...therapy, medication) you realize how horrible you felt before. BRAVE is a good word for 2014 because it takes some cajones to write a blog entry like this, and it absolutely takes courage to talk to a doctor about it. I've wanted to write about it, but I've been hesitant. You've inspired me. So, you go girl :) And remember you're a great mom and have been since day one.

    PS - doesn't it feel like we're back on Diaryland? Ha.

    1. I think we've grown up a little, but maybe only a little :)

    2. I refuse to completely grow up. Ha.

  2. Beautiful words you have there. That last picture with the message sent echoes through me. Sharing about something so private and something so close to your heart's scars takes a great amount of strength and courage in itself. It's great that you sought help from a doctor. Keep that strength burning and you will get through that exhaustion, in time. Wishing you all the best!

    Felix Stewart @ Frontenac Youth Services