It’s Saturday night. I suppose I’m a couple of days late for my posting goals. But it’s been a tough week for me emotionally. I can recall five things which made it a particularly hard week.
I saw the psychiatrist again this week.
I sat down and pulled out my notebook with my notes, questions and a list of things to go over with the doctor. I proudly set my book down and opened to the page which was carefully written and colour coded. As I start to speak, the doctor holds his hand up to stop me, leans over to his phone, and pages his assistant, “Christine, please bring me the additional questionnaire for her to fill out about OCD” he pauses, looks to me then down at my book before looking back to his phone, ” actually, bring them both.”
I felt proud of my list I had carefully made. Ensured it was made for ease of conversation and flowed nicely for verbal interaction. I was happy I was being diligent in making sure I got myself educated about all this.
Notice how all of those sentences were past tense. Because that feeling of accomplishment was gone. Evaporated with quite the speed. Here was thing number one of what made my week hard.
I filled out the questionnaires then answered all of his questions. He always hands me the questionnaire to fill out looking for any signs of bipolar disorder. He reads over it. Then grills me some more verbally. I’ll come back to bipolar disorder and how our interactions have made that a problem for me. First I want to go over number two of making my week difficult: postpartum depression.
Up until now, I have been coping pretty well with the hormones making me “sad”. The baby blues had come and gone and I felt safely out of that postpartum depression zone. Turns out, postpartum can begin anywhere between two weeks and one year following delivery of your baby. Huh. Upon talking with the doctor I realized how sad I had been. Answering all his questions about how I feel about myself, my body, my achievements in life. I already knew I was having a hard time with these things but I feel because it truly is because I have failed on all these fronts and more. I didn’t see how that could be “depression”. I answer his questions and he thanks me for being so open. I tell him I trust that he’s a medical professional and I want to get better so I don’t feel shy or the need to hide anything from him. Not a popular patient opinion in this medical field I take it. Anyway, he finds a break point in the questioning (sometimes feeling like an interrogation) to inform me (yes, I feel inform is the correct word here) that he sees postpartum depression starting to show its ugly face. I never considered my failures to not be true failures. Though, I still feel like they are. I suppose hearing he thinks I’m becoming depressed is kind of comforting? In some way? It’s like, “Okay, maybe these things aren’t all that important. Maybe I am doing wonderfully and I just don’t know it? If I keep telling myself that, will I believe it?”. I mean, I have two wonderful sons and such an amazing husband. I should be happy. Should. But all I can see is my fat, stretch marks, lack of career and education. Add the paralyzingly fear I have bipolar disorder in there, and there’s thing number three on the list.
Every time I see the doctor, there’s a part of the appointment where the scene changes within and I feel I’m in a poorly lit room with a crappy light flickering overhead. The doctor has explained to me that the medication he has me on is a great one to combat depression, anxiety, and yours truly – OCD. But there’s a catch: it can be catastrophic if there is underlying bipolar disorder hidden somewhere. It can cause quite gruelling symptoms of mania or depression, and neither of which does anyone want around a newborn baby. So. Problem there. He makes sure he’s diligent in checking for signs of this, but absolutely terrifying me in the process. To the point where I am afraid to be happy.
Yes. I am afraid. Yesterday, I had a wonderful day. I was giddy and silly. I was playing with my children with such energy I haven’t had for a while. I was feeling particularly feisty when interacting with my husband. And once I noticed what kind of day I was having, I hit the brakes and became so afraid I was experiencing a manic episode that my husband had to calm me the hell down. I must’ve said “but, what if, what about that…” a hundred times. Maybe more. Every time, the man just smiled and told me I was just happy. I had to have him explain why I was happy and why it meant I was not bipolar. I spent a great deal of the evening doing research on symptoms of mania and depression and combing over every aspect of my life wondering if it could be qualified as such. Wondering if maybe I shouldn’t take my medication that night just in case I was experiencing mania. (Heelllloooo! OCD much?! Right! But, I can’t see it when I’m in it. It takes a lot of inner strength for me to put the breaks on and divert down another path.) Anyway! Why was I so happy, you wonder? Well! Here comes reason number four! Vaccines!
Not what you were expecting? Yah, me neither.
Vaccines. My wee little baby is now two months old. He had his first set of vaccinations. It did not go over well. He had a poor reaction to the vaccinations. Not a deadly reaction or anything, but enough of one that I cannot begin to explain the kind of worry I had for him. Anyone whose ever had a sick child, especially a baby, can tell you what that’s like. The OCD and anxiety were no help at all in this situation. He had a fever, a rash, lethargy, fussiness and more vomiting than normal. Come day three following vaccines and my ass is starting to get worried beyond all hell. I call the nurse at my doctors office and she tells me it’s still within the “okay” time and tells me to call back in the morning if there’s no improvement. Enter Friday morning and there I am fervently telephoning the doctor’s office. Filled with angst and fear, we get to the doctors and the baby decides that NOW he’s feeling better. Rash clears up to where it’s barely visible. Fever is hardly there. He’s wide eyed and bushy tailed, ready to go. I get in the doctor’s examination room, looking batshit crazy, because here is this perfectly happy and perfectly fine baby. The nurse looks at me like I’m insane and doesn’t bother to take his temperature. I feel embarrassed but also so very happy because my child no longer appears to be on the brink of death, or how my OCD riddled mind felt he looked. Thankfully the doctor sees the faint rash and checks my baby’s temp, upset that her nurse did not, and can see past my mental health diagnosis. She didn’t talk to me like a mental health patient who was having delusions. She talked to me like a worried mother who had a right to be worried. The evidence of him being sick was still there. You just had to look for it. But I feel I have often looked for things that aren’t there, given my diagnosis. So I was worried they would not take his reaction seriously and harm would come to him. I was also worried maybe I had indeed dreamt the whole thing up in my mind. Maybe I was looking for something that wasn’t there? But I was right. Which me being right has definitely played a role in this development of OCD (ahem, my cardiac history).
Well, there’s a tangent and a half. Back to why I was happy! OBVIOUSLY I was happy that my child was not as gravely ill as I had feared. My oldest son was at home that day with us as he doesn’t have daycare on Fridays. My husband didn’t have to work late. Everyone was together and the weather was wonderful. We had a wonderful family dinner. No one was sick. I had every right to be happy. But I was so afraid of being too happy. It ruined my evening a great deal.
Enter reason number five. A bit random and I haven’t the energy to make it flow nicely in paragraph form with an introductory sentence, so I’ll just say this: this is going to be a long road to recovery. And it effing sucks.
I am tired. I asked the doctor about this exhaustion and if I could look at another medication. Not only was that idea kiboshed, but he in fact wants to increase the dose next month. He says I should eventually get used to the sedative effects of the medication, so he’ll wait another month before increasing the dose. Then after that we wait and watch. I guess there’s a process to go through before looking to another medication. And the word “month” scared me. He’s waiting a month to look at just increasing this dose a little bit. Because I so obviously need it, he says. Bleh. It just all made me realize what a long process this is going to be. I was looking for some quick fix. Well, that doesn’t exist when you’re trying to fix the mind. It depresses me to know this may take months, years even, before I can get this under wraps.
But there’s so much I want to do with my life. Can I do it with these problems? Can I do it with this medication?
What can I do?