Wednesday, March 29

Taking a break for a medical post

Sorry, even Blue Gal has her limits. There is no way I am posting this image to my blog. Go get it.

Douglas has an open meme up about telling a medical story, so here goes. This story has two parts:

One of my worst faults, I hate to admit it, is that I can be very insensitive. May be borderline Asperger's, 'cause I can't flirt for real, but whatever. Anyway, I was seeing my infertility doc who put me on some Prozac to counter the mood swings associated with Clomid (yep, take one pill to counteract the problems with the first pill. Don't get me started.) I made a joke about happy pills, to her face. She gave a pained look, just for a moment, and I realized, oh God, she takes the happy pills herself. And she has had her own battle with infertility, which is one reason her practice is so committed and successful. Shit.

Fast forward a couple years and my second kid, conceived without "help." My first child was diagnosed with high functioning autism in May of 2002, and my daughter was born in July. The stress of both events lead to the worst depression I have ever, ever, had. On my 39th birthday a couple weeks later, my dad called me to wish me happy birthday, and I just sobbed into the phone, "this is the worst birthday of my entire life." He made me promise to talk to my doctor about depression. So I promised.

The next morning baby 2 had a pediatrician appointment. I'm sitting there morbidly depressed listening to him tell me the baby is fine and gaining weight normally and I hate to say this but I just did not give a shit at that moment about my baby, at all. Nursing her, knowing that my body was keeping her alive, was the only thing keeping me alive at that time. That's an important point, because often post partum moms retreat from their babies and the babies lose weight or worse, moms in really bad cases actually do harm to their babies. The fact that my husband made me promise I wouldn't kill myself was the other reason I was still alive. Yeah, it had gotten that bad. Anyhow, the pediatrician noticed something was wrong and that probably had something to do with the fact that I was crying? I sat there and remembered my dad had made me promise to talk to my doctor, and I said to myself, oh whatever, here is a doctor. So I told pediatrician I was depressed, as if he could not see that.

First thing pediatrician did was make me promise I would call my ob/gyn today and talk to her about this. Then pediatrician started asking me questions and after the third or fourth question I remember saying to myself, "This man is screening me for suicide. Oh, who cares." So when he was done asking me these questions, he gave me my baby and said he'd be right back and he stepped out in the hallway and called my ob/gyn himself. I must not have given the right answers.

So I saw her that afternoon and she gave me sample Prozac right there in the office. It was like someone turned on a light. I was better, almost right away, and I only needed it for six weeks or so. I went on it has a preventative measure when baby 3 came along and that went fine (by that time my son was 6 and doing really well and Mom was over the shock of his situation).

The lesson here is to tell people when you feel depressed and get help. I am grateful to all those MEN making me make them promises too. Pediatrician may have saved my life.


  1. Thanks for that post, Beege. I was there, too. I was on Clomid for my second baby following a miscarriage, and a year after that got pregnant (w/o help) with my daughter. She was wanted and adored, but my world was just black and I had no idea why. After a year of that hopeless, helpless misery, I went to a psychiatrist who got me on Effexor, which gave me my life back, and also diagnosed me with ADD, which completely changed the way I felt about myself. I was able to get rid of a lifetime of shame that I had carried around when I realized that I wasn't 'lazy, stupid or crazy', but just wired differently. Now I embrace and appreciate my ADD - it is what makes me creative and special. And I don't think of antidepressants as 'happy pills' - they merely make me able to feel my feelings appropriately - be happy when there's something to be happy about, and sad when there's something to be sad about, and not vice-versa. I'm glad I got the help I needed, and glad you did too, and glad that you wrote about it.

  2. Thanks for sharing , and a head's up to the males out there: 1) pay attention to your significant others after childbirth, and 2) it can happen to you, too.

    I became depressed six months after losing my parents (within 90 days of each other) a couple years back. I had to ride out the first six months by being the "strong one" in the family, to take care, first of my mom after my dad passed, then of their estate after my mom died. I was present at my mother's death, which was not peaceful, and I will take that to my grave. Once all the business was done, I fell apart.

    I did not get professional help. I should have.

    I am back now, with the help of my amazing spouse and my amazing offspring, wonderful friends, and my renewed spiritual life. I am lucky.

    But I should have seen a doctor.

    Thanks for sharing your story.

  3. Me too, as these things go.

    Asperger's has an incredible comorbidity with suicidal depression, and I've looked the beast in the mouth and felt its sharp teeth and slimy tongue too frequently for comfort.

    Here's a high-five for your husband who - while not, perhaps, the absolutely easiest person on the whole planet to live with, made you promise to stay with us. And the pediatrician - uh-huh. Good job, following through, there.

    It keeps striking me how much of a gamble it is to start along the road to pregnancy: anything can happen, with "happy, healthy live child grows to adulthood and becomes a fine upstanding citizen" sharing too small a portion of the Possible Outcomes pie.

  4. Thank you for sharing that part of your life with us. I was "officially" diagnosed with depression when I was 19 - it's with me for life.

    Isn't it funny how your husband and pediatrician both felt you honorable enough to NOT break your promise?

  5. Anonymous3:35 PM

    Aren't men wonderful? And doctors, too. But male doctors are wonderfullest of all ;)

    Thanks for sharing this, BG.

  6. depression is my "black dog" i wish more people were open and honest about what is a medical illness, just as diabetes is. it's not some magical , mystical thing, it's a treatable illness. good for you, you have helped a lot of people with this post.

  7. Hooray for Bluegal sharing her story! I got back on antidepressants a few weeks ago after nearly giving up all hope of ever feeling normal again. It's a hard thing to go through even if you do have support. Glad your doing better.

  8. I'm a doctor...anything I can do to help?

  9. Blue Gal, none of this will come as any surprise to you, but while we're on the subject...

    I was diagnosed with clinical depression when I was 16 (though in truth I was a seriously depressed kid). My teens and early twenties were absolute hell on earth. I cheated death more than a few times. Numerous suicide attempts, numerous hospitalizations, et al.

    My diagnosis was amended to Bipolar II three years ago. Though, in truth, I have bits and pieces of lots of things: Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, Restless Leg Syndrome, and Borderline Personality Disorder.

    I have been on just about every medication under the sun and am currently on the best cocktail out there for bipolar--Lamictal (a mood stabilizer), Seroquel (atypical anti-psychotic), Sinemet (Dopamine enhancer).

    To make a long story short, if it wasn't for doctors (and particularly a good psychiatrist) I would be dead.

    I've always been open about my illness because to me, if I do my part to demystify mental illness, it will cease to be seen as a shameful weakness and seen rightly as the chronic condition it is.

    My generation, I'm glad to say, is much more accepting of mental illness. AT LEAST 50% of my high school class was on an antidepressant.

    Does this mean that kids these days are more suseptible to mental illness than ever before, or does this mean that finally people are deciding to seek treatment for it--and not live lives of quiet desperation.

    I hope for the latter.

  10. You really have to stop going to jeff gannon's old sights, Blue Gal. Seriously. Consider this an intervention.

    Anway, God forbid the GOP ever corners the childrens’ book market. Then we’d be seeing stuff like this.

  11. As Paul Harvey says, “Now, for the rest of the story”…..or at least another view of it.

    Believe me, depression is not only a female “thingy” related to pregnancy. As a normal male, I know that pregnancy is not possible for me, but deep, deep depression certainly was.

    I spent several years wearing the “blues” shoes……in and out of hospital psycho wards under the so-called care of different “professionals” and under the influence of their prescribed drugs, some of which made me worse than I was before I took them, and some of which just left me in a fuzzy fog.

    During those years I left home more that once seeking solace elsewhere – at times living in primitive conditions that no sane person would have endured. I had suicidal wishes, but didn’t attempt it, because I feared I was incapable of doing it successfully, and would end up as someone needing the care of others to survive, even though I had no wish to survive.

    In the end, I whipped the depression demon. I just decided in my own mind that this was an intolerable way to live, and that I had to adjust my attitude.

    So, I did, with the help of God, and a sense of humor.

  12. I had PPD too. Tried Prozac after my first daughter, but reacted badly. My doc wanted me to see a psychiatrist to try some different antidepressants.

    I ignored his advice.

    Thankfully, I had my parents close by. We actually had to move in with them for a couple of months because I couldn't function. At all. I finally got it together enough to move back home, but stayed seriously depressed until my son was born two and a half years later.

    By that time, I'd had enough. We tried Zoloft, and it was a miracle. I was scared to go off of it for a long time, but in October, 2004, finally weaned myself [slowly] off of it.

    I have days where I'm depressed, but for the most part I'm doing really well.

    I sometimes feel sad that I didn't try harder to find a med early on. I feel like I missed much of my daughter's babyhood because I was so depressed.

    Thanks for the post, Blue Gal.


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