Sunday, June 9, 2013

PPD, Part III: The Doctor's Appointment

So, I actually had to wait a whole week to see my doctor, because Jon had called on a Wednesday and my favorite OB only works at the office I go to on Wednesdays.  Jon had requested her specifically, I think because he figured I would respond best to her advice. My appointment was for the following Wednesday, so I spent the days leading up to it thinking about what I wanted to say, and what I wanted to do.

Did I want to take medication?  Not really.  I've always been leery of drugs (see Refusal of epidural, Refusal of headache medication, Refusal of birth control pills), but this seemed bigger than any other problem I had had before.  Plus, Jon was right:  I owed it to our kids to be healthy.  I just hated admitting I needed help--and again, the "mental illness" stigma was bothersome to me.

But then I thought about it more.  Okay, so I could think about PPD as a mental illness, but really it seemed more like a mental virus.  Yes, it was attacking me, but it needed to be fought off, or it was going to get worse.  And unlike an illness, which to me seemed like something that went on in perpetuity, a virus would end if I fought it with the appropriate tools.  Besides, how was I supposed to take care of three crazy boys if I wasn't on my A game?  So I had to get well.  And maybe...well, maybe I couldn't do it on my own.

If I got treatment, it wouldn't be forever. I was not doomed.  I would fight this.

I started doing more to help myself in the meantime.  I began going for walks in the evenings (after all, exercise gives you endorphins.  Endorphins make you happy).  I talked to a fellow mom who I knew had had PPD and I got the name of a counselor from her.  I made a real effort to have more fun with my kids.  And I started telling more of my friends what was going on.

I think a couple of them were a little hurt I hadn't said anything before, but the thing was, I just couldn't. I felt ashamed and embarrassed, and the other thing was, I couldn't convince myself totally that I had it. It's also sort of hard to tell people about your problems when in a lot of ways, you probably seem like a spoiled little girl.  I have so many blessings in my life, it's probably unfathomable to think that I could be depressed.  What was I supposed to say?  "Oh yes, I have three beautiful, healthy children, a wonderful husband, and I'm about to move into my dream house, but I'm depressed."

Of course, as I have mentioned, it's not so simple as that, as there is a lot of trauma drama going on...which I can't go into (not yet, anyway).

Anyway, the point of all of this is...I went to the doctor.

Now normally when I have gone to see my OB, they have shown me into an examination room, but that day I was sent to her office, where the nurse gave me a hug and told me my doc would be in to see me.

Forty-five minutes later I was starting to think that this was some sort of test, that they had put me in her office and were observing my behavior with hidden cameras to see how crazy was I really.  Plus I had Peanut with me (although thankfully I got him to pass out), so I was starting to get a bit agitated.

My doctor sailed in apologizing profusely, and then she asked me what was going on.

So, I told her about all of the issues I had going on, and then I mentioned the crying, and how some days I felt like I wasn't myself.  I told her about how I had thought I was doing better, and then I wasn't doing better, and how I just didn't know, to be perfectly honest.

She nodded and said, "Amanda, you've had three kids in three years.  It's a lot.  And all of the things that you have described--well, those are a lot too.  And the thing is...your husband called because he knew things weren't right with you.  And when husbands call...we definitely listen."

I nodded.

"I want you to get counseling, and I know you don't like medication, but I'd like to start you on a low dose of an SSRI to help you.  It's not forever, but your body is going through so many hormonal changes right now that it sometimes makes it hard to cope.  And with everything you've got going on, you could probably use the extra support."

I nodded again, and then said, "I can't promise I'll take it."

She nodded.  "I know.  We'll re-evaluate in a couple months.  But I do suggest you do.  And if things are going well and you feel like yourself again, we'll wean you off of it."

I drove home, unsure of what to think.  Was this really what I wanted to do?  I am serious when I say that I balk at taking an Advil for a headache.  Did I actually need the medication?  Perhaps counseling would be enough.  Maybe if I just talked to someone...

...but then I was honest with myself again. I had been doing a lot of talking, to people who were going through the same thing, who had experienced it before, and who were all urging me to take care of myself.  Many, if not all of them, had gone the meds route.  All of them said how it had helped.  Some of them were still on the meds.  Others weren't.

I filled my prescription.

And then I stared at the bottle.


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