June 04, 2008

Fierce with Reality

it's been awhile....this could get long....just warning ya.

Sometimes when I find a quote that speaks to me or makes me think, I copy it down and tape it to the mirror in my bathroom or a wall in my bedroom. I read it over and over and ponder it until some deeper meaning comes to me or it no longer speaks to where I am at, and then I take it down.

A few days ago, while flipping through one of my books by Sark, I found the following quote from Florida Scott Maxwell:

You need only claim the events of your life to make yourself yours. When you truly possess all you have been and done, which may take some time, you are fierce with reality.

As I read it day after day up on my wall the meaning evolved and grew. After a day or so I felt not only called to let go of others opinions and judgments and decisions but also, and more importantly, called to own the whole of my life. To truly own it, admit to it without shame or undue pride. To simply say, "This is mine. This is who I am. This is what I have done and who I have been."

Sometimes this is hard for me. My life has held incredible adventures and passions, and also terrible mistakes and regrets. I have done and been many many things and at times it is hard to reconcile them all into one - to believe and accept that they are all a part of me, the "good", and "the bad".

My tendency is to beat myself up pretty harshly for the things in my life I now wish I could go back and do differently. It is so difficult to believe that I can hold great light and great darkness all at once - and that this does not make me uniquely horrible or broken beyond repair, but rather simply human.

So, yesterday, as I was thinking about all of this, thinking about how to own my story and my choices without shame - I felt convicted. I felt convicted for how I have been handling something lately. There has been something I have struggled with for the last couple of weeks and I have felt such shame about it that I have retreated....I haven't written about it honestly, I have barely shared it with those in my life, I have had difficulty even admitting it to myself.

I have been struggling with depression.

And it sucks. It is not "severe". I am sleeping (although perhaps too much). I am eating. I am functioning. And it is even getting somewhat better as the amount of hormones I take decreases. It could be so much worse. But nonetheless. I have been depressed. And I have been too ashamed to admit that I couldn't simply will myself to feel better, that I couldn't just think myself or work myself out of it. I have been ashamed that I, who arguably has so little "right" to be depressed at this point, have been struck by the heavy weight of sadness sitting squarely upon my chest - filling me with sadness.

I mean really? I am pregnant for crying out loud! I am finally on the path to meeting the child I have dreamed of, hoped for, prayed over. I am incredibly blessed and lucky. I have a strong loving relationship with my wonderful husband. I have a great community of friends and family. And - I AM PREGNANT!!!!

I cannot tell you how guilty it has made me feel - each time I find myself crying for no apparent reason, wanting nothing more than to curl up in the fetal position on the couch for days, each time I feel that heavy weight on my chest and I find it difficult to breathe, each time I accomplish nothing with my day because I feel like I am literally moving through cement.

It is utterly confusing to feel as though you are grieving from the depths of your soul when you have so much to be celebrating for. It makes me feel so crazy. And more than once I have wished that someone was strong enough to come and lift the cloud up from on top of me so that I could breathe again - so that I could feel "normal" again.

Earlier this week I did begin to write about it and this is what came out:

"This is NOT how I want to feel! This is NOT what I want to be writing! I HATE feeling this. I HATE IT!!!"

And I do - I hate it. I hate that it steals me away from a time that should be joyful and filled with hope. I hate that it makes me feel like a broken, f*cked up loser who can't even properly celebrate her growing baby.

But, just to clarify, I am still celebrating for this life growing inside me. The depression, the sadness, the grieving, they have nothing to do with this baby. Somehow, I am able to feel grateful and delighted by this baby and I am able to dream about meeting our child and I am able to have moments where my breath is taken away at the thought of being able to hold him or her. I am immensely grateful for these feelings.

But I just feel like I should be able to do it better. I should be able to conquer this.

Today I read a post on another blog that was also convicting. In it, the author was writing openly of her depression. Of her doubt. I saw words in her post that felt like they were coming directly from my heart. I saw someone who was not hiding.

She also quoted an author writing about depression who stated that the prenatal and postnatal periods are the periods of highest risk for depression in women.

I kind of know this. I also know that prolonged infertility and infertility treatments are risk factors for prenatal and post-partum depression. I also know that several people I know have experienced prenatal depression, from the mild to the severe. And I know it wasn't their faults. I know that their depression was not some reflection upon their inadequacies or failures. And I know that all of them have gone on to become really wonderful and loving mothers.

So why do I have such a hard time believing this for myself? That it is not my fault? That it is not some evidence of my badness or my inability to be a good mother? Why do I feel like such a failure?

I am trying very hard to do what I need to do in order to feel better. Even in little spurts, even for a few hours, or if I am lucky - a few days, at a time. Because I do feel that I owe this to our baby. I know I need to do everything in my power to be healthy and whole right now - as much as I can be.

And, I have found some things that have helped. Many of them I have found from sources sharing ways to prevent post-partum depression, others I just figured out as I went along. My nurse did offer me Zoloft last time I was in for blood work, even telling me that "a ton" of CCRM's patients are on Zoloft, both during treatments, and during pregnancy. This gives even more weight to the idea that infertility treatments can increase your risk of depression. But I didn't feel like what I was going through was severe enough for medication at this point, and I would really prefer not to take anti-depressants during pregnancy if I can avoid it. But ultimately, if it does get bad enough, I will honestly do whatever it takes to be the healthiest mama I could be for this child - whatever that takes. And if at some point that means medication, so be it. But if I go that route I will probably see a psychiatrist to manage my meds rather than an IVF nurse. Not that I doubt her sincerity and care, but I know that those meds can be tricky and I would want to be under the care of an expert.

But I digress......I wanted to share what has helped so far:

1. Meditation / Prayer - although not easy to do these days

2. 30 min of activity / exercise per day - again, really hard to do when I feel like crap, but it helps A TON.

3. At least an hour outside in the SUN every day - I try to pair this with my exercise by exercising outside.

4. Good music by familiar artists - I bought a bunch of used CDs recently and had one of the best days blasting this music throughout my house

5. Time and conversations with friends - This goes against my nature, when I am depressed I want to hide, hide, hide. But I have been amazed how much this has helped recently.

6. Eating well and eating often. AND taking my prenatal vitamin and fish oils (in capsules). the fish oils really make a noticeable difference in my moods and were suggested originally during IVF by my RE.

7. Avoiding anything sad or anything that "triggers" me: movies, TV shows, conflict, the news. - I literally cannot watch most of my favorite shows - anything much deeper than "Last Comic Standing" can be dangerous ground for me right now.

8. Getting busy and getting outside of myself - I have been talking with someone about doing some volunteer work for a non-profit this summer, and I am in the process of looking for some part-time work. Babysitting for one of my friends recently was a great escape from my own stuff and I loved spending time with her kids. We had so much fun. I am hoping to do more of that.

9. Counseling.

10. My husband. - Although this is taking such a toll on him. I am glad he is out of town for work this week, he really needs the break from me.

So that's it. I have been depressed. I am doing what I can to take care of myself in the midst of it. But it is hard, and it sucks and I hate it.

And I love this baby so much it hurts. And I desperately want to be better for him or her.

And I am claiming it all.

Claiming it all in the hopes of one day finding myself to be "fierce with reality".

Whatever that means.

A special someone sent me a link to this article that discusses emotions during pregnancy and it was really enlightening for me, so I am passing it along...


Phoebe said...

I cried when I read your post because it reminded me of how I felt when I was pregnant. I'm finding more and more information on prenatal depression, but I didn't have the energy to do that research when I was in it. I wasn't even on-line. I stopped blogging. I couldn't relate to all the happy pregnant women, or I felt guilty that I didn't feel happy for something that I wanted for so long. I did feel happy for the first month, then things went south. I think if more women were honest about this, it would help others going through it!

Miriam said...

I find the most important thing for me is to recognize that I've started slipping into a depressive state. Also, the hormones of pregnancy and the IVF really mess with you.

I hope you get through this and are able to really enjoy the next 7 months. :)

annacyclopedia said...

Sweet Spicy! (perhaps salty sour savoury, too...)

All of this post spoke to me, but what I think I will hang onto is this:
"So why do I have such a hard time believing this for myself? That it is not my fault? That it is not some evidence of my badness or my inability to be a good mother? Why do I feel like such a failure?"

Man, can I relate! But more than that, if I can dare to posit an answer, I think we can't cut ourselves this slack because it is the NATURE of depression. Depression wouldn't be so dangerous and difficult if we could see through it, if it responded to reason. And perhaps even more than this, it is the nature of our MINDS to be opaque and tricky and impervious. Only when we are being very careful and are very healthy can those sunbeams come in and illuminate us with insight.

So, yes, you are human. I'm sorry that being human is so painful for you right now, but I'm so glad you have identified a lot of good ways to protect yourself from the depression. Know that you are in my thoughts and prayers, and that I support and admire every step you take towards greater health and happiness.

And I love the quote. Although I think you're pretty damn fierce with reality already. You're about the furthest from failure I could imagine.

You're doing great, dear friend. Keep up the good work - I'm so proud of you!

Amber said...

"But I just feel like I should be able to do it better. I should be able to conquer this." -Wow, I feel that. Sorry you are struggeling. Looking back I think I was depressed when I first got prg. TI didnt; last for me. I just had this overwhelming feelnig of guilt that I was prg...and then guilt over feeling guilty. The anxiety was unbearable. At least you are consciouses of it and doing something about it. Looking at it form the other side...I wish I had been able to recognize it and do more. Also, don't be so hard on yourself (I know, easier said than done). You have been through so much..infertility, IVF, loosing the twin. Something would be wrong with you if your weren't depressed.