Thursday, February 26, 2009

Depression Profile: Sue at Um, Thanks for Sharing

One of the best things about blogs is the discovery that you are not alone. My latest find: Sue! Sue is a warrior mommy--she's conquered perinatal and postpartum depression along with some generalized anxiety--with three kids and some truly insightful posts.

Confessions of an Anxiety Ridden Mother could have been my own story. I know what it's like to punch walls and yell at infants even when I know I shouldn't. I loved her honesty about how difficult it is to be a mom, a supportive wife, and a person in your own right. Be sure to look through the comments, too. Her post struck a nerve with several people. Here was one comment that really caught my eye:
Antidpressive meds were designed for the modern LDS woman! First of all, we all attempt to accomplish too much... and if you attend relief society on a regular basis, you try even harder. Calm down and realize that you are a wonderful person who is greatly loved and respected for all the tasks you accomplish.

I know Relief Society isn't meant to work this way, but sometimes it does. My personal solution? Just start admitting your flaws--the real ones, not just the cute quirky ones--when you make a comment. When one person gets real the rest seem to follow. I have to say, though, I'm not the first woman in our ward to do this. There are a couple sisters out there who really open themselves up and put themselves out there and I love it. (Nancy, Verna, De--you are ladies I so admire!) It is only when we are real with each other that I come close to understanding what the concept of Zion is all about.

Another post by Sue, If the Problem Gets Solved, Does it Really Matter How You Solved it?, is the story of how a nice girl with some solid biological issues ends up deciding to she needs medicine. It's a tough decision but Sue makes it deliberately and wisely.

One part I really appreciated was the description of her supportive husband:
I often think about how blessed I am to be married to Dan specifically because of his understanding and support about my treatment for depression. Not only does he have the scientific knowledge of depression, but he has also seen first-hand, from the time he was a little child, the effects of depression. And he knows that the meds work and that they are beneficial. When I started taking anti-depressants, I used them for about a year or so, then went off them during my pregnancy with Lily (not because they're unsafe, but because I was feeling pretty good and didn't think I needed them.) Then when she was about eight months old, I went through a bad time and Dan pointed out that he had watched the same cycle throughout our marriage, that I would fight and try to be positive for six or eight months, then I'd have a drawn out episode of depression that lasted for a couple months. It really caught my attention to hear him say there was a pattern to my behavior.

I was still feeling a little bit like I was weak for needing to take anti-depressants, that now that I was aware of my tendency for getting depressed, I should be able to combat it on my own with behavior modification, attitude adjustment, and lots of prayer. I worked with a counselor for 8 or 9 months and learned so much about my thought processes and emotional tendencies. But even with this knowledge, I still couldn't conquer the beast. I went on and off the meds two more times while Lily was a toddler. After hearing Dan tell me over and over that taking meds wasn't a sign of weakness, it was the same as a diabetic taking their insulin, I started accepting that for me, taking an anti-depressant wasn't a temporary solution to help me kick-start my system. It was something that my brain chemistry required regularly to stay balanced. I was a lifer.

Every depressed person needs someone like this in their life. Someone with knowledge and compassion. Someone who may not be living it but wants to be with you while you do. Someone who can reassure you when your resolve wavers. Sue is extremely lucky that this person is her husband. For me, that support has come through different people at different times. My sister has been there for me (thanks to our cell phones that we use more like walky-talkies!). My husband pulls me out of some sad, icky places when my mind is holding me hostage. Mommy friends,oh!, of course the mommy friends! Having someone to sit in the park/ice cream shop/coffee (except we only ever order steamers and sometimes a pastry) shop with and kvetch about the bad times, well, that's priceless. And, when I'm too afraid to tell anyone else how nuts I really feel, my therapist is there. She isn't fazed by anything.

Thanks, Sue, for your example and your courage. Telling your story is definitely blessing other people's lives. All us other But Not Unhappy Mommies are sending good vibes your way!


Adventures in Heywood said...

Haha, facebook has now given me yet another way to blog stalk! :)

smdc said...

I have found the same sweet reaction in RS as well... I am one of those who feels that if I am feeling depressed, then surely someone else must as well, and it helps to realize you are not alone. I probably share way more than I should, however, we are so good at putting on "the game face" at church. It's so much better when we can see each other as fellow sisters in need instead of setting those around us up on those high pedestals.

I also wanted to comment that, being new to depression, I am still discovering exactly how it works in my life. I am finding that, as badly as I want the meds to make me "better" I still have depressive episodes. Learning to work through them is my challenge now... if only I could receive a voicemail detailing the exact moment when they start, and how long I can expect them to last!

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