Mean Mommy Morning

Nick did not want to go to school today. He’s never been in love with school, doesn’t cheer on the way there like Chris does. But today he said his leg hurt, earlier in the morning he said he was coughing, before that it was something else.

Last night he wanted to keep the ace bandage off. I don’t think it was a problem but I suggested this morning that he put it back on because I needed something to say. I didn’t want to accuse him if not being in pain but I also didn’t think he needed to stay home from school.

In the midst of all this Chris informed need me that he was having some stomach trouble. The kind that keeps you in the bathroom and out of school. Frankly I think he has had too much orange juice (which I never buy but Steven did) and oranges (which I did buy). Double shot of citrus was just too much. At least I am hoping thats the problem. This didn’t make the morning any easier and led to running late.

While driving the kids to school (aka cursing under my breath while trying to get up a steep icy side road), Nick said the ace bandage was too tight. I told him to go see the nurse and tell her I put it on too tight. I told him if it hurts to go to her and she can give him Tylenol.

I told him everything except what he wanted to hear which was that he could stay home. With two days left before the holiday break, I really couldn’t justify keeping him home. If it wasn’t so icy out Monday and Tuesday I would have sent him in. Physically he was ready.

Emotionally I thought a little time off would be a nice positive to balance the negative of having surgery. But then a day like today kills it because I feel like I have to be mean mommy and push him off to school.

Speaking of mean mommy. That’s how I have felt a lot this week. Today most of all. I wrote a post a while back about depression. It is one of my favorite posts because there is such a stigma that goes along with any mental illness and as moms, I think, admitting we are not ok is particularly painful and taboo.

I believe I am a lil’ more mean mommy because I have stopped taking my antidepressant. I made this choice with a psychiatrist that was recommended to me by someone I trust. What prompted me was the tachycardia I have been experiencing for over a year. To have to take meds to deal with the tachycardia which might have been caused or at least exasperated by the bupropion, was frustrating me. In addition I have been feeling anxious and the psychiatrist said the tachycardia itself could be causing the anxiety. He also said I didn’t seem depressed. Which of course I wondered if that was the effect of the meds. But he said doing a test, to see if going off them helps, would be worth it.

So far I am hardy experiencing tachycardia, I am not anxious, and I am not depressed. However I am tired, hungry, and grouchy or grouchy because I am tired and hungry. More sleep hasn’t helped and neither has more coffee or more food.

My plan to deal with how I am feeling is make a self care plan. I need to do things to shake off the grouchy feelings. An article I read said 7 minutes a day of exercise may be enough to combat depression. So I got myself a small, basic, stationary bike and I intend to ride 7 minutes per day. Hopefully I will do more but the goal of 7 is not too daunting.

I hope Nick didn’t need to see the nurse today. I hope Charlotte had a good day despite the fact that it started with a grouchy mommy. I hope eliminating orange juice will help Chris. I really hope the mean mommy moments will not linger in their minds or mine. Oddly enough thinking about having been mean doesn’t make me nicer!

New healthy habits are, I suspect, the only things that will keep me off the antidepressants. That’s why I am adding in the exercise but not doing too much else. I don’t want to set myself up to fail.

I hope this post is helpful beyond my venting. Come on out of the closet moody mommies. You are not alone. Seeking mental health help is one of the strongest decisions you can make. But maybe you don’t need that kind of help. Maybe you just need to take care of yourself. Put yourself on your to do list. Self care is not selfish. It is brave to share your feelings and it helps. I don’t care what people think about my need for meds or lack of them. I don’t love the idea of sharing what’s most personal but it is worth it, if it helps one person not feel alone.

Baby Blues, Blues and Blues Not Elsewhere Classified

Recently the mom of an infant with Fibular Hemimelia posted a question on a support group asking if was normal to be crying all the time. She received many kind responses but oddly enough mine was the only one that mentioned counseling or therapy having helped me work through the emotions of having a baby with a birth defect. I should not find it odd considering there is a huge stigma regarding mental illness. Not that having a baby with a difference and being sad about it should qualify as an illness. I didn’t suggest she get mental health help, I simply wrote that it had helped me. Maybe others had counseling and didn’t write about it or worse maybe no one else had any professional help at all?

When Nicholas was a baby I did not think I had postpartum depression. I didn’t have thoughts of suicide or of harming him. I was going to school, working weekends and taking care of my boy. I loved Nicholas and I loved my life with my husband but slowly and in such a familiar fashion this underlying sadness moved in. No one really knew. I didn’t talk about it. Functioning well hides a multitude of emotions. This mom from the support group seemed, from the little I could see of her life, to really be functioning well to, enjoying her baby, living her life. But that’s what I looked like too and I still needed help.

I was fortunate that when Nicholas was born I was in college (as a psychology major mind you… hello… if I hadn’t realized I needed help I’d have been in the wrong program) and I received free counseling. I needed to talk about my history of depression and having a baby with fh, I needed to talk about the decision we had to make (amputation versus reconstruction and leg lengthening) and I needed a neutral person. I was judging myself as much as I was afraid of being judged by others. I really thought that if I showed that I was sad or upset that Nicholas had a birth defect it would mean I didn’t love him enough. I put so much pressure on myself to keep it all together. I wish I had realized that there is no shame in asking for help. Nothing I was feeling was wrong.

Obviously not everyone who has a baby with a birth defect will have postpartum depression or depression of any kind but I still believe talking to a professional is hugely helpful, even just one session. Having a baby can open old emotional wounds. It is the best and most amazing experience but it’s an emotional roller coaster at best and an emotional mine field at worst!

This was not my first time in therapy. A few years earlier I was diagnosed with Chronic Depressive Disorder (Dysthymia). It’s a kind of milder long-term depression and I have probably had it since childhood. When I was diagnosed I was so relieved. There was a reason I felt the way I did. I wasn’t crazy and it wasn’t my fault. I bet I am not the only gal with a mental illness to have had those feelings! The psychiatrist I saw asked if I would consider an antidepressant but I said no and opted to try therapy alone. Here’s a little info on Dysthymia:

“Dysthymic individuals, on the surface, may seem to be fairly productive; they may be employed and involved in social and marital relationships. However, impairment of physical and social functioning, a requirement of diagnosis, is often more significant than it appears to be, and is often the motivate for an individual to seek professional assistance.” … “Dysthymia is often misdiagnosed and undertreated due to the low-grade severity of the disorder. Because the symptoms of dysthymic disorder have been apparent for so long, many people do not seek treatment, or they delay seeking treatment for 10 or more years. In fact, many patients who delay seeking treatment indicate that they do so because they believe depressive symptoms are part of their inherent personality. Most do not recognize that they are experiencing symptoms of depression.” Understanding Depressive Disorders

So while I didn’t necessarily have the baby blues I still had the blues. I went to counseling and saw my GP to get on an antidepressant. I started with Lexapro and that seemed to help for a while. Then I went off it to have our second baby, Charlotte, and went back on it a year or so after that and back off it to have our third baby, Christopher. I thought it worked well at first but eventually it made me tired and hungry (among other unfortunate side effects). Not exactly helpful when you are combatting depression!

I never went back to Lexapro but after my Aunt died three years ago (Nicholas had surgery for his 2nd leg lengthening two weeks later) I went to a psychiatrist to get help. This time I was prescribed Bupropion (aka Wellbutrin) and the current diagnosis reads “Depressive disorder, not elsewhere classified”. The medication has changed my mind for lack of a better fitting term. By the way I stayed on this medication through my 4th pregnancy and while nursing Bess.

On the Bupropion I feel like a different person. I don’t always feel good and if I did I suppose I’d need another diagnosis. I still experience the full range of human emotions but I am able to navigate them and not get lost in them. My treatment was considered a success and my depression controlled.

By the fall of last year my counselor and psychiatrist had been trying for months to spread our appointments out further but I was hesitant (they were already about two months apart). Finally as I left my last session (not planned to be the last really and I do have to check in to stay on my medication) I turned to my counselor and said “I know I am ok. I know I can function like anyone else (maybe better), with some of the most stressful life events happening all at once, I am not depressed” and my counselor replied “That is exactly what you need to hang on to and remember”. So I do.