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The Depression Confession

Posted Jun 28 2012 1:04pm

I realize my posting has been sporadic at best around here. A variety of things have come up – various writing projects, some job leads, random travel. But mostly?

Mostly I’ve been living under the weight of near crippling depression. Writing has always been in my coping toolbox for times like these, but this time – I felt strangely compelled to remain silent here on the blog. For the first time in a lifetime of dealing with depression, I felt shame.

Like I’d somehow be letting everyone down by admitting to it here.

Like I’d invalidate my credibility to lead a Fertile Living eClass .

Like somehow I was some kind of phony.

But the fact is, depression happens.

. . .

I’m happy to report that it’s largely been driven by (yet another) major swing in my thyroid hormones. A few months ago, my TSH was up in the rafters at just over 5. Now, it’s in the basement at 0.12, which is extremely too low. I’ve gone from hypo- to hyperthyroid in a matter of weeks due to a dosage adjustment that appeared to be a bit too much at once.

What happens then is I see an uptick in anxiety, insomnia* and as a result: depression.

(*Weirdly, it’s not that I can’t fall asleep. I wake up at 3 and 4 in the morning, unable to fall back to sleep for hours. My dreams, on the other hand, have been some of the most vivid I’ve had in my entire life.)

When my doctor got my my thyroid panel results back in, I felt relieved. I feel like this particular episode came out of nowhere and indeed it has, just simply the result of an easily tweaked dosage change.

To give you some idea of how my thyroid can perhaps throw my mood out of whack, here’s what my TSH has looked like for the past 3 years:

With peaks and valleys like these, it’s no wonder I might not exactly feel like I’m bringing my A game to any given situation.

. . .

I’m not living / I’m just killing time.
-Radiohead, “True Love Waits”

The first time I heard this lyric, I realized it sums up exactly how depression feels. In my marriage, I know it’s an incredible burden on Larry. For him, it’s hard to wrap his brain around the way I act (or rather, don’t act at all) when my depression gets really bad simply because he’s been fortunate enough never to have experienced depression for himself.

This lyric is the only way I’ve even been able to really communicate what depression feels like to anyone who’s never experienced it first hand.

Larry has been so incredibly supportive during this particular episode.

“I finally understand that it’s not you,” he told me last week, and I had hit probably one of my lowest points I’ve ever experienced in my life. “It’s your depression. And you have no control over it.”

. . .

I am hesitant to take medication, for a variety of reasons that borders on the political. One of the biggest reasons I’m hesitant to start any kind of anti-depressant is because of yanno, that whole IVF thing in a few months.

But I’m open to counseling and therapy and found a fantastic therapist in my own town who not only specializes in women’s issues and infertility, but uses therapeutic writing as part of her therapy practice. Sadly, I may not be able to see her for some time; I’m in the running for a 6-week full-time contract position with a startup. In the interim, she’s left me a book I need to check out: Composing a Life , by Mary Bateson.

This is what Amazon has to say about the book:

A “deeply satisfying treatise on the improvisational lives of five extraordinary women. Using their personal stories as her framework, Dr. Bateson delves into the creative potential of the complex lives we live today, where ambitions are constantly refocused on new goals and possibilities. With balanced sympathy and a candid approach to what makes these women inspiring, examples of the newly fluid movement of adaptation–their relationships with spouses, children, and friends, their ever-evolving work, and their gender–Bateson shows us that life itself is a creative process.”

Considering I feel like I’ve been living the life of some Bohemian gypsy for the past 5 years while currently trapped in this episode of depressive stagnancy, I have a feeling I need to read this book and soon.

. . .

It’s hard for me to blog about depression without it feeling like this is some desperate plea for comments and sympathy. It’s not that at all. I just needed to name my depression, own it, get it out there, and now come up with a plan for either moving beyond it or living with it more productively.

(Feel free to replace “depression” with “infertility” or your chronic illness of choice.)

I’m hoping my thyroid medication adjustment will start to perk me up in the coming weeks. I hope that this contract writing gig pans out. I hope our cycle continues to move ahead as swimmingly as it has. We meet with our social worker for our mental health evaluation tomorrow. Should be interesting, given everything I’ve mentioned in this post.

. . .

I have gotten through this before.

I will get through this again.

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