Fonticulus Fides

Monday, May 17, 2004

A struggle revealed…

Post-partum depression is strange thing. At least it has been for me. Frequently, I’ve tried to talk myself out of it – after all, I have a wonderful husband, three beautiful children. I have my Lord and Savior, the communion of saints. A decent house, a decent life. There’s no need to be blue, let alone depressed. Let alone suicidal.

But I kept slipping, spiraling downward. I couldn’t concentrate. I couldn’t get anything done. I couldn’t sleep, but I was so tired, I was barely awake. I didn’t want to eat – if I wasn’t nursing the baby, I wouldn’t have eaten at all. I would stare at the baby and wonder why she was smiling at me. I would look at the older kids and think, who are they? Whose children are they? Then some small thing would happen, and I’d lose my temper and start screaming at them.

It happened so gradually, I hardly noticed how bad I was getting. And then I guess I bottomed out. One day, I realized that I understood Andrea Yates. I understood why she felt like she had to murder her own kids. She was afraid of ruining them. She was afraid that her own psychosis would damage their ability to love, to trust, to serve Christ. She wanted to rescue them from the thing that had such a horrible grip on her own mind. She picked a desperately evil way to do it, but she wanted to save them, to get them into heaven before it was too late.

I wasn’t in any danger of doing the same thing to my kids – I’ve had way too many nightmares about the final moments of those five young Yates children. But I understood Andrea Yates, and that scared me. And I started to wonder how I could rescue my own kids from the damage I was inflicting on them.

I started gauging different means of dying. I rejected every form of suicide because I knew that there was no way to do that without hurting the children. I became obsessed with images of car accidents, house fires, tornadoes and so forth. Always trying to figure a way to keep the kids and my husband safe while I exited the scene.

About two weeks ago, my husband was getting the older kids ready for bed and I was sitting on the couch with the baby, thinking about strangulation and how wonderful such an embrace would feel.

Yeah, wonderful. "Wonderful embrace." That’s exactly how I described it in my head.

That did it. I went to see my doctor the next day and started a course of anti-depressants.

I’m ashamed to be on medication for this. I want to be strong enough and smart enough to just look the problem in the eye and make things right. I want to fix it by praying more and going to confession more and receiving the Eucharist more. I want to fix it with logic, because it’s just silly to feel the way I have been feeling.

But I’ve tried that and it’s not working. My doctor says it’s a chemical imbalance, my hormones and everything else are all out of whack. A few months on an antidepressant will get me over the worst of it. The medication will help clear my head and straighten out my thought processes. I hope by the end of the summer to start weaning myself off of it and fly solo again.

I went to see a counselor, too, because that kind of goes with the territory when you are dealing with depression. But she pretty much set me at ease, telling me I was doing all the right things, heading in the right direction.

Already, the creepy death obsession is fading away. I’m able to maintain my temper with the children better, too. The baby smiles at me and I find myself smiling back.

I’m still not 100%. Still need time and care to get myself back on track. But I write all this today in the hopes that I can help somebody else who is on the downward spiral. Don’t be afraid to ask for help like I was. If you can’t talk yourself out of the blues, you might need a little extra help. And it will help, if you’ll just give yourself permission to accept it.

So that’s what’s going on with me. Don’t hate me because I’m psycho, okay?



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