Depression, you big old jerk

3 Jul

My husband and I went on a camping trip just a few days after my miscarriage.  We figured that a few nights of fresh air by the ocean would do us some good.  Plus, we adore our ridiculous dogs and they really put on shows of special silliness at the beach.  But after just a few hours at our camp spot and just a couple of walks on the beach, we realized that our dog Radar was very bloated and sick.  To give a bit of history, Radar had a pretty major and shockingly expensive stomach surgery as a puppy so we are hyper aware of his stomach and all things that go in and out of it (yes, you dog owners know what I mean).  So seeing him bloated like Cool Hand Luke and actually hearing his tummy gurgling caused some concern.  It was a Sunday on the coast, and we worried that we’d have to go to Aberdeen, Kurt Cobain’s crusty home town, to find medical care for our pup.  So we drove all the way back home.  Yep.  We did.

I felt pretty intensely that if something happened to Radar I. would. not. deal.  I’m not sure what that means, maybe that I’d get in bed and not get out for days, or I’d have crying and screaming fits for weeks on end.  Whatever my overblown and dramatic reaction, I just knew that if my little pup fell apart that I would fall apart right with him.  I told my husband “I just don’t have the capacity to deal with it.  Plus, I need him.”  Q is a good man, most would be offended by my close relationship with Radar, preferring that I cuddle in his manly arms instead of with some stinky dog that just came in from rolling around in the dirt.  Radar’s a good boy, he’s sweet and he’s blind.  He’s attached to me and follows my voice around.  He laid around in bed with me after my surgery and licked the tears off of my face.  He was a huge comfort at that time and  besides, he’s been the object of my maternal energies for several years.  If I can’t have a real baby, I sure can’t lose my dog baby.

Radar at the beach

Radar at the beach

Now I feel guilty and should add that I TOTALLY LOVE MY OTHER DOG TOO!  She’s a total badass and really strong and pretty.  She’s well trained and extremely friendly.  She is a great cuddler and I love torturing her by flying our kite, which makes her jump like a dolphin.  She’s really smart and is an excellent guard dog.  I love her too, see?!

Sleepy Sasha after a long day at the beach

Sleepy Sasha after a long day at the beach

Okay, now that I have that out of my system.  Radar was fine, by the way.  He drank too much saltwater like a dummy.  He was fine after he peed all over the vet hospital and several vet technicians at 10 at night, for which we paid several hundred dollars.  Ah, life.

So after that a few other stressful things happened, regular ol’ life stresses, that caused me to just crumple.  At one point, I was laying in bed with my head under the blanket.  I said to my husband “I can’t do it.  I hate my life. It sucks.” and sounded much like the teenagers I spend hours of each week counseling.  Luckily, I soon got out of bed and we got on with it and spent the day doing enjoyable things (lately this has involved a lot of gardening and drinking wine).  But I know the symptoms and I know how they creep up- the apathy, the doubts, the defeating thoughts.  Ah, depression.  There you are, you big old jerk.

I researched anti-depressants and then talked to my therapist about not wanting to be depressed.  I’ve seen my therapist for over a year, mainly for general support since I work in the same field and like to keep myself on track emotionally. She reminded me that it’s only been 3 weeks and said “see how it feels in 3 months”.  I told her what I’ve been doing to take care of myself including trying to exercise, cutting out most processed foods and sugars, and talking to friends and loved ones.  Also I’ve been planning a big trip for this winter and making plans to move offices.  I’m actually focusing on some things I’ve wanted to do for a long time which feels kind of good.  I don’t think I will actually become full-blown depressed, but I can easily grasp how it can happen.  It’s a bit dramatic, but it’s kind of like I’m standing on the beach watching a huge wave coming in.  I can easily see myself getting trapped under it, and then all the damage it will do to everything around me: my marriage, my relationships, my career and my health.  I need to remember that the best way to let that wave wreak its havoc is to avoid the pain I’m experiencing.  Instead, by feeling it and dealing with it, I’m a lot more likely to get through this intact.

I googled “miscarriage and depression” and found this article  from Psychology Today.  It points out that women who have had miscarriages are at high risk for depression, especially if they have had depression before (yes) and if depression runs in the family (boom).  The recommendations for getting through it include supportive counseling and then simply letting time pass.  When I read that, I thought “what, that’s it?!”  Feeling very sad and hopeless, common symptoms of depression, makes sense after losing a pregnancy.  It certainly doesn’t help that the loss is one that’s traditionally been deal with privately so it feels very isolating and even shaming.  But if the symptoms last for a long time and/or they begin to interfere with relationships and work, then it could be time to get more help.  It is a comfort to know that with time, I’ll most likely start to feel better.  I can already see how much better I am doing after just a few weeks.  For a while, I couldn’t handle being alone without becoming completely overwhelmed.  Now I’m back to kind of my old self, where I like being alone and don’t feel stressed out by it.

We get a lot of feedback about how crying, sadness, and grief are things that should be hidden, but that really only makes it worse.  I hope everyone out there can find the support they need for this kind of loss, whether it is through a trusted friend, a counselor, an online forum, or other things.  I’m grateful for therapists.  It is the field in which I chose to work but I’ve noticed that my therapist friends and my own therapist have been immensely comforting during this time.  It is so helpful to be reminded that it is okay to feel sad and to cry, even in severe and unattractive (snotty) ways.  I know all of these things, but somehow when I’m on the other side of it, it can be easy to forget.

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