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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Life after miscarriage

2 Jul

I’m in my mid-thirties.  Due to career ambitions and other practical, responsible reasons we waited a long time to try to start a family.  It’s a lot like that movie, Idiocracy, a film of pure genius that is quoted regularly in our household. (“Brawndo!  It’s got what plants crave!”)

Just like the smart couple in that movie, we waited a long time (too long? ) and ran into some issues getting pregnant.  To spare you too many boring and embarrassing details, we hit the mark that results in the label INFERTILITY.  I didn’t want to go on freaky hormonal treatments due to my hippie dippy ways and my long history of issues with hormonal birth control.  Instead I tried acupuncture and Chinese herbs and after a few months of regular treatments, I became pregnant.  We were overjoyed.  I felt sick and grumpy and nearly fell asleep at work on several occasions.  I had strange food cravings and even stranger aversions (broccoli has never seemed so gross).  But it was awesome.  I was SO excited.  Writing all of this out is really starting to feel like TMI and I am wincing at the screen, but I’m determined to write all of this out for those of you out there who might be going through the same thing, or something similar, or you care for someone who has had this kind of loss.

At 8 weeks, I had my first ultrasound and saw a little bean with a heartbeat.  It was one of the very coolest moments ever.  I’d often go to sleep thinking about that little baby growing inside.  I’d send him nice thoughts and imagine what it would be like as he continued his growth.  While I feel very connected to various family members and friends and also to my pets, that kind of connection was very special and like nothing I’ve encountered before.  I can’t really explain it, but I imagine that everyone out there who has grown a little baby knows exactly what I mean.

At 13 weeks, we went in for another ultrasound.  My husband Q wasn’t around for the first one so it would be his first time seeing the baby.  Since I’m at the dreaded and ancient age of 35, this ultrasound was at a different clinic and served as part of a screening for various genetic nightmares and heartbreaks that could occur.  Needless to say, I was a ball of nerves and nearly jumping out of my skin.

Turns out my nervousness was fitting.  Instead of the ultrasound technician showing me exciting things, she just pointed out the two sides of my uterus (snore) and then asked me to go to the bathroom “so we could see more”.  I had too pee so badly that I didn’t even question that.  By the way, making someone who is pregnant wait for a long time for an ultrasound is really mean, as you’re supposed to arrive with a full bladder.

The rest unfolded like a nightmare.  After I happily emptied my bladder I returned to the room where Q and I waited for a few silent minutes.  The technician returned with the doctor, who told me that she saw some “really concerning” things including that the baby had no heartbeat and hadn’t grown past 8 weeks.  Um, yeah, I still think “concerning” wasn’t quite the right word to use there, doc.   This was compounded by the fact that this isn’t my normal doctor’s office and they didn’t seem to have any of my information about how far along I should have been.  They didn’t tell me anything more  and said I could follow up with my regular doctor.  In retrospect, that seems pretty weird.  The technician left me with a giant box of wipes that were essentially giant kleenexes.  I imagine they are for wiping that ultrasound goo off of your belly, but for me they were for full face sobbing and snotting.  I was kind of a basket case.

We found the back way out of that horrible building full of happy pregnant women.  (Curse them!)  I told my husband that I’m never trying to get pregnant again, that I can’t deal with it and it is too sad.  I dreaded the idea of more medical appointments, more disappointing and stupid periods and more bitterness about everyone in the world having babies all over the place.  Even at the time I realized that was a bit silly to close up my womb since I had about 5 minutes of processing what had just happened.

I got home and called one of my closest friends who had a miscarriage several years ago.  We had  a talk that was helpful but very painful.  It was immensely comforting that she knew exactly what I was going through, although heartbreaking because I hate it that other people have been through something this awful.  She advised me, strongly, to get off the phone and call my doctor’s office and demand to be seen immediately.  She also recommended, based on her own experience and of other women she’s known, to get a D&C rather than wait to miscarry or take those pills that force you to miscarry.  I did just that and by 9 am the next morning, I was sobbing in the doctor’s office while they scheduled a surgery for me that evening.  I could have had it that morning, but I’d eaten a damn banana prior to my appointment so I had to hang out ALL DAY and wait to digest it so I could go in for surgery.  So I spent the whole day not drinking, not eating and cursing that stupid banana.

It has been 3 weeks since my surgery.  My body is starting to feel more normal and I’m sleeping well again.  I cry a lot.  I’ve find a lot of comfort in talking to other women who have had miscarriages because they know what it is like.  I can look directly at children again, strangely for the first week or so after the miscarriage I could not even do that because it was too painful.  My husband and I are talking a lot about different things and we planned a trip to Mexico for this winter, the same time the baby bean would have been born.  I have no idea if we’ll keep trying to get pregnant, or if we’ll let Idiocracy happen (haha, ugh, really it isn’t like we’re THAT smart).  Besides, my doctor recommended waiting a few months to let my body heal so we have time to figure it out.

Basically, the whole deal sucks.  We were preparing to be parents.  I was thinking of colors to paint the walls of the spare bedroom and my mom and I were talking about cribs.  We’d picked out baby names.  I ate lots of ice cream.  We passed the 12 week mark so we told all of our friends and family.  Then the next day, it was all over and everything changed.  That shift in mentality has been one of the hardest things and I don’t think I’ll ever really be the same because of it.  For just a few months, I really did feel like a mother and then I had to say goodbye to all of that hope.  It’s the saddest thing I’ve ever had to do.

In my internet searches I found some helpful blogs about miscarriages, but not too many.  Many of them were written by very serious bloggers who went on to have kids so their miscarriage seems like a blip in the craziness of their depicted lives of daycare and diapers.  I just don’t have the objectiveness to allow that kind of wide view and would like to write just about miscarriages, especially for those who miscarried during their first pregnancy.  I’ve written blogs before and usually life happens and I forget to update them.  I imagine someday that will happen to this one, which means I will have moved forward as much as one can with loss.  But for now, here I am.

Purging!

24 Feb
Image

Image from inhonorofdesign.com

No, not that kind of purging (the barfy kind).  I hit a limit and I am DONE with the clutter and the extra stuff.  Thinking a lot this month about the MIND, it dawned on me that there are constant distractions of some sort.  For example, I put things off and continually think about what I forgot to do so my mind stays cluttered and distracted.  There there is the physical clutter as I must wade through a certain about of physical items to find what is actually wanted/needed such as finding the sweater I want to wear on the floor of the closet because it got pushed off its hanger by the hardly worn clothes.   Then there’s the art supplies, the many books, Rock Band (oh so sad, but we don’t use it anymore), old dishes, appliances not used, so many sets of old sheets used for painting drop cloths, and on and on and on.  Just writing about it is overwhelming.

Strangely, I find myself fighting off impulses to buy new things even though there is so much around that is not used at all.  So I’m not going to Target or giving in to temptations to simplify by having more.  That is just plain silly.

So it is time to purge and clear it out, just have room for the things that are beautiful and/ or useful.  We’re starting with the office/ art room.  Why hold on to all of this stuff?  I really can’t see any reason.  So, bye bye stuff!  Oh yeah and get ready for us, Goodwill!

Inspiration

23 Feb

JKZI’ve been working.  There’s been some procrastination.  I’ve been hanging with dogs.  I’ve been walking.  I’ve been drinking lots and lots of tea.

What else?  Sleeping.  Reading.  Talking.  Enjoying visits from dear family members.  Doing weekly acupuncture.  Drinking weird herbs twice a day.  I bought a new chair for my office, which some of my clients call my “throne” (I love that, it makes me laugh).  I’m working on a new business website, which is surprisingly time consuming and thankfully I’m being helped by folks much better at such things than I! I’m still trying to stay off facebook, but sometimes I habitually just log in to it.  I quickly realize I’m not missing much.

I’ve been thinking a lot about life in its present form, as well as things that have happened in my past.  It feels like peeling away the layers, which is good although it is sometimes painful to face the truth that I miss some people and probably always will.

I’m trying to stay inspired, informed, and excited.  Sometimes I become very thrilled or extremely nervous when thinking about what I want to DO and ACCOMPLISH and how things will BE in the future.  When that wears me out I try to remember to just be in the present.  Just do one thing at a time.  Just take it step by step. Just breathe!  All that good stuff.

_____lovely_breathe_art_direction_illustration_freedom-9dd2678eb47fa39ffee1904b606eff55_h_large

 

 

Today

14 Feb

A song:

To make a mountain of your life
Is just a choice
But I never learned enough
To listen to the voice that told me
Always love hate will get you every time
Always love don’t wait ’til the finish line 

-From the song ‘Always Love’ by Nada Surf.

This is not my favorite holiday, oh no. As a teen and young adult, I was often single and grumpy about this day.  And the times I wasn’t?  I honestly don’t remember what I did.  Instead, what stands out to me is how my friend Staci and I always celebrated this day in college, making presents for each other and calling it ‘Stupid Day’.  I also remember my dad giving my chocolate in the morning before school, all throughout my childhood and asking me to be his Valentine.  Of course, an age came upon me and that turned into “I’m a loser!  My dad has to give me presents today!”, but now that my brain is fully developed, I’m grateful for those gestures and can admit that it meant a lot even at the time.

It is a silly holiday, in my opinion.  I see the men walking around like robots buying flowers and chocolate, just because they are supposed to.  I like to think we show our love and affection regularly.  I also like to think that there are many kinds of valuable love in our lives, besides just romantic love.  So today?  I work until late and my husband has his martial arts class tonight.  So it’s like any other night, which means we’ll eat some good food, talk about things and play with the dogs in our cozy home.  And I’ll definitely eat some chocolate.

Oh yeah and this:

adopt

What are you doing to celebrate love, not just today but every day? 

Keep going….

13 Feb

“Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm.” -Winston Churchill.

 

Don’t pull me off of the monkey bars

11 Feb
Stairs

I took this picture during a ceremony in Bali- flower petals on the stairs.

As part of my project, I’m working on a regular meditation and mindfulness practice.  Some mornings I sit in silence and look out the window.  Other mornings I practice a more formal meditation.  It is very peaceful.  The dogs and the cat sit with me and it is very quiet and still.  It is the only time I ever really open the blinds in the bedroom to see the trees in the side yard and it feels like a treat.  This morning I chose a meditation off of yogaglo, a website to which I subscribe that offers various yoga and meditation classes.  It has a great variety of classes and is sometimes the best I can do when I can’t make it to a regular yoga class; between walking dogs, running my business, and trying to spend time with my family, regular yoga class hasn’t happened in a while.  I especially enjoy Harshada Wagener’s meditations on the site.  He has a very warm and practical approach.

Today I did a short meditation about Transition.  I have done this one before, months ago when I was preparing to leave my full time agency job, where I worked as a child & family therapist.  It was hard- I was saying goodbye to clients, co-workers and also a regular, structured life that offered a predictable schedule and paycheck.  I decided to do the meditation again today simply because I’ve been thinking about the challenges we often encounter in the face of change.  I’m not going through any huge changes lately but part of my job as a therapist is to help people deal with change.  And I am trying to implement changes into my life, which is also very hard!

Sometimes we are forced to change due to circumstances and changes around us.  Other times, we may attempt to initiate changes ourselves because we recognize behavioral patterns that are not serving us well.  While it may be relevant to note when we have control over changes or not, these things really don’t seem extremely different.  The changes are still challenging and we will encounter resistance but our future (and present) well being will surely benefit from our resilience in facing, understanding and yes, maintaining such changes.  So this could be about moving to a new town, the end of a relationship, quitting smoking, implementing a regular exercise program.

Bowie

Ch…ch…ch…changes!

It is no secret that change is hard.  However, it is also inevitable.  Whether we like it or not- things change.  And sometimes we may benefit from change.  There are many theories about change.  Spiritual traditions bring forward examples and rituals to assist during changes.  Praying, meditating, reflecting on the big picture, seeking out community- these things all are meant to offer solace and understanding during challenging times of chaos and transition.  When it comes to trying to change our behaviors, neuroscience shows us that change is extremely difficult because our brain functioning can become quite out of balance when we take part on addictive behaviors.  It also shows us that we can very effectively encourage needed changes by understanding how our minds work!

Today’s meditation spoke of the resistance we have to change.  We cling to how things currently are.  The teacher said we do this like a child holding on to the monkey bars while their parents tries to pull them off.  I love that visual as it seems to capture this concept perfectly.

So what can we do to take care of ourselves during times of transition?  And how can we allow ourselves to flow with the change rather than resist?

  • Don’t get caught up.  Recognize that we will act like the kid on the monkey bars at times.  You will cling to the old ways and that is natural, but that isn’t necessarily going to help you.  When you notice that you’re resisting the change and trying to talk yourself into going back to old behaviors, point it out to yourself.  For example “I’m wanting to eat sweets right now because I am so used to eating sweets at night.”  Or “Wow, I’m telling myself about 100 reasons to not exercise right now.”  Recognize that this is NORMAL and that you don’t have to continue to hold on to those monkey bars!  
  • Ask yourself why.  When in a transition or when trying to change things, we often are able to list about 100 reasons why we shouldn’t do something or should do something else.  But ask yourself- why did that behavior exist in the first place? What purpose was is serving?  Be curious about your motivations and the meanings.
  • Write things down.  Get out of your head a little bit, where unhelpful thoughts can sometimes spin out of control.  Write things down to get it out of your head and onto the paper.  Done over time, this can also help reveal thinking patterns.  It is also helpful for insomnia.
  • Set realistic goals.  Are you embarking on too many changes at once?  Are your goals way too lofty?  Talk to others about what you’re doing and get some perspective.  Maybe you have high hopes, but try to let your changes start small and build off of that.  This is certainly one I’ve been realizing with my project!
  • Find some meaning.  Maybe you don’t want to change but something is going on and you have to or need to.  Find some meaning to all of this.  This may be really hard sometimes, but having a bigger picture view is very beneficial.  If something is hard, and then it seems pointless, then why will you keep trying?  If it is hard to do this, consider talking to a friend or a counselor.  Read some books.  Meditate.  Get curious.  Reach out.  Even the most difficult things have meaning.  It doesn’t mean it is fair, just or reasonable.  But we know that life isn’t either- it is mysterious and oftentimes confusing.  It can be the most painful struggles that really help shape who we are as people.
  • Reward yourself.  Treat yourself when you have small successes.  This will reinforce your hard work!  It also gives you a reason to keep trying.
  • Don’t give up.  I would be remiss to not mention the stages of change, often referred to in the mental health field and depicted not as a linear line but as a spiral.  It shows us that with change, these are setbacks, relapses and it is not only a forward moving process.  One of my all time favorite sayings is from Krisna Das, who said (my paraphrase from 10+ years ago) “every time you come back to yoga, you come back stronger”.  So we learn from each relapse and each set back and we can reground and recenter more and more each time.

Stages-of-Change

Are you trying to make a change or going through a transition?  What are you doing to move forward?