The Thing About Mental Health…

So, I was on the playground the other day and a mother was talking about meltdowns with me. “We’re going from meltdown to meltdown,” she sighed unhappily, “if it’s not the kids, it’s me!”

“That was us, too!” I chirped, “until I started medicating myself!”

Her face fell.

I beamed.

*****

Now, I know better than to expect some ra-ra team cheerleading me when I tell people that by my current pill popping, I am an even-keeled, “normal” and happy Mama. The thing about mental health is there is just oceans of stigma around it still. No matter where I’ve ever lived, calling someone crazy is never a good thing. But I have seriously had it – with the stigma, with us not talking about it, with the feelings of going crazy myself.

This post partum stuff hit me harder than I’ve ever been hit. And I have every symptom in the book of PTSD. So go figure. It’s been a really rough few months.

But now I’m on this pretty strict diet of prayer, running, yoga, prayer, music, gardening, running,  prayer, music, support group, counselor+psychiatrist and PILLS. It’s definitely a winning recipe because I feel more myself than I have in a long time.

And even though it’s no fun to talk about depression – less fun to read about it, good grief, talk about a dive into the shallow water – I feel an obligation to, simply because we do it so rarely in our culture.

We know we should tuck our shirt in, brush our hair, put on a bright smile and pinch ourselves to keep the tears from coming when we push that cart in Target and something or other triggers this torrent of sadness and we can’t help but wonder what in the hell is WRONG with us anyway? Why can’t we keep it together, why are we so lonely, how can we feel this way when we have these beautiful children and loving partnership with a handsome, productive and intelligent individual?

Everyone else seems to happy, so pulled together.

And then, over time especially we come to understand that a lot of other people are faking it too. “Fake it till you make it” and all. It’s not  a bad idea, like smiling when you don’t feel like it and then it will grow to become genuine. It’s just not okay when it goes on for too long. Not okay when we feel so alone and don’t see anyone else struggling in the same way we are; we can’t talk about it and our health insurance is a frickin’ joke.

That’s why I’m talking about it here.

*****

So what do we do?

SomePrayer, running, yoga, prayer, music, gardening, running,  prayer, music, support group, counselor+psychiatrist and PILLS. That’s what’s working for me right now.

What’s your magic recipe?

(and that’s a photo with some lyrics from one of favorite pull-me-out-of-the-abyss songs, Just Look Up)

Meriah
is a deaf blogger, global nomad, tech-junkie, cat-lover, Trekkie, Celto-Teutonic-peasant-handed mom of 3 (one with Down syndrome and one gifted 2E).
She likes her coffee black and hot.
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16 Comments

  • Thanks for addressing this! It’s something that a lot of women feel but don’t talk about. I was completely thrown off by the blues after my first baby, and it was good to hear from friends who had the same experiences- wish I had heard more from them before I had the baby!!! Glad you have some great outlets and pills!! 🙂

  • I also think it is important to realize everyone’s journey through mental health is different. I chose to go off my medication because it was making it worse. I will be going back on soon, I have to switch brands and need to make sure I have enough money each month to buy it. But my journey is not everyone’s journey. For me, snuggles with my lil girl, eating well, lots and lots of self care, silly tv shows, and reminding myself I am a champ is what is getting me through it.

  • Hey Meriah, I absolutely love your post. So honest and beautiful and heartfelt. I am struggling with depression and PTSD as well. I think you know a lot of my journey from my blog. Juggling kids is hard enough and when you aren’t feeling yourself it is even harder. I am so glad you are feeling a little bit better now and have a magic recipe. I am still trying to sort out my magic recipe.

  • It’s better to address the depression than to let it run your life. I hate hearing that you feel guilty for feeling depressed just because you have beautiful children and a loving relationship. Even people who seemingly “have it all” can succumb to depression. People you pass on the streets and in the stores may look pulled together, but they are fighting a fight too…you just don’t know what they are fighting.

  • Ok, I am just really piecing together what has been going on. We seem to have crossed paths at a funny time in each other’s lives. 😉 The first time it fully dawned on me what depression really was, was when I took meds. It was a whole new effing world. Then I realized that I’d probably been doing it to myself with birth control pills. Eat well, sleep well, play, exercise, and putting myself out in the world usually does the trick for me now. But man, the pills were necessary at the time. Making babies and living life is hard sometimes. 🙂

  • Lifelong low grade depression and anxiety with a few more serious bouts. Serious bouts- 6 months of Zoloft did the trick ,allowing me to sleep,eat and feel something. I fought it tooth and nail despite my ( or perhaps because of) years of working in psych hosps and seeing meds ( and other things) work. Irony.
    If I get good sleep, eliminate caffeine and take B complex I do pretty well.I like some alone time to stay connected to myself, exercise. If I need therapy I get it. As a parent I just don’t get as depressed I notice – too busy to do the introspective rumination :).
    PPD is so biochemical, we all struggle and its healthy to share our vulnerabilities.

  • Running, prayer, and music definitely help me. Oh, and I’ve learned to love yoga over the last year and a half. I’ve done meds in the past and they make me feel “weird” which causes more anxiety so I prefer to use St John’s Wort. I don’t think meds are evil, I just can’t tolerate them for some reason.

    We really need to learn to support each other better when it comes to things like this. I have recently come out of a very religious community and you just do NOT talk about being depressed or anxious in those circles. It’s like you’re saying God’s not big enough or something… I’m just glad I don’t have to deal with those attitudes anymore and that, right now, I’m in a pretty good place overall.

  • I hate the stigma so much! I have never really felt ashamed of my meds for OCD and anxiety, and I am so thankful for that. I think because by the time I finally started meds, I was at my breaking point, so feeling good trumped any stigma. I’m pretty comfortable in my skin (thank you years of therapy!) so I’ve disclosed that I’m on meds to friends, and if it comes up in conversation I do what you do, I share. I like to think we can destigmatize it one conversation at a time! My meds just fix the chemical imbalance. They shut that annoying part of my brain down and let me be me!

  • Pills, right on! I had ppd after Goldie was born. I faked it for months and tried all the a natural remedies that I could. I wasn’t sad, it manifested as anger. I was pissed off all the time at everyone. I remember the day I decided to go get meds and sitting in the doctor’s office. My husband, at the time, had left to go on a hunting trip 1500+ miles away and called while I was in the waiting room. He tried talking me out of getting medication. I told him too bad. Best decision I ever made. I took them for almost a year and was able to off of them with no problems. You have to do what works for you.

  • Anti-depressants are one of the best things that ever happened to me. I wish someone would have prescribed them when I was back in high school. And especially college. How different my experience of the world would have been. Talk therapy never worked for me, and I saw a lot of counselors. I didn’t start taking meds. until a crisis in my late 30’s. The difference was beyond description. A true mind-altering miracle.

    I’ve struggled with depression, anxiety, ocd, and ptsd most of my life. It feels good to let go of the shame.

    Thank you, Meriah, for speaking opening about meds. and depression. Women need to talk more about it, instead of hiding, pretending, faking it through their livelong days.

    Besides meds, sleep and solitude, healthy foods (no gluten/junk) and stretching exercises help keep me centered.

    be well

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