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My Depressive Episodes – A Look Back Over The Years


 

Vincent van Gogh, The Starry Night. Oil on can...

Vincent van Gogh, The Starry Night. Oil on canvas, 73×92 cm, 28¾×36¼ in. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There is mention of suicide within the content of this post. If that makes you uncomfortable, I ask you to please move on to a different blog post of mine to read.

The number one cause for suicide is……depression. Most people who attempt or complete a suicide is because they are experiencing intense emotional pain and they want it to stop. Suicide appears to them as being the only option available. Approximately 30,000 people die from suicide each year and there are over 750,000 attempts each year. 1 in every 25 people who attempt suicide will actually complete the act….those statistics are scary and quite disturbing.

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I’ve tried to think back over my life in terms of “always being bipolar’ as the consensus was, I probably was Bipolar, at least from the time I was a teen. Figuring out the depressive episodes were easy, they typically are. It’s the mania that sends us into forgetful mode, or we only remember the good parts of our mania.

1986: My first one that I clearly remember, I was about 8 or 9 years old, maybe a little younger. There had been a death in the family. Not someone I was particularly close to, but one I had known my entire 9 years. It wasn’t his death that depressed me, but the nature of his death…….suicide. I really knew nothing about it, but I did know it was the act of one taking their own lives. I had no idea why anyone would actually want to do that to themselves. I never knew how much this man’s death would impact my own life. As I grew, things became clearer to me.

1991: I was about 13 years old. I had spent a lot of summers’ and weekends’ with a relative of mine and it was the summer before their separation that I had decided I didn’t want to spend any more time away. That summer was the first time I had ever been on a vacation with my Mom, Dad and brother. To me, the world was perfect. I was where I thought I belonged. That year I entered jr. high school and I was so excited to get my first report card……I had not just made honor roll but distinguished honors. I was so proud, I called my Mom and asked her to come get me rather than me taking the bus home. Her only response was, “Not today!’ ……. “But you promised if I made it, you’d come get me!” I pleaded…..“Not today!” So, I got on the bus and went home.

That night I found out my father and mother were separating. That’s why she couldn’t come get me. I was devastated and heartbroken, my family, my world was falling apart and I felt guilty. Guilty, because I had made the distinguished honors and not one person in my home even said, “Congrats”. After that, I didn’t even try in school anymore. I floated through the days’ because I had to, giving little or no effort to any assignments given to me. By the end of my 7th grade year I went from being a distinguished honors student to a barely passing statistic.

That was probably the longest depression I can remember. I lost a good number of friendships. Mainly because they didn’t understand or didn’t know the turmoil I was going through. However, I did make new ones and ones that weren’t very good for me. Friends’ that had already been down the path I was walking and had learned how to self-medicate. They became my prescribing doctors’. This was how I coped for a while, until one summer I found myself completely alone and terribly depressed. I would spend hours upon hours using my nail polish on notebook paper to signify the way I was feeling inside. Many times, I had to mix the colors to get the dark enough color my inner-being felt. I remember, one night, sitting on my Mom’s kitchen table with a knife in my hand, pressed against my wrist. It was the first time I had ever thought about actually killing myself. The phone rang, an old friend of mine. She’ll never know how she saved my life that night. The depression lifted again and I soon found myself back into the social circle. I was self-medicating.

In 1994: My Hubs (yes we’ve been together since high school) was staying with his parents’ clear across the country and had decided to stay for good. It felt like my entire world had come crashing down again and I was abandoned by another person I adored. I isolated a lot. I did not make any new friends, as Hubs had been my only friend for over a year, I only mingled when I found myself needing to self-medicate and then I’d go back into hiding.

`1995: A friend of mine had committed suicide. She no doubt was suffering from Bipolar Disorder, at the very least, Major Depressive Disorder and I say ‘least’ extremely lightly. She had tried many medications, many med combos and she never felt any relief. She didn’t have much support from her friends and family. The morning she killed herself, I was wrapping presents for my 2 month old son, the entire time, listening to the scanner reports and tears streaming down my face. It saddened me more that a child hood friend of my brother’s, a rookie cop none the less was the one to find her. A friend that was also a friend of her’s. It was a depressing Christmas because how could I be happy and enjoy myself when I knew 2 children were spending the first of many Christmas’s without their Mommy.

1996: Hubs and I separated for the first time since his return from living with his parents’. He packed it up and went clear across the country. I called my Mom, had her come get David and I had her boyfriend take me to the ER. It had been the first time since high school that I thought about harming myself. I began taking inventory of what I could OD on as I didn’t want my family to find me a bloody mess. The crisis worker I spoke to was a tall, dark-haired woman, who made me feel bad for being depressed. Told me if I really wanted to go inpatient she would admit me, but that I wouldn’t be able to see my family for at least 10 days. Family was exactly what I needed so I opted out and moved back in with my Mom.

From 5/96 until 12/96 I spent sitting with myself in deep depression. I functioned because I HAD to function. I had a little boy who depended on me being the best Mom I could be and no matter what it took I was willing to be that kind of mom. Depression took back seat and I invested my entire being into being his Mommy. But it was always there, bubbling under the surface.

2001: AC had been born and I could remember how out of sorts I had felt. If you knew my mood prior to his birth, the crash was quite terrible, but not debilitating and I was able to pick up the pieces quicker than I had before. When he was about 9 months old, I found myself back in that pit and went to my GP for help. The diagnosis was Postpartum Depression (PDD) and I was prescribed Paxil, which did nothing more than send me in an agitated state where I became extremely argumentative with everyone around me.

2002: LA was born and my inability to bond with her left me feeling frustrated and crushed. Again, I was prescribed Paxil with much of the same results.

2003: The death of our twins…..how could anyone walk away from that not feeling depression. At just 23 weeks, they were born much to early and their lungs could not function properly. After 2 1/2 hours of holding them, watching my mother, brother and sister-in-law hold them, my Hubs hold them, I held them both where they passed away peacefully in my arms. The days ahead were gut wrenching and again Paxil was prescribed….this time, I just threw the script away and dealt with it alone. I believe this is when I truly started to isolate and became a recluse for quite some time.

2004: A sensitive situation arose between Hubs and I, leaving me with very few options. I’m glad I chose to fight and I’m glad that by this time everyone around me knew I was crazy enough to fight right to the end if I had to.

2006: My Mom passed away….Prozac and Trazodone this time…..both of them sending me into a whirlwind of emotions I did not understand. I never filled those scripts again.

2011: Found myself depressed once again, no real reason other than my judgement as a parent was being challenged. But even after the allegations were found to be false, the depression still did not lift. Zoloft this time, sending me off worse than the Prozac ever did. After a 2 month trial, I gave up and landed in the ER.

From that point forward I have swung in and out of depression much like a revolving door. Twice since May 2011 I have contemplated taking my own life. But as Sully Erna says in his song Broken Road, “I will fight as I always fight with what’s inside of me. The Warrior spirit inside of me.”

Until next time…..

Becca ♥

 

 

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A New Mindset


Once the medications started to work, so did my brain and I was able to have a completely new perspective into my own life. I could see how my thoughts and actions affected my family. Being in the right mind-set is what enabled me to take action. I was able to view the world and my own life through a clearer set of eyes. I was able to see just how my lack of insight had damaged so much of my own life and how the paranoia was generating fear through out my home and impacted my children. I just didn’t know how to fix the damage that had already begun.

But again, this is all about trying to do our best, and that’s exactly what I started doing.

I began making a list of what would help me to remain stable. Some of those things included enrolling my AC and LA back into public school. Not having to worry about if they were learning enough and not having to  deal with the stress that comes with homeschooling, eased a lot off of my mind. I still had fears about sending them back into the public school setting, but most of these fears were risidual delusions, part of the psychosis that I needed to learn how to cope with. Once I started poking holes in the delusions I was having, it was easier for me to see how irrational I was. I spoke with friends and family that I trusted about this and they all agreed, the children being in school would not only help me, but the kids as well. How were they ever to experience anything if I continued to allow my paranoia to prevent them from doing so.

I also began making a Psychiatric Advanced Directive. Knowing my desires for treatment were in place in the event I became incapable of making those decisions before hand gave me peace of mind. It also helped my Hubs in knowing exactly what was acceptable to me and what wasn’t. It helped him understand my needs and wants in a crisis.

The next thing I did was to stop letting my deluded thinking control my life. This was the hardest part for me because it all seemed so real at the time. But I started opening the drapes and when I saw my relatives snooping around outside, instead of closing them, I left them open and went on about my business. I knew this irked them more than it irked me and I’m embarrassed to say, I got a little enjoyment over that. And when my refusal to allow them to control how I was living my life got to be a little too much for them, they handed us an eviction notice. I have no doubt that without the Seroquel, I would have had another break-down. Instead, I looked at the situation as a good change. One our lives had needed for a very long time. Their constant snooping around in the dark, hanging outside our open windows, listening to our conversations was only adding to my psychosis. This was an oppurtunity to rid myself of that extra stress.

All the packing and the moving went smoothly, a lot smoother than I thought it would. I wasn’t in the best shape to help all that much. I was after all, 8 months pregnant with M&M and I had 6 other children to move in the process, but in the end it got done and it was probably the best thing we had done in years. Independance is a sweet thing! Whether that independance is breaking away from a destructive relationship or from a stressful situation. The move could not have come at a better time.

Once we were in the new house, I already felt a million times better. The unpacking and organizing was done in less than 2 weeks. The only thing I had left to do was to wash up M&M’s clothes and get her bag ready for the hospital. I put this off for awhile and then the day before my OB appt. (I was 36 weeks at this time) I had washed and packed everything I needed to. Everything was set, everything was ready and I was ready to enjoy a few weeks of relaxtion before Baby M&M arrived. My OB appt. was to schedule my c-section. I had never had one before, but both pdoc and OB agreed it was the best possible route. It would give us a definite date of delivery and give us time to set up a support network for when Baby was born and Hubs needed to return to work. Unfortunately, some higher power proved to me that I had no control over any situation at all. The next day at my appointment, no c-section was set up as I was already in labor, 5cm’s dialated and had no idea.

There was one problem here….I had stopped taking my meds about 2 weeks before Baby’s birth. Partly because I kept forgetting about them during the move and partly because I felt so much better, I didn’t think I needed them. Even though I had been warned endlessly about NOT doing this, I did it anyway. I know now, that it was because my mind-set was not where I thought it had been all along. I was not stable and I had no in-sight into what I was doing. Hubs really had no clue until about a week before M&M made her arrival.

M&M was fine….we were worried because of the meds I had taken throughout my pregnancy, but other than some jaundice that caused her to spend an extra day in the hospital under the bili-lights, she was a perfectly healthy, baby. Once she came home, I still didn’t start back up on my Seroquel. I thought for sure, I was still okay and I could handle it. She was being bottle fed, so that gave me a break when I needed it and Hubs was getting up with her a few times at night so I could try to get some sleep. But any Mom knows, you hear your baby crying, you are automatically awake.

3 weeks after her birth, things fell apart dramatically and my mind-set and mood took a significant change and for the worse. I found myself in one of the worst mixed moods I had ever felt. Very close to the one I had experienced before I was on the Seroquel. I was fighting with Hubs again, screaming at the kids, trying to take care of a fussy baby, trying to keep the house clean, neat and orderly because everyone knows a “good” Mom can do those things. But….I couldn’t and soon I was crying about everything and I wanted nothing and I mean nothing to do with M&M.

I found myself calling Hubs, begging him to come home. Begging him not to go to work. Begging him to help me because I didn’t know how to help myself. Ultimately, he got the message and came home. He took a leave of absence from work and that’s when the real work began. I was back into full blown psychosis, the voices were back and louder, I thought about SI for the first time, trying to find a way to release all this aggression without putting it on my family again. Remember, it was just a month or so back, I promised myself I’d fight and I had to keep doing that.

But I found myself blaming myself for everything that was going wrong. I found myself incapable of showering, brushing my teeth, getting dressed, caring for the kids, sleeping 14+ hours a day and still being tired, no motivation, no energy and just wanting to…….die. It seemed like the only appropriate thing to do. So, I told Hubs and he and pdoc went into action. There was a short hospital stay, a medication tweak, Lithium added to the Seroquel and daily phone calls from my pdoc once I came home. Unfortunately, not much changed and I experienced some pretty wacky side effects with the combo I was on and eventually the Lithium was replaced with Lamictal…..

I thought the depression had lifted once again, I thought I had my mixed episodes under control, I thought the rapid cycling would stop. But I was wrong…..

Until next time…which I’m sure won’t be long :0)

Becca ♥

A Story Unfolds Part 2


May 18th 2011 is a date I will never be able to forget.

Mid-morning my tdoc called to check on me. She suggested an inpatient facility that was a little more homey then what the hospital could provide. She felt it would be a good fit for me and gave me a few numbers to try and get a referral there. This was not something I was afraid of. If I could go somewhere, in a comfortable setting and get the treatment and care I needed, then it didn’t seem so scary. I immediately started making those calls.

By 4pm I was talking with a real nice girl about going inpatient. She proceeded to take my information over the phone, talking to me the whole time, asking questions about medications, any hospital stays, my reasoning for wanting to go inpatient and when I gave it to her, everything changed! She immediately asked if I needed them to send an ambulance out to me. “Of course not!” I yelped and half choked into the phone. “I just want to get the referral to Nice Place so I can avoid going into the hospital. This kind woman’s voice changed. “Ma’am, you have 15 minutes to get your husband home from work or we are sending an ambulance for you!” Panic raced through me as my heart started to pound so hard I thought it was going to plop on the floor in front of me.

There was no way I could allow them to send an ambulance to get me. That would completely take away all my rights, I’d be alone, without Hubs, my children were home with me and they’d be confused and scared, not knowing the full details of what was wrong with me and there was also the problem of my Aunt, Uncle and cousin living in front of me. They…..would not be able to be kept out of the loop and this was amo I didn’t want them to have. So, I asked the girl to give me 10 minutes to get in touch with my husband and she could call me back, that I was safe, I had my kids with me. I was and still am forever grateful that she gave me those 10 minutes. It was then that I realized the number I called was not for the inpatient facility I was hoping for, but for our local crisis hot line.

Hubs was completely baffled by what was going on. I don’t think he really understand the extent of what I was going through, or at the very least, he didn’t want to admit it. He was home in less than 10 minutes after I spoke with him and the girl from the crisis line was back on the phone with me, informing me that she had already called the ER and they were expecting me. Ugh!! I wanted to avoid the hospital at all costs, it was why I went through the avenues’ I did go through only to end up having to go there anyway. I knew at this point, I had no choice. If I didn’t comply, they would surely send an ambulance and possibly the police too.

I can still remember the look on my children’s faces as they watched me walk out that door. My oldest kept hugging me, telling me I’d be okay. I think he understood even though not a single person had breathed a word to him. The others’ hugged me, but I could see in their eyes they were afraid, for themselves and for their Mommy. They were confused and scared. They had no idea. All their sad, little eyes followed me as I walked out the door. I had no clue how long it would be until I saw them again….

I do not remember the ride to the hospital at all. I remember getting in the car, but after that is a complete blur. I have no idea why, but I have blocked the entire car ride out. Maybe it was the finality of actually going and there being no turning back. Or maybe it was because this would actually be my second trip to the ER for the same thing. The last time, was was 13 years before and I kept thinking about how procedures were done back then. I was petrified!

Upon arrival at the ER, I think Hubs half carried me in there. Once inside, I stood partially behind him, my body shaking, my hands trembling, my mind racing and I was doing everything I could to stop myself from hypervenilating. When we got up to the reception area, tears flowing down my face, I whispered out just 3 words, “Crisis Worker please.”

I was thankful that I didn’t have to go sit in the ER waiting room. I really don’t think I could have handled sitting there, a ball of nerves, breaking down in a way I had never done before. They ushered me right to the back and when the triage nurse took my blood pressure, it went up even more out of shock over how high it was. 183/120′s……I was sure I was going to have a heartattack and die right there before they could do anything to help me. Next, I was ushered into the back and taken to a small wing off to the side of the rest of the ER. Here, was a wing I soon realized, reserved for “special” people just like me. A nurse had me quickly go into the bathroom and change out of all my clothes and put on some ridiculous, paper, blue suit. I was then taken to a stretcher that sat in the hallway. I felt absolutely humiliated. First I had to answer a series of questions with the triage nurse, then I was stripped naked, the blue suit did not fit even though I was 5 months pregnant, it kept slipping down and the legs were too long and then I was put on a stretcher, in the hallway, in between the nurses station and the doctor’s office. If that wasn’t bad enough…..a nurse came to sit with us and she was someone we knew from school. Her first words, “So, how have things been?” I truly wanted to smack her in that one moment. Instead I sneered at her and said, “Well, I’m here aren’t I?” She felt stupid and shut up after that.

Two hours later a crisis worker finally came to talk to me. They moved me into an empty room and we talked about why I was there. She was nice, very kind and compassionate, but she really, really wanted me to be admitted, especially after she heard my plan. I begged her to let me go home. I promised I would keep myself safe. I promised that if I started to feel that way again that I would come back. I begged that if they really felt like I needed to stay to please let me go to the other facility, she claimed there was no bed available for me. Later I found out, it was because I was pregnant and the other place was no equipped to deal with a pregnant lady if she happened to go into labor or have other complications. So…..the begging continued. She called Hubs in. I think she thought he would be on board with her, but what she didn’t know….Hubs didn’t know my plan. So Hubs stance was with me, “I want what my wife wants. If she wants to go home, then that’s what I want too.” I have no doubt that had Hubs known what my plan was, he would have never said that.

In the end, the CW decided that if Hubs was willing to stay home and take care of me until I could be seen by a psychiatrist, then she’d let me go and that’s just what Hubs did. He promised. After that I was free, went and changed into my normal clothes, happy to be rid of that stupid, jail suit, put my sneaks back on and I was sent home with a list of psychiatrists to call.

When I came home, my babies were already in bed. Tucked in tight for the night. They had no idea that I was home. The olders’ were in bed too, but they got up to hug me and tell me how happy they were that I was home. My oldest hugged me tight, for a long time and whispered in my ear, “I would have missed you Mommy!” He hadn’t called me Mommy in years up until that point.

That night Hubs and I sat up for a long time talking. I still don’t think he absorbed everything I was trying to tell him. I don’t think he was able to understand how horrible I truly felt…..even I did not understand most of it. I was completely baffled by how horribly depressed I was and how everything and everyone around me just made me feel worse. I tried explaining how overwhelming just brushing my teeth was, but I think even that was incomprehensible for Hubs. He had always seen me as the high functioning, get everything done, everything in order kind of gal and I was falling to pieces in front of him and had no explaination as to why.

The next morning we started the phone calls. At first, I was terribly discouraged. All the pdocs’ in my area were booked for 3 months or more. 3 months!! Who in the world can wait that long when they are in the depths of depression? But…..the very last number I called had an opening for that Saturday!! I was thrilled, that maybe we could finally get somewhere with all of this.

Unfortunately it was just an intake and it would take another 3 weeks before I could actually see the pdoc, but I was okay with that. 3 weeks was so much better than 3 months! And those 3 weeks flew by because I had Hubs home for over a week helping me out. I put the kids homeschooling on hold and lounged around the house, ridding myself of any unneccessary stress and just being…..which helped A LOT!

Pdoc day finally arrived and it was far from what I ever could have expected!

Until next time……

Becca

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