It's back. I've been trying to deny it for weeks, now, but the more I try to deny it, the worse it gets.
I'm such an overachiever that I get postpartum depression before I give birth! (They're calling it "Perinatal Anxiety and Mood Disorder" now). I had it when I was pregnant with Mary Grace - back then I was so convinced that I was going to die in childbirth that I wrote BJ a very maudlin letter and gave it to his best friend, just in case. I spent days crying. I gave myself high blood pressure, worrying, and got put on bedrest. She was born in August of 2005 (and I lived!) and I didn't get help until April of 2006.
I'm stubborn like that. And stupid.
I got pregnant with Claire in July of 2006 - about 20 minutes after the Zoloft started working. I stayed on meds until my third trimester, then went off of it abruptly after I read a scary news story about the effects of antidepressants on fetuses and newborns (stupid!), then went back on it immediately after Claire's birth.
I can't remember when I decided to go off of it, or why, but I've been off for a long time.
Five weeks ago I talked to my midwife about the possibility that it might be coming back. This time I'm not afraid that I'm going to die, though. I already know I can survive pregnancy and birth - I've done it twice. I'd even go as far as to say that I'm really good at birth! No, my very adaptable brain has found something new to torment me - something I'm not sure I could survive. I'm having extremely intrusive and graphic thoughts - anxiety - about something hideous happening to one of my kids.
The best/worst example is from several weeks ago - we headed up to Grammaland after school and I got them Happy Meals to eat on the way up. I became obsessed with the idea that one of them would choke. I could see myself, in my mind's eye, pulling up at my mom's, finding Claire's blue, lifeless body strapped into her car seat, trying and failing to revive her. Screaming. Having to tell BJ... This scene played over and over and over in my head, until my adrenaline was coursing and I was sweating and basically completely freaking out. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn't stop the images or the story playing over and over in my head. So, I flipped the rear view mirror down and watched them more than I watched the road (stupid!), until they were done eating. No one choked. It took me the entire 90 minute drive to get myself together, though.
That's when I realized that I might have a real problem.
I told my midwife, five weeks ago, that I was struggling, but I wanted to wait and see if it got better when school started. It didn't. So at my last appointment I decided to go back on Zoloft. I started the dose too high (at 25 mg) and had some weird side effects (have you ever experienced three conflicting emotions at once? It was weird, I didn't like it. I felt very out of control). I was also having trouble sleeping, which is DEFINITELY not going to help. Since I backed off to 12.5 mg I've been much better, I feel more calm and patient, more in control. I'm going to stay at 12.5 for a week and see how it goes before I try 25 again.
I was on 100 mg before.
It's hard for me to write this here - knowing that most of the people who read this blog know me in real life. It's hard for me to admit that I'm struggling, that my house isn't as clean as it used to be, that my thoughts are all over the place, that I spend hours every day imagining all the ways that my kids could die and I can't stop it. What kind of a mother does that?
But I am writing this because it is not my fault. This is NOT a character flaw. I am writing this because someone else might be struggling, and might find these words, and might need to know that it's not her fault either. I am writing this because I need you to be patient with me for a while - I may not post often, or I may forget important things, or I may be selfish. It's certain that my house will be a wreck for the foreseeable future, so try not to judge if you come over. I have to hover over my kids more than usual to stop myself feeling like I'm going to find them dead somewhere, so I don't have the time to clean (while they're outside playing, for example) that I used to have. I'm focusing on resting and taking care of myself and my family, so the other things I take care of might fall by the wayside for a while, and I'm sorry, but this is the best I can do.
I'm proud of myself for not denying it for the better part of a year, this time, before getting help. I'm proud of myself for leaning on my family and friends more than I'm truly comfortable doing, because I know it's healthier than trying to do it all myself. I'm proud of myself for admitting that I'm not perfect, and doing what it takes to get better, even though it's hard.
I don't live with this because I'm weak - I survive it because I'm strong.