Living, May is Mental Health Month, Mental Health, postpartum depression

A Sit-com of Errors

I desperately want[ed] to pin my depression on ‘postpartum’.

If the hormonal let-down following birth was responsible for my troubles, then it was acceptable.  It was normal, natural, physiologically sound.  And it was temporary.  Once my body got back to stasis, it would go away.

Three years later, though the cloud has shrunk, no wind stiff enough has come through to sweep it across the plain of my life and over the horizon.

I don’t think I can ‘blame’ postpartum anymore.

My therapist said that my anxiety and depression are situational; that the heightened stress of my last pregnancy, the trauma following it, the continued stress of a three-child household all brought out my worst symptoms.  I argued that I may have always had some latent tendencies toward anxiety and depression.  Perhaps, she said, but up until this point I had successfully managed them.  I wanted to pinpoint the origin of my maladies, while she was focused on helping me overcome them.  In my mind, if I could find a reason for it, my depression might be more understandable, more valid, more easily admissible.

I think the term situational freaked me out.  Situational.  Just because I was in a shitty situation I couldn’t hang?  What kind of weak human was I?  This wasn’t a sit-com on network television that, after thirty minutes, left the sad sack sitting on the couch for a vibrantly-colored automobile commercial that told viewers to go out and grab life by the *#&@s.  My situation had grabbed me by the neck and wouldn’t let go, throttling me for much more than thirty minutes.

Now as postpartum fades in the rearview mirror, and my symptoms continue, some getting weirder (reemergence of night sweats), I’m turning my attention to other causes.  My aunt gave me Thyroid Power: 10 Steps to Total Health by Richard L. Shames and Karilee Halo Shames.  Since adolescence, my physician has tested me for nearly every cause of low energy: anemia, low blood sugar, mono, thyroid . . . you name it.  A few years ago, she diagnosed me with Raynaud’s Syndrome (because of my frigid, ubersensitive extremies), but that was seemingly unrelated and no other conclusive evidence could be found of a specific problem.  After reading this book, it seems this is the story of many other individuals with undiagnosed and untreated thyroid issues, which – you guessed it – is a major cause of depression and energy problems.  At this very moment, I am awaiting the results of a blood test much more detailed than the usual thyroid work-up, which often isn’t sensitive enough to catch subtle problems.

But even if I never determine the exact cause of my depression, does that make it any less real?

Whether my brain is misfiring its seratonin, my hormones revolted against another pregnancy, my anxiety makes it impossible to hakuna matata, or my thyroid is on hiatus, my depression is impairing my ability to live.

Yes, I need to analyze certain factors to appropriately address it (i.e. choosing SSRIs, hormone therapy, and/or just plain old people-to-people therapy), but my therapist had the right idea with simply moving forward; rather than looking back, looking forward with a positive outlook to improve my situation.


It would be nice if the script-writer of my life could wrap it up in a nice, tidy episode, though.  To be continued . . .


8 thoughts on “A Sit-com of Errors

  1. It seems that you and I have a lot in common. Part of my post part um depression was snowballed by the fact that I suffer from a hypothyroid. I am glad you’re getting tested… And I’m here to tell you the thyroid issue can and does get better. I use a Mix of medication and all natural remedies and before pregnancy had almost all but healed my thyroid.

    I’m here if you an ear or any help. I would suggest looking up the list of foods to avoid while having a hypothyroid. Kale, spinach etc feature of these lists and avoiding them raw definitely helps in the healing process.

    Good luck!


    • Jennifer Butler Basile says:

      Thank you so much for your input. Looks like I have some more research to do! Thanks for the ideas. I may have to pick your brain some more at some point!

      Helps to have an ‘expert’. Continued and improved health to you, too!


      • I haven’t read thyroid power but you have me interested in it! Going to hit up our Barnes and Noble this weekend to find it. I’ll let you know once I’ve read it 🙂


  2. “But even if I never determine the exact cause of my depression, does that make it any less real?”

    I love that line. You are so right. I spent years having depression being put down to all types of causes. It was frustrating and at times hurtful. For me, it became helpful to just let it go and accept it’s presence. It’s funny though, because it seemed to me that other people were more desperate for explanations than I was. I just knew there was something terrible wrong and I needed help. That’s really what mattered to me.


    • Jennifer Butler Basile says:

      Good on you! I wish I could shut off that infernal meaning-making mechanism and just focus of feeling better. It really doesn’t matter as long as you can ‘fix’ it right?


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