They didn’t ask me to fill out the maternal mood questionnaire when I arrived for my annual physical today. I guess I’m no longer in the danger zone of postpartum. I no longer have a baby. My children are older. I’m more experienced. Everything should be easy-peasy at this point.
Or maybe they didn’t ask because my doctor knows. My chart already says ‘depressive disorder’. She just refilled my script for a low-dose of antidepressant. There’s no point in screening because we’re post-diagnosis.
She asked how I was feeling, how I was faring. A shrug of the shoulders. An approximation of one on my lips. Hunky-dory, doc. Some days are worse than others. I’m not cured, if that’s what you mean. I don’t want to run screaming from the house with my hair on fire – and haven’t for a while – but I still tend toward blah.
Maybe I’m expecting too much. I mentioned that I still have down days, but perhaps that’s the normal up and down of life. Yes, she said, you shouldn’t feel numb; you’ll have high points and low points. The lows seem so miserable, though. I know everyone has days when they don’t want to get off the couch, but my reasons seem so much more melancholy. A hollow near my heart, scooped out of the space where my joy once was. It’s not non-existent, but I haven’t noticed yet a day when the balloon inflates fully to fill that space.
I felt cheated somehow in not being ‘screened’. That it doesn’t matter since I’m beyond the threat of postpartum? That I’ve been given my happy pill so I should just shut up and take it? That I’ve been asked the same questions before and still don’t have any definitive answers?
But I suppose the screening isn’t perfect anyhow. A mother I know posted this status update after one of her trips to the doctor’s office.
At my physical I had to answer depression screening questions. One question was: “Do you feel like you’re failing your family or letting them down?” I laughed! Instead of circling the sometimes, often, or usually, I wrote in “Of course I do – I’m a working mother!”
No one questionnaire is going to get at the heart of each and every mother’s difficulties. I suppose it’s a step in the right direction that someone, anyone is asking – even if it’s a sheet of paper on a clipboard. But it should only be a beginning. Precisely because that question was laughable to that mom in its ironic understatement, we need to illustrate and represent all facets of a mother’s struggle – and give her the tools to do so – in order to help her when she needs it.
6 thoughts on “Advanced Screenings”
I like your new blog profile pic! Great post.
Gracias, mi amigo. I appreciate it – and you for reading.
This is awesome. So well written and accurate for a lot of us.
Thank you, Charlotte. Truly.
Well, you look happy in your new photo–I like it. All the best!
Thank you! Not taken the day I went to the doctor’s 🙂
Best to you as well!