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 . . .