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Wednesday, March 9, 2011

You know how excited you get when you first hear you’re going to Disneyland or when you’re getting ready to go on a first date with someone you have crushed on for years? That is how I feel most days. All of the time. It takes the tiniest things to throw me into that static state of excitement. I’ve always attributed this quality to the fact that my parents named me Joy as my middle name. It has always been the key descriptor of my personality. It is my favorite thing about myself.

Now for some family history. My whole family, excepting my dad, suffers from diagnosed depression. It is a chemical thing passed down through my mom’s family’s genes. All 3 of my siblings have suffered and tried various remedy forms. I was the lucky one. I got my dad’s genes 100%. The price was that I inherited the crooked nose from his family but it is worth it to not have to suffer from depression. My dad and I are both buoyant personalities and it takes a lot to bring us down.

Well, I’ve come to the harsh realization that I am suffering from depression. For many months now, I haven’t felt like myself at all. I feel lethargic and sad so much of the time. The word that comes to mind to best describe how I feel is drowning. Its hard to get out of bed and even harder to want to participate in the world outside of my home. I knew I was feeling time with my baby slipping by too quickly and that it wasn’t normal. Now, looking back, I have spent so much time being depressed that I have been fuzzy through most of his life. I’m here with him but I’m not all of myself. My usual personality makes me be the “seize-the-moment” and soak up every second type of person but it has been a long time since I have felt that way. I have fuzzed through so many days without having control over it. After doing some reading and talking to other new moms, this is normal. It is called post-partum depression. I am relieved that I am not suffering from usual depression that goes on and on throughout life. I have hope that mine will end here soon. The information on PPD shows that it can last up through a year and, often, the last part of that year can be the worst. It is so true in my case. I have a lot on my emotional plate and have had to relive some painful scars during the last month so its particularly worse right now. I have developed insomnia during the last month which only serves to intensify the depression. Sleeplessness, nightmares and PPD. That has been the path I have been drowning under.

Now that I realize what is going on, I am taking the steps to cure myself of it. I’m pretty sure I won’t have to fight it once he turns one and I wean him but until then, I have a game plan. I spoke with my sister who said she felt horrible and depressed (even more and different than she ever felt before she had her baby) all of the way up through one year post-birth. So, I have 4 more months to fight.

This plan is going to start with battling everything that comes naturally to me but for the better. I am a laid-back type of person who likes eating junk food and sleep way too much. However, these two things and a big part of my problem.

Due to the insomnia in the last month, I have justified sleeping later into the day. Cole usually wakes around 8-9am but if I nurse him in the dark and keep the fan on, he falls asleep cuddled up next to me until about noon. I have been using that time to go back to sleep since the insomnia started because I don’t function well with less than 8 hours of sleep. That is step number one I have to correct. If I don’t sleep well, I will still force us to get up at that first nursing session and just try to take a cat nap during one of his naps later in the day. Some of our problem is that, when you wake up that late, the day is half over. You miss many crucial hours of daylight that are needed for good serotonin production. Couple that with the shortened winter daylight hours and the winter blues that we’re currently under, it’s a disaster in the making. Another negative aspect of going back to sleep is that I’m sluggish for the rest of the day. By the time we emerge out of our cave of a bedroom with my blackout curtains, it is so hard to get motivated to do any house work or exercise. So then, by the time you realize it, its 8 pm, you haven’t made dinner for your husband and the house is still a wreck. You have nothing to show for an entire day which makes me feel horrible, adding to the depression. I’m a stay at home mom right now so that I can care properly for the baby which I am doing but I also need to be keeping up with housework and cooking to support my bacon-bringing man. It may be a little “June Cleaver” but I love the idea of having a clean house, dinner on the table, happy children and vacuuming with pearls on when my husband walks in the door with his briefcase. I may be setting back the feminist movement but I can’t care. That is who I want to be. That is who I would love to be. Accordingly, I have to make an effort to make myself presentable. When I leave my cave at 1 or 2, I never even get out of my jammies because I will just be getting back into them soon. I have to change this. I know that if I get up, put on real clothes and throw some make-up on, I will approach the day with more purpose than if I stay in lounge wear. Lounge wear is meant for lounging so its only natural I wasn’t getting anything done.

Another factor in my current depression is my lack of exercise. By the time we’re out of bed and done with breakfast, its 2pm. I never seem to get any exercise as I can barely make myself do any housework. I love exercise. I love yoga and playing outdoors until I crash into bed at night exhausted from my day. Before I busted my knee 3 years ago, I danced professionally. I spent over 20 hours a week in the ballet studio for most of my life. I thrive best with some exercise in my day. I haven’t done any in months other than my basic house work. I justified it with my c-section pain which, 8 months later, I still feel acutely some days. If I move wrong, I feel like the incision site has been ripped open and end up doubled in pain. Between that and the constant pain in my knee, I couldn’t bring myself to exercise. My knee is worse than ever before due to the additional 30 lbs of post-baby weight I gained. I struggled with supply in the beginning and ate way more than the recommended 500 calories that are to be added to a breastfeeding mom’s diet. I know that isn’t the rule but it helped my supply. If I only added 500 calories, I wouldn’t make enough. I was drinking an Ensure shake in the middle of the night every night for the first 2 months. Next time around, I won’t be making that mistake. I will just continually breastfeed, regardless of the pain, until my supply responds to the demand. If I have to supplement with formula, so be it. I can’t carry around this much weight next time. It is only adding to my depression. I hate how I look and feel and my knee is much more painful due to the added weight bearing down on it every day. Now, I realize I just have to suck it up and go with it. The warming spring weather and occasional sunshine days are helping with my motivation to get moving. I love gardening and tinkering around in my flower bed and found myself digging in it yesterday while the dogs were using the restroom. That shows me that my new game plan is working.

Now we get to the diet part of my new game plan. I have to eat better. With my added weight, my hypoglycemia is worsened causing me to crave sugar more often and having frequent blood-sugar level crashes. It is amazing how much my mood is affected by my blood-sugar levels. Greg used to know when I was about to have a crash because I would get moody. Without fail, he would bring me a snickers bar or a glass of OJ and I would be myself again within 5 minutes. The more I weigh, the more I have crashes. I am constantly in a state of pre-crash. So, I have to get my eating under control. I have to resist my sugar cravings. I have to limit my carbohydrate intake and I have to get more protein in my diet. If for no other reason than I need to be getting better things into my baby’s tummy. I have been entirely too irresponsible in that department. I plan on doing the HCG diet as soon as I am done breastfeeding. I have at least 30 people in my close circle who have done it and not even one of them has suffered the occasional side effects. Even Dr. Oz recommended doing it after you consult a doctor. He doesn’t recommend sticking to the 500 calorie rule but I wouldn’t be able to do that part anyway. With my hypoglycemia, I will have to take in a higher calorie amount than the other people who do the diet so I won’t be able to lose as quickly but it will still be faster than I could do on my own. All I need is a jump-start. I know myself well enough to know that as soon as I start to see results, I run with it. I will be in the peak of summer when I wean him and do this diet. My pool will be open, my dogs will be itching to get outside and play and Cole will be mobile by then so I will be a runnin’ fool. So, lose the weight, knee gets better, life resumes!

Lastly, and probably most importantly, I have to deal with my past ghosts. This last month has dredged up so many painful scars in my past. Some harsh truths have been revealed to me that I wasn’t ready to handle. Every single night I have been having nightmares remembering things better left forgotten and dreading the future of situations I can’t control. That is not normal for me at all. I have much more vivid dreams than the normal person due to my out-of-control creative imagination. I am one of those people that, if I could draw, I could give a visual image to any place in a book. I see it in my head. My imagination is so vivid that I become the character in books. I cry, laugh, hurt and experience every other emotion that characters go through to the extreme. If I get interrupted during a sad chapter, I suffer from the emotions the character is suffering from until I can get back to the book and get to the happy ending. Its pretty extreme. If I wake from a nightmare, I suffer from those emotions all day long. Even last night, I had a nightmare that my husband didn’t want to be my husband anymore. I woke up having a hard time breathing and with soaked cheeks. I sat in bed for hours unable to stem the flow of emotions. I found myself planning retaliatory strikes without control. I know this is a terrible quality and I know I’m going to regret admitting this later but it is who I am. Obviously, I know in reality that he isn’t going anywhere because we’re blissfully in love. We’re that sappy couple that people like my sister can’t stand to be around. I don’t have anything to worry about but those emotions are still so real. I have to work and crank myself up to conquer those emotions. Eventually, I’m able to control it or forget about it but it takes some time. Its horrible. Rape is a very touchy subject with me and, as I can put myself into any character, I am so affected by stupid episodes of CSI. I have to leave the room when they are on because every single one I stumble across by accident scars me for years. Two nights ago, I had a nightmare about one I saw 3 years ago and woke up in a cold sweat and having to fight the urge to scream. The only way to describe it is absolute horror. These things aren’t normal to suffer with. A normal person doesn’t carry around pain from a TV episode seen years ago. A normal person can differentiate between reality and fantasy. A normal person can be comforted by the fact that they always catch the bad guy in the end. That isn’t what happens with me. What I find myself thinking about is that those scenarios came out of someone’s head. The fact that someone was able to create these horrific circumstances and bring them to life and call it entertainment is the scariest thing for me. I am terrified that stuff like that is happening out in the world every day. I can admit that I am living in fear. I want to move my family to Antarctica and hide. Extremely unhealthy and only intensified by my current state of depression. I now know that I have to take control over it. I am a Christian and my God can cover me, protect me and remove my fears. I have nothing to be afraid of and I am having to force myself to accept that. No matter what happens on earth, I am loved and protected. I need to stop reliving my own scarring memories because it does no good. It is only Satan trying to take hold of me. Sorry to get all preachy for those of you who aren’t of my faith but it is part of my game plan. I have to surround myself with the truth.
“for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.” 2 Timothy 1:7 This is what I have to live by. I am putting this verse up all around my life; on my fridge, on my bathroom mirror, in my car. I will conquer this which can only make me a happier person. I’m going to do some devotionals with my wise big sister to help get myself on the right track.

So, now that I have highlighted my game plan and all of its factors, I am going to take hold of my life. I am going to soak up every moment with my son and sun. I’m going to use the body God gave me and be responsible with it. I’m going to fuel it correctly and use these muscles to see the world. And, I am going to take comfort in my God who covered every fear I may have with his love and sacrifice.

So, for my birthday, I got sidewalk chalk to recapture some childhood joy with my baby boy. I got more camera equipment to dive more into my hobby and aspiring profession. I have a long list of crafts including tons for Cole’s first birthday party that I’m going to take some time out of each day to work on. I’m a crafter and I need to take 30 minutes or so each day to do something for myself like sewing or working in my garden. I am taking the bull by the horns and am going to live my life. Screw post-partum depression. I’m kickin’ this thing! Summer, bring it!

The sun is rising on the new me!


About Me

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I'm a new wife and an even newer mom. I have a secret dream to be super-mom. I love to craft, cook, dance and fill my life with as many adventures as possible. I'm slightly crunchy granola but enjoy a good steak. I'm right brained and type B (with some type A tendencies). I thrive best when I get to use my creative juices. I dabble in photography and party planning. I play piano and have a dream to learn the cello. I want to make the most of this one, short life I find myself living.

About This Blog

This blog was originally intended to be a personal journal of my pregnancy journey and all that that entails--shared with only a few close family members. It was a way for me to keep them posted on all things baby and occasionally post a picture of my growing torso so they could see the progress. After several posts, I started to get hooked on other blogs and became motivated to attempt to do more with mine. We'll see how it goes....

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