4 years. 6 months. 11 days.
That’s how long it’s been since I slipped from severe postpartum depression into prescription drug induced postpartum psychosis.
4 years. 2 months. 15 days.
That’s how long it’s been since I began to truly fight for my life, to want to live, to want to be happy.
3 years. 6 months. 9 days.
That’s how long it’s been since I saw light at the end of the tunnel of depression.
2 years. 11 months. 29 days.
That’s how long it’s been since I weaned off all my depression & anxiety medications.
Depression is an ugly, soul-sucking, life- altering disease. It sneaks in when you least expect it and wreaks havoc on every aspect of your life. When you add anxiety on top of the depression it gets even uglier. I was lucky enough to find my way out of the vicious cycle but not without lingering effects. I call it the PTSD of depression and anxiety.
For the first year or so after I was hit with the PPD I was just going through the motions. I was on such high doses of medicines that I spent most of my time in a fog. Nothing made me happy, but nothing breached the veil of fog to make me sad either. I was just….there. Floating through life, doing the bare minimum. That fog, as awful as it was, saved my life. Then I weaned off all the medications. And the hard work began.
Once that fog lifted I had to face all the feelings. I had to face the guilt of being a mostly absent mother for my kids. I had to face the pain of all the stuff I missed with my kids. I had to face the anger at myself . And facing all of that was horrible and awful and hard. I had to repair relationships that I’d let slide. I had to rebuild the trust of my kids. I had to learn to forgive myself.
Here I am at almost the 3 year mark of being medication free. There’s been a lot of bumps in the road. It’s been much harder than I thought. I always thought coming out of depression would be like a switch being flipped. I didn’t understand that there would be lingering effects that would last for a long time. I didn’t know there would be triggers. I didn’t know there would still be periodic bouts of depression that would send me into a panic thinking I was sinking back into the darkness.
One thing I struggle with and I imagine I probably always will is the changing of the seasons. When it turns from Fall into Winter and we have the time change that makes the days shorter- it effects me. I find myself hibernating and not wanting to leave the house. I can’t find my mojo or my motivation to do anything. I let things slide and don’t put forth more than the bare minimum effort to survive the season. I have a short temper and I’m easily irritated. I hate that. Thanksgiving and Christmas used to be my most favorite times of the year and I feel like I’ve lost the joy for them now. I can fake it with the best but I don’t want to have to fake it. I want to feel that joy and the spirit of the season.
I thought I did better this last winter. I got out of the house more, I did more things with the kids, I said yes to things I would normally say no to. But then we hit April and the sun was shining and the temps hit the 80’s. It’s as if I came to life again. My mood improved drastically and quickly. I was excited to do my Spring cleaning. I was excited to start some home projects. I was excited to leave the house and play outside.
And I realized that I didn’t handle the winter well at all. I was in a funk for the whole season and it’s so clear to me now that I feel the joy again. I wish I knew why this happens to me or how to fix it without being medicated into a fog for 5 months out of the year. I’ve had people suggest that I have Seasonal Affective Disorder or even Bipolar 2. And I think SAD is probably what I suffer from but I have to get over the fear of being medicated again and slipping back down the rabbit hole.
So for now I will be grateful that the joy has returned and life is looking bright again.