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Here Comes the Sun

A couple of weeks ago, I announced that I was depressed, something that took some courage to admit. I say that not to toot my own horn for being brave, but so that others who have been dealing with similar feelings know that the fear they may have to seek help — or to even admit to themselves that there’s something wrong — is totally normal. As it was, my depression was not that bad relatively speaking, and it didn’t go on very long. I’d say that before I talked to anyone about it, I had feelings of “despair,” as I called it, for about two weeks. Those feelings included severe fatigue, anxiety, irritability/anger, hopelessness, and the uncontrollable urge to cry. Oh man, did I cry. It was the tears that signaled that something was really “off.”

I’m not a big cryer. I do get tired pretty easily — especially in recent months, for obvious reasons. And one of my flaws is a short temper — something I am genuinely trying to work on. And I have suffered from anxiety during stressful periods in my life; who hasn’t? But the crying thing was out of character for me, and so I was concerned. My initial thought was that I might have delayed postpartum depression. I did some research on it and my symptoms seemed to fit, with the exception that I had no urge to hurt myself or my baby (thank God!), and I wasn’t having any trouble bonding with Jackson. Still, I had enough reason to suspect I could have PPD, that I called my OBGYN and got some referrals for therapists who specialize in the disorder. I also reached out to a mom friend of mine who is a psychologist and she passed along some names as well.

But then I considered that perhaps my thyroid medication needed to be adjusted. I was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s disease, a chronic thyroid condition, when I was about five months pregnant and had immediately begun taking Synthroid, a synthetic hormone, to treat it. Pregnancy wreaks havoc on the thyroid, and it can take many months following childbirth for things to settle down. Because I’d only been diagnosed while pregnant, I had no baseline for what dosage of medication I needed while not pregnant. That posed some challenges — challenges that came to light in the last five or six weeks as I felt myself slip further away from the person I knew myself to be. When thyroid levels aren’t balanced and a person becomes hypothryoid, she can feel depression, severe fatigue, anxiety, irritability, and have trouble losing weight — all the things I was experiencing (since giving birth four months earlier, I had not lost a single pound!). Anyway, luckily, I thought to have my thyroid levels tested, they were way off, my medication was adjusted, and now, less than two weeks later, I feel much, much better.

I’m not sure that I didn’t/ don’t have something else going on — like PPD — and I will be on guard for signs that I’m not well. But so far, the things I have done to get better seem to be working. In addition to the change in medication, I’ve also cut back on working on this site, and I’ve hired a daytime babysitter to watch Jackson two mornings a week so I can have a little time to myself — time I plan to spend working, but also doing things just for me (like read a book, get my nails done, and go for a bike ride). I’ve decided to hold off on therapy for now because after making these other changes, I don’t feel pressed to pursue it, and scheduling a weekly or biweekly appointment with someone it would take nearly two hours roundtrip of commuting to see makes me anxious — and anxiety is what I’m trying to manage not create.

I know I mentioned feeling uncertain about whether I wanted to keep this site going. For now, I’ve decided that I do. I was making myself crazy feeling like this had to be a job — a real career. It is — and remains — a goal of mine for this site to eventually be equivalent to at least a part-time job in terms of income so that I can stay home and raise my kid(s) and don’t have to find an outside job unless I really want to. In my mind, I felt like if I were serious about that goal, I had to work, work, work to make it happen. But there’s such a thing as working smarter and not harder, and that’s what I’m moving toward now.

Striking such a balance will go a long way in making me actually like what I do instead of feeling burdened by it. For a while, I felt like I was investing so much of myself here and not having enough energy left over for other things. This made me too thin-skinned. I’d spend hours and hours each week working and not seeing enough of a pay-off and then when people said unkind things about/to me or attacked me, which is always going to happen online, I didn’t have the emotional reserve to deal with it well — to let it slide off my back as I should. In short, it made me mental.

Of course, I don’t know what the future holds, but for now I feel like I’m moving toward achieving a better overall balance in my life. I find worth in what I do here and for now, that is a wonderful complement to the worth I find as a mother, wife, friend, and family member. I make enough money to pay for a sitter, and those hours I get to myself each week will — I hope — recharge me so that I can continue being the best version of myself that I know how to be. Or, at least a good version of myself.

This is a lot of talking about me, me, me. I wouldn’t ordinarily be so candid about my feelings, but I thought you deserved a follow-up after I announced that I wasn’t doing well and was thinking about packing it in here. I also wanted to share my experience in hopes that maybe it would help even one person. Maybe there’s someone out there who will get her/his thyroid levels checked now and will benefit from medication. Maybe there’s someone who has felt shame in being depressed and is scared to seek help and now feels a little less alone. If I’ve managed to remove even a tiny bit of stigma, I’m glad.

If you’re suffering in any way, tell someone. Tell your significant other, a family member, a friend, or a doctor. There may be a medical explanation. There could be an easy solution. But even if the solution is more complicated, you owe it to yourself to start finding it. Life is too short to spend it suffering in silence.

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Comments on this entry are closed.

avatar Friend of Beagles February 23, 2012, 2:16 pm

Glad you got the help you needed and you’re doing what needs to be done to preserve your health and emotional life. There’s no price you can put on these things–they’re too precious. Hang in there, and thank you for putting this out there.

landygirl landygirl February 23, 2012, 2:18 pm

I’m very glad to hear you’re feeling better.

avatar FancyPants February 23, 2012, 2:19 pm

Oh Wendy, I wish I could give you a hug. I’m so glad you’re doing better and thank you for your honesty with all of this.

avatar TheRabbit February 23, 2012, 2:20 pm

I appreciate how hard it can be to first admit that you need help, and then to go seek it, and I’ll go ahead and toot your horn and call you brave for writing so candidly about your experiences.

Good luck and I’m happy that you’re feeling better!

avatar ActiasLuna February 23, 2012, 2:28 pm

Wendy, thank you for your honesty. I am sooo glad you are doing better! I know we don’t know each other but, I still think of you as a friend. I am sure you have helped more people than you know. Take care of yourself and your beautiful family.

avatar lets_be_honest February 23, 2012, 2:34 pm

Wendy, this is great. I am so happy to hear you have identified the problems and are working toward a solution.
Acheiving balance in your life, I think, is one of the hardest things someone can do. I always envied my brother for his ability to have a great work/play balance.
I felt for a long time unless I was going 100 miles an hour being the ultimate mom, student, worker, sister, etc., then I was failing. Now, rather than running to ballet at 8 a.m., then to soccer, playdate, etc., I feel a better connection with my daughter just cuddling in bed and taking it easy on a Saturday morning.
Anyway, I’m just really happy for you that you feel better.

avatar MsK February 23, 2012, 2:35 pm

Wendy, I don’t post much but I felt compelled to say that I hope you feel better and find much deserved balance. I love your site though – it’s made me so much wiser about relationships and life and recognizing/avoiding crazy people (and not turning into one). I’m sure its a ton of work. What about enlisting some more volunteers to help you run this site? Many commentators are amazing and I’m sure would be glad to help out. You can be the big boss, delegating work!

ScrambledMegss ScrambledMegss February 23, 2012, 2:45 pm

So glad you’re feeling better, Wendy!

MELH MELH February 23, 2012, 2:48 pm

I’m so glad to hear you’re doing better Wendy! And thank you for sharing so much about yourself, I’m sure that being so open about your experience will really help other who may feel lost and in despair.

avatar Ktfran February 23, 2012, 2:50 pm

Thank you for the update. I’m happy you’re feeling better and I’m also happy you’re continuing this site.

I read a few other great blogs written by women. One just posted a story about her recent depression. The other writes quite a bit about her feelings and how sometimes she’s overwhelmed and her insecurities. I think it’s important to remember that other people are often in the same boat. And you always think someone else has it together, but that may not be the case.

Anyway, those blogs are:
Elements of Style, http://www.elementsofstyleblog.com/
and
A Cup of Jo, http://joannagoddard.blogspot.com/

Earlier this week, I was thinking of e-mailing them to you. Just so you can see what others who let strangers into their life are going through.

avatar Eagle Eye February 23, 2012, 5:38 pm

I was just about to post this article (the one were she directly discusses her depression stemming from weaning her son)

http://joannagoddard.blogspot.com/2012/02/motherhood-depression-and-weaning.html

so I’ll just piggyback it onto yours!

Just Max Just Max February 23, 2012, 2:55 pm

*cyber hugs*
So glad to hear you are feeling better!

avatar MissDre February 23, 2012, 2:57 pm

We love you, Wendy!

Budj Budj February 23, 2012, 2:59 pm

Thanks for being open about this. It’s great to hear things are getting better and hopefully things will just continue to go that way.

avatar camille905 February 23, 2012, 3:00 pm

SO glad to hear that you’re feeling better. Thank you so much for sharing.

avatar *HmC* February 23, 2012, 3:02 pm

So glad you are getting the help you need, Wendy. It’s really unfortunate that while the internet has an amazing capacity to bring people and knowledge together in a positive way, it can also create a forum for hatred and cruelty. And sometimes, if people sense weakness (emotions), they really go for the jugular. When I first began to make comments on the internet, I had to really learn how to not take things so personally or internalize them, because people have all sorts of their own motivations for saying rude things that have nothing to do with the person they’re saying them to. But I know that’s tough to do when you’re otherwise feeling down or stressed.

And speaking of stressed, I had some crazy things happen to me all at once this week. I reached out to this community for support, and that is what I got. This is a lovely, intelligent community of people that I am proud to be a part of. And it is a real testament to you, Wendy, that these are the people that are inspired by and drawn to what you’ve created here.

avatar Eljay February 23, 2012, 3:31 pm

EXACTLY what I was thinking…but said much more wisely than I ever could have! Thank you HmC for verbalizing exactly what I was thinking.

And a ginormous THANK YOU WENDY for all you’ve done and continue to do for us. And continue to take care of yourself. We do heart you and want only the best for you. Hugs!

avatar Rangerchic February 23, 2012, 3:34 pm

I don’t understand either *HmC* how people, even online, can be so cruel, mean, disrespectful, etc. Why? What is the purpose? To make them feel better?

Anyway – I’m so happy for you Wendy that you are feeling better. I hope you continue to improve to get where you want to be. You seem to already be doing so well!

avatar titian February 23, 2012, 3:05 pm

I’m happy to hear you are doing what you need to do to take care of yourself!

And as for the site, even if you put a little less time and effort into it, I am sure you would still find you had a legion of loyal readers. Be easy on yourself, reading your personal stories and the lovely comments on this site helps me be easier on myself (no pressure! :) )

avatar Mandy February 23, 2012, 3:06 pm

I also have Hashimoto’s, so I can relate. Having your hormones out of whack sucks, and I haven’t ever been pregnant! I can only imagine what you have been going through.

I’m glad you are gotten back some of your “get-up-and-go”, and that you now have the chance to have some time to yourself.

avatar Mandy February 23, 2012, 3:11 pm

Make that “have gotten”. Or “are getting” . Gosh, my grammar is atrocious today.

Jess Jess of CGW February 23, 2012, 3:07 pm

SO glad you are feeling better and that the change in meds/dosage are helping.

I just want to say that you have a wonderful community here and you provide an interesting, clear, and consistently updated site. Those are the ingredients to success online, I think. Therefore, I really believe as you continue doing what you do, the site will continue to grow.

Do let us know how we, as your readers, can help in that regard.

AKchic_ AKchic_ February 23, 2012, 3:08 pm

*hug*

It gets better. I promise. Life has a way of straightening itself out for the majority of people. It just takes effort and work to do so. You let us know what help you need in order to keep this place up and running and I’m sure we’ll be able to help out.

As much as you don’t want the added stress, perhaps one evaluation with a therapist may be worthwhile. An assessment just to see what services/treatment may be beneficial to you. You don’t have to follow the advice (if that advice is to see someone weekly, especially), but if they have recommendations such as hooking up with a local support group and you are interested, or an online community that you might enjoy, then it may very well be beneficial.
Not sure about your local laws, but in Alaska (and Medicaid standards), assessments are good for 6 months.

avatar lets_be_honest February 23, 2012, 3:19 pm

Hey, I didn’t miss that you mentioned you set a date. Happy for you!

AKchic_ AKchic_ February 23, 2012, 3:34 pm

*whistles innocently*

avatar Taylor February 23, 2012, 8:52 pm

A date?! Are you getting hitched? =)

avatar bethany February 23, 2012, 3:11 pm

I’m so glad you’re feeling better!!

Post as little or as much as you want- we’ll be here!!