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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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{ 64 comments… add one }

  • 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 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.

    • Eljay 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!!

  • avatar rachel February 23, 2012, 3:18 pm

    This is great Wendy. I’m glad you’re starting to feel like yourself again, and I’m glad that you posted this. Your honesty is one of the things that keeps us all coming here.

    • avatar Taylor February 23, 2012, 8:54 pm

      Very true! I like that you don’t seem to handle life’s myriad challenges without any bumps – I certainly don’t, and when people who do give me advice, I trust it less =)

  • avatar The_Yellow_Dart February 23, 2012, 3:28 pm

    Glad to hear you are feeling better and are taking some more relaxing time – you deserve it!

  • avatar Dave Yognaught February 23, 2012, 3:48 pm

    We love you Wendy.

    Thank you for confiding to us how you are doing, because I think everyone on this site really cares about you! I really love reading this blog every day. Please don’t stop doing what you are doing. I think you have a real talent as an advice columnist and you’ve seen real success in being able to create such a large audience! That’s a hard thing to do! But of course take care of yourself first! I once read somewhere that our job in life is to find out what our gift is, and then give that gift away to the world. Just know that even though I’ve never met you I feel like you’re a real sister and you have my support!

  • bittergaymark bittergaymark February 23, 2012, 3:51 pm

    So, so glad to hear you are feeling better, Wendy. I know all too well just how hard that can be…

    Depression is a personal demon of mine. And lately, for me too, it has been winning. And so, I keep running, running from my life. It seems that it’s a lie that your problems follow you where ever you are. For as I drove across the country and explored for 19 days, I had nothing to worry about. Nope, seriously. I was in the best mood ever. Nothing phased me. Nothing.

    Now I am running off to Bali for two weeks. (I guess it pays to do lots and lots and lots of favors for overly generous friends, favors such as pretty much a spending a month 24/7 helping them pack up and move out of there massive house of over twenty years…) And yes, Bali will be amazing. I have always, always wanted to go there. Then when I get back, I immediately hop a another plane fourteen hours later to meet up with my parents, my sister, brother-in-law, and my nephew for a week of further fun and relaxation in Arizona at my parents new house…

    Indeed, I am having a grand time this year. But the reality is that I am out of work. Woefully out of work. With no prospects it seems. Every gig I am offered lately proves simply insane as far as an impossibly low pay rate. “Hey, Mark, will you production design our movie ALL BY YOURSELF?” (Um, usually I have a whole crew of people in the art department and there is a very good reason for that, but okay… Sure. I’m desperate.) “Great! Will you work 17 hours every shoot day for the “favor” rate of 100 dollars flat?” (100 divided by 17 = $5.88 an hour to basically work myself to death.) “Oh, and there is hardly any money in the budget for you to buy props or whathaveyou… ” (Meaning, no matter how hard I work, the movie will look like shit…) “But hey, man, can you help us out? We so NEED you. You are so valuable to us!” (Whatever…)

    Yes, it’s all very depressing. And so I keep running. Running from my life. Hoping to find some answer. But knowing, knowing that I won’t.

    • Caris Caris February 23, 2012, 5:36 pm

      The people that only offered to pay you 100$ flat for all those hours of work are seriously crazy O.o

      Maybe you will meet someone that can help you out with your work situation during your travels :) you never know!

      • bittergaymark bittergaymark February 23, 2012, 9:59 pm

        Worse than that, that offer wasn’t a one shot deal either. I keep getting that same offer for various projects over and over… Maddening.

    • AKchic_ AKchic_ February 23, 2012, 7:05 pm

      At least we know you’re still around. It wouldn’t be the same without you.

    • avatar Painted_lady February 24, 2012, 1:31 am

      God, Mark, I *so* feel your pain. I did props design for a couple of years and it was very much the same story: “Hey, we’ll totally pay you $100 to spend five weeks throwing together furnishings for an entire living room. You have $200, and everything must be antique, with an oriental rug. We know it’s not much, but you are *so* good and we believe so fully in our script that’s so revolutionary – and not at all trite/bizarre/boring – that we’ll be completely insulted that you’re not completely grateful to live off $100 because if you take another job we’re going to smear your name all over town. Whaddya say?”

      I got so many emails like that it made me want to scream. Nobody wanted to hire me to paint, but because I was enough of a sucker to do props once, that meant I was sucker enough to do it again…even though props usually gets half what other designers get, and they have to do ten times the running around (no gas stipend)…and then when I started turning down props gigs as a rule, a couple of companies got really offended. It was so irritating.

      • bittergaymark bittergaymark February 24, 2012, 4:45 am

        Hah! Substitute “Mid-Century” for “antique” and “Mad Men vibe” for “oriental rug” and you have a very good description of my life as of late…

  • avatar melikeycheesecake February 23, 2012, 3:57 pm

    Soooo incredibly glad you’re doing better! Praying for you Wendy!

  • avatar mcminnem February 23, 2012, 4:12 pm

    Wendy, I’m so glad you’re feeling better! I’ve been through some tough times too, and you’re right, the hardest thing was admitting that it was something I couldn’t handle on my own. I don’t know what I would do without this wonderful little community you’ve inspired! :)

  • avatar jessiebelle February 23, 2012, 4:15 pm

    Wendy,

    Thank you so much for confiding in all of us about how you’re doing. I know a lot of people (myself included) really care about you and want you to be happy! I can empathize with the work-life balance – I’m in a similar position with my job and at times, it can be really, really overwhelming (no set schedule, working from home, worrying if my writing is good enough, balancing tasks and grad school). But there is a way to balance it. You’re definitely on the right track with hiring a sitter a couple times a week so you can have some time to yourself.

    You’re fabulous, and never forget it! I’m sending you positive thoughts and hugs from the DC area. I’ve been reading your site for a year and I’ve turned to your site during tough times, and I think I speak on behalf of all your readers in saying we’re all here for you. :)

  • Lili Lili February 23, 2012, 4:18 pm

    So glad to hear you are feeling better! As someone who also has thyroid issues I’ve learned a lot from you about monitoring VERY CAREFULLY when I do get pregnant and have a baby. You are so right in that one thing being off with the thyroid can impact SO much. Glad your medication is now adjusted and you are on the way to normal again :)

  • avatar XanderTaylor February 23, 2012, 4:26 pm

    Awesome! Thank you for the update. One day at a time.

  • avatar kittyk February 23, 2012, 4:40 pm

    Thanks for the update Wendy. Glad to hear you’re taking the right steps and already feeling a bit better. Also glad to hear you’re keeping the site going for now. You’ve got a good community here, and a lot of people would miss this if it weren’t around.

  • avatar Em February 23, 2012, 4:43 pm

    Wendy please don’t feel like you have to always have an explanation for everthing — we readers love it, but it’s YOUR life! You don’t owe us, or anyone else, anything! Hope you feel better soon!

  • Moneypenny Moneypenny February 23, 2012, 4:48 pm

    Yay!! I’m so glad to hear you are doing better. I have actually been wondering how you were doing lately! Thank you for sharing about what has been going on. And, thank you for having, and continuing to have, this website up and running so smoothly! I don’t comment often, but I look forward to reading it nearly every day.

  • avatar Addie Pray February 23, 2012, 5:01 pm

    I’m so glad you are feeling better, Wendy! Today has been a lovely day, and this was the cherry on top.

    [Btw, why the hell am I so happy today? I need to knock it off a bit; my bitter friends and coworkers may punch me in the nose.]

    • Caris Caris February 23, 2012, 5:28 pm

      Just don’t shove it in heir face and you should be ok :P

      You are probably happy cause you seriously are quite awesome, or at least you appear to be through the internet :D

      • avatar Addie Pray February 23, 2012, 5:36 pm

        Aw shucks! *You* are my new official DW bestie. (I’m easy, we’ve established this. Though, I gagged a little saying the word “bestie” in my head – it’s tied with “hubby” as my least favorite word.) As for whether I am awesome in real life, I can say that my mother thinks so, so I must be, because my mother is completely objective of course.

        • katie katie February 23, 2012, 6:30 pm

          haha- i never say bestie in real life either!

        • Caris Caris February 23, 2012, 6:53 pm

          We can hate on the words “bestie” and “hubby” together :P I don’t like them either!

  • Caris Caris February 23, 2012, 5:26 pm

    I am so glad you feel better Wendy! Make sure to have your “me time”, it is really important and it will pay off :). I know how my mom ended without any real “me time” and it’s not pretty :(

    Anyways, I had my physics test yesterday and I am pretty sure I did well, and I really hope I did! I am not sure what I’ll do if I fail it again :(. SIGH Sometimes I wish I had my brothers brain, then I’d be a fing physics and math genious, lol.

  • avatar kerrycontrary February 23, 2012, 5:30 pm

    I’m so glad you are doing better! And I think that someone said this already-but most advice columnists don’t write 3 times a day so don’t feel bad if you slow down your submissions to get some me-time. We love you!

  • avatar AnotherWendy February 23, 2012, 5:33 pm

    Use the baby sitter for “me time”, not work time for a few months. It’s so hard to focus on yourself with a baby and a husband. But to be a good mom and wife, you need to rediscovered who you are going to be with the new role of mother in the mix. Take your time when the sitter is in charge to just be You! You’ll know when you’re ready to use that time to focus on DW. Don’t rush it! The beauty of feeling despair is that you will forever be so empathetic to those that are suffering. It’s almost a gift!

  • avatar oldie February 23, 2012, 5:36 pm

    I’m very glad that you are feeling so much better. New motherhood and a newish business are a lot of stress. You seem to have attacked your problems very logically. The skills you practice here must have helped

  • katie katie February 23, 2012, 6:29 pm

    yay!! this is great to hear. i am so happy your doin better, wendy! i knew it though- you are way too smart to let something like this get you down. smart people do what you did, they get help, and they get better.

    whoo hoo!

  • avatar Meredith February 23, 2012, 8:15 pm

    Yay! I’m so glad you’re feeling better. I love this site and am glad you’ve decided to keep it going. P.S. Jackson is so freaking cute. I just love his smile.

  • JK JK February 23, 2012, 8:22 pm

    I´m so glad you´re feeling better!!!
    And what a good reminder that we all need to get regular check ups!!!

  • ChloeZel Chloe February 24, 2012, 3:52 am

    Glad to hear you’re feeling better, Wendy!

  • avatar lumpie February 24, 2012, 4:46 am

    Wendy I’m so happy that you’re doing better!
    You are an inspiration and I love DW!!

  • avatar Annette February 24, 2012, 11:39 am

    Thanks for being candid, and you keep doing what YOU need to do. Your site is awesome and enjoyed by a lot of people, but when/if it comes time for you to move on, then it’s time and don’t feel like you owe anybody anything.

    A lot of us out here do love you and don’t want you to be anything that isn’t good for you. Friends are an awesome part of life and there is just so much positve awesomeness on this site, it is was such a blessing to stumble on.

    Keep feeling better and enjoy your me time!!

  • avatar Anna February 24, 2012, 1:27 pm

    I am so glad to hear you are feeling better, Wendy! Always know we love ya and understand when you need a break!

  • avatar summerkitten26 February 24, 2012, 4:48 pm

    I’m glad you’re feeling better, Wendy! best wishes for continued recovery and greater balance!

  • avatar Leyahn February 26, 2012, 9:15 am

    Thank you Wendy.
    One of the reasons that I like this site is because of the open and honest communication that your provide and that the “regulars” provide. I spend more time reading on here than writing because others say it all so well.

    You candidness about your life, husband, son, kitties, and just everything, is a refreshing change from the typical “advice” columnists out there. And is why everyone feels that they know you :) because you let us know you through this site.

    But, your health and happiness are more important than we are. Know that whatever you decide to do, this site should never bring you stress. It would be wonderful if it becomes a part time gig that enables you to be SAHM – but if not this, then something else.

    Look after yourself first and all else will follow.

    Blessings.

  • avatar CommenterfromTX March 3, 2012, 12:45 pm

    My wife suffered from PPD for several years after our first child.

    It was a very difficult period for us. She completely changed from an amazingly confident and charismatic leader to a weepy and inconsolate drudge.

    She realized she had an issue and found some help and we tried a number of things.

    What finally pulled her out of it was picking up her sport from High School. The long hours of exercise in the the sun allowed her to clear her mind and she slowly pieced her personality back together.

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