depression

Suicide, Depression, and Triggers

The title should make it obvious but in case it’s not I’m going to be talking about suicide and depression so please skip this if you need.
I’m also going to mention pregnancy so if that’s a trigger you can skip this too.

Several bloggers I follow, both infertility bloggers and others, have posted about depression in the wake of Robin Williams’ suicide. Many have said far better than I the things I want to say so I’m going to keep this brief rather than cluttering everyone’s feeds with more talk of this subject.

I have a history of depression and suicidal thoughts as well as self-harming behaviors. I have never attempted suicide although I have been so close that I’ve been handcuffed and taken to the hospital against my will.

I have suicidal thoughts. Sometimes they are rare, sometimes they are frequent. They are not something I am in control of. They just are. When I tell this to people it scares them, they hear suicidal thoughts and think suicidal intent. For me, they are two very different things.

I currently have no intent or desire to hurt or kill myself, but lately I’ve had suicidal thoughts daily.

I have a great deal of guilt around being depressed while pregnant. I don’t want my depression to cause any harm to this baby, but it’s not something I’m entirely in control of. I have taken steps to manage my depression including medication and therapy with a social worker. The other night during a really difficult talk with my husband I sobbed into his arms swearing that I didn’t want to hurt myself or this baby and that I was scared they were going to lock me up again.

Since the death of Robin Williams I have had an extremely difficult time being on social media. Facebook has been the worst but Twitter and blogs have also proven triggering. I made the big mistake the other day of reading an article which included some details of the manner of death and the way he was found. I really wish I hadn’t because I can’t get the pictures out of my mind.

I’m choosing to practice self-care and stay away from these places as much as possible right now. I was already in a fragile state before this. I wanted to explain in more detail why I’ve been so absent. It’s just too hard right now. I’m sorry if I’ve missed important posts about things going on with everyone but I have to take care of myself first.

Think of it like infertiles unfollowing or muting those who become pregnant or even stepping away from the community altogether. We all have to put our own oxygen mask on first before we can help others. Right now I’m just trying to keep breathing.

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Quick and Dirty

It’s been a long while since I’ve updated so I’m making this one a quick and dirty bullet point list. Sorry, not sorry. Also, it’s basically all pregnancy stuff.

  • I am 15w2d. We are officially out on Facebook. It’s still weird having everyone know about this pregnancy.
  • I created the new blog. If you are interested in following and don’t have the link because you aren’t on Twitter or my Facebook friend, send an email to the email address on my about page. Please let me know who you are. I want my fellow infertiles to be able to follow but it’s a much more personal blog (names and pictures and stuff) and even though it’s technically public I don’t want to share the link with just any random internet person. I am not posting the link here because I don’t want to link it to this blog in any way.
  • My latest OB appointment went well. The midwife was running behind and pretty manic but she still took the time to listen to and respond to all my questions (and I had several). No ultrasound but she found a heartbeat with the Doppler right away. We shared our news on Facebook that day. The biggest thing that came out of the appointment was that I swallowed my pride and asked for a Zoloft prescription. So I’m now back on a very low dose of Zoloft.
  • I’m missing the first group appointment because of our family vacation. Which means I won’t have my next actual OB appointment until September. The midwife did ask that I do a phone consult with her before my trip. I’m really nervous about the group appointment in September. One of my biggest social anxiety triggers is coming into a group where everyone else already knows each other but nobody knows me. But there’s nothing I can do about that now.
  • I had my genetic counselor appointment last week. Long story short they aren’t terribly worried about genetic stuff. They told me a bit more about the inv9 and are going to do a blood test to confirm that I have the standard deviation that is considered benign. There was also a concern about spina bifida because my half-sister’s daughter has it, but because she’s my half-sister’s daughter and not my full niece they said my chances of having a baby with it are the same as anyone’s. I have to go in this week for the second part of the SIS blood test and that inv9 test. If anything is abnormal they’ll call me. Otherwise we wait until August 25 when I have my anatomy scan. Depending on the results of the blood tests and anatomy scan we will determine if further testing such as an amniocentesis is recommended for me. Fingers crossed it’s not.
  • I also met with a social worker but it didn’t go exactly as planned. I had scheduled to meet with the OB social worker after my genetics appointment so I didn’t have to make a second trip to the hospital. She called me that morning and left a voicemail that she was not going to be in because her kid was sick, but I hadn’t listened to the voicemail (I mistakenly thought it was something else, my bad). So when I went to the OB desk to check in and they told me she wasn’t there I was all kinds of confused. I was already feeling really raw from the genetics appointment dredging up some family stuff. They had a back up on call and they called her to come talk to me. I really felt I needed to talk to someone so I waited for her. She was nice (she usually works in L&D and NICU) but not entirely the right fit for me. I still need to call the regular OB social worker and schedule another appointment.
  • Speaking again of swallowing pride, I broke down and asked for help on Facebook last week. Thanks to that a friend of a friend is going to be driving hubby into work for the rest of this week. I still have to pick him up because of his half-day schedule but it cuts my driving in half and allows me to sleep in a bit in the mornings. We are hoping that by next week he’ll be able to drive himself. He’s had some major changes at work that I can’t discuss here but I’ve been doing my best to just be there for him and support him with everything.
  • Hubby also dropped a bomb on me that it is possible that he might get orders to another base before he has the surgery on his other foot. My understanding had always been that they were keeping him here until he’d recovered from both surgeries because we have here one of very few MTFs that do that particular procedure. So now I’m paranoid that he’s going to get orders in the fall and we’re going to PCS when I’m 7 or 8 months pregnant.

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A River In Egypt

*Warning* Pregnancy related post ahead.

The truth is that I’m in denial that I’m pregnant. I’m being good, following the rules for what I am supposed to eat or avoid, what medications are safe. All that shit. But deep down inside, I don’t believe it. I keep waiting for the other shoe to drop. I keep cataloging all the people I’m going to have to un-tell about the pregnancy. This week my mom is out of town. So now when I run the scenario in my head for what happens when I start bleeding and I have to go to the ER and my hubby can’t drive me, I literally don’t know who else to ask. My sister I guess?

I haven’t been doing my homework. I still haven’t scheduled my anatomy scan or called the social work clinic (obviously there’s a need for that). I haven’t been reading the little book the hospital gave me or taking notes in it or recording anything about the pregnancy like the shitty apps I downloaded tell me to. I haven’t been reading the one other pregnancy book I own.

I’m nearly in the second trimester and I am completely unprepared. Part of me is saying that I have 28 weeks left to deal with everything. Part of me is saying but I’ve already let a third of the time pass without doing anything! Except I bought a shirt for the cat. It’s fucking adorable. He hates it.

And then something happens like I read a story about someone who lost a pregnancy around this time and I become convinced that this is already over. In the past couple of days my symptoms have really subsided in many ways, which of course could be a result of being nearly out of the first tri, but I’ve convinced myself that it’s just going to be a loss. Like, don’t get too attached to this baby because you never know when it will all be over.

My next appointment is the group thing and I’m not even sure I’ll get a scan (hopefully at least a Doppler?). I’m terrified of finding out the baby has died while in a room with other pregnant women. Luckily it appears that my husband will be there with me for this appointment. So that helps. A little.

I’ve been avoiding talking about the pregnancy on Twitter for the past few days in part because of all the difficulty so many are having with so many of us pregnant, but also because I don’t know how to talk about all this in 140 characters or less. I don’t know how to talk about this at all really.

I completely lost it tonight. I hit the wall of ‘can’t take care of everyone else anymore, why can’t someone take care of me?’ and I hit it hard. My husband was there to pick up the pieces but it was not fun. With my mom out of town I’m also responsible for helping take care of my dad. He will be 80 in November, he’s a diabetic amputee (all his toes and about half of one foot, one toe on the other foot), and he can go through bouts of depression especially when he’s home alone all day every day. So my sister and I are taking turns visiting him and taking him places and we’re calling and chatting with him at least once every day. But it just adds to my already overwhelmed burden right now. But he’s my daddy and I would do absolutely anything for him.

I really need to call the social work clinic tomorrow. I told hubby to help me remember. I need to make an appointment and get in and talk to someone asap. And I probably need to be back on medication too. The depression lately has been no joke.

And all that is what I haven’t been saying.

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State of Mind

I know, I said I wasn’t going to be posting. But I feel like if I don’t get this stuff out of my brain and onto the page it’s just going to drag me deeper into the muck of depression.

But before I get there, let’s talk about New York. It was great. It was also exhausting. I am reminded that my husband and I are no longer spring chickens and we both have physical issues that make long days on our feet extra challenging. No lectures on how we’re going to manage to chase a kid please, we will cross that bridge when we get to it. The best part of the trip was getting to spend time with the other couple we were staying with. The wife is one of my husband’s best friends, they went to college together and actually dated briefly during that time, and have remained close. She and her husband live on the other side of the country and we pretty much never get to see them. In fact, the last time we saw them was their wedding and the time before that was our wedding which was when we first met her now husband. So suddenly being together in a small NYC apartment for 6 days was pretty intense. But there was an instant comfort level, which is good because to get to the second bedroom one had to walk through the master so privacy was not really a thing.

I was lucky that I didn’t have much homework to deal with during Spring Break so I pretty much didn’t think about school the entire trip, which was wonderful. Just not having that stress was huge. I tried not thinking too much about the infertility stuff but that didn’t totally happen. I talked about it with our friends quite a bit actually, in part because there was an awful lot of alcohol flowing on the trip and drinking can make me confess-y. I found out some things about the woman. She is Air National Guard and about to leave for a deployment. Although they’ve only been married since September she and her husband have been together for several years. I knew all that. But I learned that when she gets back from the deployment they will probably start trying to have kids partly because she’s worried it won’t be easy. It seems her mom had infertility and took something like seven years to get pregnant with each of her two daughters. So my friend is worried that something like that will happen to her. I told her that I hope it doesn’t but if she ever wants to talk about that stuff I’m here. I got the feeling she appreciated that.

The timing of the trip with my cycle worked out pretty well. I was at the end of my period when it started and just starting to take OPKs at the end. We didn’t have to worry about scheduled sex but did manage to get some private time in despite the weird bedroom situation.

Speaking of my cycle, I have no idea if we hit my fertile window this cycle or not. We had sex the day I had a positive OPK but then I was feeling very ovulation symptom-y two days later when we were scheduled to have sex again but it didn’t happen. Those of you on Twitter know that I got pretty pissed at my husband that night, but the truth is I was super depressed that day myself and it would have been difficult to make sexy time happen. But I wanted to at least try. Oh well. Nothing we can do about it now. We are continuing our every other day sexy time until cycle day 20 as directed. Whatever happens happens, right?

About the depression, it’s been really bad. I’m not sure where it’s coming from. Some of it is certainly from the sense of overwhelm that I have with school. I have so much to do in the second half of this semester and then I freaking graduate which is insane. There was a long time when I was certain this day would never come. It’s also been a struggle trying to balance the rest of life with school stuff. For instance I need to get my car repaired. There’s a hole in the muffler and I am due for an emissions test and I can’t imagine passing with a hole in the muffler. But I’ve been so busy and stressed that doing that has felt impossible but now I’m running out of time. Also I still haven’t gotten rid of my old car that died. It’s just sitting parked outside taking up a parking space and making me feel guilty every time I see it. I haven’t dealt with it in part because of sheer laziness but also because I have a weird emotional attachment to the car I drove for 15 years. I feel like I need a scheduler to come tell me exactly when I need to do all these things. Don’t get me started on doctor’s and dentist appointments. Those will likely not happen until after graduation. But the depression, oh the depression. It was so bad on Thursday morning that I emailed a friend to get the info to call and make an appointment with the people who do confidential counseling on base. Because I just need to talk to someone and soon. Although I’m also not excited about fitting that into my schedule. And as I said on Twitter, if these Femara cycles don’t work I’m going to make an appointment with my psychiatrist to go back on Zoloft. Especially if the next step for us is IUI. I don’t think I could handle it otherwise.

Jumping back to the New York trip, one thing that I kept thinking about is how it was something we absolutely couldn’t do if we had a kid. And something we probably wouldn’t have done if I were pregnant because of the expense. So it was really nice to take advantage of the opportunity now. I’m trying to focus more on these kind of things that married people without kids do, because like all the annoying fertiles always say, we should do it now before we have kids and can’t. I hate hearing that, mostly because it usually feels like it comes from a place of jealousy of our “freedom” but it’s not exactly untrue. There are definite advantages to not having kids, even more so after I graduate and we become a DINK (dual income no kids) couple assuming I find some sort of work. I still want the kids, but for now at least we can take advantage of what we have without them.

Now that I’ve written all this I should probably get off my ass and be productive. I have no idea when you’ll hear from me again, unless it’s on Twitter where I can’t seem to shut up.

Sick and Tired

I’m sick and tired. I’m sick and tired of being sick and tired. I’m exhausted of always feeling like crap. I have the flu, but I also am mired in a depression.

Today I am cranky. I am getting in internet fights that I normally wouldn’t touch. Being bitchy to things I would normally ignore.

I find that I hate myself. I am wrapped up in this concern about other people liking me, but what does that even matter when I can’t bring myself to like myself?

This is about infertility and it’s about 100 other things. A million other things. My whole life. Past lives. Baggage. Steamer trunks of baggage.

I don’t know how to like myself. Other people like me. Not just love me, that’s different, but actually like me. I don’t see it. I don’t know why anyone would. I am not fun to be around these days. I am miserable all the time. All the damn time. And I’m fucking sick of it.

Identity

For those of you who don’t follow me on Twitter or know me in real life and therefore haven’t heard the good news: the liver biopsy is cancelled. My liver enzymes are back to normal so they aren’t going to send me in for surgery. And I’m medically cleared for pregnancy. I’ll have to get my enzymes checked again in six weeks and in the meantime I have to avoid alcohol, Tylenol, and Motrin. But really this is good news. Even though they still have no idea why they were elevated in the first place. I am a medical mystery, y’all.

Speaking of being medically cleared for pregnancy, since I got this good news on Tuesday I have been trying to get in touch with the RE clinic so they could put in a prescription for Femara before my cycle starts. I’m expecting my period tomorrow but my cycles are so all over the place who knows when it will actually show up. But I can’t get in touch with the freaking clinic. I left a message on Tuesday but it was late in the day and I didn’t expect to hear anything that day. Then they called Wednesday when I was in class and couldn’t answer. I called back, got voicemail, and didn’t leave a message because it was again late in the day. Called yesterday, voicemail again, left a message, nothing. Just called again and finally spoke to the receptionist. Sometimes she is really nice and helpful and I love her. Today is not one of those days. She was pretty bitchy. The NP who I saw last who I left the message for is out today. Apparently a message was left for another doctor to call me. The clinic closes in 40 minutes so I do not have high hopes to hear from him today. I hate having to be that person who keeps calling and leaving messages but if I’m going to start the Femara on this next cycle I need the prescription asap.

In the meantime maybe it won’t matter because maybe I’m pregnant. Like I said, my period is officially due tomorrow based on my average 30 day cycle. I’ve been having symptoms all week. I ordered some early pregnancy tests online over the weekend and have been taking them every morning. So far all big fat negatives. Not even the slightest hint of a second line. I keep telling myself that it’s still early but really what’s early with my cycles?

This brings me all back to what I wanted to talk about here really. Like I said I’ve been testing every morning. That, for me, is extreme. I’m not judging anyone who tests that much or more. I just never have. At most I’ve tested twice and that’s when my period is late. This change is making me start to feel like I am obsessed with my infertility. I think about it all the damn time. Sometimes classes are distracting enough, but other times they aren’t. I’m probably doing a series related to infertility in my sculpture class. And my sociology of gender class keeps me thinking about families all the time too.

This obsession is taking me to a place where I find I am identifying myself first by my infertility. This harkens back to my teenage years when the only way I knew how to define myself was by my depression and anxiety. I didn’t have depression; I was depression. It also reminds me of my tendency in school lately to identify myself as a military wife first. I am so many other things. Why do I keep limiting myself? I am, as we all are, multifaceted. And infertility is without a doubt one of those facets. It has had a powerful impact on my life that I never anticipated. But it is not everything.

I have a late class on Thursday nights and so I got home late last night. My husband had had a really difficult day at work and gotten home quite late himself. He was in a bad mood, doing the guy thing where they go inside themselves when they are upset. I wanted to talk to him about the fact that yesterday would have been the due date of the ectopic, but it was obvious that it simply was not the right time for that. Ultimately I think that’s a good thing. Not that I shouldn’t grieve, but that I don’t need to keep rehashing it.

I don’t know what the best way to move forward right now is. Ideally getting that damn prescription would be a step forward. But so would just doing something fun that has nothing to do with any of this. Too bad I can’t drink.

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Self Care

Yesterday I mentioned on Facebook something that’s been gnawing at me lately. My clothes. Because the vast majority of my clothes are old, stained, stretched out, torn, too tight, or otherwise unflattering. Yet getting me to buy new clothes is a nearly impossible task. I’ll buy the stuff I really need, the underwear, bras, jeans (although usually not even then until the need is dire). But when it comes to the less utilitarian items I won’t do it. And I also have a hard time getting rid of clothes that don’t fit or are really too worn out to be worn in public. I make excuses like that I’m an art student and I get messy and so I need grungy clothes. And that’s true to an extent. But it’s not like I’m making art 24/7. I have other roles in my life. Roles that require me to look presentable. And that is getting increasingly difficult, especially with all the weight I’ve put on in the past few years. My other usual excuse is money. We don’t have a lot of money for luxuries. And clothes, beyond the point where you are covered and weather appropriate, are a luxury to me.

But it all goes so much deeper than that. Part of the issue stems from my ex-boyfriend. He was extremely image-conscious and one of the forms his subtle emotional abuse came in was policing how I looked. If he had things his way I would have always been wearing a dress/skirt, heels, makeup, perfume, and jewelry. And although I didn’t conform to all of that all the time, his criticisms of how I look changed the way I saw myself. On top of all the pressure that young women in the US already feel to look a certain way I had a partner who added additional pressure. If I didn’t meet his standards I was worth less. Part of why I reject image consciousness now is as a rejection of him, his standards, his abuse.

I think, however, that the main issue at hand is one of self care. I have an incredibly difficult time treating myself with care. This primarily stems from my depression, but I think there’s more to it than that. I’ve internalized this message that if I don’t look and dress a certain way I am not as good as people who do. I’ve internalized that I’m not as good in general so I don’t put the effort into these external things. If I suck anyway why should I bother trying to look nice? Is it really going to fool anyone? Wouldn’t it just be a waste of money, time, effort?

What does this have to do with infertility, you may be asking. Well, personally, a lot. Infertility has made me distrust my body. All those years of being told that my “womanly” curves were beautiful because they would allow me to have children, and here I am feeling like the biggest failure because my so-called womanly body refuses to do the one thing women’s bodies are supposed to be able to do. How do I self care for a body that is betraying me? I consider things that would be ways of taking care of myself, like getting a massage, and my immediate thought is that it’s a waste of money. I simply will not spend money on me. I think if our healthcare wasn’t covered by TRICARE I would have an incredibly hard time spending any money on fertility treatments.

Here is an issue that has obviously been long-standing in my life. It is one that comes in many forms, such as clothes or making those dental appointments I keep putting off. And infertility is compounding it. Perhaps this week I’ll go out and buy myself something nice to wear. But it is far more likely that I will continue to tell myself that I am not worth it. Perhaps if I get pregnant I’ll be worth something then.

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