June 24, 2012

It Shouldn't Have Been So Hard

It shouldn't have been so hard. Not really.

It was a matter of the smallest pen stroke, circling one word on a form. All I needed to do was circle "Yes". But I hesitated, moved to other questions, came back to that blank row and hovered still.

At well-child check ups at our pediatrician's office, they hand you a sheet of Yes/No questions to answer while you wait to see the doctor, to avoid having the nurses waste their time repeating the same list of questions of everyone who comes in, I suppose. The "correct" answers are always the second choice, the word on the right. If you wanted to you blow off the form, you could just work your way straight down the column, circling without even reading.
  • Does the baby ride in a rear-facing car seat in the back row of the car at all times? No/Yes
  • Do you feed the baby juice, soda, or anything other than breastmilk or formula with iron? Yes/No
  • Does anyone smoke around the baby? Yes/No
Or the one that had me caught:
  • Have you felt unusually sad or anxious since the baby's arrival? Yes/No
I knew I needed to say "Yes", to hopefully set the process of seeking medical help in motion. I've had times in my life when I've felt blue or adrift or overwhelmed. I've had times I knew that talking to a counselor would help give me some new perspective to help me through a stuck place. This time was different. I knew that something had shifted in my brain and wasn't snapping back into place.

And, yet. As the weeks went by and I slid deeper into the pit, something kept me from seeking out the help the rational part of my brain knew I needed. I was a living checklist of depression symptoms. But I was scared of being dismissed or ridiculed and I felt so fragile, so breakable that even the thought of that possibly happening in a doctor's office was enough to make me want to pretend everything was fine. Depression alone isn't taken seriously all too often, much less post-partum depression, much much less adoption-related depression. After all, I hadn't given birth. I hadn't had to say goodbye to a child. I had nothing happen most people would label a crisis. I was supposed to be the happy, fulfilled one in this adoption equation, rejoicing over the newest family member who so many waiting adoptive parents would hypothetically have been thrilled to have in my place.

I leaned against the wall in the waiting room and looked at the baby sleeping in his sling and was overwhelmed by despair. Things were bad, and only getting worse. Scared enough, I finally drew a small circle.

After running through the usual routine with the baby, the pediatrician turned to me. "Now," he said, tapping his finger on the clipboard over that circled word, that glaring mark in the "wrong answer" column. I stiffened. "This is what concerns me most," he said.

He asked some kind and probing questions, then broke about a dozen HMO rules to get me an appointment for the next week with a physician who was similarly nothing less than compassionate and encouraging. I left her office not with hope exactly--I was too far in the pit at that point to scrabble together anything resembling real hope--but with the feeling that something had just happened other than the sadness and anger and anxiety that had become my constant companions.

So that's where things are. I'm trying medication, which has been a new and strange (and slow) experience. And I am finally feeling like things may be getting better. I am so very ready to return back to this life I love so much, to be someone who creates and serves and nurtures again instead of just someone who exists and needs.

Thank you for waiting for me, those of you who are reading this. I am sorry that I have been gone so long.

46 comments:

Monika said...

I am one of about a hundred other people (I would think) at least that is SO glad you got help. Post-adoption depression needs to be given more attention and validation just as any other form of depression. I'm also so glad you're starting to feel more yourself. We've all missed you and are glad you're back, no matter how long you feel it's taken you! <3

Lisa V said...

Thinking of you and all those times I should've pushed a little harder to see how you were doing. I'm so glad you've found a little light...

My name is Andy. said...

{{{{{HUGS}}}}}}}}}}}}}

Alissabeth said...

There is no such thing as "should" - I'm glad you are caring for yourself out of your actual reality. Speaking for me - take care of you and come back when you can. ♥

Lavender Luz said...

XOXO to you, Heather. I'm sorry it's been so hard. Abiding with you...

luna said...

glad you circled yes, as hard as it was. happy to hear you are getting some support. and sending love. xo

laurengphotography said...

Sending you lots of love and caring and light and hugs. xoxoxoxoxoxxo <3 <3 <3 <3
You are in my thoughts always.

SassyCupcakes said...

I'm sorry you've found yourself in the wrong column. So glad you've found help and support. I really hope things keep improving. *hug*

Rebeccah said...

I'm just so glad to hear from you! Post-adoption depression is absolutely real and serious. Getting help is scary and hard, almost as hard as being in the dark place. You're my hero for naming the problem and circling 'yes.' Let us know if we can do anything at all ...Hugs to you and your family

Anonymous said...

It wasn't the wrong column...the wrong column would have been not to circle yes! So proud that you saw you needed help. That shows what a GOOD MOM you are...one that takes care of herself so she can care for her child! Love and prayers.

ROBYN Chittister said...

I've been worried about you. Thank you for sharing with us. You didn't mark the "wrong answer" - there is no wrong answer. I, too, hope things keep improving for y'all.

K said...

I'm so glad you shared this. We've finally brought our baby home after 4 yrs of waiting and several failed adoptions - and I don't feel how I'm "supposed" to feel. Not at all. I keep hoping it just takes some time...

Wendy said...

Glad you're getting the help that you need. That's a very good thing.

Susan P. said...

Heather,
One of my greatest pleasures in blogging has been meeting intelligent, sensitive and caring people from all sides of the adoption world. I have missed your voice and am so glad to see you in print once again! I appreciate your honesty and am so glad you are on the road to recovery.

Anonymous said...

I am glad you are seeking help. I know from experience how hard that is. I wish you all the best.

It Is What It Is said...

So glad you took the leap, so glad it was met with compassionate help, so glad that you are trying to find a medicinal combination/dosage that helps pull you fully out of the pit.

One day at a time.

mama2roo said...

Oh, my friend, welcome back! I am so thankful you are finding compassionate people who are taking you seriously, as I can tell you firsthand that there are those who won't. Sad that anyone should have to fear that the help won't be there, but there it is. So, while you don't have it in you as you write to have the "Hope" for yourself, know that I have enough hope for you until you feel it. <3

Venessa said...

Thank you for writing this. As a therapist in this field I find that you are so not alone in this. SO many of us feel like we need to reach out and yet dont or it takes some time to find the right person to reach out to. I appreciate your honesty and know so many others do to. I am so happy you are beginning to feel better! Blessings!

Lori (in MI) said...

You've given you and your whole family a gift by seeking help. I wish my spouse would do the same.

sheryl said...

Medication is good so that you don't fall further into the abyss of depression, however, please make sure you get some therapy, preferably someone familiar with adoption issues, but not 100% necessary, as most therapists have had some kind of experience. Medication doesn't get to the bottom of what is wrong emotionally. Remember to take some time for yourself. It is not selfish. You can't take care of anyone, if you don't take care of self 1st. Not just physically, but emotionally also. You are not just a mom, but a person, with interests, hobbies, and goals, that you should be active in, that make you happy.

I Was Anne said...

Heather, you've been on my mind and I'm happy to hear that you are moving in the right direction. It is hard and it takes time, so please be patient with yourself. You will return to yourself soon. You are loved by so many -- people you know and people you've never even met.

harriet glynn said...

Hang in there sister! We're all thinking of you. No matter which way you put it, with three kiddos, you are deep in the TRENCHES. Glad you got help!! Sorry for all the exclamation marks.

hope548 said...

I'm so sorry you've been having such a rough time and hope that you will start to feel like yourself again soon!

Kel Star said...

It's courageous to ask for help. Glad you will be getting what you need and glad you are writing again!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your courage in sharing this. I have struggled since adopting our second child this winter and it was incredibly hard to ask for help for many reasons. Meds and time have made it better, but it helps even more to know that I'm not alone.

BumbersBumblings said...

So glad that you are receiving the help you need! ((hugs)) and warm thoughts and prayers for normalcy again (whatever that is ;))

Claudia said...

Welcome to the crazy meds club! I'm really, really, really glad to see you back.

Molly said...

I've been having a hard time recently, and you have inspired me by being so honest. Thank you for posting. I'm so glad you're on your way back.

Susan M said...

Hang in there. You're being very brave and working very hard, even when it doesn't feel like it. Good for you for asking for help.

Anonymous said...

I was getting ready to track you down myself as I knew something was wrong--especially since in your last post about baby 3 your sadness was so palpable. I am so sorry for how hard things are and so glad you are letting people in to help you. I am pulling for you and your family.

meghann said...

xoxo

Meg Weber Jeske said...

So happy to read your words and to witness your courage and strength in seeking support.

Thinking of you and holding you close.

Rob said...

wow, very open and real, thanks for sharing.

L said...

De-lurking to underscore what other have said already: this is a good move. I carried around untreated postpartum depression for over a year, and I still regret not dealing with my demons sooner, even though it's been six years now! (Gulp.)

So, good on you for doing this!

Meg said...

You've been on my thoughts and in my prayers! Thank you to you for talking about it, for sharing and hopefully helping other adoptive families feel that it can be normal, and okay, and doesn't mean you are a "bad parent" for not being completely perky and over the moon the entire time after an adoption.

Jenna said...

Thinking of you.

Kim said...

Good for you. Acknowledging that you need help is so difficult, but it's the first step in feeling better.
I loved my babies, but oh man, those years were hell on me. I'm so much better now that they're bigger.

MommySquared said...

First and foremost {{hugs}} and wanted to let you know you are not alone ... I am glad you found your courage to let the professionals know you needed help and hope the help you are getting helps you find yourself again ... being medicated isn't too bad and nowadays its not so in the closet anymore so don't take it too hard. I've been on anti-depressants for a few years now and I know they keep me in a better place and help me to be a better mother too!

Amanda said...

So much strength in that small motion of making a circle. Consider us circling around you in an understanding hug.

Elisabeth O'Toole said...

This is a very generous post you've shared with your community, Heather. I hold you and your family -- and the many other families having/having had this experience -- in my thoughts these days.

Andromeda Jazmon Sibley said...

I'm so glad to read this Heather. Wishing you all the best, and praying for you. God Bless you & yours.

oneinchofgrace said...

That was very brave, I'm so glad you said something.

Chrystal Thomas said...

Thanks for sharing. Depression is such a dark, lonely, and hopeless place...I know, I've been there! It takes courage to seek out help! I wish you the best of luck!

Kohana said...

I struggled with post-adoption depression as well. I hope things are evening out for you. There are so many big emotions in the aftermath of an adoption, but everyone seems to think there should simply be joy. Take all the time you need to fine your footing again.

Anonymous said...

I am struggle with anxiety. Thanks for this post.

dspence said...

Here from CDLC. I had PPD, too. Good for you for reaching out for help. I hope 2013 brings continued healing.

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