Sunday, August 16, 2009

Gun Shy


Dear Readers, I am sorry. I have been remiss. I don't write, I don't call, I don't stop by unexpectedly with flowers. This, after all of your support and loyalty!

The truth is that this story, or the blog-flavored part of it, may have run its course. While I planned to include the chronicle of a Mother of Two Going Off Meds and explore its universal themes of motherhood, spirituality and brain chemistry, The Eldest Magician* has other plans for me.

I'm going to stay on meds.

For the first time, I am too scared to even take the first steps of going off the medication. Life is so full, so rich, and I have come to believe (based on past experiences) that my staying medicated allows it to be so. I am pretty sure that the house of cards that Matt and I and the kids have going will collapse if I suddenly go off the rails.

Let me back up a little. A couple weeks ago, I went on a backpacking trip with my good friend, Sara. We camped for four days on Shi Shi Beach, which is just below the Makah Indian reservation on the northwestiest tip of the Washington state. Shi Shi is a place of total wilderness. If you break a leg there, you're screwed. We captured and filtered our own water, kept a constant driftwood fire alive, and stared out across the ocean for four days.

No kids. No computers. No cell phones.

When we came back, as we finally had to do, I re-entered my regular life armed with a few new guidelines:

1. Pull the wires out of my ass. Disconnect from the laptop. Start a paper calendar. Unplug more often.

2. Stay on the meds. They make everything else possible.


Upon my return, I was crushed by everyone's needs. Even Matt's. He needs me to decide about dinner. He needs me to help him put things in boxes. I am the lynch pin of this family. I have raged and railed and fought against this ever since my first baby was born. Now I am trying to grow up and accept the fact that I matter in this family.

Earlier in the summer, I felt more brave about exploring a meds-free life. Then, I didn't know that my hubs was going to have to take a long trip for work in the fall. (Picture me having a meltdown while my man is gone and I flushed all my pills.) Then I didn't feel the pressure of my kids entering a new school where a huge amount of parental involvement would be required. (You should know by now how much I loathe get-to-know-you potlucks and forced play dates with people I don't know, not to mention having to find a place in a new community.) Then, I thought my new diet would make everything better.

The diet was an interesting experiment and I lost a little weight and I felt light and mostly happy. But I was still on the drugs, and now I really doubt that it's going to make me "better."

Also, my man is a lot less willing to be my constant safety net than he was during the early years of our marriage. He needs to have his own periods of emotional precariousness without fearing that it will send me over the edge. My fragility made him feel unable to ever let his guard down. Do I need to say how unhealthy that is for a marriage?

We depressed moms don't experience our depression in isolation. Our nuttiness cuts a wide swath through the family fabric. As an emotionally unstable twentysomething, the worst that happened is that I tortured my boyfriend and spent my lunch hours in the office stairwell crying. (No one ever took the stairs there. It was a perfect sanctuary.)Now, when I get pulled down to the doldrums, everyone suffers.

And it's not just the checked-out, zombie side of depression that hurts the family. My angry outbursts and simmering rage (picture PMS as a daily occurrence)keep everyone unhappy. The last thing I want is for my kids to be afraid of me. Also the anxiety that always accompanies the rage and the sadness can be crippling and can overshadow everything else about me.

It's a blast!

As I write this, I am thinking of a hundred arguments against everything I am writing. For example, proper diet and exercise can make all the difference. An acquaintance of mine, who is a therapist and a longtime depression-sufferer, told me about all kinds of research out there that says 40 minutes of cardio per day can literally replace antidepressants. Can I do that? It takes so much time! But the kids will both be in school, so maybe I can...and what if it doesn't work and I go into a tailspin and the next drug I try doesn't work? (Depressed people tend to become increasingly drug-resistant the more they go on and off drugs.)

I can talk myself up or down a hundred times a day. My action right now is to take no action.

Who wants to argue with me?

Somebody please argue with me!

*"The Eldest Magician" is the name of a Godlike character in Rudyard Kipling's story, "The Crab That Played With the Sea." I read it to my kids last night.

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

pop the pills, no one is judging you either way but you.

TOM

Anonymous said...

Your decision sounds so full of wisdom and peace. Love to you... -V

Rose said...

I totally think you are doing the right thing Susie! Although healthy food and exercise can probably help, I don't know if it can keep everything balanced all the time ya know? I think it is great that you are trying everything you can to help the depression but I also think staying on the meds for the health of yoru family is a gift to them. After spending 5 days with my husbands family who on the surface is wonderful, there were many reminders of a very tragic childhood. My husband has so much strength and forgiveness he has been able to overcome so much of it but his siblings really suffer greatly. To watch a 42 year old woman crumple and cry like a little girl over the lack of love from her parents growing up (they have never said "I love you" even when she says it to them-fuckers)they are uninvolved and totally withdrawn now a days. I know I dont want my kids to remember the angry outbursts and dark days. I think by staying on the medication will not only help you and your husband but it will help your kids remember a childhood of peace and love and calmness and a mom they can go to for anything...ya know? My husbands parents have to have some form of depression because it's the only thing that would make sense to me. I can tell you that for me it was a huge eye opener and I plan on tweaking my parenting a bit to make sure my kids know that I am happy to be thier mom, its a privlige and I think when you are depressed you can't show that and they will constantly wonder what they are doing wrong even when they are 42!!! So I think you are doing the right thing!
Good luck with the new school!!!

Rose said...

I totally think you are doing the right thing Susie! Although healthy food and exercise can probably help, I don't know if it can keep everything balanced all the time ya know? I think it is great that you are trying everything you can to help the depression but I also think staying on the meds for the health of yoru family is a gift to them. After spending 5 days with my husbands family who on the surface is wonderful, there were many reminders of a very tragic childhood. My husband has so much strength and forgiveness he has been able to overcome so much of it but his siblings really suffer greatly. To watch a 42 year old woman crumple and cry like a little girl over the lack of love from her parents growing up (they have never said "I love you" even when she says it to them-fuckers)they are uninvolved and totally withdrawn now a days. I know I dont want my kids to remember the angry outbursts and dark days. I think by staying on the medication will not only help you and your husband but it will help your kids remember a childhood of peace and love and calmness and a mom they can go to for anything...ya know? My husbands parents have to have some form of depression because it's the only thing that would make sense to me. I can tell you that for me it was a huge eye opener and I plan on tweaking my parenting a bit to make sure my kids know that I am happy to be thier mom, its a privlige and I think when you are depressed you can't show that and they will constantly wonder what they are doing wrong even when they are 42!!! So I think you are doing the right thing!
Good luck with the new school!!!

susie said...

Rose, thank you for your very honest and enlightening comment. What you mention is exactly the kind of thing I dread for my children. I know they will never doubt that I love and appreciate them, since I show them that every single day in some form or another. But I DO NOT want them to have memories of flinching when Mommy was in a bad mood because they were about to get sniped at or ridiculed in some way. I have many of those memories myself and I could never forgive myself if I twisted my kids the way my stepdad twisted me. That said, I have some new info from my doc that I'll post about soon.

And Tom, I am not judging myself and I know my readers aren't! It's really a question of what's the best situation for everyone involved. Thanks for bringing that up, though. Judgment or fear of it can be totally crippling.

Bha Dass said...

It sounds like you want to keep taking the meds for a while. I know you had your heart set on going off, and I understand why, but it sounds like it's really not the right time, and what's wrong with that?

I know you're disappointed, but really, there's no need to feel guilt or embarrassment or shame or any of that crapola. You know what's best for you. Right now you need support. The meds are part of that support.

I say...YAY meds! :D

A Day That is Dessert said...

I think you're doing the right thing, and it sounds as if that's what your gut instinct is saying too. Listen to your instincts!

Ellen said...

Hi Suz I'm listening Love you, let's talk.