Wednesday, 28 January 2015


I know I am not unique in my love-hate relationship with Facebook. 

For all of the posts that irk me - and my, oh my,  does that local mommy fb group that I'm a part of make me want to FREQUENTLY reach through my screen and give some people a hard finger flick right in between the eyes - sometimes, there's a little hidden gem in there.  I think those little gems are what keep me (and most of us?) coming back for more. 

I thought this was a great article about how postpartum depression isn't what a lot of people think it is. And how it isn't called just PPD anymore, it's called PPD/perinatal mood and anxiety disorders.

It really made me reflect on my mood in a different way.  And see my irritability and mood swings more clearly.   Obviously, I'm not postpartum, but I think I'm something.  For years, I've known that something has been wrong with my moods.

It is something I went to see my doctor about a few years ago.  He had me fill out a couple surveys.  When I returned them to him, he told me that I had scored very high on the anxiety questionnaire.  At the time, it was a bit of a lightbulb moment for me, because I had thought that it was depression that was affecting my life the most, although I know they often go hand in hand.  My depression score wasn't much better.

He asked me to seek counselling before prescribing any medications to me.  I went to two sessions, felt a little better and then didn't go back basically because I was too cheap, and I always felt like my feelings were situational, and that meant that they could just *poof!* get better.   I was always focused on fixing what I thought was the root of my problem - infertility.

I was also anxious thinking about taking anything that could affect a healthy pregnancy, and my doctor's teeny comment about the small risks to a fetus was enough to make me think that taking a pill would not be a good idea, especially when we seemed to be facing such a steep uphill battle already in that department.

I was doing things that were thought to only have a little chance of increasing my chance of getting and staying pregnant.  I felt like I didn't want to add anything to the mountain.  I'm not saying this was a rational decision, but it's the one I made.

I told myself that things weren't that bad, and that if things got worse, then I would do something about it.  The problem was, that when things did get worse,  I wasn't able to ask for help.

For the most part, I could function, but certainly not thrive, with my anxiety, irritability and depression.  A few times every year, when something horrible happened in our reproductive lives, things would to grind to a halt for a few weeks.   I viewed this as situational depression, and that once I grieved, that I would be okay.

I didn't notice though, that slowly I stopped doing many of the things I loved.

Photography was one of those things.  A few years ago, I was taking classes, shooting regularly, and going out with groups of friends to take pictures.  I was taking pictures of my friends' young families and learning new ways of post processing.  

Now when I look back, I can see that when I hit a snag or a roadblock with my photography (and in other areas of my life), that it would stop me.  It didn't have to be a huge problem, just something that would frustrate me, and need a little persistence to get through, but I'd give up.  When I'd finally get around to shooting (or doing XYZ), all I could see were the many unresolved problems that I "couldn't" figure out.  It led me to be comfortable with being stagnant.  I'm embarrassed about that, and much of the other stuff I'm writing about here today.

I told myself, and I told D that that it was the hormonal roller coaster that made me this way.

Injecting maximum does of follistim one month, followed by a lupron shot the next.  I thought my symptoms were hormone based, and I think hubby told himself they were too.  He basically gave me a free pass, with a lot of empathy for several years.  God. I am lucky to have this man, and I feel badly that he has had to endure cohabiting with me at times.

I told myself that if we ever made it through to the other side, that these problems would melt away.  I think we both clinged to that hope.

To a certain degree, I was right!

Babykins coming into our lives has lifted such a weight off our shoulders.  He brings so much joy and we are so grateful for him every single day.  I still can't believe how lucky we are to call him our son.

And, without all of the hormonal manipulation, I definitely feel MUCH better.

The problem is, is that I still don't feel great how I think I should.  I'm realizing that there is still something wrong with my moods.

I try to pin point what it is caused by exactly, and I think it's a compound problem.  It's hard for me to sort out.  I believe that the major contributing factors are:

  • Sleep deprivation. 
  • Hormonal.  I still have premature ovarian failure, and my cycles are messed up.  When my period is approaching, I definitely feel more rage.   Hubby thinks my moods are only related to the 5 or so days before my period.  What he doesn't know is that I internalize many of my grumpy feelings before that time, and by the time I get to a few days before my period, that lots of times my emotions related to certain triggers are already at a boiling point. 
  • Learned behaviour and thought patterns.   I need to be more mindful of the negative thoughts that constantly swirl in my head. 
  • Caffeine. It is my comfort in a glass when my energy is low.  I notice I feel edgier when I drink it too often, and maybe at all. 
  • Vitamin deficiency.  I've been told again and again that my vitamin D, and sometimes my iron levels are low.  Confession: I haven't taken any vitamins since my last fertility cycle because I have a bit of a pill aversion.  It's time to tighten up my bootstraps on this one.  
  • Water intake - is not consistent.  Some days I barely drink any water. 
  • Refined carbs - are also my crutch and my comfort.  It's how I solve my problem when I'm feeling hangry. 
  • It's winter and we're cooped up!

I love my husband, and he doesn't deserve an irritable wife.  My son doesn't deserve that either.

So from today on, I'm going to be monitoring my moods via a mood tracker.  I'm just started my period, so I think it's a great time to start doing so.  I'm going to keep track of the things I mentioned above to see if I can pin point anything in particular.  Going back to my doctor is an option too.

The Hubbs, D-Man.

He's spent a lot of years propping me up, and getting me through infertility and loss.  I could not have made it through these past seven years with out him.  He has been my empathetic ear and my rock.   He functioned on many days that I didn't.  He kept a level head on many days that I didn't.  He worked hard through out it all to pay for our lifestyle and for the gagging amount we have spent on infertility treatments.

Now, that the baby is here, his anxiety has reached very high levels.  He worries immensely, especially about Babykins.

He thinks about things like one of us accidentally tripping down the stairs while holding the baby, and about SIDS a lot.  He thinks about the worst case scenario all.of.the.time.  He checks things that I do and it drives me crazy.  "Is he too hot?" "Is he too cold?", "Should he be sleeping with his face like that?", "The weather isn't great should you be driving with him?", "Let's not go anywhere, so people don't touch him and give him germs".  I feel like I worry about Babykins a fair bit, and that D's worries are over the top.

He has reminded me of his friend who died in high school.  He was an only child and D says that his parents never recovered.   He tells me that if something happened to Babykins that we wouldn't recover either.

He tells me that the worst case scenario has always happened to us (in the baby department) and so he's scared it's going to happen again.  The respiratory problems and hospitalization that Babykins has been though has only made these feelings so much more heightened.

D's anxiety and my irritability is a shitty combination to say the least.  I'm sure you can imagine.

He works from home, which is awesome in that he's able to be a very involved parent and spouse, but it also doesn't give us much time apart from each other either.    With the winter, and almost two months with a sick infant, (and with me fighting three colds since December), it's been a lot to handle.

We recently spent time with one of D's childhood friends who lives far away from us.  We only see him about once a year.   (Random side note: He's a chiropractor and did an adjustment on Babykins.  I never thought that would be something I would do, but it was honestly very harmless - the most aggressive thing that he did was hang the baby from his feet upside down to let the weight of his head adjust his spine.  He explained everything he was going to do very thoroughly before he did anything, and got our consent.   I'm not sure if it did much but it was very neat to watch the adjustment!).  Anyways, D said various things though out our visit with him that led him to say, "Holy cow! When did you start worrying so much? Where did D go?!?"  I told him I couldn't have agreed more.

D doesn't see his anxiety the same way I do.

My point is, I suppose that we are both still suffering a bit.   And I feel guilty about that.  We've been given everything we ever asked for now.  But, I also think we have allowed ourselves to suffer for much too long too.   We need to do something about it.  I'm going to start with myself.  I'm writing this here to hold myself accountable.


  1. Man, Julia, this stuff is so hard. Just so, so hard. I've battled both depression and anxiety most of my life and the times I've really gotten trapped in my head... well, I can attest that it's no fun. It really affects so much of your life. I too am guilty of blaming it on "situations" and always assume what I do struggle with will vanish once those situations resolve. Thanks for being honest that it doesn't always work that way (probably never) and that more often the anxiety or depression just manifests some other way. I'm sorry that you and your husband are both struggling with this. I imagine that makes it so much harder as you both attempt to help the other. Hoping that you can find a way out and a system of support for when things get bad. Sending hugs.

  2. Thanks for sharing the article (learned something new!) and your story. I have a history with depression/anxiety and am 13 weeks pregnant (IVF baby) after 2.5 years of infertility and three early losses. At my last appointment my OB told me his biggest concern for me and this pregnancy is my anxiety. I am already worried about struggling post-partum... -Polly

  3. Oh Julia, what an honest post. You sound like you have a great start to a plan - changing up diet, taking more vitamins, etc. It's also possible that some of your feelings could be seasonal - being cooped up for such a long winter is HARD and it totally affects my moods and causes me anxiety/depression. Have you thought about going back to a counselor/therapist/clergy (whatever your style is)? It sounds like you and D both could benefit from an outside perspective.

  4. Thanks as always for your honesty, and your keen analytical skills in parsing all this stuff out. It makes me feel less crazy. I feel like I have had many of the same thougths and attempts to figure out what is going on with my moods...a lot of it is sleep deprivation and major delayed gratification (never being able to get anything done, like i was interrupted twice while writing this comment (: ) But also feelings about having gone through something pretty major---years of IF and pregnancy loss, pregnancy, birth, and now caring for a newborn who can be a Screamy McScreampants, and a history of depression that I can't figure out if was situational or my brain chemistry or both. And yes winter, snowed-in conditions with a newly born human is pretty challenging!! In solidarity, tut

  5. I would highly recommend pursuing medication, for one or both of you. It may not work, but it is worth a shot, and worth it for enjoying every moment with your sweet boy. I've been on medication for 10 years, even through fertility treatments and now in my 9th month of pregnancy. I've had to accept that it's just not something I'm going to recover from, and it's better for me and my baby if I am mentally healthy. My medication doesn't fix anything, but it does clear up the fog in order for me to fight the anxiety and depression better. Before, it just felt impossible to fight it or ever see an end to it. Glad you are committed to working on this; I want you to enjoy every minute of parenthood!

  6. Girl, reading this was like reading my own thoughts. I too have struggled with depression and anxiety since I was a teenager and been in medication a few times for it. I too suffer from guilt because we have gotten all we prayed for for so long but we too have struggled with some issues with your little babe like severe feeding issues, reflux, and struggling to gain weight which just adds so much stress, pressure and worry. My moods definitely affect our marriage as well. It's so, so hard. Feel free to email me if you ever need to talk or vent, because girl, I get it.

  7. I feel like I could have written this. I actually started going to therapy a few months ago to deal with my anxiety. I figured it's time to do something. I don't have any excuses anymore and my kids deserve better.
    What is this mood tracker? Keeping track of my moods would probably be extremely helpful.


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