Monday, July 25, 2011


Long before I knew firsthand the puppetry of psychotropic drugs, I knew of friends and clients that had leapfrogged from the prozac lilypad to zoloft moss and then landed with a splash on the waterlogged stump of wellbutrin.

All of us little froggies are trying to find the pad that suits us best, that doesn't sink under our weight or have any unwanted co-habitants.

My first drug was Lexapro, shiny and new (and expensive) with promises of bright, sunny days. And, except for the evening ripples that would rock my lilypad (also known as "brain shocks"), it delivered. That is, until the lilypad rent got too expensive, and I was forced to downgrade to a low-income lilypad in the form of generic Celexa, citalopram.

Time passed and I was still pretending to be living the high life on Lexapro, but it just wasn't the same. The water below my lilypad was always murky, and it felt as though the clouds never dispersed. My old depressed ways didn't return, but I felt like a zombie most days, unable to shake off the morning fuzziness. 

Nonetheless, the price was right (and my health insurance doesn't cover prescriptions), so I tried to make the best of it. Over the next year and a half, the pond scum started to accumulate, and I began to realize I needed to move. 

Here's a snippet from an email that I wrote to a close friend describing how I was feeling:  

I'm all over the place with my emotions the last few weeks. I'm tweaking my meds again (increasing them....) because I'm just not feeling motivated to do anything. The house is an absolute mess and I don't care. Its hard to find inspiration to blog on Tao of Twins anymore. My only joy is Jaeda and Tristyn. Lastnight I sat in their room after I put them to bed and told them about how Che' (my brother) and I used to do everything together when we were kids, and answered all their sweet, wide-eyed questions. I just wanted to crawl into bed with them and never leave, just hold them and kiss them forever.

I had replaced the emotional roller coaster of my initial postpartum depression with apathy.

Recently, I moved into in a middle-class Wellbutrin lilypad complex. I haven't met any of my froggie neighbors and have yet to find out if I fit in here. 

I worry that I won't ever find a lilypad that suits me. 

*Note - One day after I published this post, my family and I drove past this: 

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Things Happen For A Reason

Life leads us in the direction we need to go. I've always believed that. I've let the universe lead me, listening for the whispered instruction, watching for the covert signs. As I hit 30, life was a comfortable routine. I was content in my career, enjoyed my domestic life in our cozy home and was comforted and loved in a solid marriage. We traveled, had dinner parties, attended events and enjoyed life without kids.

I had built up an airtight cocoon of friends without silly conflict or superficial drama.

But there was a gnawing sensation, an uncertain anticipation that there was more to come.

It was the calm before the storm.

I will never again underestimate the difficulty that comes from change, even the expected ones; puberty, marriage, moving, motherhood - those transitions in our lives that come easy for some, but are traumatizing for others, leaving an indelible mark on our souls.

In 2005, when my lower leg and ankle snapped in 3 places during a roller hockey game, I had never felt such pain. Nor had I ever confronted such fear before each of my 2 resulting surgeries. My frustration and helplessness during the 10 long weeks on crutches were foreign to me.

But I slowly started to see how each struggle led me to a new place. Each experience allowed me to grow in ways I otherwise wouldn't have been afforded.

During my pregnancy, restricted in activity and movement by my high risk label, I reached back into my psyche and pulled from my past experiences.

During the birth, I didn't fret about the pain because I knew I had survived pain before, and that my body would endure.

However, postpartum depression threw me for a loop. What strength to pull from?

I am nothing if not resourceful, always the person among friends to have a paperclip handy, a band aid in my purse, or an extra pair of sunglasses to lend.

Attempting to raise 2 infants through the fog of depression blurred my skills, but my instincts floated up occasionally, urging me to research methods, tricks and tips for raising twins online.

That is where I found Baby Squared and Jane Roper.

There was a similarity I couldn't quantify, a connectedness that had nothing to do with lifestyle - she's married to a musician and lives across the country in Boston. I'm a soggy Northwesterner through and through, married to a Canadian outdoorsman.

But through the weaving of her words, I found solace, comfort and companionship. The timing was impeccable - she began to open up to her readers about her history with depression at the same time I was confronting my PPD head on.

I had a recent conversation with a long time client, a soft spoken father of 6 that confirmed my belief that people come into your life for a reason; he found unexpected counsel with his dentist, of all people. While reclined in the plastic covered chair that doubled as a psychiatrist's couch, he realized they had experienced similar situations in life - and that connection is cathartic in many ways.

Looking back, I see that I was ignoring other subtle (and not-so-subtle) signs.

My adoration of books won out over my exhaustion and I found Brooke Shields' book Down Came The Rain and read it with interest. Although her experiences felt extreme to me, I still felt akin to the overall theme of her story.

My sister sent me this article where Gweneth Paltrow briefly discusses her experience with postnatal depression.

I would skim the notices posted in the ladies room at doctor visits, feeling sympathetic for women that suffer from postpartum depression, but ignoring my own symptoms. I just didn't see myself in the image of the sad woman pushing a stroller. I attributed my fatigue and my anger to the simple fact that I had twins, and not "just" a singleton to care for.

Finally, my good friend and college roommate, a new mom and mental health professional stood before me and simply told me she thought I was depressed. Everything clicked into place as I realized that I wasn't me, the easygoing, fun-loving me that I knew before my pregnancy.

I thank her every chance I get.

While writing this essay, I came across this. Naturally.
(via Little Reminders of Love)
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