On Nappies and Wiener Dogs and Depression

smalldachshundpups.jpg

The other day, I had two thoughts in a row. (I know, can you believe it?)

1. Oh my god, today was the best day ever! It was warm and breezy, and I got a green tea lemonade and went down to the beach with a book and saw a tiny wiener dog puppy! COULD MY LIFE POSSIBLY GET ANY BETTER?

[beat]

2. Boy, I’d like to meet the guy who invented Lexapro and shake his hand.

I thought of that again this morning when I read Bluemilk’s post on how parents never imagine it will be nappy struggles that drive them to the brink; when they assessed their theoretical parenting abilities prior to having children, she says, they didn’t envision themselves wrestling with a squrimy, screaming toddler on a change table, and ending up feeling absolutely defeated, absolutely broken.

But the thing is, I do envision that. I envision myself being filled with barely controllable rage when a two-year-old behaves like a two-year-old. I envision myself sliding down a wall and weeping on the floor for an hour because I cannot get her to keep her socks on. I envision these things because, as someone who suffers from depression, I have been driven to the brink by much, much less than a diapering battle.

Heather Armstrong of Dooce, who has written so awesomely about both clinical depression and shit like nappy struggles, describes depression as “the complete inability to cope with stress.” (Parenthetically, all good thoughts to her now as she deals with the second carcinoma in a year. Goddamn.) That line rang a whole lot of bells for me. The number one reason I’m afraid to have kids is that I know I can be felled emotionally by the tiniest fucking thing — the kind of tiny fucking thing that, as far as I can tell, parenting is one long series of. And with a kid, the stakes are a hell of a lot higher than when you were only responsible for your own emotional well-being.

I just read Daniel Gilbert’s Stumbling on Happiness, a fascinating (and very witty) book about why our predictions of future happiness are frequently so far off the mark. The book is stuffed with amusing and surprising tidbits about the human brain, including this one: the average person is way too optimistic, relative to the facts at hand. Meanwhile, the average depressed person has a pretty realistic view of how well things are likely to turn out, not an overly pessimistic one.

Fucking great.

Of course, I would much rather be a mildly deluded happy person than a realistic depressed one, and that’s where Lexapro comes in. When I realized the other day that I was happy, truly happy, and that the cause of it really could be boiled down to warm weather + beach + green tea lemonade + wiener dog puppy, it felt like a goddamned miracle. Because I have so much experience with being gutted and paralyzed by tiny little things — almost none with being uplifted by them.

I’ve been on Lexapro for less than a year; before that, my only experience with antidepressants was an 8-week stint on Zyban to quit smoking. For years, I resisted the idea of medicating myself, insisting that it was not a chemical imbalance in my brain — it was just that I’m a really reactive, really emotional person! When things go well, I get undepressed again!

It never quite dawned on me that maybe I was a really reactive, really emotional person because of a friggin’ chemical imbalance in my brain. Or that being undepressed was not the same as being happy, not by a long shot. And the real problem was, like so many people, I was afraid that meds would take away the things that made me me — my weirdness and creativity and emotional sensitivity. I pictured myself dulled, and I definitely didn’t want happiness badly enough to be dull.

Then it got so bad I was willing to surrender the things that made me me, as long as it meant I could stop crying, stop raging at the slightest inconvenience, stop pushing Al away when he tried to love me, stop lying in bed until the afternoon, stop my heart racing every time the phone rang… I found a psychiatrist, and he prescribed Lexapro. I was lucky enough that the first drug I tried worked like a charm, with no serious side effects. (I have gained weight, but on the plus side, the Lexapro also makes body acceptance a hell of a lot easier for me, since I’m much less likely to stand in front of the mirror and burst into tears these days.) About six weeks later, I started to see the changes. I could spring out of bed with the alarm. I could see an off-leash dog on the street and not want to scream at its owner for 15 minutes. I could drop a plate and laugh it off. I could hear a loud, startling noise and not start to shake and cry. I could — to some extent, anyway — cope with stress.

And I was still me. I was just a me who could fucking function. Eventually, a me who could sincerely feel joy as a result of things like warm days by the lake and the existence of wiener dog puppies — as opposed to just a spotty, temporary respite from despair. Not to mention, a me who could suddenly get it together to take my writing seriously and become about a hundred times more productive. Turns out I like this me. I like her a lot.

But here’s the rub: Lexapro and I are still in the honeymoon stage. I know tons of people who have been taking antidepressants for years, and it seems that inevitably, your brain figures out you’re tricking it into being happy, and it fights back — much like the body will eventually adjust its metabolism to keep you at the weight it wants to be, regardless of how little you feed it. Eventually, the drug stops working the way it did at first, and you need more of it, or you need a different drug, and in the interim, depression creeps back in.

That fucking terrifies me. After all those years of saying I didn’t want a pill, I didn’t want to change who I was, now all I can think is, “Please, little pill, don’t stop working don’t stop working don’t stop working.” Because the last thing on earth I want to be is the person I was before.

And that’s why I’m still terrified of having kids, because the stakes are too high for me to put my faith in Lexapro, or whatever drugs they’ll have down the line. When I read that Dooce entry I linked to above, my heart absolutely broke, because that is how I envision myself as a parent — apologizing to my child, who’s too young to understand, for my scowling and screaming and exhaustion, for my complete inability to cope with stress. I totally envision myself Googling “nappy struggles” (well, “diaper struggles”) in the middle of the night when, once again, I can’t sleep. I envision my kid in a therapist’s office in her twenties, just like I was, trying to learn how to forgive her mother for being depressed, for simply not having the emotional resources to be fully present all the time, just like I did. I envision myself feeling absolutely defeated and absolutely broken.

And if Daniel Gilbert is to be believed, I’m probably fucking right.

I don’t know what to do with that. I still don’t know if I want to have kids, knowing there’s a good chance I won’t always be able to make them feel safe in their own home. But then I think, at least I know what it feels like now to think, “Wow, what an awesome day!” simply because of the weather and a wiener dog. That’s a start — a start I never really expected, frankly. And as much as I hate pharmaceutical companies about 95% of the time, I am inexpressibly grateful to have had that experience and hopeful that the drugs will keep working for me, that better ones will come along, that I will have the external resources, if not the internal ones, to be able to handle this life thing all the way through. Maybe even enough to take on responsibility for someone else’s life.

Right now, though, I still just don’t know.

Here’s what I do know. Just as Bluemilk gets hits from people Googling “nappy struggles,” I get occasional hits from people Googling things like “hate myself hate my body don’t know what to do.” My heart shatters when I see that. I hope those people find something here that helps, but I have no idea if they will. All I can say is what Bluemilk said to defeated parents: I feel your pain. And I’m so sorry.

30 thoughts on “On Nappies and Wiener Dogs and Depression

  1. I’ve been following your blog for a while now and find you a fabulous and strong woman. Your pain is a tough one; however, your bluntness and fears bring the realities to so many of us who have struggled, are struggling and will continue to struggle with life (in whatever form it takes). I offer you a heartfelt ‘THANK YOU’ for sharing such hurts. I also offer the truth that you are not alone and I wish you the very best on your journey.

  2. I thank the makers of zoloft almost daily. I, too, was lucky to come upon a drug that worked first time, although I did have to weather some yucky side-effects for the first few weeks. I also struggled with whether or not to go on them, but getting to the point of having serious suicidal thoughts (and that awful feeling of relief that accompanies them) scared me enough to talk to my doctor. I had the added bonus of being a therapist and thinking that I “should” be able to figure out how to cope on my own.

    I agree mostly with what Daniel Gilbert says in Stumbling on Happiness, except that there is a time during deep depression, for some of us, when a type of paranoia sets in that absolutely nothing is going to go right. I had this. I imagined that plans that I had made would fall apart, that I had left the space heater on in my office and the building was going to burn down, that someone would find out that I had done something wrong at work and that I would be fired and lose my license. So sometimes the depressed outlook is not accurate in the least.

    I will say that I have decided not to have children, but not for this reason. I have come to a place of happiness and joy with this decision (which baffles some people).

  3. Hey Kate…I can totally dig what you’re saying. Anyone who complains about people being “medicated” can bite me, they don’t know what it’s like to want to kill yourself because someone you didn’t even know looked at you funny, they don’t know what it’s like to stay up all night almost every night crying and crying and crying over nothing and then cry at your desk over nothing the next day. No, I don’t think Prozac or whatever should be given to people just because they’re a little blue about how their stocks are doing, but for many of us it’s way, way, way beyond that — like, how are we ever going to have stocks in the first place when we can’t even keep a frigging job?

    Yeah, Zoloft made me fat. Very fat. It also kept me from slashing my wrists. I’ll take that tradeoff any day, thanks.

    I will say that I did get off Effexor, which I’d been on for five years (after having been on other meds for the previous ten), last December, with the aid of a chiropractic neurologist who prescribed me directed amino acids which I’m still taking. The reason I wanted to get off Effexor is that it was making me twitch and making me sleep 12-14 hours a day and I couldn’t have a damned life, although I was grateful it kept me from defenestrating myself.

    I don’t necessarily recommend what I did to everyone, though, because a) you have to get a urine neurotransmitter test and have the right sups prescribed by someone who knows exactly what they’re doing; b) it’s much more expensive than just taking pharms, especially if you get free samples or your insurance covers them; and c) you have to be absolutely compliant with every little supplement you take, several times a day — I use four different amino acids for mental function alone, plus B complex and C — ESPECIALLY the stuff that works on serotonin, or you’ll start crying over nothing again. (I order my stuff from Vitacost, which costs about half as much or less than buying it at retail, but still, if I forget and run out, I have to get it at the dreaded vitamin store, which — especially for 5-HTP — is killer expensive.)

    Also, every brain is different in its response to any and every substance. I know people who swear marijuana is a wonder substance, makes them feel great, sleep like a baby, wake up with all kinds of energy and whipsmart concentration. Me, if I take two hits off a joint, I can’t remember my name or how to tie my shoes for a week.

  4. I’m not trying to piss anyone off (I hate starting like that cause it sounds like I will then piss people off). When you were diagnosed and given the medication, did anyone recommend counseling with the medications? If so, are you going? Medication and therapy are proven to be more effective in combination than either one alone. This being that while the medication is initially working, the counseling allows you to treat the underlying condition that goes with the chemical imbalance. You are all on the right track with the fact that the medication will not work ‘forever’, hence the need for the therapeutic piece. During the window that it works the best is the time for the counseling to do its thing so you can eventually not take the medication anymore (nor will you need the therapy anymore). Just curious?

  5. Earthencircle, you pissed me off! Just kidding, and thanks for your earlier comment.

    I’ve been in therapy on and off since I was 16. Right now I’m off, and in many ways, I kinda feel I’ve exhausted what therapy has to offer. I was able to manage my depression and function a lot of the time with therapy alone, hence waiting so long to try meds. But the last time I saw a therapist, I realized — and so did she — that I was anticipating pretty much everything she had to say to me. I’m aces at figuring out what’s eating me, how that ties into past experiences, etc. What I wasn’t so good at was picking myself up and moving forward after figuring that out — and that’s been the main thing Lexapro has helped with.

  6. Just so you know, Earthencircle, I was in therapy without meds for a good 10 years before I went pharm. I continued my therapy on the meds for quite a few years after that. I agree that they work better together, but interestingly enough the next-to-last psychiatrist I saw just checked in with me for “med maintenance” because by then I’d had “so much therapy that anything [he] had to say would be superfluous.” (His words, not mine.)

  7. If nothing else, I have learned that one size does not fit all in EVERY way we approach life. Was curious of your journey on the meds and therapy thing, thanks for the information.

  8. Great post. Really thoughtful and interesting. On the kid tip, I can tell you that it was having my son that finally convinced me that I needed some help. Granted, it took three years and countless episodes of punching the wall (ow!) following contentious diaper struggles and other parenting irritants, but I know that the thing that finally forced me to confront my biological inheritance of chemical imbalance toward depression (sober Swedish ancestors, anyone?) was the thought of my son growing up with such an angry mom.

    I was never, ever abusive toward him, and indeed I think I was and still am a good parent, but I was absolutely brutal toward myself. (The wall-punching being a good example.) All that changed when I finally tried Wellbutrin. It was like a fog clearing from my brain. Within 3 to 4 weeks, I found myself not wanting to cry and punch walls for the first time since he’d been born. Why I didn’t seek this help when the post-partum depression first hit I’ll never know.

    Anyway, I guess it’s a longwinded way of saying that fear of depression and its effects on parenting are legitimate thoughts to have, but I don’t think the vast majority of depressed people who want children are going to do harm to their kids–provided they stay on top of their condition. My father also suffers from depression and has only medicated it within the last decade. While that has made him a much happier person, I never once noticed or “graded him down” as a father when he was depressed. He is the greatest dad anyone could ask for, and he was actually instrumental in helping me get help for my depression.

    Whew! Didn’t mean to write a book here…

  9. Lexapro has been a godsend for me too. i had the same concerns you had — that it would dim my light, make me LESS me. but once my body adjusted, i think it let me be MORE me. like you said, less reactive. it snuffs out the white noise and lets you focus. my psychiatrist said that pregnant women cannot take Lexapro. not that i am anywhere near being ready to bear children, but i do want that some day. i also don’t want to become dependent upon a drug to be myself. (hell, somehow i am comfortable with requiring a steady infusion of coffee to help me remain civilized and awake, but let’s leave that aside for now). I brought up the idea of going off it to her recently. She said that most people have had success weaning off it after a least a year and a half of being on it. The ideal situation is that, while on the drug, you can develop the tools you need to cope with stress so some day in the future, you can go without it. That, of course, is in mild cases. Some people will always need medication. It’s just the way some of us are built. A good friend of mine has been on it for almost 5 years and it still works for her. She never plans to go off. If it stops working, well we just have to hope we’ll find something else to get us through.

    And Weiner dogs are so sweet. A pal has one named Nathan. He’s the cutest little nudgie.

  10. That line rang a whole lot of bells for me. The number one reason I’m afraid to have kids is that I know I can be felled emotionally by the tiniest fucking thing — the kind of tiny fucking thing that, as far as I can tell, parenting is one long series of. And with a kid, the stakes are a hell of a lot higher than when you were only responsible for your own emotional well-being.”

    And you have just summed up in one paragraph, my entire reasoning for not having children.

    And yet it is amazing how many women seem to think that my problems stem from not having children. They seem to think that either (a)I do not know myself or (b)that children will somehow magically ‘change’ me, by making me complete.

    It’s good to see someone else sharing my same thoughts on the subject. Having thought it through and knowing that while there are many wonderful things in having children, they require the ability to cope with those everyday struggles. Some people can. Some of us can’t. I think it’s better that we figure it out first, before it’s too late.

  11. What beautiful writing, and how true! I have had depression for over 25 years, and I have felt just like you have. There were no SSRIs like Lexapro when I was young, and much of my young adulthood was wasted in illness and despair. Zoloft was truly a miracle drug. Previous drugs made me more functional but did not lift my depression. Zoloft restored me to myself. I was so disabled by depression, so afraid of every small thing in life (like mail), so convinced that deep down there was something disgusting about me that other people might discover and shun me, fire me, abandon me. I have been on SSRIs since they came out, even when I couldn’t afford other important things while paying for them. Depression is a severe and disabling condition, and often deadly as well. I’m a psychiatric social worker, and my psychiatric experience has been invaluable to me at work. I will need medication for the rest of my life, but that’s a small price to pay for living a full life.

    BTW, therapy did not help me until after I had the right medication. At that point I was able to learn coping skills that help me when I have breakthrough depression one a year or so. I have learned not to believe the terrible things I think about myself when the depression hits. I still *feel* disgusting and evil and hopeless, but I have the mental knowledge that I am not any of those things. The feelings do not lead to despairing beliefs about myself that are permanent and fixed anymore. As soon as the depression lifts I am free again.

    Thank you for an elegant and moving post.

  12. Earthencircle – I was in therapy also before meds…and still after meds. I agree with Psyche. I started my most recent therapy about 5 months before I started medications. Nothing got done during those months in therapy, except that I would go in and cry for 50 minutes. Therapy has been so much more productive once I could actually feel things other than despair and anxiety.

  13. Dear Kate,

    I do think hopeless feeling people probably find something to help them here. :-) Thanks for a really terrific, insightful entry.

    I hope this doesn’t sound trivial, but I really identified with your entry because I am struggling with whether or not to take a friend’s cat for a year when she goes to Africa, and it’s totally because I am afraid my periodic depressions make me too unstable to be responsible even for a cat’s welfare. I’ve hated having to try to explain this to her, because I can tell she just doesn’t understand (also, I’m not willing to go very fully into what happens when I’m depressed).

    I’ve taken care of the cat before when my friend has been out of town, but that’s easier to do because it is almost like playing a role. I can keep up the role of responsible, attentive cat-caretaker, going over to her house twice a day for a week or two; but having the cat living with me non-stop for a whole year…I have these awful visions of her developing some minor medical problem and my not noticing until it reaches a fatal point.

    I also have this weird feeling of not wanting even a cat to see what my home gets like when I’m really deeply depressed. I have visions of overflowing litterboxes and frustrated cat pee going unnoticed for weeks in an overflowing pile of laundry. There is no comfort in my home when I’m in the teeth of a depression, and it’s not fair to force another creature to live in a place where there’s no comfort.

    It must be fantastic to feel like the best of you is consistently *there* now. I sometimes go through stretches of clarity like you describe, and it’s like raising my head up out of a sewer. It didn’t occur to me that anti-depressants might be able to do that for me on a consistent basis (like you, I tended to imagine the ‘dull’ thing, which is, in fact, what my sister experienced when she was on Zoloft).

    The thing that worries me, though, is the sheer number of people I’ve known who have taken anti-depressants when what they really needed to do was make a difficult change. I don’t think this is true of all people on medication, I just don’t know whether or not it’s true of me. I suspect I need to get past a lifelong habit of policing my thoughts and feelings even in very close relationships out of fear that the other person will discover how loathesome and culpable I am – – – but then, I don’t know how much of that comes from the paranoia and self-loathing of depression – so, maybe being on antidepressants will make that task easier.

    Anyway, thank you for an excellent, insightful and very helpful post. I feel lucky to have come across it when I did.

    Best wishes,
    Mary

  14. Everybody I haven’t responded to individually: thank you!

    Mary: With regard to the cat, I totally know what you’re talking about — I feel awful for my dogs when I’m too low to pay much attention to them beyond feeding them and taking them on the world’s shortest walks. At the same time, having a pet around can be a great lift, and cats are fairly low-maintenance. For me, I find the fact that it’s about another creature instead of me motivates me to at least do the bare minimum — I’ve never forgotten to feed them or let them crap in the house, although I’ve been sorely tempted a few times. I do notice when they’re sick, and I do immediately call the vet, even when I’d put off calling the doctor for myself. And as for the messy house, they don’t seem to mind (although I’m lucky to have dogs who won’t destroy anything that ends up on the floor).

    Obviously, you need to do what you’re comfortable with, but I think you might be underestimating your ability to care for the cat.

    As for your last point, that’s another reason I resisted meds for a long time — I always thought I just needed to pull myself up by the bootstraps. But as Colio and Spinsterwitch said above, meds can clear away some of the things that prevent you from developing those tools to help yourself. The pill definitely doesn’t make everything bad go away — but it might put you in a frame of mind where you can start to examine the bad stuff without crumbling, so you can actually take steps to change and cope.

    Good luck!

  15. Great post. I’ve been lucky so far… I skirt some depression and anxiety issues, but not to the depths that you’ve experienced. But I am a great believer in medication when it is appropriate. The other argument that people use, other than the loss of ‘me’, is the idea of feeling medicated. I believe that when the chemicals are off and the medication is right, you feel, for the first time, ‘un’medicated. (I’m struggling with this right now in trying to treat my more-serious-than-I’d-ever-believed ADD.)
    I just wrote about this a few weeks ago… the need for false hope–for faith. It’s probably true that the average person is too optimistic and therefore intrinsically unrealistic. But consider, as you certainly have, living the alternative. And as I read your post and considered it, it occurred to me that perhaps it is the natural human condition to maintain that optimism. It keeps us surviving, it keeps us looking ahead. That’s why depression doesn’t work; maybe it is more realistic but who can live with all that realism?
    (And of course, it does go beyond that, as spinsterwitch said. When you live with untreated depression long enough, the chemicals fuck around and start doing some nastier things.)
    I am a big fan of the med/therapy combo. But in your case, you’ve had plenty of therapy, so enjoy your honeymoon. A therapist might be helpful, down the road, in working out the baby issue. I think, personally, that once you feel stable enough that a screaming kicking human wearing your ass down for an afternoon isn’t enough to have you do any damage to the human OR do longer-term set-backy damage to you, maybe you go for it.

  16. I’ve been thinking that you should be careful with what you write because there are pharmaceutical companies that would bottle “weiner dog juice” if they thought it could sell as an antidepressant.

    They would, I know this, and it would probably sell.

  17. Thank you thank you thank you.

    It can be so hard to get people to understand all this, especially the bit about rational behaviour zooming out the window. I have some pretty severe anxiety on top of the depression and that makes any kind of therapy and such pretty much moot: when your logic circuits are shut off, all the cognitive behaviour therapy in the world isn’t going to have an effect. Find the root cause of feeling this way, recognise it when it starts up, that kind of thing? There is no root cause. Countless therapists (counsellors, psychologists, psychiatrists) have asked “So, why do you think you feel this way?” and my answer is always “I have no reason to feel this way, I just do.” The only one who was of any real help was a nice psychiatrist who said “You know, sometimes people are just depressed or anxious, like being tall or short or having brown or black hair. Medication can help.”

    And then I got on the Celexa. For the first three months, I lost my appetite (I lived on a cheese sandwich and some soup each day). (People were congratulating me on my “successful weight loss”, which was not helpful.) Then, the brain fog cleared.

    Then … I finally got a diagnosis and treatment for obstructive sleep apnea, something I’ve apparently had since I was a slim child. The doctor tried to sell me on gastric lap banding and I said “Yeah sure whatEVER” and took my CPAP machine home. About 6 months after that, I stopped the Celexa and found things were pretty good. Disturbed sleep’ll really kill your brain. I often wonder how many fat people who have sleep apnea are still suffering its myriad effects because the doctor keeps telling them they’ll stop snoring if they lose weight, which is simply not true in most cases.

    Then my brain had a re-lapse (“Oh no! What’s all this happiness stuff!?”) and I’m considering taking the pills again.

  18. Long-time depressive, first time commenter. I want to bring together two thoughts: depression and sleep disturbance and children and sleep disturbance. I have two teenagers and everyday I thank god they’re not little anymore. The years when they didn’t sleep through the night either because they were infants or had sleep problems or a stomach bug or whatever were absolute hell for me. I probably will be on medication for the rest of my life (Wellbutrin) but if I had to go through that regularly interrupted sleep thing again, I don’t think that meds would be enough.

    And as a mother who loves the people her children are turning out to be, I still would caution against having children. It’s the only job in the world, the only relationship in the world you can’t walk away from without being condemned by the world and yourself.

    I wanted children because my mother died and I wanted to have a family in the future, not just in the past. I didn’t think about the fact that having children is no guarantee of that and that you can make a family of the people you love, without ties of blood. Also I think my ovaries were whispering subliminal messages to me.

    Now about being the child of a seriously depressed mother, I loved her anyway and still miss her. When she died of cancer the only thing that kept me going was knowing that she didn’t have to struggle anymore. Maybe she could have been a “better” mother if she hadn’t had to fight the demons, but we loved each other, very, very much.

  19. “I thought of that again this morning when I read Bluemilk’s post on how parents never imagine it will be nappy struggles that drive them to the brink; when they assessed their theoretical parenting abilities prior to having children, she says, they didn’t envision themselves wrestling with a squrimy, screaming toddler on a change table, and ending up feeling absolutely defeated, absolutely broken.

    But the thing is, I do envision that. I envision myself being filled with barely controllable rage when a two-year-old behaves like a two-year-old. I envision myself sliding down a wall and weeping on the floor for an hour because I cannot get her to keep her socks on. I envision these things because, as someone who suffers from depression, I have been driven to the brink by much, much less than a diapering battle.”

    Thank you for saying that. I envision that too, and I’ve never heard anyone say it before, that estimate before ever being a parent. I don’t think the lack of coping ability would exactly be a good parental quality in me if I did ever have children (I don’t plan to).

  20. I have resigned myself to the idea that I will only have children if the person I am with really really REALLY wants them and only if I know they are strong enough to counter balance me. In most areas of my life I am and will continue to be the strong one (yes in my screwed up family the bipolar daughter is the strongest most responsible one, go figure). But in terms of that day to day being balanced and being able to absorb the little things, i just don’t trust myself. And I will not stake a childs life and well being on my being being right. I have not yet reached the age where I really regret it and I hope maybe I won’t, but I’m sorry for you if you wanted it to be otherwise. As always, thank you for your writing.

  21. Wow. It’s like you just took a picture of the inside of my brain. ::boggles:: Well said, all of it.

    I’ve been on Zoloft for a year and a half and am currently taking a stab at tapering off the stuff; had a very good year with Zoloft, and a great few months of therapy, but… well, I was still no good at handling great stress. I’ve had enough therapy and read enough that I pretty much know what the problems are and how to fix them, but knowing and practicing are two different things.

    So, currently I’m doing a mindfulness meditation program as a pro-active measure that will hopefully help me manage my stress well enough to avoid falling back into a pit of despond. (Knock on wood; so far, so good.) No guarantees, but I think it will serve as the missing link between “knowing” and “doing” by making me able to notice the signs of stress and act to relax (yet another thing that, hilariously, I actually have to practice doing) well before it blows up into a big horrible mess.

    Good luck. I’m glad to have found you– it’s great when two of my interests (feminism and dealing with fat) end up on such a great blog together!

  22. Great blog. I’m coming back to read everyone’s comments after my therapy session. I’m what they call “drug-resistant” which is lunacy since I love drugs. Anyhow, I liked your inclusion of that lady’s definition of depression as the total inability to cope with stress. That’s a new way of looking at it for me, and it kind of rings true. Anyhow, you’re a really good writer, and I look forward to reading more of your work. -Andrea

  23. I just cant believe it…something must be working for me.I have read & read & not shed a tear or am I just numb?
    I have been poisoned by anxitety/depression for nearly 20yrs,I have tried phsycologists, phsycaiatrists, sectioned… I have tried many mant different pharms over the past 5years and have settled with citalopram they do seem to assist but it is a constant mind #?!# trying to keep my head space balanced.
    A huge thank you.xox Kia Kaha

  24. So, certainly, Kate and crew are going to be the only ones who actually see this at this late date.

    Your concerns are valid. Seriously, I’m kinda impressed that you’re actually able to realize that the diaper battle happens because the kid is fucking two, not because someone is a bad parent. Most parents don’t think about the nappy battle at all, and most of the ones who do are certain that either they, and they alone, will have the will power to not do that (sorta like dieting) or that they will just have such phenomenally better kids (or be better parents, not sure which) that their kids won’t do that.

    My mom didn’t think about the diaper battle. Or the fact that every single person she’d ever known had had some irritating little habit that they persisted in no matter how many times they said they wouldn’t do it. I got the defense from my parents that I just did things over and over and over again and it frustrated them and the abuse I received from that shouldn’t be held against her. Because I had some thing that I just kept doing even though someone wanted me to stop. My reply was that I wasn’t going to accept “kids are kids” as an excuse for abuse and I certainly wasn’t going to accept “kids are people” as an excuse for abusing kids.

    The nappy battle is hard to deal with. If you accept that you’re going to have to deal with it, that sometimes you will be defeated by it, and that it is normal (and far more healthy) to remove yourself from the situation for awhile, you actually have a much better shot at being a decent mother than the people who are convinced it won’t happen and are utterly defeated when it does. Because you can’t be utterly defeated by something you plan for; you can feel really, really tired, in severe need of escape, but so long as you know that you are not less than everyone else, you’ll probably be okay in the longer run.

    One day, I hope that being able to tell my six year old, “I’m sorry, I need you to leave me alone for awhile so I can get a hold of my temper. It is not your fault I can’t hold on to my temper, and I need you to go play without me so I don’t do something mean that I really shouldn’t do,” pays off. I’m sure it will pay off far better than just losing it and showing the fairly typical abusive profile of doing something I shouldn’t that hurts and apologizing later and never, ever doing anything to correct my behavior.

    I also deal with depression, but that idea that I really am right is more liberating for me. It means that everyone else is delusional and has no freaking idea how to plan for what will happen because they refuse to believe in reality. If you can get past the despair, realize that shit happens, and plan for it with the worst your mind throws at you, it can all be quite empowering. Though sometimes it would be nice to laugh just for the fun of it. I’d be the last person in the world to suggest you give that up.

  25. When my eldest daughter turned three I started sending myself to my room. “I CAN’T COPE. I am not nice enough now to be with people. I am going to my room until I am nicer.”

    I did hit her once; she said “You hit me!” (Yes, yes I did.) “Even EMER isn’t allowed to hit!” (Yes, even your baby sister who is allowed to poo on the carpet isn’t allowed to hit). “I’m TELLING.” (No! No! Please don’t tell! I mean, “Yes, you must tell someone when someone hits you.” I think I handled that rather well.)

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