Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Mental Health Awareness Month

Come link up at Band Back Togther for Mental Health Awareness Month

May is Mental Health Awareness Month. I think this is awesome because if there’s a month, then people are talking about mental health. And if people are talking about mental health, then we are getting closer to shutting down the stigmas that are often attached to mental illnesses.

And the stigmas? They are worse than the illness because they can make people feel shame and isolation, which then in turn, make the mental illness worse. A vicious cycle.

If you have a story to tell or need some support, please go to Band Back Together and share it. This site is so awesome because it shows that none of us are alone.

My name is Erin, and I am the face of PMDD (Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder).

 I’ve told this story before, but in honor of Mental Health Awareness Month, I am telling it again.

It’s Nice to Meet You, Celexa.

Everything changes after kids. Everything. I mean how it can NOT be different. I expected that my body would be different after carrying two human beings. I expected that I would be watching a fair amount of children’s programming. I expected that I would be running around taking The Babes to doctor’s appointments and social activities.

What I did not expect is the change of the intensity of PMS. Before The Babes, I would get a little bluesy, a little cranky, maybe even shed a few tears. After the Babes, I became a maniac. In May, I told my doctor, and she said that I may want to look into taking an antidepressant for the week before my period. But she told me to chart my mood for the next couple of months first to make sure it was hormones.

Around day 10, it would start with anxiety, proceed with extreme agitation, and conclude with full on meltdowns. And then, poof, it all went away the nanosecond I started my period. I would spend the next three weeks hating myself for the emotional outbursts and trauma I caused my loved ones.

In September, I remember just feeling like my moods were on this roller coaster, and I was out of control. I yelled at Marie for not getting in the car fast enough. She cried. I cried. I am totally ashamed of myself. I waited to make sure I started my period, and then called my doctor ASAP. I did it because I knew I couldn’t control it. I remember telling the nurse that I need help or I fear that I may turn that occasional glass of wine to a weeklong bender to get through this week. Clearly, white-knuckling it was not working out.

My doctor gave me a script for Celexa. I didn’t take it the first time because I was going to Vancouver and didn’t want to introduce a new drug into my system while on a business trip while 3,000+ miles away from my doctor.

I almost didn’t take it the next month. But there I was, sobbing that Harrington didn’t understand me. I was cranky with The Babes for no reason. And I looked at their sweet, innocent faces and knew they didn’t deserve this.

I went in the bathroom, opened the bottle of medicine, and took a pill. I didn’t care if it would make me tired. I didn’t care if I couldn’t have drink on my birthday. I didn’t care what anyone thought, especially for those who don’t think medication is necessary. I didn’t want my Babes to see me unraveled, thinking they had done something to deserve being yelled at. I didn’t want them walking on egg shells because Mommy might freak the fcku out. That’s no way for anyone to live.

The first day, I felt like I was taking a vacation from myself. I felt free. Free from anxiety. I never thought it possible to feel so relaxed during a regular day. It was like I had a nice, warm blanket on the inside. My muscles and stomach slowly became unclenched. This sensation kind of reminded me of that warm sensation of the epidural after having such strong contractions with Thomas.

I also noticed a change in my daily thoughts and reactions. When I had to pack the diaper bag, I didn’t have the usual trail of thoughts racing through my head:

Did I pack snacks? If don’t pack snacks, then The Babes will get hungry. If there are no snacks and they get hungry, I’ll be a bad mom. I don’t want to be a bad mom. So I better pack the snacks. Hey, why do I always have to pack the diaper bag? It’s not fair that I have to think of everything. Harrington’s here. Why can’t HE pack the snacks? No one’s going to judge him for forgetting snacks. Seriously, I think my head is going to explode that I have to think of EVERYTHING. EVERYTHING!! Now where the hell are those damn snacks already?! Shit, now we are going to be late because I still have to pack the snacks.

I just got the snacks and that was it. It was liberating not to be pulled down by those thoughts.

Through that week, I found that I slept better. I was too tired to stay up and be productive until 10:30 p.m. at night. I didn’t move at the speed of light to get everything done. Because if it didn’t get done, that was alright, too.

When I started my period and put the Celexa down, I did notice that my anxiety was coming back. So I think it’s safe to say that I am hardwired for anxiety. But I also realized that I could be making better choices to lessen that anxiety. For example, I need to get off the computer by 9:30 if I am going to have restful sleep.

I also realized that I let the moods of others slither across my personal boundaries and effect me more than they should. I need to build better personal boundaries to protect my sanity. I guess this is something I already know, but have realized on a much deeper level.

So thank you, Celexa, for showing me what life can be like without anxiety. I look forward to your assistance next month.

1 comment:

Jenna said...

Thank you so much for sharing your story, and for linking up with The Band today to promote mental health awareness month and to battle stigma. Im linked up too, and am glad I got to visit your blog for the first time today!