Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Coming out of the Fog

The time has come for another True Confessions post. This post includes a few more disclaimers than usual. It contains touchy subjects that are open to LOTS of opinions. Please hear my voice and heart in this, as I chose to share this very difficult matter in hopes that God can use my sadness to the Glory of His better and higher Good.

The Fog.

Depression? Post-partum? Hormones?

Whatever the case, I have NOT been myself since I became pregnant with Christian, a year and a half ago!!! I know that it is very normal for women to struggle with their lives and emotions, as they adjust to a new member of the family (for me, becoming a mommy of two)...There are major life changes, shifts in responsibilites, sibling adjustments, hormonal changes, lack of sleep. Even so, I knew that 'something was not quite right.'

Could it be depression? Could it be post-partum? I know there are A LOT of opinions out there on this one (please, I ask that commenters refrain from medically diagnosing me via blog commenting, hehe. but please feel free to share your own experiences).....but the point of this post is to share my own experience. From my eyes. And in hopes that, maybe, it could help someone else.

I struggled with a depression, or typical depression symptoms, during both of my pregnancies. I got/get very little feedback from anyone about this (friends, Doctors, etc.), and I am not even sure if pregnancy depression even exists. I don't know anyone else who has experienced this. But, I WAS NOT a happy pregnant lady. Either time!!!! It is just that with Caleb (#1), the depression vanished immediately after birth. With Christian (#2)... it got worse. I basically entered into a fog..........

I have not posted much about this fog, with the exception of this post. I just figured that all women must go through this stuff, and I often figure nobody wants to hear about it. But there is a twist to my story, and maybe you are the one who was meant to read this....

The twist is this:

At this point, with the exception of the pregnancy-onset-depression that I experienced with both boys, I am fairly certain that the cause for my depression and intense mood swings was my birth control. I was using the Mirena, a modern IUD device that also releases hormones. I had it removed a month ago, ... and I am glad that I did.

There are two points I want to share in this True Confession. One is, the way I was feeling - in case you are feeling that way too. Two is, how this 'miracle birth control' was pushed on me - because it just makes me wonder.

How I felt

(The following 'feelings' are out of character for me)

Well, in a word: I felt hormonal!! I was very, very moody. I was not interested in maintaining relationships, at all. I was very, very, easily stressed out. I snapped at my loved ones... a lot! I degraded my husband (I have NEVER done this before; I don't believe in ever saying anything below-the-belt to or about your spouse). I viewed Christian, my sweet, sweet baby boy, as a burden. I wanted nothing to do with my faith, Jesus, or church...and just went through the motionsI cried on some days, but for the most part, I was cold and disconnected - uncrying. I wallowed in self-pity. I felt out of control of my emotions. I was being a real, .....well, you know.

As I described to someone, "It is not like, 'I don't feel like getting out of bed'... it is more like, 'no one WANTS me to get out of bed.'"

How the Mirena was pushed on me

I chose to go on the Mirena. I received information from the doctors. I looked into it a little bit more (I read the information I was given, plus a little more online). Then, I decided to give it a try.

Even still, I have an uneasy feeling that the Doctors really wanted me to love this thing, be on this thing, and sign up now.

When I was in RECOVERY (!!!!!) for labor and delivery (yes, I am telling the truth!!), I had a Dr. from my OB/GYN come into my room and give me and my husband a compelling, um, 'sales pitch' for the Mirena. It was nothing short of a power-point presentation about how this dream device was going to be the perfect solution to all of my birth control needs. Nursing, fine. Side effects, hardly. Effortless, yesiree. Painless, yep. The only problem? About 10% reject it, and it leaves the body. This is how it was presented.

and then?? they asked me right then and there if I wanted to sign up for an appointment to have it inserted at 6 weeks postpartum.

I received THREE follow up phone calls to see if I wanted to 'sign up' for an appointment; one was after I had already signed up.

ok. so, that was the before. It was clear that my Dr.'s office was excited about this Mirena thing. I still had reservations... including crying in the office the day of insertion because I thought it would be causing mini-miscarriages. My concerns were dismissed, and I was told this is not so. Even still, my biggest beef with my provider came the day I scheduled an appointment to discuss: Possible Post-Partum Depression

What happened next IS the part that makes me angry. I will just sum it up for you. After a tearful appointment, where I shared exactly how I felt, shared my concerns connected to the Mirena, shared my belief that it was a "hormonal" feeling, and took a quiz for post-partum...the provider looked at me and said, 4 times: "It is NOT the Mirena.".... as I sat there and cried....

Here is most of what I was told: "I think you suffer from depression. I am not even sure that it is post-artum. If you really want to have the Mirena removed, we can do that for you. But, that is not the problem. The dosage of hormones is not enough to cause depression. I would hate to see you lose out on a very good form of birth-control, just to find out in a month that that was not it. I would recommend getting some time away from your children. You may want to try counseling. Here is a prescription for the lowest dose of Zoloft. If you decide to take the Zoloft, I need to see you back in 6 weeks. Call the office, if that is what you decide."

I know. I get furious thinking about that day.

I immediately called a sitter, and arranged to go on a date with my husband. My wonderful husband was upset at what I was told, and wanted to rule out the Mirena. Sounds logical, right? He was particularly angered by the notion, "I would hate to see you lose out on a very good form of birth-control..." He said to me (like the knight-in-shining-armor he is), " I would hate to see you lose out on a very good life just to have this birth-control." You rock, Matt.

That evening I scoured the internet for more info on the Mirena. One of the most common side effects: depression. Yes, I know that is a side effect for many many drugs... but the fact that it was not even explored at my doctor's visit.................

I decided: The Mirena must go.

***(please note. This is also NOT meant to be a Doctor-bashing post [although I am seriously considering leaving my practice for another], or a traditional-medicine bashing post. Please keep in mind, that when we bash Doctors, we forget about most of them - who offer their very best, love their patients, and give up A LOT of their free time to be on call for their calling. They also believe in what they do, even as the world expects them to have all the answers, as if they were God Himself.)

How it Ends
Well, on to the end of this story. The Mirena has been out for one month. All I have to say is: I am me again. And I have never been so grateful that PMS only lasts 3 days, in normal Darlene-style. How do I explain the change?? Well, If you are one of my blog readers who also knows me personally, I could sum it up this way: I feel like wearing makeup again!! (I have worn makeup every day, religiously, since I was first allowed to do so in 7th grade). I haven't wanted to decorate, wear makeup, buy cute clothes for my kids..... in months!! I know. sound the alarms. But I am ME again!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

The most wonderful change that has occured is in the continued bonding with Christian, and in the calm, less-stress mood of our home. I am having to do a lot of relationship rebuilding. And I will never get the last 10 months back........ but I am grateful to be out of the fog.

4 friends had a thing or two to say...:

lifelaughterchaos said...

darlene, i don't have time to write much...but i swear i was actually depressed when i was pregnant with christian.

also i went on the bcp when i got marrried...i had to swithc because i became sooo not me. the doctor also mentione anti-depressants to which i freaked out and said, i AM NOT depressed because of ME...so we switched to a different kind and i was much better.

i also did bettter this time on bcp.

i remember researching it and found very little link between the 2 but you can find some stuff out there between depression and bcp.

it wasn't in your head girl!!

Angel said...

OH GIRL!!! I am so sorry you went through that and so grateful you listened to yourself and GOT IT OUT!! I absolutely believe you. My body is incredibly sensitive and I have had Drs act like I was NUTS when I told them I felt I was having side effects. It really frustrates me when Drs will not listen to their patients. GOOD for YOU for listening to yourself and your hubby. Hugs, Angel

Tessa said...

Wow ... that sounds awful! I am sorry you had to go through all of that. I was also on birth control that made me very hormonal and slightly crazy. I had a nurse practitioner tell me that she had to go on antidepressants to counteract the effects - and I decided to try another pill. It does seem like your doctor's office was promoting the Mirena ... I just love drug companies and how they rule the world (note the sarcasm). With all this said, I am glad you are back and you are your happy self!

Holly said...

oh darlene, i cannot tell you how much of a God thing it is that you commented on my blog which led me to yours and to this post. i just had my 6 week post partum check up today and talked to my doctor about this very thing. i have been seriously considering havin an iud placed. my husband and i have been going over the pros and cons all day. i became hesistant when my doctor told me that the iud would release hormones. i don't want anything that tricks my body into thinking it is pregnant. (i really struggle with my emotions during pregnancy also!) thank you so much for sharing your experience. now i am confident that this is something i do not want to do. postpartum is hard enough-- i do not need to add any more issues to it if i don't have to :). thank you for sharing.

p.s. i love your blog!