I have depression and anxiety. It’s been about a year and a half since the realization first hit me, but it wasn’t too much of a surprise. I can link my mental health struggles to a particular event, my miscarriage at eleven weeks, after two and a half years of fighting secondary infertility, something I’ve written about before.
A number of health professionals will give you a series of questions that you rate on an occurrence scale to sort out your depression or anxiety levels. I fall around the high-mild to low-moderate range. I get enjoyment out of activities, and I don’t have the scary symptoms like feeling the world or my family would be better off without me. My day-to-day does get impacted though. My sleep patterns can be a bit off and my efficiency level at getting things done is not the same as it was before the onset of my depression/anxiety. It seems like it takes more energy to do things than before, I get overwhelmed much more easily, and my energy levels don’t quite restore as fast as they used to. Certain times of the year are harder for me, but they’re all times I can predict: around when I found out I was pregnant (Christmas Eve), in late January when my miscarriage was, Mother’s Day is sometimes rocky, and around the time of my due date is extra hard. I have a good support group of friends and family though, and I was managing well enough, until I wasn’t.
This August would have been that lost baby’s first birthday and I was going through a lot of feelings about that especially since we discovered in April that I have borderline PCOS and we decided to not pursue the treatments that would required to try to make a third kid happen. We had answers, and we were working at moving on, but moving on is still a process. I wasn’t surprised at the depression spike, but as August became September, I expected it to roll to lower levels again. Then I got a hip injury that derailed the exercise routine that was part of my depression and PCOS treatment. With that injury not yet resolved, we had a home repair nightmare that started in October and took two months to complete. November kicked in another high stress event, and as I found myself staring down the gauntlet that is the holidays, I realized I was fast approaching another one of those emotionally compromising times of the year in the middle of holiday insanity, and I still hadn’t come back down from August yet. Each stress inducing event seemed to be kicking my depression and anxiety up a little more each time. I realized that what I was doing before was no longer managing my mental health the way I needed it to, and it was time to do something different if I expected results.
Admitting that this was more than I thought I could maintain on my own was hard. Plus the PCP I had practically had to move mountains to find had closed their offices up, so I needed a new one. I was super lucky that I knew about a new health office that had opened and would take our insurance. They aren’t close, but we live in a developing suburb where very little is close medical practice wise, and this new place took both new patients and my insurance. I just had to wait a month to see my new PCP. It was not an easy wait, and I was super anxious knowing I was likely going to have to tell the story of how I had gotten to this point and relive some of those heartbreaking moments. Just before Christmas, I met my new PCP, whom a friend recommended, and she very quickly put me at ease, making it a lot easier to give her a run down of my depression and anxiety history. We discussed what route I wanted to explore for treatment, and I decided I wanted a therapist with experience in patience that were processing pregnancy loss. For something that felt so hard to admit a month before, it was a relief when she had a therapist name for me and a promise to help look at other therapists if this first one and I didn’t mesh. It was a first step in a journey to help me with my mental health and processing what all we had been though in the past two years, and I felt a sense of hope I had been needing for quite some time.
I’ve decided to share bits of my mental health journey with GeekMom readers for a few reasons. One, other friends sharing their journeys with me not only lead to my becoming aware of my depression and anxiety, but as soon as I acknowledged my own struggles, I knew I had support from friends and family. I am also a firm believer that it’s important to acknowledge the impact depression, anxiety, and other mental health issues can have on a person as well as normalize and support seeking professional help for them. Maybe you’re reading this article because you suspect you might have depression, anxiety, or another mental health issue. Maybe like I was, you’re hovering between deciding if you need to seek out a professional for additional help and you’re worried that you’ll be an inconvenience or a bother. If that sounds like you, then I’d like to tell you to go ahead and reach out to a doctor, even if it means finding a new one. You and your mental health are important.