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1 in 7

12/11/2015

Belle

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I am finding it hard to write openly about my depression, and because of the depression I’m finding it hard to write about anything lighthearted. Even after several months of therapy I still feel ashamed about my situation. Then this week I suffered a pretty big setback and I felt like this blog was as good as gone.

I have been having massive panic attacks again and dealing with extremely disturbing intrusive thoughts. My days are peppered with sudden thoughts about my dying, terror attacks, shootings and natural disasters. I worry about dying before my child is old enough to remember me. I worry about all of us dying. I worry about cancer, explosions, murders and more. I worry when we ride through the deep subway tunnels that only have an elevator exit. I worry when crossing the street with a stroller. I worry when I drop my child at nursery school. It’s exhausting.

I have all these horrible, disgusting thoughts about awful things happening to us and I don’t know how to make them stop. I don’t know who to turn to because, honestly, who the hell thinks this stuff?

“Crazy people. That’s who,” I said to my therapist. “I can’t tell people this because how do you lead in? I can’t bring it up over lunch with my friend. ‘Hey, I’m like totally drifting out of our conversation because what if someone came in and shot the restaurant up?’ is not a great thing to dine to.”

*My palms are sweating as I write this.*

My therapist responded by affirming that yes, our world is fucked up right now and that it is ok to feel some fear. She assured me that with time and practice I can learn to retrain how my body and brain react and eventually feel better. And then she reminded me of a statistic that I have since written in my wallet. I am 1 in 7 women affected by some form of postpartum mood/anxiety/depression disorder. What I am feeling is not weird or even unusual. It is all around but few are talking about it.

I openly discuss infertility statistics – 1 in 8 will experience infertility and 1 in 4 pregnancies end in miscarriage. I am a crusader for change when it comes to educating people about what is infertility, how to navigate muddy waters of treatment and how to support those that are suffering.

1 in 8 is a lot.

1 in 7 is more.

The next morning I awoke to a very brave blog post from a friend describing exactly what I have been feeling. Her intrusive thoughts were so much like mine that I could have written the post. It was eery to read just hours after speaking with my therapist, as this is the friend I used in my lunch example. She is the person I feel close enough to in NYC to even consider opening up to, but I was afraid she would be repulsed. In actuality, though, she is experiencing the same thing.

1 in 7 is so many.

When I consider all the emotional trauma that we as an infertility community have endured just to become parents I realize this statistic is probably much higher in our demographic.

I’m sad I did not come to my safe little blog place sooner and that I took the unkind words of the few who have never suffered to heart. But I’m here now, and it feels good to type this out – sweaty palms and all.

I don’t have a rosy way to end this post. I want to say that I am feeling much better and deem myself cured, but that is doing no one a favor. Instead I’ll open up the discussion to all of you (or the few of you who remain). Are you 1 in 7?

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16 Comments

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  1. December 11, 2015

    Yes. Perhaps not to a debilitating extent, most of the time, but I always have sweaty palms, and I haven’t written Ike’s blog post for his third birthday (which was in June) because of a shitload of existential angst. I started a post once, in maybe August? but WordPress or the interwebz ate it and I haven’t even attempted again. Love you – thank you for speaking out on our behalf!

  2. December 11, 2015

    I’ve battled with depression my entire life and was on medication when I fell pregnant and once I gave birth,immediately went onto medication. I’ve tried over the last two years to stop but I find I’m unable to cope alone and the horrible thoughts I have sometimes just becomes so overwhelming. It’s hard admitting you need help but it’s easier once you do and you acknowledge the problem. I think dealing with infertility is harder than anyone ever really realizes and with it on the rise,the medical profession is only starting to look at all aspects of it,not just the physical but the mental too. Add to that the high stress daily lives we are leading along with a world gone mad intent on destroying itself and its no wonder that you are feeling the anxiety. I’ve become so withdrawn and isolated from a self inflicted media blackout but I find that it’s the best way for me to cope with the harsh realities of the world and my circumstances. I hope you find writing helps you deal with all of these issues that are worrying you and you find your personal solution.

  3. December 11, 2015

    I am 1 in 7 with depresion/anxiety. I do not have panic attacks or worry about unlikely things happening, but recently, I have thought about the possibilities of being affected by a mass shooting. My friend is dying, literally, right now in hospice and I’ve had her situation on my mind (35, has a 2 year old and husband) constantly. I’ve had those panic moments of, “what if that happened to us?”

    I hope you are able to get this kicked soon, you deserve a bunch of happy in your life.

  4. nonsequiturchica #
    December 11, 2015

    No, but I do have friends that are part of the 1 in 7. Have you listened to the NPR podcast Invisibilia? Not only is is fascinating, but I think that the first episode on the secret history of thoughts, may be helpful for you to listen to based on this post.

  5. December 11, 2015

    You are so not alone. Recently my anxiety has really sky rocketed. I worry all the time about shootings. Or car accidents. Every time I get in the car with the baby I worry about making a mistake, or someone coming out of nowhere and plowing into us. I had a panic attack about the possibility of being shot in church this week. I need to talk to someone. It’s just hard to take that step for me.

  6. Katie T #
    December 11, 2015

    I had a terrible time with depression and anxiety last winter. Unbelievable panic attacks. A combination of medication and therapy helped get me back on track (i.e. Manageable and I could function). The medicine played a big part, for sure. But one very helpful technique I learned in therapy was the concept of designated worry time. Basically I took something I was worried about (usually irrational) and let myself worry about it for 5-10 min. All the outlandish what ifs. Worst case scenario stuff. And once I got to worst case, I would think “I could handle that. I would make it. It would be awful but I could do it.” And then I had officially “worried” about that problem. So whenever that worry reoccurs (at the most random times) and I feel that start of panic, I can think “No remember. We already worried about that. And we concluded that we could make it. So I don’t have to worry about it again because we already figured out it would be okay.” And even if I don’t remember why I thought that would be okay, I can usually pull myself off that worry spiral before it goes too far. It’s been a useful tip, as the winter always kicks up my anxiety.

  7. December 11, 2015

    No, I am not , but yes I fear too esp when things hit too close to home. The last incident that really shook me was the shooting of school kids, that had me cAlling my sister for help(she is a therapist). Ive learnt to “bucket” my worries, now I worry only on what I can fix. I cannot fix if someone rams their car into mine that causes me to lose my family or if some nutcase chooses to shoot us all down or basicAlly events I cannot control. Life still goes on, the world doesnt stop, my kids may not remember me if
    i die too soon, but thats fine( i am dead anyway) and as long as my kids are protected and in safe hands they will learn to live without me.
    I must also add it really helped thst My husband and I created a will and have made sure if something happened to us our kids are taken cAre off emotionally and financiAlly.
    But I know how hard it cAn be when our mind goes on these “fear tours”. hugs.

  8. witchmagpie #
    December 11, 2015

    I am 1 in 7. Thank you for sharing your story, for being brave enough to show us your vulnerability. Thank you for letting me know I’m not alone.

  9. December 11, 2015

    I know exactly what friend’s blog post you are speaking of. In fact, as I was reading this one, I was thinking, “This sounds just like so-and-so.”

    Anxiety sucks. I would say I experience it much more than the average person and it has become worse since having children. It’s not debilitating in the sense that it mostly doesn’t stop me from going about my day-to-day business, but I have lost sleep because of it. Mostly, I just worry all the time. And I see some of the same behavior showing up in my five-year-old, which really, really sucks.

    Hang in there, Belle .And don’t ever be afraid to blog it out. We’re here for you. xo

  10. December 11, 2015

    Still 1 in 8, but I know depression and anxiety. *hugs* It’ll get better, even though it may get worse.

  11. December 12, 2015

    Both of you bloggers are amazing and I’m so proud of both of you standing up and owning it – it tells me you’ll get through it. Hand on my heart

  12. Melanie Meyer #
    December 13, 2015

    Thank you.
    I am one in seven, have started medication and it has been my saviour.
    I have a lot of anger issues with my depression/anxiety and for the first time in my life, I told someone that sometimes I think that if I could smash every single thing in my house, I would feel better.
    The medication has stopped this rage and the horrible intrusive thoughts of death. I laughed a big laugh and surprised myself. My hubby, who had never told me I was “crazy” said he didn’t have to walk on egg shells anymore and that he liked that…
    I have gone through many lengthy therapies that helped very much but I now realize that the chemistry in my brain needed more.
    I hope you find what works for you, you truly deserve to live free.
    Melanie

  13. December 13, 2015

    I am 1 in 7. I went on an antidepressant during all the ivf hell, and stayed on it throughout the pregnancy, and have no plans to go off anytime soon (seven months in and breastfeeding). I have a second med for as-needed use when the anxiety gets out of control. It’s strange, when I open up about being on the meds, it’s the friends who don’t have kids that question, and seem to judge, the use of meds during pregnancy/nursing — the friends who have kids, and all the Healthcare people are 100% supportive. I’m a trauma survivor from my childhood, and spent the last session with my therapist discussing how I feel like I’m lying to my daughter when I tell her I’ll be back (for example when I leave her with Daddy for a yoga class), because, there’s no guarantee I will come back! I could get hit by a car and never come home again. It terrifies me, and honestly, I can’t imagine doing it without the meds, or the therapist.

    I imagine at least some of your anxiety must be from how in transition your home life is. Isn’t the Professor looking for another position? I know my anxiety is so being helped by the fact that our home life is finally settled. Transitions, especially the long drawn out ones, are rough. You never have time to catch your breath.

    Good luck Belle. I think of you so often. You are not alone. All of us readers stand with you. I wish I could give you a hug, and lean in and allow you space to let it all tumble out. No judgment.

  14. Elizabeth #
    December 13, 2015

    Thank you for being so open and honest, and for writing about it.

    I was never an anxious person. But, my son was stillborn 7 weeks ago and I feel like a completely different person. So extremely anxious (to the point of not even being able to grocery shop). I can’t even see my way out, but I appreciate being able to read others’ stories. I appreciate you.

  15. December 14, 2015

    I am Belle. I have dealt with intrusive thoughts my entire life. It wasn’t until I was an adult that I realized that my catastrophic thinking kept me from driving until I was 25. I wasn’t even conscious of the way my brain was working until I delved more into meditation and Buddhist philosophy — and a crisis point with my panic attacks and depression led me to a great cognitive behavioral therapist in 2003. I’m certain I had postpartum anxiety after Z which wasn’t helped by the death of my best friend nor my sons very frightening accident a few summers ago. I continue to try to treat myself with care, I have a great mindfulness-based therapist and continue to try to retrain my brain– and I come from a very traumatic childhood I should add and so these neural pathways are very deep for me –and I want to tell you from my perspective that it is possible, happiness will come, living with the anxiety will come, it will never go away… But you will develop tools to live with it and still be able to experience all of the wonderful joys of life that can sometimes be obscured.

    I’m wishing you some peace and I think it’s great you wrote about it xo

    Pam

  16. December 27, 2015

    Yes. After the birth of each of my children, I suffered from horrible intrusive thoughts and subsequent bizarre compulsions. Accidentally putting my baby in the microwave, baby falling from my deck while in my arms, really awful awful thoughts. I was diagnosed with postpartum OCD and have been taking a hefty dose of zoloft and attending therapy regularly, and the thoughts have been toned down in intensity. It’s so debilitating to feel so anxious and horrified by those thoughts, but it helps to know how common they are. Hugs to you.

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