Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Psychiatrist Experience

Psychiatrists are not scary. Nor are they weird. Or old. Well, I'm sure some of them are old, but mine is not. I did comment to a friend that it was strange speaking to a "wise doctor" who was probably my age. Although he could have a been a few years older, but honestly, guys my age can be doctors now! Not only can they be doctors, but they can be doctors who have been practicing (as in "graduated") for a while, too. For several years, in fact!
Maybe I'm just the one gettin' old.

Anyway, I went to see my psychiatrist on Friday. We spoke for almost an hour and we went over my entire health history: physical, mental, emotional, etc. We focused on the mental (go figure) and after he described Depression in detail, I was relieved to see that Yep! I've got it! Why? Because it was something finally real. It was no longer the self-diagnosed problems I tried to cure with exercise and diet (although those are very good things and I'm actually under orders to figure out a way to fit exercise into my life even though I have absolutely no time to fit exercise into my life but I better do it because it's doctor's orders! Head doctor, yes, but doctor none the less); this was the real deal. I have Depression.
And it's NOT post-partum depression.
Nope. I have the real thing. The "lasts longer than a few weeks (more like months) and didn't truly go away during pregnancy or after-birth or before-birth or with therapy or without therapy even though I did have periods of happiness, because that's what Depression does; it ebbs and flows but sticks around and gets worse until you are wallowing in it all the time and thus the need to get some help before it sucks you into the vortex of never-ending hopelessness."
I've got it.

So...anyway...I'm already on Zoloft. I started out at 25mg with a prescription my midwife gave me about a month ago. It wasn't doin' too much (although some frustration and/or anger subsided), so with her permission, I upped it to 50mg after 2 weeks. My shrink (and fyi --I say "shrink" with love and respect) thinks I should stay on 50mg for a month and then go back to see him, marking my progress or my non-progress along the way. That's where I am.
Exciting, ain't it?

Here's something REALLY cool, though. My awesome buddy m&m gave me a book last night (well, technically, she gave me about 9 books, hooray!), and one of them was by Michael McLean. You know the guy --he writes all those churchy songs that make us cry. Anyway, his book is called Hold On, the Light Will Come: And Other Lessons My Songs Have Taught Me and in it was a song he has never written down or published, but these are the words (they made me laugh and then cry. See? Told you he makes people cry. Even the ones who make fun of him in public but secretly listen to his music in private --don't try to deny it!):

"Something's Broken In My Brain and Only Pills Can Fix It"

Something's broken in my brain
And only pills can fix it.
I fought this thing for years in vain,

Believing I could lick it.
I tried and failed and felt so weak;
It made me quite the cynic.
And then I heard the heavens speak:
"Mike, get thee to a clinic."
I thought that meant the clinic
For my own immortal soul,
So I trudged down to a church to wait
For God to make me whole.
Then something happened then and there
That came as quite a shocker:
I heard the voice of God say, "Mike,
I meant get thee to a doctor."
"But you're the God of heaven and earth,
My King, my Lord, my Master.
Why not just heal me here and now?
It's cheaper and it's faster."
He paused so long I thought He'd gone,
And then, in all His glory,
He shared an insight that will be
The moral of my story.
He said, "I whispered to some scientists who couldn't see
The one who guided their research was none other than me.
You see, I know you wonder
If I hear prayers when you say them.
Well, I've heard all your cries for help
Long before you pray them."

Here's to pills!
Up next --Therapy. As in, I need to get that therapist, stat, not that my next post will be about therapists...


Gio, Judi and Boys said...

Love the words to the song. Glad that you're getting some help. You're on the right road. Good luck to you on your journey!

Mother of the Wild Boys said...

The words to that song are amazing. I'm glad you could "Get thee to a doctor". ;)

blogging and bliss~ said...

That is some great insight. I would like to think the Lord provides a way for all of us to be healed. I hope the medicine helps. It is a long process to find the right dosage and pills I wish you the best of luck.

Annette Lyon said...

Here's to pills!

You are blessing your children by tracking down what you need NOW when they're young.

Jill said...

Good for you, Cheryl! I hope that things continue to move in a positive direction for you.

Anne Marie said...

Good for you. So glad you're getting the help you need. Best of luck! Great words to that song. I have also heard that exercise is really good for those of us with mood disorders. Hope you can figure out a way to slip it into your routine.

jendoop said...

I miss you at our usual place but I'm glad that you are getting support and help from all around.

I'm also too jealous that you get to see m&m IRL.

Leslie said...

Cheryl...I'm know what you're saying about having a real diagnosis. While I haven't had the struggle with depression, I can appreciate what a relief it is to hear a doctor tell you, "yep...this is what you have." Good for you and I'm so happy that you're on a path to take care of you! Congrats!!!

Michelle Walker said...

What would Happy meets Crazy be, without a little Zoloft? It would be Sad meets Crazy--and nobody wants that. :)

Anonymous said...


Find the time to exercise. Make the time to exercise. It is the best anti-depressant available. Take from someone who has been there. Pills have side effects. They are getting better and the doctors are a little better at informing patients about the side effects, but there are negative side effects. Sometimes it is necessary to take pills for awhile to get out of that deep hole that depression can be. But the longer you take them the harder it is to get off of them. I will admit that my opinion is a bit biased against pills because 1) I hate taking pills for anything and 2) I saw close family members whole personalities change (not for the better) under the influence of anti-depressants - and they were oblivious. I took cautiously took Prozac for a short time and noticed that I did feel "better" - less stressed. But I also noticed that I was less stressed because I "didn't care". I could shirk my responsibilities and feel no guilt. I wasn't so terribly sad - but I also could feel no joy. My emotions were just sorta numb. I also took Lexapro for a while. It made me gain weight. The doctor didn't tell me about this side effect until after I complained about it. Then he admitted that it was a side effect. I could've punched him. This was many years ago, and like I said, the pills have gotten better - I believe.

Exercise has side effects, too. Weight loss. Better muscle development. Stronger bones. Lowered chance of breast cancer. Better complexion. Increased energy. More patience. Improved self-image. I could go on. The point is - exercise will do what pills will do if you are as consistent with it as you would be with taking a pill but exercise has only good side effects. The only down side is that it takes more time and can be difficult to work into a busy mom schedule. I have five children, too. I started my battle with depression after my second. It was always most difficult after birth, but I found myself battling it at other times, too. I soon realized that I needed to be aware that it is always there, just waiting for something to trigger it so it could take me down. I found exercise kept it at bay, for the most part. And when it still crept in I had to battle it with increased exercise (and an occasional massage). So how do you find the time? Here are some of my suggestions. (See next post)

Anonymous said...

Here are my suggestions-

1. You have to make it a priority. For someone like you (and most self-less mothers) you have to realize that taking time to exercise is not a selfish act. Denying your family the benefit of all the positive side-effects (a more patient, energetic and healthy mom that has a positive outlook)because you don't feel like exercising is selfish. Thought I'd throw in a little guilt because guilt motivates women with depression. But, really - it has to be a priority and it is as important to your well-being and your family's well-being as eating, sleeping and breathing. You make time for those other things - make time for exercise. If I got to the end of the day and I hadn't exercised, I would say - "I haven't had my pill yet today". Then I would put on my running shoes and run sprints back and forth in front of my house for 20 minutes. I didn't like doing sprints at midnight so it made me more motivated the next day to find time.

2. Early morning hours are the best time to exercise for two reasons. First, it's a good way to start the day because you get the benefit of the extra energy for the rest of your day. Second, there are not too many things that get scheduled for before sunrise. If you get up and out the door before anyone else is up, you are less likely to have something or someone stop you. With little children that can be really early. I found 5:00-5:30 am worked. If you can nurse the baby at 5:00 and be out the door at 5:30 - perfect. If the baby hasn't nursed - put on your tightest sports bra and go. It won't feel too good at first - but you will be glad you didn't cop out.

3. Get a partner. Especially for the early morning work outs. It's safer to work out with a partner and you are less likely to talk yourself out of it if you know that "Susan" is waiting for you at the corner in the dark. The social aspect of working out with a partner is an added benefit. My running partner has been my "therapist" and I have been hers for many years. We have often commented how big our problems seem at the start of our run and how small they seem when we are done.

4. Get a "Co-op Partner". This a partner for working out during the day when you need a babysitter. Find someone that lives nearby and is in your same situation. Then trade babysitting services. She watches your kids while you exercise - then immediately after you finish - you watch hers. For this to work, the time and days need to be consistent. So find someone who is as motivated and serious about this as you are. Schedule this during the school day when the number of children home will be at its lowest. You can even call this a "playdate" or "pre-school" for your kids and they will look forward to it.
5. In a pinch - get creative. If you find yourself with all the kids and need to get your exercise in - find a fenced in playground - like at a school. Let the little ones play while you run or walk around the perimeter. You can keep an eye on them and can get to them in a matter of seconds if there is a problem. The baby may be a problem, but maybe your oldest can take that responsibility for that short time or put him in a stroller and push. A little extra weight to push around will just increase the intensity of the work-out. NO EXCUSES!

I'm not done - see next post.

Anonymous said...

This should be it.

6. Get the support of your husband. When Brandon is home he should be your "go-to guy". I loved my husband and wanted to spend time with him when he came home from work, but I needed to have my "pill". If I hadn't had a chance to run by the time got home I would greet him with "I can beat the children or I can go for a run - what should I do?" Of course he gladly took the children and I ran off (I would be ready with my shoes and shorts on). I came back 30 minutes later a happy woman, free of stress and ready to enjoy the evening with my family. It didn't take long for my husband to notice to correlation between my mood and exercise. Sometimes he would suggest I go for a long run or to the gym while he took care of the kids. I must have been more cranky than I realized at those times.

7. Schedule your work-outs ahead of time. This goes on the calendar first - other things get scheduled around it. If someone asks you to do something (even a very good thing) at a scheduled work-out time, you pull out your calendar and say "Ooh I have a conflict at that time - I'm sorry". Remember - PRIORITY!.

8. Reward yourself. Set some goals - like 10 consecutive days of exercising - and reward yourself when you accomplish it. Make the goals realistic, but increase their difficulty as you get in the groove. A good reward would be a new pair of running shoes or a new work-out outfit. That way the reward helps you continue with your efforts.

I'm sorry that this post is so long - but I hope it helps. This is something that I am pretty passionate about. I don't want you to feel bad about taking the pills. Like I said before, sometimes it is necessary for some chemical help getting out of the hole. But exercise can and will keep you out of the hole and have some many more benefits that will last a lifetime. I know that you are a strong and determined woman and I know that you will conquer this.

You will be in my prayers.

Cheryl said...

I think you might be surprised by how much I actually agree with you! When I lost my 40 pounds a couple years back, exercise was the catalyst (well, that and not stuffing my face!) and I loved running in the early mornings. I have excuses and justifications right now as to why I'm not doing it (and they are all acceptable and completely logical), but I know I need to figure something out. Thank you for reminding me that I need to just do it!