I was going to call this blog post ‘I Never Stood A Chance’, but I also promised myself a few days ago that I would try and be more positive in my next blog post.
So- here are some things that have made me happy since last week.
I found a stat that said:
“Research indicates that anywhere from half to two thirds of women with bipolar I or II depression may face depression in the months after delivery.”
Another stat said:
“If you’ve already been diagnosed with a bipolar mood disorder, your chances of having a recurrence after giving birth increase. Between 50 and 70 percent of women with bipolar disorder will have similar manic and depressive symptoms after the baby’s birth.”
Because I had failed to take my lithium for 7 days prior to this depression, I had felt incredibly culpable for what was happening.
I blamed myself for the depression.
But when I read that stat, I realized how lucky we had gotten with Sadie.
With Sadie, I had a 1-2 day acute manic episode that I wrestled under control, and maybe a week long period of hypomania (mania, but more subdued), and that was it.
I remember feeling so proud of myself for finally being able to recognize my symptoms and treat them quickly, before the manic episode got out of control.
When it came to deciding if we should have a second child, it wasn’t very hard to decide ‘Yes’, based on our experience with Sadie.
When I read that stat (which applies to fully diagnosed and medicated women with bipolar), I realized that our odds had been stacked against us this whole time.
It’s no one’s ‘fault’ that this happened- bipolar and pregnancy is a coin toss.
Sadie was a gamble that we won, and Lucy was a gamble that we were willing to take, and these weeks of severe depression are worth the cost.
I had a day last week that was so terrible I no longer fully trusted myself with Lucy’s care (not that I would Ever harm her, but more so because I was crying so uncontrollably that day I feared I might neglect her needs if I had to suffer through another day like that alone at home.)
So I reached out and I asked for help.
Ryan’s Mom immediately heeded the call and flew back to Alberta from Ontario.
She’s been out here since Monday night and I’ve seen some real improvements in my mood and thought process since she’s been here.
Last week, when I had the Really Bad Day (Thursday), I started taking the Lamictal; the drug I was scared of taking.
The way I felt that day, I would have taken Anything just to get some relief.
I’ve been on it now for a week and we upped my dose two days ago.
Over the past week, I started doing some household chores. I haven’t been able to do anything around the house for weeks.
Sadie is sick this week and has been staying home from school.
Without Kate, I don’t know how I would have done it with both kids at home in my present condition.
It’s been a godsend having her here. Having Sadie at home has been wonderful too. The depression had me feeling really disconnected from my children, and a few nights ago, I put Sadie to sleep (something I haven’t done for weeks) and the thought that went through my head was “look at her beautiful face. You made this thing and she is such a good thing. You’ve done a great job parenting.”
It was the First time in Weeks that I’ve had a positive thought about myself.
I haven’t burst out crying for two days, which is wonderful, and I no longer have an incessant stream of terrible intrusive thoughts running through my head.
Yesterday and the day before, I was able to do laundry and empty the dishwasher and even make lunch and help prepare dinner.
The tightness in my chest and shoulders from the unbearable weight of anxiety has noticeably lightened over the past few days as well.
The biggest symptoms I still need to treat are sleeplessness at night and anxiety/panic attacks upon waking, but we’re trying out some new meds for that, and hopefully in a few weeks’ time, I won’t even need the sleep support.
My cognitive abilities are still pretty impacted; I can’t follow a conversation for too long without losing the plot or only being able to concentrate on when I’ll get better; I can’t think through a complex task (preparing a meal with a recipe; doing Anything on the computer etc), but I’m sure those things will come in time.
For now- my mood is better. The intrusive thoughts are gone. My ability to do household duties is coming back. I’m starting to smile and laugh authentically again. I’m enjoying my children again.
I trust that day by day, the rest will come.