cat looking in through slightly open window

The Sneaky Side of Depression

I think one of the most helpful things I’ve done in trying to maintain my mental health is to become aware of my own personal red flags.

There are certain things, when they start happening, that make me suddenly wonder if something is off. Suddenly I’ll realize, “oh, I’m not handling things well anymore.” 

For me, some of those red flags are:

  • Getting overly emotional at everything (more crying than usual)
  • Feeling tired and fatigued all the time (wanting to sleep as a coping mechanism)
  • The stopping of activities I normally enjoy (lack of motivation to do them)
  • Becoming extra critical and annoyed with others
  • Being extremely bothered by clutter (feeling obsessive about needing to have the house clean)

A few weeks ago I was at work reading one of my daily news emails that I subscribe to, and that day it was focused on the war in Ukraine. As I read about numerous innocent people dying, I suddenly felt so overwhelmed. I just wanted to start sobbing about the injustice of it all – literally, I was having trouble keeping it together. Now, I’m not saying that the war in Ukraine isn’t something worth crying about or getting emotional over. Obviously, it’s a very serious situation. But the reaction I was having was more extreme than was normal for me. That was hint #1 to me that maybe I was dealing with some extra anxiety, or even depression, settling in.

I thought over the previous weeks, and realized I had gotten out of some of my normal routines. I wasn’t writing or blogging anymore. I wasn’t taking time to pray or do other spiritually-focused activities. I certainly wasn’t taking time to exercise either. So what was I doing with all my time? I was sleeping a lot more, going to bed early and waking up late, despite setting my alarm for 5:30 each morning in the hopes that I would actually get up and write (which wasn’t happening). No matter how much I slept, I still felt tired. I was wasting a lot more time on Netflix and social media. It felt like I was busy all day, but I wasn’t really doing anything of substance.

And yes, I felt extra annoyed with people, especially the people I lived with. In my mind, the house was a disaster. Why did it feel like I was the only one in our family who pulled their own weight? How could everyone else stand to ignore the mess and clutter and go about their happy little lives? I had blown up a few times at my husband Dean, and had made it loud and clear that I was tired of being the “only one” who took care of things.

Basically, ALL of my red flags were showing. But this didn’t even occur to me until that day in my office when I was struggling to not have an emotional breakdown over the current news about Ukraine. 

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“New Patient” Forms

Today was the first gynecology appointment I have had since I had my 6 week postpartum check-up after Calvin was born – so it’s been about a year and a half since I’ve been for one of these kinds of check-ups.

I have a new doctor – my old OB-GYN moved her practice out of Abilene, so I got to fill out all the “new patient” forms today. As I was filling out the forms, I had to answer questions about any past pregnancies, medical conditions, etc., as is typical on these types of forms. I kept waiting for the place where I would have to check that I had experienced postpartum depression. It ended up not being in the context of “postpartum depression,” but there was a spot to check for “anxiety” and “depression,” which I checked because of some obvious history there.

After getting in the exam room, the nurse came in to ask me the typical questions they ask you, even though you just filled out 10 pages of forms in the waiting room.

Nurse – “Did you have any complications during labor?”

Me – “No, labor went great.”(Here it comes, I was thinking – she’s going to ask me if I had any postpartum depression…)

Nurse – “Did you breastfeed your baby?”

Me – “Only for three weeks, and then we started bottle feeding.” (Because I went to the hospital for postpartum depression…)

The question actually never came up, which I was grateful for. I didn’t expect to be triggered as much as I was by a normal gynecology appointment, but I certainly was today. I felt on edge the whole time – and the feelings of guilt and shame have surfaced more today than they have in a while.

It’s weird how suddenly old feelings can come right back with no warning – if you’ve had any sort of traumatic experiences I’m sure you understand the feeling. I know I’m still in a healing process, mentally and emotionally. Please say a quick prayer for me if you get an extra minute today.

All that being said, my new doctor is great – and his RN is a wonderful woman who I got to have a great talk with about wanting a natural pregnancy and labor for any future children I might have someday. I feel confident that I’m with the right doctors to have a safe and pleasant experience if childbirth is in my future again. I’m thankful to God to feel this way – thankful to him for leading me to the right place and people.

And I’m so thankful for my son, Calvin, and my wonderful and supportive husband, Dean. I’ve said it before, but if I could choose to go back and change how my whole pregnancy/birth/postpartum experience went, I wouldn’t. It has taught me a lot, and continues to remind me to have compassion and grace for people. It reminds me that I’m not perfect, and that it’s okay.

Thanks for reading ❤