Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Is this depression? Seriously, I'm asking...

Today I had my yearly visit to the girly doctor. My Ob/gyn has historically been only that to me - a yearly checker of my nether-regions. I have never been pregnant and when we attempted pregnancy all those times, we went to reproductive specialists and by-passed my OB/GYN altogether.

So, my visits are usually short and to the point. Small talk, expose breasts, get felt up breasts examined, scoot to the end of the table, insert feet in stirrups, awkwardly small talk while doctor sticks large q-tip type thing in my hooha, take deep breaths, wash up, dress, go home.

Today, was no different, except that my small talk consisted of Brian. My doctor seemed shocked even though we have small talked about Brian in the past, but like I said, I only see the man once a year. Also? the past small talk visit was 2 years ago and Brian wasn't diagnosed with his recurrent tumor at that point in time. He sat down and we talked in earnest for a while.

I coldly, matter-of-factly and without emotion spoke of Brian's condition, his problems, his diagnosis and how it affects our current lifestyle. I am getting good at this, honestly.

He wanted to know how I was doing emotionally. I hate that question. I know people are looking to find things in me that signal signs of depression. Everyone wants to fix me. "It's the least they can do," I feel it all around me. I found myself babbling on and one somewhat like this:
"Just fine... I think, anyway.... staying strong..... worry a lot..... take care of myself..... tear up out of nowhere..... occasional resentment..... good, though, for the most part.....considering....it sucks.....fine, though...... it's not fair.....holding it together for the most part... "

He looked at me with tender compassion and asked about my support. I found myself replying a lot like this:
"I talk to my family in great length about my worries for the future.... can't really talk to Brian's family about it..... my family is a few hours away, but we talk every day..... have good friends...... Brian's family is close by..... would help whenever..... don't need help right now.... I worry because Brian's family travels a lot if I did need long term help....Good support, though...surrounded by those that love us...."

He looked at me with even more compassion, handed me a tissue for the tears I didn't even realize were running down my face and said:
"You know, there are lots of things you can do to help with the feelings of sadness and despair. I'm not saying you're depressed, but lots of times depression can set in suddenly after feeling just kind of blue for a while. There is counseling and many medications that could help if you felt like you wanted to try that."

Me: "Oh, I think I am fine. Honestly, I have been doing really well. Sort of, since the boys went back to school, I have been a little sadder. I also had an Uncle die of cancer two weeks ago just a couple months after diagnosis. That was hard and made me think a lot of thoughts I don't want to think. But, really I am fine. I am."

Him: Do you think a lot of thoughts about "what if"
Me: Oh yeah, constantly.
Him: Constantly?
Me: Yes, constantly.
Him: Do you sleep?
Me: Actually, I do sleep these days. Probably because I am getting up before dawn to get the kids to school, but I do sleep.
Him: But, you have a lot of worries?
Me: Of course. We are under-life-insured putting me in a position of having to go back to work full time if something happens to Brian. With school starting back up and trying to allow the boys extra-curricular activities, I can't fathom how I could possibly do it by myself and so, yeah, I pretty much worry constantly.
Him: You go to bed worrying, wake up worrying and worry throughout the day?
Me: Yes. All. Day. Long. Every. Day. No. Matter. What. I. Try. To. Preoccupy. My. Time. With.
Him: You know, there are some anti-depressants that can just help with that blue feeling, help your mind to stop thinking "what if" all the time. Just take that anxiety edge off.
Me: Will they make my thoughts and judgement cloudy?
Him: No. They will make the "what if" thoughts cloudy. They should anyway. Do you want to try something?
Me: I'm really not sure. I'll take the script, but I don't know yet.

So, I am filling the script. I have to decide if I am going to take it because I have to take it every day for it to be effective. I don't know if I am depressed. I really don't. I know lately, these are the feelings and events that are dominant in my life:

  • tears out of no where
  • resentment towards those that are able to do the things we used to be able to do, but no longer can due to Brian's issues.
  • constant worry about the future
  • short tempered and easily irritated with kids
  • unmotivated to do housework and organize
  • desires to be around friends and family
  • overwhelmed with existing duties
  • impatient towards Brian when he is overly sleepy and not feeling well
  • self-pity
  • lonely
  • feel like I always want to do something more fun than what I am currently doing

Do not judge me, please, for feeling any of the above. And, honestly, besides the worry, which I think is pretty normal for anyone in my situation, none of these are overly dominant in my life. I go about doing everything else - grocery shopping, helping with homework, running the kids around, scheduling appointments, paying bills, making dinner, cleaning house, etc.

Yes, I feel more blue than I did a month ago. Also, in the last month, I lost an uncle to cancer and it kickstarted my worry factor again. Brian has not been feeling well due to what we hope and assume is a bad cold for about 3 weeks. Brian has tests coming up in two weeks and that always makes me anxious. My kids started school. I am waking up and going to bed two hours earlier than just one month ago. The days are shorter, the air is cooler and my damn tomato plants never really turned red. I have about 25 green tomatoes sitting out there taunting me.

So, I am asking any readers and lurkers to help me understand. Am I depressed? Am I on the verge? Or am I just dealing with a lot of shit in a time of a lot of change?



  1. I am not an expert in that area. I think I was depressed for a good year after my divorce and didn't know it. Anyway... I can't do much from here but know that I pray for you guys. Lots of love and hugs.

  2. I think I'd answer yes to all of your questions. I'm not certain I could answer categorically, but I would lean on the side of yes and get help.

    And if there is something that CAN help, then by all means do it my friend because depression IS an ILLNESS. I-L-L-N-E-S-S.

    Best wishes attached to this comment.

  3. Oh my dear. Judge you? Good golly. If anyone tries that with you send them my way for a Blog This Mom! Hawaiian-style smackdown. You may have read that I'm good at those.

    Depressed? Anxious? Of course you are. Constitutional or situational? Well, for sure situational. In need of medication? That is a decision for you to make after a doctor who knows you well evaluates you, and after you have carefully researched your options. The doctor you described has had one serious conversation with you. Is that enough? I'm not sure. But you are asking "us," and that is good because there are a lot of wise bloggers out here, but some, uh, not so much. You probably have a pretty good sense of who's who. I'd also suggest you ask other friends and family whom you trust. Most importantly, if you aren't sure, and it seems that you're not, I'd highly recommended consulting a therapist (i.e., if you don't have one, find one based upon a recommendation from someone you trust, if you can). The bottom line is whether you feel that it is right for you. I sense that you're not sure and that's why you've put the question out there. But after you've done all your research, you'll have the best available information upon which to base your decision.

    Finally, know that there are people out here thinking of you, praying for you, and believing in you.

  4. I'm no expert but I think it may be depression.

    Perhaps you should take it for a month just to see how you feel...

    I will continue to pray for you and Brian.

  5. Wow, I am not going to offer advice where I do not know anything about depression. I will say, it sounds like your worries are expected and normal. I don't think you worry too much, like a person with OCD or someone who worries about things that will never happen. I think the worries you have are valid. Do you worry too much? Well, Matthew tells us not to worry, you know the passage, but that of course is easier said than done. Many moms worry about lots of stuff and - although I know it's different to worry about when your kid will be potty trained than worrying about your husband losing his battle with ------, we all find things to worry about. My point about that, is, just know yourself. Don't let a doctor tell you, "You sound depressed. Here, take some pills." YOU know yourself. YOU know if you are feeling rational or irrational. If the pills help you get through your worries, then they will be a God-send for you. If they only make you float through the day and not distinguish one day from the next, maybe let them go.

    I would say, fill the scrip and try the pills for one week. See how it goes. You can always go off them.

    The main thing: make a decision and apologize to no one. This is your life, your situation, your family. You do what's best for you. It is for no one else to judge or say.

    Love you.

  6. Dear Angie, getting a therapist sounds like a good idea. you can freely talk about issues and nobody gets hurt. But what is wrong with a nice drink instead of medication? Pore Brian some grape juice and you finish a neat bottle of red tonight? You will sleep soundly and lots of worries will be gone... Still praying for you guys. Monika van Hoeve

  7. No judgement here. You'll have to decide what is right for you, but at certain times in my life, pharmaceuticals have helped me put one foot in front of the other with a little more joy and spring in my step.

    Good luck with your decision. I hope you feel better soon.

  8. Oh, Angie.

    I am no expert either. But I would sit down and talk to someone. Does your insurance cover that? Talk to someone that has not heard any of it before, that will listen to you and offer professional advice. I am sure it will feel good to get so many of things off your chest. And if it doesn't then take the pills. Hugs.

    I wish I could offer you a huge hug.

  9. How could/ would any of us judge you???
    I cna remember a time in my life when I just wanted someone to talk to (professional)...
    Perhaps that is a good first step...if you feel right taking meds, then do it. It could help with the agitation. I am still praying for all of you. Blessings, E

  10. Oh sweetie...(My daughter's name is Angela - she has 2 little boys, and I can't help but feel a little maternal over you.) Being blue is situational - depression is a chemical thing that happens when you've been blue too long (at least, how I understand this... completely as an amateur, but as a fellow woman) If you find that the things that used to make you happy don't lift your mood or bring you enjoyment - that is a sign of depression. If its pervasive - no matter what you're doing it is on you with the squeezing pressure of a sports bra... that's another sign.

    There's nothing wrong with treating depression. Depression isn't "all in your head" it's in your heart, your bones, your energy level - it's pervasive and sometimes a medication helps. My daughter was on an antidepressant and it took awhile for it to work - over 30 days. It isn't a Vicodin - it isn't a "happy pill".

    You deserve to have a little time with a counselor/therapist. It will help you to decide whether you are depressed or just blue, or grieving the losses you're experiencing. Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression and Acceptance are the stages of grief as I recall them... and you are dealing with losses right now.

    Take a little time while the kids are in school and care for Angie a bit. You need it, and with family - as fantastic as they are - there is still an inner feeling of duty to protect them from your true level of negative emotions... that's why you keep saying, I'm fine... the world is falling apart, I'm doing ok... I'm afraid the universe will fall apart, but really, I am fine. Talk to someone whose heart is not broken when you let it all out - someone you won't feel that you have to protect because they have an emotional investment in you, your kids, your husband.

    I'm sending you lots of love and prayers.

  11. Yeah, another comment from a non-expert. Love, happy thoughts and prayers that you begin feeling less of the angst, tears, sorrow, restlesness etc.. if you get those results from medicaton, prayer, yoga or comedy central..who am I to judge. I just hope the cloud lifts..

  12. No one is judging Angie. Especially me. I was there for 4 days, and felt like the world was falling in on me. 4 DAYS. That is nothing compared to what you are facing. I would listen to your doctor. Fill the script and take it. Find out if insurance covers talking to someone and do that too. Have a part of your day that is about helping you. You can only give so much before, you have nothing left to give. You need to take care of you.

    Chet and I will continue to pray for you and Brian. You guys are in our prayers constantly, as I feel we are sort of the western version of you guys. Hang in there. And do whatever it takes to make you feel better.

    Praying and thinking of you.........

  13. I'm not sure about a clinical diagnosis for depression . . . but there is no doubt that you are dealing with a lot.

    I do know that you should have someone/s to lean on . . . a therapist is a good idea. There is a good chance there are support groups (Well Spouse, City of Hope, The Wellness Community) for people who share in the same experience--it might be worth pursuing.

    I know it is hard, but do you very best to take care of you . . .

    And judge you??? No way. I think we all adore you way too much for that . . . plus, we've all been there, one way or another.

  14. Hugs. I have no idea, because I've never been involved in anything even remotely close to what you're going though. I don't like taking drugs, BUT I've never been through ANYTHING like this. You need to take care of you, if medication helps than so be it.

    I guess I'm also with everyone else and would suggest that you talk to someone who can watch you in a detached and professional way. Try and find someone you trust to help you make these decisions.

    You're doing great, you're strong. And no one here will judge you no matter what you decide. Hugs, hugs and more hugs.

  15. I am glad you had a good talk with you doctor. It is good to speak to someone away from the situation. I think if you need it to take it and of your last 3 options I am going with #3. Definily! Hope you feel better soon :)

  16. I don't know you, but my heart goes out to you.. I wish there were words I could say that would bring you comfort.. I've dealt with depression some - I find strength through praising the One who made me.

    About those tomatoes - pick em green and put them in a dark place - I stick mine in the basement on a newspaper - they will turn red within a couple of days.

  17. Angie,

    Please know that I am always here to support you - never judging at all. I hope that things look up for you soon, but in the meantime don't ever feel bad if you need some extra help. I am sending hugs and happy thoughts your way.


  18. Within the past few days Ben was lurking on your blog and said, "Angie seems depressed." I read the post and didn't pick up on it. He said, "Well, you'd have to know her." I'm not sure what he was picking up on (and he knew you 15 years ago!), but I was reminded of it when I read your current post. You are dealing with a lot right now and you may be depressed. For what its worth, I think the meds would help. You and Brian are in our thoughts and prayers.

  19. I just wanted to say one more thing. Angie, you offer so much hope to everyone who reads your blog and to each time you type a comment. Your Keep Believing tag makes such a difference to me. I just wanted to tell you that. When I am having a not so great day - it is refreshing to be reminded of this. I hope I don't sound too sappy, but instead rather truthful. Thanks again, and I hope I can cheer you up a bit.

  20. I forgot to tell you that your tomatoes will continue to ripen inside. We have a super short growing season where we live and often I have to bring in my green tomatoes, put them at the bottom of my pantry and they continue to ripen inside.

    Just thought maybe a little good news might help. I know this is super small, but maybe. :)

  21. It certainly sounds like depression. Not major depression but a case of the blues. A light prescription will often help take the edge off. You'll probably sleep better and it will calm your racing thoughts. I know just blogging on here helps me feel better too. Best of luck!

  22. Honey, I will never ever judge you. I have no idea how I myself would handle being in your shoes. All I can do is pray for you and your family and for you to get the answers about this that you are seeking. If you feel like you need to take this, then do it. It is no one's business but your own and your family's. Just know that you are all in my thoughts and prayers.

  23. tly been there. although mine usually comes from a self-induced, to much coffee not enough sleep kinda problem. =/

    praying for you angie. it's always a big risk opening up w/ this kind of transparency, but know there's a whole lot of love for you out here!!!! ((hugs))

  24. Angie,

    I just wanted to offer a suggestion. Have you ever tried a support group? There is only so much that all of us/family/friends/internet people can offer, but the bottom line is being around people in a support group could help tremendously. To be in a group where everyone can share openly and honestly about cancer and what it does to your family would be healthy for you. They would have much to offer. They are put in place for that reason...support.

    I would also take the medication. Living with this for over 10 years now can't be easy. No matter how well you "cope" with it, it still overwhelms you. There is nothing wrong with saying you need some help with it. In fact, I think recognizing that it's time to try medication makes you stronger because you are realizing that you need to be healthy for your family.

    Will the medication make you crap rainbows? No, but it will take the edge off of the anxiety that I know you have. Just give it a chance.

    I love you and want what is best for you!

  25. Angie,
    I don't know you personally, found your blog from Kristen (Loving our Simple Life). I need to blame Kristen for my blog addiction since I never read blogs before her, now my husband says I'm have yet another obsession. :)

    On to the real reason I wanted to post a comment.

    Medicine can do great and marvelous things as you know from experiences with your husband. I do know that sometimes the stigma that comes along with anti-depressant medicines is completely RIDICULOUS.. I battled for so long thinking 'its no big deal I just have a lot on my plate I can handle it, it will go away' but then I came to one of those intersections of life and I knew I just needed to take something to take some of the unproductive worry away. It worked out really well and I am thankful that I didn't worry about people thinking I was depressed and needed meds to make me normal.

    It sounds to me from reading the other comments that you have a great support system and no one in there right mind, at least not a good Christian/Godly friend, would or will judge you for doing what is best for you. Doing what is best for you trickles to being the best wife, mother, sister, etc. etc.

    Best of luck to you and I will continue to pray for you and your family.

    Crystal Westerhausen
    Gilbert, AZ

  26. You are dealing with a lot and some meds could help you temporarily handle it all while you re-center

  27. the only judgment I might pass is that you are a one strong woman. you are carrying a weight that most couldn't. Prayers and strength. Hang in.

  28. You always joke in your blog about how you are not a doctor, even though you feel like one based on all the time you spend with doctors. I'd say your doctor recognized something in you and I'd take that to heart. I can see only one reason not to take medicine for an illness - if the side effects are worse than the symptoms. Do what feels right to you, Angie, and I'm praying for you as always.

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  30. Angie - I'm with almost all the other commenters - Seek someone to talk to - that might do more good than anything and do what feels right as far as the meds go - maybe give it a try and see if there's a difference.

    You've had so much going on for so long and certainly the boys starting school has been a big emotional event in your life as well. I think you handle your situation better than most people would, but maybe you need a little more help right now. There's absolutely nothing wrong with that.

    And as for the green tomatoes - I've been looking all over for some green tomatoes to fry! You've heard the quote, "When life gives you lemons, make lemonade!" Well, I say, "When life gives you green tomatoes, fry 'em!" Wish I lived closer - I'd come over and make you some really good ones! But if you like them fried, and have never fried any, send me an e-mail and I'll tell you how to do it. I love 'em!


  31. I was reading your last few entries and thought you reminded me of me and so many women that I know. While none of the people that I'm thinking of are facing spousal tumors, and although the problems are slightly different, you sound to me to be a slightly depressed very strong woman. Being slightly depressed doesn't worry me at all. I think it is normal. It is the Stepford wives that worry me, the ones whose smiles never cracks even in the face of all of their problems that make the hair on the back of my neck stand up. In my clearly nonmedical expertise, I have a couple of suggestions for you all based on advice given to me by friends over the last couple of years.

    First, find something that you like to do and do it. Crafting if that's your thing, photography, learning an instrument; something new that is a learning process, Not just writing because that is keeping you in your head, not helping you to find a focus FOR YOU other than your family (as much as you love them).

    Second, you need breaks from your children and Brian. As much as you love them, as happy as they make you, they all suck up every drop of energy that you currently have. You're in need of reserve energy that means doing something for yourself to build up some reserve energy. Try taking a date with yourself. Put everyone to bed at 8. Tell Brian that he's on his own one night a week and head out the door. Go to the book store and browse, sit in the coffee shop and people watch, go see a movie anything but make sure that it is for you. Don't use the time to do errands, no picking up that last minute birthday gift, no shopping for household items at target; something strictly for you to build up your own reserves. I've found that when I have just a little bit of me time, I'm just slightly less testy.

    Third, once or twice a month make plans with a friend. No children or spouses allowed. Now I know that you're thinking there is no way that you have time once a week for alone time as well as time to meet a friend. Personally, even thought I aim for a weekly night out, I only ever manage to make it out two times in one month. But I do think that alone time is as important as friend time so sometimes I combine them and plan to meet up with a friend a hour after I've left the house.

    Fourth, invite someone over once or twice a month. I find that I clean and take care of all of the household chores faster and better if someone is coming to visit. I can vacuum and clean all of the bathrooms and kitchen in three hours if I know that my overly critical mom is coming to visit. Also, I’m not sure why but for some reason, I resent the chores less when I’m cleaning because someone is visiting.

    Fifth, Deprssion, possibly but nothing that you can’t shift yourself out of either with a therapist or self therapy. Also, have you heard of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) I have a little personal experience in that area and your account of what happened in the doctors office has a familiar ring to it. And I agree with that person up above who suggested a support group or therapist.

    Lastly and most importantly, don't take those meds until you've done loads and loads of reading about them. Meds are often very difficult to stop taking. Many of them require a gradual weaning process. Taking yourself off of them suddenly can cause bipolar mood swings. Also, many antidepressants cause weight gain on average of 30 pounds. Take them if you think that you really really really need them but don’t take them lightly.

    I thought I'd just jot down a couple of things about me so that you can see that I've been there where you are and so that you can see that I can really really symphathize with you and to attempt to lend a bit of credibility to my last few suggestions.

    About two years ago I walked into my annual physical and my doctor asked me how I was feeling. It was just a general intro question and can you guess, I burst out crying. Through tears and body shaking sobs I tried to explain to her that I had no idea why I was crying. "Excuse me" she said, handed me a box of tissues and left the room. When she came back in, she listened for a while. I was sick of my weight. Lonely. Unhappy with my marriage and really Martin isn’t all that bad. Short tempered with the children. Frustrated with the maid (me) because she (me) hadn’t been performing up to my expectations. I missed wearing the great shoes and clothes that I used to wear and am so disgusted with myself now. A good day is a day with no stains (mostly from the children) on my t-shirt and sweats. I’d been having horribly upsetting nightmares, every one of them worrying about harm coming to my family. I rarely managed a full sleep cycle without out a nightmare. We were in a new home, in a new town, far from friends or family, my children were stressed and regressing their potty training, my husband and I were on each others nerves from the move and the yadda yadda yaddda. When I finished speaking she handed me a pack of pills.

    Eventually I went home and looked up the meds on line. The pharmaceutical company’s own website and then the blogs. Every one of the bloggers were upset about 30 pound plus weight gain. That was enough to toss the pills.

    Over the last two years, I’ve worked pretty hard to lose 34 pounds. I still have another 40 to go. I asked for a guitar for Christmas and last month I finally picked up a beginners guide to guitar, including where to place your fingers. I’ve been making a point of making plans and going out even when I don’t feel like going out at all, recharging the batteries. I took a sewing lesson at the local fabric store just to learn something new. The local craft store has a class on how to draw dragons I it looks like fun, I might give that one a try too. I met a friend for a glass of wine and appetizers. It was so nice. Really it was one of the nicest evenings, chatted about everything under the sun, wiped away the lonliness for a while and recharged the batteries.

    Generally speaking I think it is working. I’m out of the hump and feeling much better about things.

    As for the PTSD 20 years ago my brother tried to hang himself.

    I found him. His face was purple and swollen. Confused, who could have done this to him? Did someone break in the house and do this to him? Run for a knife. Grab the phone. Cut the ropes. Search for a pulse. Dial 911. DAMN, WTF NO 911 in our area. Dial 0 pray someone pick up. Send police, send ambulance, almost hang up without telling our address. Perform rescue breathing and CPR. Find pulse, still no breathing. More rescue breathing. Afraid the bad guy might still be in the house. Drag brother into my room and lock the door. He’s breathing, I’m holding the knife and leaning against the door. Flashing lights outside. Open the window and explain that the bad guy might still be in the house. Police tell me that they are armed at to run to the front door and open it. Run to the front door. Don’t want to answer it with a knife in my hand, throw it in the bathroom sink and let the police in. Three days later after my brother had been transferred to the local psych ward for troubled teens, I left for my sophomore year of college. February of that year, I with drew from college. I had been seeing the local college psychologist. She had been asking me about the events of that night and when I told them to her she said that she was worried for me. She found my dead pan straight faced cold matter of fact retelling of my story worrysome. She suggested that I head home for intensive therapy, several times a week. Her diagnosis: PSTD. It doesn’t have to be a moment that causes PTSD. Long term stress can have a similar result. Seeing a therapist for a chat can’t hurt.

    I think blogging is a great way to vent but keep looking for way to enrich yourself. The more you do, the more you and your family will benefit (hopefully without the addition of meds).

    Sorry about being so longwinded.
    Oh PS as for your green tomatoes, Place in a brown paper bag on the windowsill. Something about the gas from the tomatoe helping it to ripen inside the bag.

  32. Oh, Angie. Did you steal this from my brain? Because aside from the "talking to my OB" thing (cause I'm putting off making the appt.) I could have written this.

    I've been feeling the EXACT same way lately.

    I hope it helps. I hope you're feeling better soon.

  33. NO U R NOTTT depressed. There are the things anyone in ur position has a right to feel.

    This is the first time i am reading your blog. Its amazing how you handle everything so positively. God will never give you more than what he thinks u can handle.

    Keep Believing. I will keep you and your family in my prayers. Keep on living....

  34. Hi, Angie...

    I went through years feeling many of your symptoms, and medication *did* help. Like your doctor said, it made the worried thoughts less dominant, and everything else clearer. I realized, wow, life doesn't need to be that hard. I felt as if I had been swimming upstream, and then all of the sudden I was simply swimming.

    You might get a second opinion. There are so many different medications out there, if you chose to go that route, you could always take a very low dose and see if it made any difference.

    Honestly, I'm in awe of how you're coping with everything on your plate. To share your struggles in no way makes anyone think poorly of you; you're human!!!

    I'll pray you find the help you need, whatever it may be.