Tag Archives: depression

Getting Our Ducks in a Row

Last year, while on our annual family vacation in the Outer Banks (moment of silence to mourn the fact that we will be missing this year’s trip, which of course makes us sad but it’s obviously for a very good reason– so my vagina can be torn in half), Eric stumbled upon these two ducks in a novelty store.

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Not sure if I’ve mentioned this before (every third post), but Eric loves animals. Obsessed. The obsession is mostly focused on dogs, but he really does not discriminate. Just yesterday I was forced to watch a minutes-long video of a kangaroo on a golf course, sniffing a ball and then slinking away, which elicited a slightly amused chuckle from me, and a maniacal cackle-giggle from Eric, who couldn’t help but repeatedly yell, “I mean, just look at him hop! Look at him! Hoppin’ away like a little hoppin’ machine!”

So he came across these ducks last year and, as you can imagine, absolutely could not in any way control his excitement because a) THEY’RE DUCKS! and b) they happen to have our names. Without even thinking to look at the price tag he grabbed them and declared, “This probably goes without saying, but we need these.”

Now, sometimes I am wiling to be indulgent of this animal addiction, such as last week when I purchased this giraffe toilet paper holder for our bathroom and named it Jaben, after our South African safari guide, for no other reason than I knew it would make Eric smile and think of me with gratitude every time he sits on the pot, which is important in a marriage.

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Other times, such as when he purchased this Corgi welcome mat without my knowledge, IMG_0530.jpeg, I threaten to burn the product should it be anywhere in my direct line of sight (rug has since been moved from front door entrance to his side of the bed, halfway tucked under the bed frame. I can technically still see it when I use the bathroom or clean the bedroom (once a year) but placing his feet on that rug first thing every morning makes him so happy that I don’t quite have the heart to burn it, so it stays. For now.)

As for the ducks, I took one look and said, “We really don’t need more clutter in the apartment.” He stared back at me, expression blank, and then, after 30 seconds of careful contemplation, formed his astute counter-argument: “BUT THEY SAY OUR NAMES!”

I was not convinced, and reminded him of the concerted effort we had been putting into de-cluttering our tight living space, already occupied by a ceramic hedgehog, a camel carrying a dowry, three llamas (two from Abu Dhabi and one Peruvian, and may god have mercy on your soul if you can’t tell the difference), four elephant figurines, a life-sized corgi pillow, and the aforementioned corgi mat.

“Ok, ok, you’re right,” he conceded. So I gave him a warm smile and soft kiss on the cheek to show appreciation for his sacrifice, directly after which he walked up to the cashier and purchased both ducks.

So fine. Now we have these ducks.

But ever since bringing them home, something has bothered me about them (like, aside from the fact that we have the world’s most unnecessary wooden birds taking up our tight, NYC living space), and I haven’t been able to place my finger on it. Then yesterday, almost a year after purchase, I finally figured it out:

THEY’RE WEARING THE WRONG NAMES.

Yes, those were the name tags they were wearing in the store, aka the names the artist thought were accurate and appropriate for each duck. But if you look closely, you’ll see this was a classic mix up.

The one wearing the Emily tag is a short, stumpy, spry little yapper. Literally has NO LEGS. Its lips are open, chatting away, likely about something related to a dog walking by or an hours-long, in-depth retell of “the weirdest dream I had last night.” Eyes are open wide with wonder, like it can’t wait to discover what the day will bring– a kangaroo on a golf course? A corgi playing in a puddle? A squirrel having a good scratch? THE POSSIBILITIES ARE ENDLESS!

This duck is clearly Eric.

Meanwhile, who is this excitable little Eric duck yapping away to, and clearly being tuned out by? (And to be clear, it’s not a purposeful, spiteful tune-out–  this lanky duck is clearly involuntarily stuck in a thought-loop, berating itself for something embarrassing it did 12 years ago and wondering if the gaggle of geese who witnessed the transgression are still talking about it).

That’s right, this long, chicken-leg-limbed yet too-large-footed figure is clearly Emily duck, staring into the abyss, silent, minding its own business and probably confused about something. If you look closely, its dark, beady little shell-shocked eye screams inner panic attack and the stiff, craned neck says “Hi, I am uncomfortable.” This duck is also the color of pee, which more literally represents what I spend half my time needing to do.

So I switched the name tags and now all is right with the world.

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Best purchased we* ever made.

*we = really 100% Eric, against my will, but now that I’m amused by them, I will take half credit for their discovery and purchase because MARRIAGE.

 

My 21-Year-Old Self Was an Idiot. Here’s Proof.

We are moving apartments tomorrow, so the past week has been a lot of packing and cleaning out old crap. All of which has been done by a constantly sweating yet not ONCE complaining Eric, while I sit on the couch rubbing my belly, drinking ice water, and grumbling that I’m overwhelmed.

Yesterday Eric pulled this huge dusty box out of the depths of the closet and said “Hey, Emily from 1990, here are your files. Maybe go through them and see if this is something we can throw in the garbage, since we now live in the computer age, and have for 20 plus years?”

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So I just went through the box and he was right– I do not, in fact, need a paper copy of the 1-year-warranty for the Sony Vaio laptop I bought in college, nor a receipt for a Gap cardigan purchased in January. Of 2004.

It took me over an hour to go through, rip up, and discard all the blatantly irrelevant crap this box possessed, but my hard labor was rewarded when I reached the end of the files and came across THIS little gem, posted below (in the form of a PDF link. Sorry, after a whole 2 seconds of trying, I couldn’t figure out how else to post it).

It is a paper I wrote during my senior year of college, entitled “The (abridged) Autobiography of Emily Lerman,” and it is ABSURD. Absurd because it is exactly the kind of sarcastic, self-deprecating shit I would post on this blog, except I HANDED IT IN TO A PROFESSOR. AT AN IVY LEAGUE SCHOOL. FOR A GRADE. 

Now, granted, I got an A. So my professor was either awesome (don’t remember that being the case) or EXTREMELY bored (more likely). Or maybe she appreciated seeing something “different” come across her desk? Most likely she was just drunk. I don’t know, but there’s no doubt something was amiss, because this shit is less a paper for a college course and more a bad audition for Last Comic Standing that ends with the comic sweat-stuttering offstage to a chorus of “You suck!”

So naturally, I need to share it.

A few parts are redacted to protect the innocent, but otherwise I left it in its purest, this-was-definitely-written-by-a-21-year-old-moron form. It’s not even that the writing is that bad (save for a few blatant grammatical errors), it’s just VERY dramatic. Not sure if that was for comedic effect (important in a paper for HISTORY CLASS) or because I was a CHILD when I wrote it, but I do feel the need to clarify that I probably wasn’t THAT miserable as a kid, and Potomac was not THAT absurd a place to grow up (furthermore, the random unneccesary dig I took at my mom, saying she was a real estate agent “when she felt like working” was completely unfair. I can make that joke NOW, but back then, the woman hustled).

Or maybe I was that miserable and growing up in Potomac was that absurd but I’ve now had 15 more years of distance from the “trauma” (img_7593) and kind of just want to smack my young self across the head and be like, “Lighten up, Sassypants. Your life wasn’t hard. You drove a 4Runner.”

Anyway here it is. Enjoy. ( shrug_1f937)

Yes I wrote this for an academic college course

P.S. Future daughter– if I send you to college and this is the kind of shit you produce on my dime, you’re paying your own way.

 

My Pregnancy Journey is Less a Magical Beard Ride and More a Slow Death Trek on the Oregon Trail

I’ve gotten a lot of comments from friends saying that they expected more coverage of my pregnancy journey on the blog. This phrase, “pregnancy journey,” always makes me laugh.  To me, the word “journey” has a positive connotation, conjuring up images of a whimsical venture full of magic and wonderment, much like the beard ride Mio enjoys in one of my favorite childhood movies of all time, The Land of Faraway:

All I wanted was for a giant floating face to declare “Grab hold my beard!” and I’d be whisked away on an awe-filled, excitement-laden adventure.

So imagine my disappointment when I discovered that the pregnancy journey is no magical beard ride set to the delightful sing-song lyrics “Flying through the garden, garden of the roses!”

No. Fuck that. There are zero roses and not one oversized beard to grab on this helltrek.

For me, pregnancy has been more like the journey of the Oregon Trial– painfully slow, riddled with various disease, characterized by constant dehydration with a desperate search for the next water source, never quite sure when the diarrhea will strike, and with an overall looming sense of “Oh, so THIS is how I die.” All set to the soundtrack of Weird Al’s “I’m Fat.”

Much like an optimistic fur trapper of the 1830s, I set out on my journey as a bundle of excitement and nerves, only to find myself quickly acquiring various diseases that would put proverbial dead oxen in front of my wagon and test my will to go on.

Below I will detail the ailments I acquired on my journey because, well, you’ve wondered why I haven’t been posting more and THIS IS WHY.

No Yellow Fever or Dysentery, per se (although the chronic diarrhea that marked my entire first trimester had me googling “is Dysentery still a thing people get?” from the Cascabel Taqueria toilet. And before you say, “Well of course you had diarrhea, Emily, you were eating tacos!”, I was not. Cascabel Taqueria happens to be centrally located between most of my tutoring clients, and thus the not-exactly-public bathroom I ran to when danger struck between sessions. The first few times I actually pretended to be a patron and that I’d have a drink at the bar right after I “used the bathroom real quick- thanks!” By my 5th visit, the hostess took one look at me and said, “I’m sorry, the bathroom is for patrons only” to which I replied “I am pregnant, I am ashamed, and I’m sorry,” to which she replied, “Oh, come this way, hon,” and actually escorted me to the private stall. One time she even gave me a seltzer afterward. I don’t know much about heaven but I do know there is an extra special spot up there reserved for Consuela of Cascabel.)

So here’s a sampling of my ailments, in order experienced. Some of them I’ve mentioned in previous posts, others I have not. But there’s something truly delightful (re: horrifying) about seeing them all listed in one place:

Standard 1st Trimester Bullshit

None of these are particularly unique or interesting so I’m just throwing all of them into this hellparade-I-never-want-to-think-about-again category and moving on– nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, exhaustion, food aversion, increased sense of smell (this includes the heightened odor of things that already smelled bad, like the subway, and sudden gag reflex in response to formerly benign or even pleasant smells, like your husband’s head), caffeine withdrawal, excessive drooling (yup, a thing), frequent urination, dehydration, restless leg syndrome, your own heightened body odor (this one gets increasingly fun the more your partner chooses to be honest about it).

I have nothing interesting to say about any of these things other than when they are happening all at once, you straight up want to die, and if you don’t, well, fuck you, Mary Poppins.  

Perinatal Depression

Now, depression is nothing new for me, of course. I’ve been suffering bouts of depression since my teenage years, but let me tell you, perinatal depression is a very special breed of the illness, where you take the standard guilt, shame, self-loathing and hopelessness, and add to it a creature-fetus that you are not only responsible for, but societally expected to care for and be excited about. If you’ve ever suffered from depression, you know that caring for things becomes extremely difficult and the notion of being EXCITED about something is not only impossible, it’s literally not even a notion you can understand in theory. So the fact that you sort of wish you were dead but you have this thing you SHOULD be excited about just compounds those feelings of guilt, self-loathing, and hopelessness and sprinkles in a bit of “You are going to be a terrible mom, wtf were you thinking?” (that thought usually hits JUST as you’ve mustered the energy to get out of bed and brush your teeth, and sends you right back to the safety of your under-washed, tear-and-snot stained sheets.)

Luckily, for me, the depression lifted shortly after trimester 1. I expect it to be back in full force once the baby comes, but I plan to greet Postpartum Depression in the delivery room with a huge bottle of Prozac, a copy of Brooke Shields’ “Down Came the Rain” and my therapist on FaceTime, so at least that one I’ll be prepared for. The Perinatal came as quite a surprise. I knew it was common to feel physically shitty during pregnancy, but I was really caught of guard by the frighteningly dark nature of my thoughts. I kind of expected the “miracle” of conception to guard me from notions of despair and hopelessness. Cue Depression’s “Got ya again!” shoulder shimmy.

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Hypothyroidism

This one’s fun. So you know that whole shitstorm category of Trimester 1 symptoms listed above? Since they’re all pretty common, and most of them are exactly what one would feel if their thyroid just decided to up and die, hypothyroidism is commonly misdiagnosed or just missed altogether, but it’s a fairly common ailment acquired during pregnancy (which, bonus– then NEVER GOES AWAY! 52a0e87bb80b3b54af4cff0f2a2266bb.png). I pretty much had to diagnose myself, my main symptom being an EXTREME intolerance to cold. I’ve always been temperature sensitive (a polite way of saying I am either sweating like Rocky in round 12 or freezing like Rocky…in The Rockies? Whatever the point is I get cold.) I mentioned to my doctor that the cold felt literally painful, to which he replied “Well, it’s January,” to which I replied, giphy.gif, so he agreed to test my thyroid levels. And, as suspected, and because I apparently have to do all the medical work around here, I did, in fact have hypothyroidism, a condition that very commonly exists in women but remains “underlying” until a stressful event, such as sharing organs with a parasite, brings it to the surface. Once surfaced, however, it typically never goes away, which isn’t exactly ideal but the good news is that it’s a pretty simple fix– a daily dose of Synthroid, a medication with virtually no side effects– will pretty much entirely fix the problem. The downside is that it takes about 2 months to kick in, and when you’re feeling like the eye of a shitnado, that can feel like a really. fucking. long. time.

But anyway, yeah. Add “endocrinologist” to my growing list of docs I will have to see forever. At least he’s entertaining, and I imagine he will continue to be a featured character on this blog, as everything that comes out of his mouth is completely offensive and absurd, but in that adorable “It’s ok because you’re about 300 years old and might literally die as we sit here” kind of way.

Factor 11 Deficiency

This one is really not that big a deal, just kind of falls under the category of “ADD IT TO THE GODDAMN LIST.” When we first learned of the pregnancy, we immediately had genetic testing done (note: learn from our mistake and try to do this BEFORE you get pregnant– there’s no reason to have to worry about the small possibility of over 817 uncommon but possibly deadly ailments you could pass to your baby while your morning-sick head is in a toilet). Through this testing, we learned that I am a carrier of 3 rare diseases (imgres-1.jpgimgres-1.jpgimgres-1.jpg!!!). One, called Usher Syndrome Type 2A, would result in a perfectly normal, healthy baby at birth, but then somewhere around early childhood the kid would lose her hearing and go completely blind (imgres-2.jpg!). The other, Phenylalanine Hydroxylase Deficiency, can POSSIBLY be controlled and effects minimized with a very strict diet from birth, but will still most likely result in severe brain damage (imgres-2.jpgimgres-2.jpg!!).  The last was Factor 11 Deficiency, a blood disease that can lead to severe, excessive bleeding or potentially fatal blood clotting (imgres-2.jpgimgres-2.jpgimgres-2.jpg!!!). Now, the good news is that NONE of these diseases will be inherited by the baby as long as Eric is not a carrier of them as well (if he were, the baby would then have a 25% chance of actively having the disease). As it turns out (discovered three excruciatingly long weeks later), Eric is a carrier of nothing, which actually came as a surprise to us seeing as though he has Type 1 Diabetes, a raging case of Childlike Optimism, and Obsessive Corgi Disorder.

Side note: My favorite part of the genetic testing experience was my Mom hearing about all these terrible diseases and exclaiming, “WHERE did you get all this horrible stuff?!” Well, it’s genetic testing, so….YOU?!

Sometimes I just can not.

Anyway, this was all good news in the end, as our child will be safe from these rare monster diseases I carry, and being a carrier has virtually no effect on me– except, as it turns out, for the Factor 11 Deficiency. In SOME cases, even carriers can have symptoms, but, as a trip to the hematologist (more doctors!) confirmed, I have never had any history of excessive bleeding or clotting, so the chances of this affecting me during labor or later in life are slim to non-existent. There were a brief few days there where I thought I was not going to be allowed to have an epidural, but it turns out I can, so BRING ON THE BIG ASS NEEDLE AND ALLLLLLLLL THE DRUGS PLEASE! I have already devised a plan to arrive at the hospital with a huge platter of cookies for the anesthesiologist, because in case there’s any last-minute controversy over whether or not I’m allowed an epidural, I want that motherfucker on my side.

Gestational Diabetes

Ah, diabetes. Not just for spouses anymore! When I first met Eric, a Type 1 diabetic diagnosed at age 6, I had absolutely no idea what having diabetes meant, nor the slightest clue how to manage it. I sort of knew it had to do with sugar, but the extent of my knowledge on diabetic sugar management was, “So, like, you can have a SLICE of sheet cake, you just can’t eat the WHOLE sheet cake in one sitting like I do?” (He would later explain, to my horror and disappointment, that eating an entire sheet cake in one sitting is bad for ANYONE).

The one fun thing about pregnancy is being able to eat pretty much whatever the fuck you want, because you feel like shit and it’s your only comfort, and if someone tries to lecture you, you can just bark “I’m eating for two!” (not actually a thing), throw something against a wall, or just start crying. Any of those methods work for getting said person to back the fuck off and let you continue eating your bowl of GGMM cereal (that’s a pregnancy breakfast I invented. It’s Golden Grahams and M&Ms together in one bowl, with milk. It’s just like the very common practice of mixing two cereals, except one of the cereals is chocolate in a candy-coated sugar shell and not at all, by any stretch of the imagination, a cereal.)

So you get about 2 months of being able to delightfully indulge in all the crap you want (because the first 3 months you were too nauseated to subsist on anything but melba toast) and then at week 28 you take a glucose test. The doctor gives you a drink with 50 grams of sugar and tests your blood sugar levels 1 hour after consumption. If it’s under 140, you technically pass and can skip out of the office on your merry non-diabetic way. If it’s over 140, you have to take the more extensive 3-hour glucose test to determine if you have gestational diabetes.

I got a motherfucking 138.

“Wahoo– you passed! Good for you!” was my first thought, as I poured myself another bowl of GGMM. But then the doctor called and said that 138 is pretty borderline and raises slight concerns, so I better do the 3-hour test just in case. This was a huge wakeup call, enough for me to stop mid-shovel and put down my spoon.

So I could go get a bigger spoon.

As far as I was concerned, a 138 was a passing grade.

The 3 hour test is a blast. First you fast for 12 hours. Fun for ANYONE, but particularly fun for someone who has a human living in her. Then, at the ripe hour of 8:00am, you drink 8 ounces of what can only be described as lukewarm liquid shit (orange flavor!) that contains 100 grams of sugar. Your blood is drawn right before you drink (to determine your “fasting blood sugar”), and then once every hour for the next 3 hours. “But what do you do during those 3 hours?” you ask. Oh, you sit in the waiting room starving and hating everyone, including yourself. And if you’re lucky, like me, you watch a woman go into what looks like extremely painful labor 5 FEET AWAY FROM YOU, which just gives you more to look forward to.

So just like the first test, this one came back pretty borderline, but it was determined that yes, I do technically have gestational diabetes. If 2 of your 4 blood sugar readings are too high, you are diagnosed. For the record, 2 of my readings were perfectly fine, one was 4 points too high, and one was ONE MOTHERFUCKING POINT TOO HIGH.

So I’m a diabetic. (Eric gets annoyed when I say this, because I’m totally not, but it’s my ailment and I’ll phrase it as dramatically as I damn well please). I don’t need insulin or anything, I just have to control my diet– no added sugars and a reasonable limiting of carbs, or at the very least a sensible carb-to-protein balance. Basically no eating of blatantly terrible shit that will spike my sugar and take my body hours to regulate. I check my sugar 4 times a day (easy peasy, as thanks to Eric we have about 10 meters and 3 million testing strips in our household) and as long as it’s in range (which it completely has been), I’m totally fine, and so is baby. And odds are, this condition goes away right after birth, as it is caused by hormones in the placenta slowing down my insulin production (one friend asked, “Wait, diabetes? Is this something you can blame on Eric?” Unfortunately, no. His having Type 1 Diabetes and me having Gestational Diabetes are entirely unrelated, just coincidental, and if anything, his having diabetes has actually made all this easier for me, as I am already overly armed with the equipment and knowledge to care for myself. I’ll probably still blame him, though.)

So again, not the end of the world, just a fun little extra pregnancy perk that robs me of my one enjoyable lifeline: unabashed eating. I suppose in the end this is GOOD for me? Because I’m guessing that, pregnancy or not, a daily dose of GGMM cereal is still going straight to my ass. And from what I hear, your ass does not magically deflate when the baby comes out.  (What’s that? Neither does your stomach? SHUT UP, I’M HANGING ON BY A THREAD HERE.)

And lastly,

Standard 3rd Trimester Bullshit:

Nora Ephron once said, “If pregnancy were a book, they would cut the last two chapters.”

Amen, my sassy soul sister. Much like Trimester 1, there is nothing particularly interesting about Trimester 3, just a lot of back pain, shortness of breath, indigestion, waddling, groaning, general slowing down and constantly questioning how your mother did this FOUR FUCKING TIMES, and wondering if you should call her more (you don’t, though).

Trimester 2 was actually at times enjoyable– I did have a rush of energy and was able to get to the gym every day for a substantial workout. Now I waddle up there and pray that the one back-supported cycling machine is not being used by the 90-year-old lady in 12C, because I have literally no other options for exercise other than cruising that bad boy for 20 minutes at level 0.

So no, my pregnancy has not been a magical beard ride. It’s been a long, slow, disease-ridden trek on the Oregon Trail. But the good news is that those who survived the Oregon Trail eventually made it to the paradise of Willamette Valley (thanks, Google), where they lived an idyllic life and all their hopes and expectations came to fruition.

Oh, what’s that? Life was still really fucking hard once they got there, with no guarantee of safety, comfort, prosperity or happiness? In fact, the adjustment to life in an entirely new place, under entirely new circumstances and with no creature comforts of their old life, was almost too much for some of them to bear?

Cool.

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Mental Illness and Pregnancy: To Medicate or Not to Medicate? That is the Question. (…that I do not have the answer to. I’m not a doctor. But here’s my experience.)

**Disclaimer (in case the title wasn’t disclaim-y enough for you): Like literally everything else on this CLEARLY non-medical blog, the following is based on MY personal experience. It is not intended to serve as definitive medical advice for my fellow mental health sufferers. I am not telling you to go off your meds, and I’m not telling you to stay on them. I am suggesting that you thoroughly consider your options, under the close care of a doctor who knows you well, and that you advocate for yourself before making a rash, fear-based decision. Mostly I am just letting you know that no matter what you decide or what you are going through, try to go easy on yourself. You’re doing the best you can. You are not alone. And you got this.**

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A lot of people have asked me if I’m still on my depression/anxiety meds while pregnant. This is a totally fair and welcomed question, mainly because most of you have asked in a matter-of-fact, non-judgmental, just-curious way, like, “Oh, hey, what’d you end up deciding about that?” But some of you have asked in more of an accusatory “You’re not still on your meds, are you!?” way that implies some sort of moral wrongness should I be on them– and even though I know (most of) you people come from a well-meaning place, it still makes me want to light your face on fire.

So allow me to try to explain a few things. Knowdlege is power and faces are generally better not aflame.

The answer is no, I am not on my meds. But let me be VERY clear about this– I am not off them because I have some kind of holier-than-thou judgement about staying on meds while pregnant. I have absolutely NO judgement about that, and in fact encourage women to stay on them if that’s what works best for their health and situation. Obviously. I am the queen of mental health triage– you do what you gotta fucking do to keep your marbles, sista! #sanityfirst

The drug I was on, Prozac (an SSRI), is actually known to be safe for pregnancy, and I know plenty of women who have been on this drug or others like it and have given birth to perfectly healthy children. And in fact, countless medical studies show that having a depressive episode or being acutely anxious while pregnant is far more harmful to a fetus than taking medication that will effectively treat these conditions (these MEDICAL conditions, in case you needed a reminder that this shit isn’t made up hocus pocus, they are legitimate illnesses). But yes, it is true that some mental health meds are unsafe for pregnancy. As long as you are discussing family planning with your therapist ahead of time, though, he/she should be steering you clear of those particular meds while pregnant.

Soooo after reading the above regurgitation of all the fun medical facts I’ve learned during my family planning journey,  you’re probably wondering, “Ok, so if all of that is true, why DID you stop taking your meds?”

Well, in a shocking turn of events, it was for no good reason at all, really. Basically, my therapist presented it to me like this: “The optimal, ideal situation is that you are off all medications and feeling fine, aka not depressed or anxious. Should you go off them and feel anxious or depressed, then the next best situation is for you to go back on them and stay on them for pregnancy. The least optimal scenario is that you have an acute depressive episode or debilitating anxiety while pregnant.”

Ok, so obviously all I heard there was, “The optimal, most ideal situation is that you are off meds….” and then I sort of stopped listening and everything else just became giphy. After all, it was my first time getting pregnant, I had no fucking clue what to expect or what the process TRULY entailed, so yeah, I wanted to do the thing I was told is “optimal.” No-brainer here. Do the “optimal, ideal” thing, because those are strong words that sound good. And I’m gonna be a good mom, damnit!

I’m not saying that line of thinking made sense, I’m just saying it’s the line of thinking I had when I quickly declared, “Ok, off the meds we go!” with far more confidence than any medication-dependent person with a lifelong mood disorder should have. lets-do-this

This decision was made back in July, and we weren’t planning to try to get pregnant until December, so I still had some time to wean off and be completely med-free for a bit before inviting a fetus into this  shitshow of an experiment delicate situation.

A few things to note.

  1. For the previous year before going off it, I had been on a very low dose of Prozac. That was part of why I felt I could probably be ok stopping it. Had I been on a high dose, it would have been a much more difficult and lengthy weaning process and likely wouldn’t have been worth it in my mind. Going off a low dose seemed easy and low risk.
  2. That being said, the last time I was med-free (age 26), I lost my goddamn mind. Like, completely incapacitated, lost 25 pounds, moved back in with my parents, played lots of senior-living type board games and took copious lukewarm baths just to pass the interminable minutes. I was extremely sick, and it was terrifying.
  3. THAT being said, I was younger then, far more naive, and had no idea what was happening to me. I had no reliable therapist, coping skills, or treatment plan for dealing with my illness. I didn’t even remotely UNDERSTAND it as an illness, so I certainly had no way of managing it (and no faith that it would ever end). Since then, I’ve done a ton of work on myself and have learned how to manage things (to the extent that I’m able) when life gets dark.
  4. THAAAAAAT being said, I’ve always had the medication to help me.

The conclusion I made based on these four somewhat unhelpful and conflicting points? If I go off the meds and things get bad, they probably won’t get as bad as that really bad time, because things are different now, and I’m more prepared.

But let’s be real, given I’ve had the consistent help of meds for 9 years, there’s just no possible fucking way to know that.

So I took the gamble, because gambling is fun when you’re drunk in Vegas so it’ll probably also be fun when you’re sober and housing a fetus, thought no one logical ever.

And at first it was fine. The weaning went smoothly. By the time I was completely off the meds, it was late October, aka my non-optimal time of year thanks to colder, darker weather setting in, and a general life-long refusal to understand why summer ends. So I didn’t feel GREAT* (*not really my M.O. regardless) but I certainly wasn’t depressed. Plus we had the 2-week, warm-weather honeymoon to look forward to, so that kept me going.

But the second I got pregnant in early December, shit hit the fan. I alluded to a lot of this in my post In a Shocking Turn of Events, I Am No Glowing Goddess, but shied away from some of the grimmer details because a) it was my first post about the pregnancy so I didn’t want to come out Depression guns a blazin’ and b) I was genuinely excited to finally share the news. But I do now feel the responsiblity, as a mental health advocate and general blogger of honesty, to let it be known that I was NOT ok that first trimester. I was hesitant to use the word “depressed” while I was in it, because I really didn’t want to admit to needing meds, and I felt like I should “stick it out” until the second trimester. Plus, recognizing you’re depressed WHILE you’re depressed isn’t always easy– it’s part of the mind-fuck of the illness. The very symptoms of depression (self loathing, worthlessness, hopelessness) prevent you from assessing the situation as “This is medical. I am ill,” and instead twist it to “I am the worst, I am being a little bitch, and I need to grow a pair.” (but alas, you cannot grow a pair– and the harder you try, the more you hate yourself for failing. Tricky little devils, these mood disorders).

I convinced myself it was all normal first trimester stuff. And some of it definitely was. Constant nausea and exhaustion will make anyone feel like shit. But some of it was really fucking dark, and I’m not so certain that’s normal.

I cried every single day. I stared blankly a lot. I couldn’t write, and could barely read. I felt absolutely no attachment to the pregnancy, and had no ability to see how anything was going to get better, or how I was supposed to love or care for a child. I was stuck in a thought loop of “You’re going to be a terrible mom, what were you thinking? This was a huge mistake.” I could barely get out of bed and I felt horribly, utterly lonely– the kind of lonely that can’t be cured by another person comforting you, because that ironically just makes you feel all the more alone (on that note, God bless Eric. No, literally, God, PLEASE bless him with a bevy of Corgi puppies upon his eventual arrival in heaven). That self-hating loneliness was the only feeling I had– about anything else, I felt absolutely nothing at all. It was 3 long months of toggling between complete isolated self-loathing and absolute, utter detachment. I’m not sure which I prefered. Both were pretty fucking non-optimal.

But it got better, eventually. Very recently. Do I feel great now? No. But I’m not depressed, and I’m able to feel excited at times. I have some energy back. I feel more motivation to get up and go. I open the blinds. I listen to music. I’m doing my job, not just suffering through it. I walk on the treadmill. Food tastes like food again.

But please note, the second after this baby is born: tenor-1 (<— definitely what post-labor looks like, no?) I will be right back on that Prozac. That was always the plan– my risk for postpartum depression is high, and we’re not taking any chances. And when it comes to the next pregnancy, should I be lucky enough to have that happen, I will likely stay on the meds. Those 3 months were horrible, and I see no reason to make an experience that is so hard on even the average, emotionally stable woman even harder. 

So, this is just to say, if you are one of those pregnancy newbies out there, and you are presented with your options in the same way I was, please know that it’s ok to not choose the “optimal, ideal” scenario if it’s not going to work for you. It’s not optimal or ideal if you feel like a self-loathing garbage truck for three months. It doesn’t make you selfish– it makes you reasonable and responsible. There is no wrong moral choice here, and you shouldn’t feel bullied* into making a decision that might not make sense for you (*to be fair, I really wasn’t bullied by my doctor. I still completely trust her. While I wish she had worded it slightly differently, what she said was perfectly reasonable– but I heard what I chose to hear and then I proceeded to bully myself, because that’s what we depressives do best).

But how should I respond when told it’s best to try to go off the meds, even if I don’t feel that’s the best option for me, you ask?

Well, next time, I’m probably going to say this, so feel free to borrow it: “Nope nope nope! No thanks, Doctor Person Who Isn’t Me, but I am me and because of that, I know myself farily well by now, and I sure do enjoy being sane! Seems the risks of the meds are pretty low, and the risks of me losing my shit are pretty high, so I’m going to keep doing that thing where I’m lucid and functional and seeing the point in showering, because, even though I don’t know much about babies yet, I DO know it’s easier to care for them when your mind is firmly planted in reality and you don’t wake up wondering why you have to exist. Right? Babies like moms who care about living and eating and clothing themselves? I feel like I read that somewhere and it sounded accurate.”

Or something similar. There’s probably a less condescending way, I don’t know.

Bottom line, do what works for YOU. I am not advocating for either option– every mental health situation, and every person, is different. I am simply advocating for you to advocate for yourself (under the care of a doctor you trust, of course. I really hope that goes without saying), and to really think through what will work best– again, for YOU.

Did going off meds work for ME? Meh. Hard to say at this point, because now that I’m out of the darkest darkness (I hope), it’s like “Ok, I survived that and no one died or anything, so that’s good.” But should that be the standard? No one died? Probably not. I feel like it was a lot of unnecessary suffering and potential risk, and I can’t imagine ever willingly going through that again. Plus, I can only hope and pray that my struggle didn’t harm the baby. So far everything looks good in there, the heartbeat is rapid and strong (doc says “Sounds great!,” I say “Sounds like anxiety!”), and I have no tangible reason to think she’s not thriving. But who really knows. And whether on or off meds, I’d have that “who really knows” feeling regardless. So next pregnancy, pretty sure it’s gonna be tenor.

And if you’re not ok with that? That’s cool. Just express your judgement to someone else, not me. I can’t go lighting faces on fire once I’m a mom, but I can definitely teach my kid to spit in your eye and claim it’s an accident.

In a Shocking Turn of Events, I Am No Glowing Goddess

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We’re pregnant! With a girl! (Which is great, as long as she is nothing like me).

We’re definitely starting to feel the excitement now that we are entering the second trimester and I no longer want to Linda Blair vomit all over town and have stopped drooling like Homer Simpson at a pig roast (oh, you didn’t know involuntary drooling was a pregnancy symptom? Well, neither did I until I got up to pee for the 47th time one night and essentially slipped in a pool of my own saliva).

So on that note, hey, here’s something no one tells you: the first trimester fucking blows. No, I’m kidding. Tons of people DO tell you that, minus those goddess-moms who feel great and glowy from day 1, but let’s be real, I’m not friends with those people. Because ew.

So yeah, most people say the first trimester is tough but guess who sort of secretly thought she’d be different, based on absolutely zero evidence?

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In fact, not only did I have zippity do dah ZILCH reason to think I’d have an easy first trimester, every thing I’ve experienced in life up to this point perfectly illustrated that I would be literally THE WORST.  My run-of-the-mill non-pregnant existence– like, a day I’d describe as “feeling pretty good”– is essentially already a mild version of pregnancy (exhaustion, stomach issues, headaches, irritability, anxiety, moodiness, profuse sweating, overactive bladder….). So I told myself, based on whatever the opposite of logic is, that because I feel pregnant NORMALLY, when I actually AM pregnant I will feel BETTER. It’s similar to the kind of logic one uses when they’ve had 18 too many tequila shots or are Forrest Gump.

It was just hopeful optimism– something I don’t usually partake in, so I’m not sure why I chose THIS particular circumstance to start lying to myself.

Here’s the logical conclusion that a rational person would come to, and perhaps then wisely prepare herself for– If you feel sort of physically crappy in your day-to-day regular life, in no circumstance are you going to feel LESS crappy when you add a nutrient-sucking fetus into that equation (and by “into that equation” I mean “into YOUR UTERUS.” The uterus that is INSIDE YOUR BODY, GUYS! I will never get over this. The “What’s Happening to My Body Book For Girls” Mom gave me at age 14 did NOT adequately prepare me for understanding how this is a thing humans can and should be doing. It’s fucking Animal Planet over here, except I have to go to a job every day and politely respond to people without vomiting on their face).

So anyway, yeah: “Feel Semi-Crappy Normally + Fetus Monster in Belly = Feel Crappier” is not exactly as obvious, concrete and indisputable as “1 +1 =2” but it’s pretty damn close, Forrest.

So weeks 5-12 were miserable. And I don’t say that to sound ungrateful, because believe me, I know how lucky Eric and I are that this happened for us, and happened so easily (more on that in a future post entitled “My Geriatric Uterus is Wearing a Catcher’s Mitt”). We are of course thankful for that, this is something we very much wanted, and we are both beyond looking forward to being parents (in that terrified-excited kind of way you look forward to riding a super-rickety, still-in-the-test-phase roller coaster that you heard many people have died on).

But I’m not going to sit here and say this early part is magical. If you’re looking for that sentiment, I’m not entirely sure why you read this blog. Maybe this is your first time here and you know nothing about me, so if that’s the case, let me catch you up: My name is Emily. I don’t do whimsy.

So that leads us to the texts below. I was too tired, nauseous, and, quite frankly, sad to do any real writing these past two months, but I did somehow find the time to annoy/harass/alarm/frighten/disgust Eric with every single feeling I experienced as I experienced it. There was no emergency-bathroom situation that he was not a part of because A) THAT’S HOW LOVE WORKS and B) the late Steve Jobs definitely invented iMessage for the purpose of toilet updates in real time, so what am I going to do, NOT honor him?

So below is a chronicle of highlights (and I use that term VERY loosely, because I know of no society that would list “violent dry heave” as a highlight) of the first trimester, through text.

I’ll admit that reading through these was hard because, now that I am in a better place, my assessment is that I sound pretty damn whiny in a lot of these exchanges (and by “exchanges,” I mean me texting novels of complaints and Eric not knowing what to say because there is literally nothing TO say, but I just needed someone to listen and also not divorce me after listening. God bless his soul).

I imagine his face while reading was a mix of this blank-stare-gif-17.gif, this incredulous.gif and this 200w.gif , but he never let me know it, and that’s all that counts. 90% of marriage is knowing how to swallow your feelings and lie convincingly when your partner needs you to.

I actually ended up removing the majority of the sad, exasperated texts because they were just far too frequent, don’t make for great reading, and I think you can get the gist of my mental state by just perusing a few.  And the texts aren’t ALL misery– there’s humor sprinkled throughout, because I’ve done my best to try to laugh when I can, which is SUPER hard when you feel like death, but becomes possible when you have a partner with the temperament, light-heartedness and excitability of a newborn corgi.

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But bottom line– this shit is hard. For ANYONE. Is it harder for someone with mental health issues? I’m honestly not sure. I’d be lying if I said that I haven’t had some seriously depressive thoughts these past couple months, but I think early pregnancy can do that to anyone– veteran mental-health-sufferer or not– because the hormone surges are nothing short of batshit insanity. Sprinkle in some isolation (not sharing this HUGE thing going on in your life straight up sucks), the removal of your usual get-through-the-day crutches (coffee, wine, Advil, vigorous exercise, writing, openly venting to anyone who will listen including the internet) and add some persistent anxiety over not having that possible miscarriage that Google (and every Jew) loves to warn you about, and you have a perfect shitstorm for needing emotional life support. I legit don’t know how anyone keeps it together in the first few months (but if you’re one of those people, no judgement at ALL. Just a lot of jealousy and maybe also a touch of spiteful resentment and hatred).

And so if one struggling woman reads this and can relate and feel a bit better about the fact that her early pregnancy is/was no walk in the park either, then I’ve done the job I always set out to do– reach someone with the ugly, vomit-ridden truth.

So here’s what you missed– enjoy!….?

(note: Days refer to when we found out– so Day 2 is the 2nd day we knew we were pregnant)

Day 2 (while at a dentist appointment):

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 Day 3:

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Day 3, later:

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Day 4:

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Day 4,  (meeting my girlfriends for dinner): 

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Day 17,  (once daily vomiting commenced): 

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Day 19

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Day 20

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Day 23:

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Day 25:

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Day 28 (After finding out that my blood type is negative, and if Eric’s were to be positive, I would require an injection)IMG_4723.jpgIMG_4724.jpg

Day 35:

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Day 49 (after a lengthy ultrasound):

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Day 50:

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Day 64 (after finding out it’s a girl):

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Day 65:

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YES, PLEASE!

Me: “I just haven’t been feeling great for the past month. I’m exhausted and unmotivated and just want to hibernate.”

Therapist: “Wine or booze?”

Me: “Oh my god, yes! Please! Both!”

Therapist: “Excuse me?”

Me: “Huh?”

Therapist: “I said ‘winter blues?'”

Me: “Oh….”

Therapist: “What did you think I said?”

Me: “Nothing.”

Just thought you were offering an ACTUAL CONCRETE SOLUTION FOR ONCE.

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But…How?

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Real Story: A guest at our wedding is a friend of Ben Platt’s parents. This guest told Ben’s parents that “You Will Be Found” was our first dance song, and Ben’s parents told Ben, who then very graciously offered to autograph a photo for us.

Story I tell myself: Oh, NBD but Ben Platt reads and loves the blog. Huge fan of mine. He knows I love Dear Evan Hansen and that “You Will Be Found” was our wedding song, so he contacted our photographer and arranged this whole surprise for us because, you know, that’s the kind of thing celebrities do for their fellow celebrity friends.

Story I tell others: One of the two above, depending on how well I know you and your ability to fact-check.

 

Reaching

Therapist: “So it seems like all those travel anxieties you had leading up to your Africa trip were, as usual, in vain, because none of them happened.”

Me: “Ummm….were you listening? I got a violent stomach bug,  vomited across two separate countries/airports/airplanes, spent the whole last leg of the trip exhausted and achy– and I in fact STILL don’t feel like myself.”

Therapist: “Right but your fear is always that you’ll feel sick for no real reason. This was an actual REASON.”

Oh you are really fucking reaching today lady.

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