Mamabeard, I so feel for you more than you know. Just a month ago I was in the hospital Psych unit suffering from clinical depression. It was a really surprising diagnosis to me. I had never considered myself depressed, but depression comes in many forms. I'm going to cut and past a post I posted in another forum but I wanted to say a few things first.
First of all, don't be scared of anti-depressants. I can't believe the difference they have made in my life. I am taking Lexapro which is basically a new version of Celexa. I live in a university town with a university hospital. They are constantly doing studies and one of the ones they have been doing for a while deals with antidepressants and nursing. I have a few friends who have been in the study. They test both the breast milk and the baby's blood for signs of the antidepressant. What my friends results have been is that the medication shows up in trace amounts in the breastmilk, but has not shown up in the baby's blood stream. I know dozens of women who have gone through my breastfeeding support group who have taken antidepressants. Many of them took them throught their pregnancies. Talk to a psychiatrist, a pharmacist, your pediatrician, but most importantly, to a lactation consultant about your choices of medication. Let your psych know that nursing is important and that you want to work in tandem with a lactation consultant. You WILL find a medication that will work and is compatible with nursing.
Secondly, depression is a disease. You can not make it better by yourself. It is a chemical imbalance in the brain, it is not feeling sad, or blue -- like we typically think of depression. Part of depression for many people may include feeling "depressed," but with clinical depression, you aren't going to snap out of it without help. Some people can get by with therapy alone, but many, many more rely on medication. From what I have been told, one must typically be on the anti-depressant (AD) for at least 6 months to a year before attempting to go off of them. For some people, once they go off, they will never need to go back on them again. For others (like me -- I have a big genetic factor) there will be times I will have to go on them, or possibly will have to stay on them at some point. I'll deal with that when it comes.
I'll let you read my story since this is going to be incredibly long, but if you have ANY questions (if anyone has any questions) PLEASE feel free to PM me. Clinical depression is greatly misunderstood.
Here's my story -- at least most of it, I'm sure I left things out.
"It's sort of a long story, and several of you know some of the early details, but I'll start from the beginning to fill everyone in. In a round about sort of way it all started last February when I found a lump in my breast. The doctors told me it was nothing, but I couldn't help worrying that they were missing something. It was really small and they didn't even do a needle biopsy. I worried for months about it. Thankfully, in June it went away on it's own.
Then also last spring we applied for a life insurance policy on me. It was a pain because we did it through Quick Quote and the insurance company was so slow and unorganized. They would send me emails requesting information which I would send and they would continue to send me emails asking for the same information. It was a mess. To make it worse, during this time I began having some heart problems. I was noticing heart palpatations often, and times where my heart would race for no reason and I would feel slightly winded. I went into my doctor and she did an ekg and had me wear a Holter monitor which monitors everything your heart does for 24 hours. During this time I was palpitating like crazy and had a period where my heartrate was at 133 for nearly an hour during which time I felt physically exhausted and just plain bad.
The heart thing really freaked me out, and after completing an echocardiogram (which came back totally normal) my doctors diagnosis was simply that "some people have this." Nice, huh. This continued on and off for about four months where there were a couple weeks where I would feel great, then I would have the heart things for several days. I worried that they were missing something and that I was going to have a heart attack. I made the mistake of getting online and looking up information about heart issues, and that only scared me more.
Besides that, it seemed like every cover of every magazine had something about heart attacks or heart disease. Oprah ran that show about heart disease, and I kept wondering if God was trying to tell me something. There were several times that I would have strange symptoms that are symptoms of heart attacks and wonder if I should go to the er, or if I was just making more of things than I should.
Now skipping to the last month. Around the middle of August on a Thursday night I began to feel nauseaus for no reason and had terrible burning in my stomach and chest. My heart was racing and I was of course, freaking out again. We were leaving the next day for A Day Out With Thomas and I didn't want to screw that up. I obsessed about whether I should go to the er, but decided just to go into my doctor the next day. I felt awful that Friday morning, tired, exhausted, and went into the doctor. She ran an ekg which was fine. She scheduled an upper GI and abdominal ultrasound for the next week to rule out some things. I started to feel better in the office, and we went ahead and left for our trip around noon. I didn't have an appetite, but I felt pretty good.
The weekend was fun, I felt good, until we headed home on Saturday night. About halfway home I started to feel just exhausted. I could barely talk. My head felt hot, and I just wanted to get home. When we got home I slept for 12 hours. I felt like that Sunday, Monday and finally on Tuesday I called the doctor after I napped in the afternoon and made an appt for the next day. Go figure, I felt much better that night.
I saw a different doctor in the office the next day who was nice, and put me on Beta Blockers to try to control the heart irregularities. I felt pretty good for a couple of days (aside from being tired), but it soon became clear that they didn't work. I began having heart episodes again where it would race and I would feel exhausted, my head would feel hot and I would be dizzy and slightly out of breath. This happened on several different occasions. I began having days in a row where I felt awful and had a hard time getting out of bed. I would feel totally exhausted, but I couldn't sleep. My mind would simply race at 500 miles per hour. My MIL came down to help with the boys and the house because I was pretty useless. I called the doctor and they got my cardiologist appointment pushed up a week, and told me to come in because they wanted to change my medication.
That night (monday) Jason and my mil took the kids to a school fundraiser at the Monkey House (like Chuck E Cheese) for Christian's school. I stayed home. At about 8:00pm I began to have an achy pain that ran down the left side of my neck and down throught my left shoulder. I called the OnCall nurse at the hospital and she told me that could mean that my heart wasn't getting enough oxygen and that I needed to come into the ER. Jason got home while I was on the phone with her, and we left the boys with my mil and headed to the hospital. They ran all the heart tests, but my doctor told me that he suspected that it was anxiety. He to suffered from anxiety attacks and was on Zoloft and told me a lot about his personal experience. He also showed me the symptoms of anxiety and I could recognize so many of them in myself. It was the first time I could believe that perhaps I did suffer from anxiety.
When I went in the next day to my regular doctor, and the she told me she thought I was suffering from a panic disorder and put me on Paxil and gave me a prescription for Xanex (an anti anxiety med) to take if I felt one coming on. She told me that the Paxil takes a couple weeks to build up, but that I should probably feel better by the weekend. She made an appointment with a Psychiatrist for me, but she said that the earliest they could get me in was a month. I felt better that day, but wed, and thurs I was pretty much in bed while my MIL watched the boys. I still was nauseaus all the time and couldn't eat. Friday and Saturday I felt a bit better and could even eat a little. I thought the Paxil might be working.
My mil left on Friday and my Mom and Stepdad came on Saturday and Sunday. Sunday I felt strange that morning and I gave in and took a Xanex. I didn't like to take them because I wasn't supposed to nurse when taking them. I decided to wean Jonah to nursing four times a day -- when he woke up and before he went to bed or nap.
The next day, Monday (Sept 16th) I felt functional and took Christian to preschool and took Jonah to Target to get new shoes. While I was there I ran into a good friend of mine who I hadn't seen in a couple weeks. I began having a panic attack while I was talking to her. It was strange. After that it was all down hill from there. Tuesday I could barely get out of bed. When the kids got up I turned on Nick Junior and layed on the couch with my eyes closed. I could barely move. I called my doctor whose wonderful advice was to take a Xanex. It didn't help. When Jason came home for lunch he dressed them and fed them lunch. When they went down for naps I layed down too. I didn't sleep much because I couldn't get my brain to slow down. My body could barely move, but my brain just wouldn't quit.
Wednesday I had to drag myself out of bed to take Christian to preschool. I looked awful. I had taken a Xanex and was like a zombie. My neighbor said she saw me and I looked like crap. I called Jason when I got home and told him he had to pick up Christian. I turned on the tv for Jonah and called the doctor. I talked to the nurse and told her that I needed help. I couldn't care for my kids, I couldn't get out of bed, I was exhausted all the time... She said she would talk to the doctor. The doctor herself called me back to tell me that it can take a while for the paxil to work, and that I should take a xanex. Yeah, whatever. Here I was living with constant waves of nausea, I had lost 10 pounds in less than a month, and no one was helping me.
It was so frustrating. The only halfway good times for me were in the evenings. I would feel just a bit better, at least enough to sit in the livingroom and talk to the kids.
Then Thursday the 19th rolled around. It was another one of those days where all I could do was lay on the couch with my eyes closed (too much effort to keep them open) and let the boys watch TV. At about 9:00am my best friend called and asked me to bring the boys over to play. I told her that I just couldn't, but I'd call Jason and see if he could. I couldn't get ahold of Jason, but decided that perhaps the fifteen minute trip there might be worth it if I could lay in bed all morning. I had takex a xanex that morning which makes you really tired. It took all my energy to get the boys dressed. I wore the clothes I slept in, threw on a hat, strapped the boys in the car and headed to Chris' house. At least the boys would have friends to play with for a few hours. They were so excited. It took every ounce of strenght and all my concentration to keep my hands on the wheel, and my eyes open. I walked the boys to the door, said thanks, turned around and went back to the car. As I was driving home I kept thinking that I wished someone would hit me so I would be taken to the hospital and someone there would have to help me. I just wanted someone to help me.
I got home and crawled in bed. The waves of nausea that had been plaguing me daily kept on coming. I just layed there with my eyes closed and my brain racing. Jason came home before he went to pick up the boys. He suggested I take a shower, that I would feel better, I told him that I just couldn't. He suggested that if I would just get up and do something I might feel better. I told him I just couldn't. I told him that I couldn't live like this much longer. I told him that I could understand why people who live like this kill themselves, because I just didn't know how much longer I could do this. I wasn't really suicidal (yet), I just wanted someone to make me feel better. I wasn't crying -- I couldn't cry, it took too much energy.
I think seeing me that morning really scared Jason. He said something about taking me to the hospital later but I didn't really hear him at the time. He went and picked up the boys and talked to Chris about me. Then he called his mom, and his Aunt who is a nurse. They all told him to take me to the hospital. I didn't realize it, but Jason never went back to work that day. He called the doctor's office but my doctor always leaves early on Thurdays, as does her nurse. But by the grace of God, her nurse, who is a peach, was still there. She told him to take me to the ER.
When the boys woke up Jason came into the room. I was just starting to feel slightly better as I did every evening. He told me that we were taking the boys to Chris' and he was taking me to the hospital. I feebly tried to talk him out of it, but decided that at least someone would help me there.
When we got to the ER we got a great doctor. He could tell immediately what was wrong. He asked me a bunch of questions like "do you ever feel hopeless" which I didn't think I did, but when I started to think about it, I realized that in the past few days, I really did. It was at that point that I started to cry. It was the first time I had cried in months. I cried off and on for days. It was like a relief when the doctor said that he thought all of this was depression. I didn't have any of the symptoms that you really think of with depression, which made it hard for us to see. I thought that all my symptoms were physical. The doctor decided to admit me to the Psych ward that night. That was the best thing that ever happened to me.
I cried so much that night, I think a lot of it was sheer relief that I was finally getting some help. It was scary because it was the first time I had been without my kids. I ended up staying until the next Wednesday when I decided I was ready to go home. The nurses on the unit were great, and my Doctor was great. He explained that what I have isn't what most people think of when they think of depression. I wasn't necessarily feeling blue or acting depressed. My problems began with the constant worrying about my health and the fear of dying and leaving my kids. It was all a worry that I hid and went on like the strong person that I am. Thus I began having all these physical symptoms including the heart palpitations and such. He said that I am typical of a person with a strong personality. We just keep pushing and pushing forward until we simply hit a wall. He said that most people will seek help much earlier. I did tell him that I had been going to my doctor for months, but she hadn't been helping much.
He explained to me that my depression was likely due a lot to genetics since my mother has dealt with this all of her life. He also told me that this would likely not be my only down, but that I would now be able to recognize it much earlier. He changed my medications and it made a huge difference almost immediately. The nausea went away, I could eat again. There was a woman on the unit who was 70 and was there for shock treatments to try to rewire her brain. Her daughters were with her that first weekend and they were great. I spent so much time talking to them that we felt like family by the time they left on sunday. Their mom, Evelyn will be there for two more weeks and I've been going up to visit her.
I loved the time on the unit. I was able to rest and regroup. I missed my family, but they came up every evening and ate with me and spent several hours there. The unit was nice and there were just a few people there. Strangely, I was never as sad as I thought I would be when they left at night. I knew they were in good hands with their dad, and I was so tired from the medications that I was enjoying having time to rest. It was also a relief to not have any responsibilities for a while. I felt so good by the time I left.
The new medications have made all the difference in the world. I feel like my old self again. It's so good to be back. I know that this is long, and congratulations to anyone who made it through. I just wanted everyone to know what had been going on with me lately. I was only giving bits and pieces and then I just disappeared. I felt bad and I missed you all. Thanks for all your prayers and positive thoughts. It means a lot to me."