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Disappearing Depression

The fact that I disappeared from the blogosphere again shouldn’t really be surprising.  I tend to do that every once in a while.  I get overwhelmed with real life, events, crazy schedules.  Sometimes I’m fighting a different battle.

This time around I was fighting my old nemesis: depression.  We have a long history, depression and I.  Diagnosed at 16, I’ve struggled to maintain control of my mental health.  For the most part, this is a war I win, though depression occasionally wins a battle.

So why did depression raise its ugly head this time?  It was my own doing, unfortunately.  The good news is that the husband and I are trying to get pregnant.  Yay!!  The bad news is that means attempting to wean off my antidepressants.  There are far too many worrisome studies out there about the relationship between mothers on antidepressants and autism risks in their children.  Here and here.  Given that I already have a child on the spectrum and I was on an anti-depressant for a few months during my first pregnancy, you can imagine my worry and my guilt!  My doctors and I are all committed to getting my off the drugs for this pregnancy, just in case.

But this is where things get dicey.

I weaned off the drugs too quickly.  I went from 20 milligrams to 10 over night.  My body did not like that.  In fact, it stopped reacting to the drugs.  It took about 10 days for depression and anxiety symptoms to set in.

At first it wasn’t too bad.  Sure I was a little more tired, a little more irritable, and lot more hungry, but those aren’t symptoms that couldn’t be explained away by PMS, really really bad PMS.  Then I started losing my temper with Connor.  My normally patient parenting style disappeared.  I felt fed up with him every day.  I had not interest in engaging in play.  I just wanted to plop him in front of the TV and be done with it.  But hey, that could just be explained away by saying I was juggling the needs of a special need child and tired.  Then one day I just started crying.  Someone had something totally innocuous and I just started to sob.  Something was wrong.

Back on the full dose of medication, I had to fight my way back to feeling normal.  It takes a few weeks for medication to work your system back up to an even keel, so in the mean time you’re stuck knowing that something is wrong and not being able to do anything about it but wait.  Like the saying “fake it til you make it” I had to spend many many days trying to get back to a place where I felt like myself again.  I started using Dr. Low’s method of handling my anxiety and depression.  I was back to spotting anxious behaviors, endorsing myself for trying, reminding myself of my averageness, etc. And like always, after a lot of hard work and a lot of self-reflection, I was able to get back to a good place.

The only downside now is that I still need to wean off my medication.  We’re doing a baby step approach now: 20 mg to 15 mg.  Then if I’m ok in a few weeks, we’ll try going down to 10 again.

I need to be ok, whether I’m on the medication or not.  There have been several studies that show mothers suffering depression during their pregnancy experience many different types of disadvantages as well. 

It kind of seems like I’m damned if I do, and damned if I don’t.

There are other things I can do to help my mood while I’m weaning off the drugs: light therapy, exercise, nutritional adjustments, spending time outside, regular therapy, etc.

It’s still scary, though.  Part of me hopes we get pregnant right away and the added hormones help my mood, like they did last time.  And part of me hopes it takes a while so I can get this medication thing worked out.

Either way, all I can do is my best, and hope that’s good enough for our future baby.

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Mother’s Day with Severus Snape

Connor has a yearly tradition of trying to be as bad as possible on Mother’s Day.  It’s something that is obviously near and dear to him since he makes a habit of practicing in the preceding days.  I wish I could say I find it sweet that he puts so much thought into it, but that would just be lying.

I’m not sure what brings out the worst in him on Mother’s Day.  Perhaps it’s that he’s not getting his usual 100% of attention (it’s probably only 95% on Mother’s Day).  Perhaps it’s just timing.

This year circumstances beyond his control definitely conspired against us.  We’d both been fighting a cold for about a week.  Connor was basically better but still a bit off-kilter from being sick for so long.  Kids also seem to have a “sickness hangover” that causes them to be tired and grumpy for a proportional amount of time once the sickness actually leaves them.  It’s like their little bodies and minds are out of sync!

I thought Disneyland might be a good way to spend the day.  Connor and I both enjoy Disneyland, so it seemed logical that he wouldn’t mind spending Mother’s Day there.

I guess my first mistake was trying to apply logic to a preschooler.

Connor enjoyed precisely three things at Disneyland: the churros, the second floor of the Riverboat (and only the second floor), and the dancing display windows on Main Street.

Everything else he hated, and he made that audibly clear.  Not only was their screaming, this was a day for full-body tantruming, which meant the boyfriend and I had to literally wrestle Connor into his stroller and restrain him.  Since Connor is almost supernaturally strong it took two full-grown adults to accomplish this task, all the while getting slapped in the face or kicked in the stomach by flailing limbs. And yet I kept hoping against hope he would actually enjoy himself so I foolishly let him out of his restraints only to have to repeat the process minutes later.

(Have I mentioned what a lucky guy my boyfriend is to have found us?  Oh yes, truly lucky.)

It seems almost obvious to say, but our visit to Disneyland was very short that day.

The rest of the day was then shot because Connor had expended so much energy in making his displeasure known that he took a 2.5 hour nap…and Connor doesn’t take naps….ever.

Obviously something was wrong with this child aside from his normal 3 year old stuff.  Perhaps he was still sick!  Let loose the avalanche of mommy guilt!  I had dragged a sick child to Disneyland!  What is wrong with me?  Of course he wouldn’t behave when his own mother failed to recognize that he was sick! Worst mom of the year award right here!

Once the guilt subsided and I recognized I perhaps wasn’t the worst mother in the world, I made the phone calls telling my family we wouldn’t be joining them for dinner.  I then tearfully called the boyfriend and begged him to come back over so I wouldn’t have to eat alone on Mother’s Day.  He obliged and we ate take-out Chinese food in the kitchen while Connor refused to eat anything but Goldfish crackers.

We went through the bedtime routine pretty glumly.  I love my child but I was getting pretty sick of this Mother’s Day routine.  So when we settled down to watch some baseball before we fell asleep I was fully resigned to ending the day on a sour note.

And then my boy surprised me.

Out of no where he says “Snape.”

The boyfriend and I both look at Connor.

Connor smiles and says “Severus Snape?”

I start laughing and translate what sounds like “serious snap”.

Then I remember that Connor had been watching the Potter Puppet Pals on YouTube earlier in the day, so I start singing “Snape. Snape. Severus Snape.”  Connor’s little face lights up and he sings along with me.  When I interject Dumbledore he starts giggling!  As we sing the song together we spiral into a fit of delirium, unable to say the word Snape without breaking into peals of laughter.  It was hilarious!

The last thing I expected was for my 3 year old son to sing a song about Harry Potter characters at 9:30 at night after a gloriously misbehaving day.

It was my favorite moment.