Note: I wrote this post about a month ago, just as I was just coming out of a deep hormone-induced depression. I feel better now.
It was going to happen. It was inevitable. At some point, I was going to descend into that unfulfilled, uncharted and underserved niche of people who get onto the internet and talk about their feeeeelings. Certainly no one else on the internet has thought to do this.
The first time I went to go see our midwife, we talked about hormonal fluctuations during pregnancy and after the babies are born. She said being pregnant is like taking 250 birth control pills a day. Holy crap. I just did some light Googling to see if I could find someone else saying that (I couldn’t). But I’m feeling it. And it hasn’t felt all that great.
I’ve written a bit about being an anxious person. For the most part it’s manageable and it’s cathartic to share my neurosis by neutralizing it and making fun of it. “Come over here and listen to this funny story about me and my silly brain! It’s so funny! Wait…where are you going?”
Most often, I can deal with the anxiety and I can usually tell when it’s coming from external triggers and conditioning, or if it’s coming from chemicals in my brain, which is harder to manage.
I also have a history of depression. Please, collapse yourself on a seat, and fan yourself, from the shocking shock of learning a woman who blogs sometimes gets depressed. Who has ever heard of such a thing?
Thankfully, I can say I haven’t been depressed since probably 2007. I occasionally wondered if I my depression would return, or if it was just watching from the sideline, waiting for an opportunity to make a grand re entry into my life. But I can now safely say it hadn’t. It’s been years. I know this for a fact, because in the first trimester of this pregnancy, I got really depressed.
It came on like a ton of bricks. It was a familiar old feeling. I wasn’t bone-tired fatigued, as some women get in their first trimester. It was different than being tired. I didn’t have energy. I didn’t have motivation. I didn’t have focus. I lost interest in the activities I normally really like. I was bored. I know it was depression and not fatigue, because even sleep sounded unappealing to me.
Of all the illogical, irrational emotions I had, I felt like I had nothing to look forward to. I can’t imagine a more alternate-universe feeling to have when you’re pregnant with twins. But I wasn’t thinking about actually having the babies. I still hadn’t wrapped my head around that idea, that after all this pregnancy bullshit, we’d have two little muffins to take home. I wasn’t there yet.
I was in the fog. It’s not black. It’s gray. And it doesn’t begin, and it doesn’t end. I don’t mean to sound dramatic, but when you’re depressed, you forget what it is like to have ever felt happy. The sharp edges and bright colors all fade in the fog. I remembered how this felt, from previous bouts of depression. In this case, I had the benefit of knowing it was hormonal. It was temporary. A lot of women get depressed in their first trimester. By the 13th week, there’s a shift in hormones, and the fog is supposed to lift. The days passed so slowly. So agonizingly slowly.
I announced that if I were to be hit with a bout of depression this strong while not pregnant, I’d go on meds immediately. I would run to the doctor. I wouldn’t want an extra day to go by, feeling like that. I’ve never experienced so clear an indicator that chemicals occurring naturally in my body were giving me a goddamned mental illness. This was not a problem to be solved with a smile, diet and exercise. This was not a pull-yourself-up-by-your-bootstraps little mood disorder. This was not some sort of mental weakness, laziness or character flaw. It was gray. Gray, gray, gray.
I feel better now. But wow. That sucked.