Take All the Help You Can Get, and That May Include an Antidepressant
I am going to go there. I am going to talk about the thing that no one talks about because to me, it’s THAT important that its discussed. I wanted to be strong enough to go through my grieving process without any medication. I refused it at the hospital because I wanted to be fully present when I held my sweet pea for 15 hours straight – the only time I put her down was to go to the bathroom, and even then, I made Mike or the nurse hold her.
And then we got home, and waking up crying became normal. My eyes would open and tears would stream down my face. I had just lost a child that I wanted SO BADLY. There’s no one on earth that wanted a child more than I wanted Harper. It’s just not possible. So, I figured this is part of the process, and as I worked through my grief, if I truly faced it head on, it would subside more quickly. I had no idea that’s not how grief works.
Day 3, the day before Harper’s funeral, I was in therapy. I found a therapist that not only lost her own child at 5 months so I figured she would be the one to help me – she knew my pain. I went to therapy twice a week for 3 months, and most of the time I was crying too hard to get any sentences out. I could get words out between sobs but that’s about it. I would leave feeling like I was going to faint because of how hard it was to breath. But I assumed that was “normal” for a mom who just lost her child.
The extreme anxiety had set in. I couldn’t let Michael out of my sight for fear that he would die. If Harper could die in the safest place in the world, my womb, then obviously Michael could die too. I couldn’t save Harper, but I was GOING to save Michael. These thoughts don’t seem rational to a person thinking without anxiety, but those of you who have experienced the crippling effects of anxiety will completely relate. But again, I figured this was “normal.”
I couldn’t be without Mike – I was absolutely TERRIFIED to be alone. What if I snapped? What if something happen to him? He became my security blanket, but he had to go back to work. Someone had to work to support us.
The months started to pass and I wasn’t getting any “better.” I thought surely by now, the tears would slow, the physical aching of my chest would subside a little and I would be able to take Michael to school at least without crying when I walked in the door. Nope. No relief. Nothing. Not one second. None.
Everything was so hard. Getting dressed. Remembering ANYTHING. Making Michael’s lunch. Returning texts. Making any plan in the future with family or friends. I couldn’t commit to anything. The very simple things in life were almost impossible for me.
See, by facing my grief head on, it didn’t speed up the grieving process. It was going to take years, and it’s still ongoing as I am sobbing writing this. It wasn’t a sprint, it was clear this was going to be a marathon and I couldn’t wrap my head around how I was going to live with this kind of day-in/day-out, unrelenting pain.
The triggers were everywhere. I had to pass by her fully furnished room 20 times a day at least with no crying baby to soothe. I had to go to bed every night knowing that I wasn’t going to be woken up by a crying baby that needed her Mommy. Every time I saw a pregnant mom or a child that would have been her age, the overwhelming physical sadness was unbearable.
Guys – this was UNBREARABLE. It was like something right out of a horror movie.
Why did I think I needed to be “strong enough” to handle this without help? I thought therapy would be enough. I obviously had no idea how strong the bond between mother and child was, until I lost a child. I have said this many times; the bond trancends Heaven and Earth. It’s the strongest force I have EVER experienced in my life.
I needed someone to step in and say, enough is enough already. And that person was my mom. She promised me in the hospital that she would tell me if she felt like I was slipping away. Thank God she did. I will never forget that day at her house when we decided it was time to call the doctor. I needed her to tell me it was “okay” to ask for help. My doctor told me, “Doreen, losing a child is the very reason anti-depressants and anti-anxiety medications were created.” God, isn’t that the TRUTH! There isn’t anything worse in life. So, I am here to tell you, if you feel like I felt above, get the help you need to survive. It’s okay. It’s not the big deal you are making it out to be in your head.
Here’s what I didn’t know. I didn’t know that my anxiety medication wouldn’t make me stop feeling my grief, it just helped me think. I was actually processing my grief. I was able to sleep again and string sentences together which was very hard before. Its not a “happy pill.” It did NOT make me happy. It made the tears slow a tiny bit so I could catch my breath, but the pain was still present. I continued to grieve Harper HARD and I found a new therapist who specialized in grief. My years of therapy with her were incredibly helpful but without the medication I needed to be able to think would have prevented the work from sinking in. I believe those two things combined saved me, and they may be able to save you too.
There’s no shame in needing help. If your leg was broken, would you sit there in pain and just say, nope, I’m not going to seek medical attention because I want to be “strong” enough to sit there with a broken leg? No, you would immediately get the help you needed.
I now know that my grief was coupled with Post Partum Depression. Because of the severe trauma and stress, along with the hormonals changes, my brain was not producing the chemicals needed to function normally. My medication helped replace what my brain was lacking. That’s it. It’s that simple.
Now, I have worked in the mental health field for many years and I have my Masters degree in counseling. Psychiatry today is a trial and error process, but there are companies that can help you determine which medications are more likely to be effective based on your genetics (amazing, right?). I know because I helped start one, and I know their process is solid. You don’t need to start with a psychiatrist. Start with your OB, or your GP – they see tons of patients and know what generally works and doesn’t. It’s not an overnight thing – it takes about 4 weeks for an antidepressant to begin to work. Again, your doctor would be best suited to answer all your questions. All I am telling you is that you don’t have to be “strong enough” if your holistic routes aren’t giving you any relief.
The moral of a very long story is, it’s not that big of a deal. Truly, its not. The universe will send you help you need in all shapes and forms. I have tried all sorts of things to help me heal; therapy, life coaching, acupunture, mediums, medications, herbs, journaling, meditation, excercising, the list is LONG. If they didn’t help, then I just didn’t do them again. My soul is so darn strong now, and I am grateful for all the help I accepted along the way.