Monday, February 21, 2011

Half In Love: On Depression

I am honored to be one of the fifteen bloggers invited by Clever Girls Collective to talk about the memoir Half in Love: (Surviving the Legacy of Suicide) by Linda Gray Sexton.

Some notable statistics from the book:

That someone commits suicide every 17 minutes in the U.S.;
That 90% of suicides are committed by someone suffering from a mental illness;
And that mood disorders are actual medical conditions, just like diabetes or heart disease.

But what struck me the most was this stat:

That 50% of wives caring for a depressed husband will develop depression themselves.

Wow.  Proof positive that depression affects everyone involved, huh?

Linda Gray Sexton was no different.  Her mother, an accomplished poet, killed herself when Linda was 21 years old.   And what follows for Linda is a life's journey faced with struggling to fight her genetic predisposition and not follow her mother's chosen path of death over life.

Yet Linda gives in to the urge to end her torment and pain with multiple suicide attempts.  In Half in Love, Linda Gray Sexton chronicles her journey.  It's a deeply moving account of ending the cycle of suicide in one's heritage.

Look, we all have bad days, right?  Hell, living here in New England, where it's bleak and gray and the sun's rays are a rare occurrence for about 5 winter months, it's hard NOT to get down.

I absolutely used to DREAD the fall.  Because it just meant that winter was around the corner.

But that was before I was medicated.

Now?  I know it will get better.  Time marches on.  Seasons change.  I make the best of what I've got (albeit with some bitching and complaining still thrown in for good measure, don't get me wrong!)

In the fall of 2005, I knew I needed to get help.  Things were BAD in the Trenches.  I was home with a 3-1/2 year old, a 1 year old, and a newborn.  Totally outnumbered and overwhelmed.  Vacillating between crying and being ANGRY and feeling nothing else.

Of course I loved my children.  Of course I loved my husband.  But man, did my life feel bleak.

A good day was making it until Hubby got home before having my first glass of wine.  A bad day meant that I was already on glass #2 by the time he walked in the door.  And he knew.

He would walk in the door and I would immediately be pissed at him.  Pissed that I had been home alone all day with the boyz.  Pissed that he got to go to work and escape the chaos.  Pissed that I felt pissed in the first place.

Hubby felt constantly attacked.  He definitely walked on eggshells for those months.  Never knowing if what he said was going to make me bitch at him or cause me to break down in tears.  He certainly bore the brunt of my misery.  And asked me time and time again, "What do you need me to do?"  "How can I make you feel better?"  But no matter what, he could never do the right thing.  I regret putting him through that pain and uncertainty.  Where had his wife gone?

A long weekend away with my girlfriends that fall was when something clicked.  It was when I came to the horrific realization that I wasn't looking forward to going back home to my Trenches.  What kind of mother doesn't miss her family?   What kind of mother dreads returning to her life?  Who was I?  I had become unrecognizable to myself.

I made the call to my doctor's office that week.  And sat there in her office, bawling my eyes out as I relayed to her my feelings of simply feeling overwhelmed every.single.second of my days.  What was my problem?!

It honestly never even occurred to me that I could have postpartum depression.  Wasn't that something that happened right after you gave birth?  I was FINE all that summer.  But looking back, I realize now that it was because my mom was there.  Once she left, I was on my own to juggle the boyz and the house.  It was a good day if I managed to remember to brush my own goddamn teeth.

Postpartum depression or anxiety can, in fact, occur up to 12 months after giving birth.

I was given a prescription for the antidepressant Celexa.  It took 2 weeks to take effect.  But once it did?  I was changed.  For the better.  My feelings of constantly being overwhelmed dissipated.

And life has marched on.

It's over 5 years later from that time.  And I still take my Celexa daily.  And probably always will.

Thank you to award-winning author Linda Gray Sexton for sponsoring this series, which is inspired by her memoir Half in Love: Surviving the Legacy of Suicide.

I was selected for this sponsorship by Clever Girls Collective which endorses Blog With Integrity.

To learn more about Linda Gray Sexton and her writing, please visit her website.


Candace McClintick said...

I think a lot of us have been there. me included. thanks for sharing 'real' motherhood. :)

amanda said...

i hope this doesn't sound dumb - but i am proud of you. proud of you for going in and saying you needed help. it's a big step. and so not an easy step.

and ps - totally random and unrelated. BUT we were out for lunch today and three boys in ball caps were getting drinks in front of me. i so thought of you. i swear they were your three. only they weren't. they were actually an old babysitter of mines boys. and not nearly as cute (or sweet) as yours.

Jenna said...

Thank you for being vulnerable and sharing a part of your story. It certainly resonates with me, and you did a great job describing what living with someone in that place is like. It took me a long time to get help, but I will never be sorry. Again, thank you for your words. You validated me, and will probably validate and encourage a lot of others with your words.

molly said...

Visiting you as I was also one of the 15 bloggers chosen for this series.

Thank you for sharing the statistics as well as a part of your story. The book was amazing, wasn't it?

Unknown said...

You are such a wonderful,strong woman and for you to have the courage to put yourself out there to talk about this subject that for so many(including myself)is so difficult...I AM SURE that you have helped so many people in ways that you don't even realize! You are an inspiration. Thank you for being you! (I hope this isn't to corny! LOL!)

Katherine at Postpartum Progress said...

Thanks for writing this Sarah and for being so open about your experience with PPD. Much love.

Poker Chick said...

THANK you for sharing that story. Not enough of us talk about it and I think if more people did, the number of cases that end tragically would be far, far fewer.


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