Sunday, February 1, 2009

MIA and I'll tell you why (100th Post)

This last month has been quite the battle. I almost left this part of my journey unrecorded because I was nervous about putting it out there. I have seen friends be open and honest about their struggles, this issue in particular. But my pride stopped me from taking this next step.

I questioned Ryan about whether I should approach this topic so publicly. I was somewhat shocked by his response. He made me feel normal, and encouraged me to share this experience.

For the last year or so, I have been going in a downward spiral. Completely stalled in pursuing adoption or fertility treatments for an indeterminate amount of time, I slowly became more and more hopeless that things would ever improve, that I would ever have my family.

It started out as a funk, which turned into sadness, which turned into depression.

I tried everything I could think of to pull myself out of it. I prayed like never before. I journaled my feelings. I read scriptures. I started exercising more, including taking a weekly dance class. I tried herbs and acupuncture. I concentrated on work. I meditated and relaxed. I forced myself to think positively. I planned fun activities with Ryan. I served others at church. I cuddled with my cat. I vented to friends. I tried a new hobby. It wasn't getting better.

So, I turned to a psychologist, who immediately diagnosed me with depression (I didn't know that at the time though - I just knew she said I had 'symptoms' of depression). I worked with her for five months. It was only getting worse.

Finally, at the urging of loved ones and the psychologist, I made an appointment with my doctor. She couldn't see me for three weeks, so in the meantime I forged ahead.

After just one week, I couldn't take it anymore. I was near desperation. I knew this had gone way beyond just wanting a baby. Way beyond sadness. This was a different creature altogether. I called my doctor's office and told them I needed to come in right away.

While I was waiting to hear back from them, I ran an errand to Kinkos. There was a mix-up and the girl behind the counter was frustrated. Once back in my car, I burst into hysterical tears over the incident. This is the place I was at. This had become common behavior for me.

Just then, my phone rang. The doctor could see me right then. I went back to my office, told my boss I would be missing my afternoon appointment, and headed over there.

Through my tears I told my doctor how I was feeling and the thoughts I'd been having. I told her some of the things I had tried to make it better. I asked her what I should do.

She stated there was no doubt I had full-blown depression. She said I had let this go too long before seeking help, but she was glad I finally came in.

I asked her what was going on with me. How did my sadness turn into depression? She compared it to losing a loved one. Most people go through the grieving process step-by-step, but some get 'stuck' at a certain point. She's seen the same thing happen with women who have dealt with infertility for as long as I have. After a while of living in a state of sadness/hopelessness/anger, the chemical balance in your brain can literally change. That's when you might need a little more help.

So, she offered me some help. Swallowing my pride and accepting it was one of the hardest things I have ever done. Even as my ego and stubbornness begged me to say no, the Holy Spirit (through an avalanche of tears) forced me to say yes.

She cleared up misconceptions. Yes, even I, a graduate of Psychology, had misconceptions. I would venture to say that everyone does, unless they've been through this themselves.

Since that appointment some amazing things have happened. Last week, for the first time in months, I was able to get out of bed without two or more hours worth of pep talks. Ryan and I had a disagreement and I got over it, instead of crying uncontrollably until 4am. Not only have I been making dinner again, but I am enjoying it.

Perhaps the most amazing thing is I have hope again. It is small, but it's there. Last night, I pulled the pre-natal vitamins out of the medicine cabinet. For five years I took these pills just in case, by some miracle, I actually became pregnant. Several months ago, I threw them in the back of the cabinet saying, "Why bother?" Last night I thought, "Why not?"

I still have all those emotions that come with infertility: pain, sadness, loneliness, bitterness. I still cry sometimes when I feel these things. But I also found the other side of life again: joy, faith, hope, charity. I feel so much closer to my Heavenly Father, and I can finally see His wisdom again, even when I am feeling hurt or impatient.

When I first noticed I was having trouble conceiving, someone told me to 'humble myself and it will happen'. I took a lot of offense to that at the time. Although it still stings today, I look back and realize that I am a lot more prideful than I thought I was. It took this experience to make me see that sometimes I really have to let go. Perhaps I needed to lose control to truly learn I wasn't in control in the first place.

This is my 100th post. My first post was written when I was starting my first Clomid cycle (in 2006). I ended with the following:

I am cautiously optimistic. Maybe this is all my body needs...just a little push. Or maybe it's just the first step in what may be a long process...

Oh, I had no idea, huh? What a process this has been!

Last summer, Ryan and I hiked to the Lundy Mine. Ryan had been on this hike one time as a child, and I had never been. Needless to say, neither one of us knew the trail well enough to know how far we'd hiked and how much further we had to go. There were no mile markers and no maps along the way. All we knew was the mine was at the end of this trail. If we stayed on the trail, we would get to the mine eventually. But we had no idea when.

About a half-hour or so into the hike, I literally sat down and said I didn't want to do it anymore. I was tired. I wasn't prepared for this. I was too out of shape. It was too steep. This was harder than I thought. This was not what I was expecting. After a few minutes and some tears, I changed my mind and we pressed ahead.

At that moment, had I known we weren't even a fraction of the way there, I would have quit. No question about it. Had I known the steepness and the length of the trail that was ahead, I would have second-guessed my ability to do it. It was the not knowing that was the hardest part, but also the part that kept me going. The end of the trail could be around any curve, and I wanted to make it to the end.

Much is the same with this 'trail' I'm on now. Had I known at Post #1 where I would be at Post #100, I might have sat down and quit. "I'm tired. I wasn't prepared for this. It's harder than I thought." I would have second-guessed my ability to do it.

There may be steeper paths ahead, rocky roads and long stretches. It's the not knowing that is the hardest part, but also the part that keeps me going. The end of the trail could be around any curve, and I want to make it to the end.

18 comments:

Kristie said...

Thank you so much for sharing that Michelle. I know how hard it is to share something so personal and so difficult - and I admire you so much for doing it. You have a gift for writing and are truly inspirational.

James & Kresta said...

I absolutely LOVE this post! Thank you for writing it!! I am glad you were able to be so open and honest about your trials. I have noticed it had been a while since you wrote anything, but I didn't want to ask. I know how it can be, some days you would rather no one talk to you about children or any subject that could change into children. I am glad that life is a little more bearable for you. I will keep you two in my prayers. BTW, do you mind if I copy your hiking story part for me and possibly my blog?? I think it's a perfect!

Emily said...

Michelle,

I am so glad you shared this post with us and more importantly, I am so happy you got the help you needed.

I hope your story can motivate someone to seek the help they may need in their own lives.

I loved hiking analogy - so fitting.

Happy 100th post! I am so happy you are back. You have been missed :)

Amy said...

This was a truly great and heartfelt post. I struggled with mild depression for years and always refused to seek any medical help despite my mother's constant pushing. I probably wasted a lot of time and energy because of it. So I'm glad you went ahead. It's hard to swallow your pride and do it. It's something I was never able to do. (Though God thankfully took it away from me eventually.)

Your analogy of the hike is so true.

Happy 100th Post!!

B MoM said...

I'm glad you shared this with us. It may and probably will help someone else who may be experiencing similar feelings. Please continue to share as you are ready. We're here with you.

Happy 100th post.

Caroline said...

Hi Michelle,

I love reading your posts and I can relate to what you are going through. I am glad that you are starting to feel more like yourself again. Infertility is one tough journey, but you never know... the end might be just around the corner.


Caroline

Shannon said...

Oh my gosh. What a beautiful beautiful post. Really I absolutely love your realness. Thank you for putting it ALL out there Michelle.

Brock said...

I am so happy for you!! You deserve happiness. There is nothing harder than accepting help but once you do it is amazing to feel like yourself again. It will probably even get better in the next few weeks. I am proud of you!
Erin

Luke and Nat said...

Michelle, I have no doubt that most of us in the stages of infertility have been at all different levels of depression so you are not alone...I had wondered if I did for years and never sought help and the whole time probably put my poor husband through HELL with all the times I stayed in bed or would freak out when getting ready to go somewhere or would break down in the car and not want to get out or would start panicking and crying over things like dinner or a show on tv or a friend's comment that was made in passing that I took offensively. I still don't think I have a firm grasp on the chance I have been given to bring a life into this world and often resort back to the "what if's" and is this really going to happen or is HF is going to take away this gift at the very end of my pregnancy?...yes, this is the paranoid, late night me...but for real, I SO wish I had your posts when I was going through this part right before the adoption...so much of what you said was what I was thinking...I actually had a fertility dr prescribe anti depressants the first yr I was married, but I didn't feel like he had completed a thorough diagnosis of the situation to know if I was unbalanced/depressed due to my "loss" or if it was "just hormones acting up". I am so glad you have a kind, caring Dr whom you trust! Thanks for sharing. Your posts are probably healing for you, but even more healing for those of us that read them! :)

Amy Nielson said...

I'm so glad you are feeling some hope again - even if it's baby steps. :) I could tell a little from your testimony Sunday that something was different. I hope things keep getting better & better.

Melissa said...

Thank you for sharing, Michelle. I thank the Lord that you're on your way back to being yourself. I was on medication also to help me through a rough couple years. It gives you a chance to process things that you can't think about if the darkness is all-consuming.

Brittany said...

this was a great post. i cried. which i haven't done in a while. thank you for sharing, I love hearing your testimony. it makes me want to be better. can't wait to see you guys in a couple of weeks!

Baby Steps said...

Hi! I found you through a trail of infertility-related blogs, and even though I don't know you, I just wanted to tell you what a great post this is. I love your hiking analogy. It so perfectly fits what we are going though. Thank you for sharing.

teridiane said...

Michelle, you are such a brave person for being so open and honest. You describe so well with your hiking analogy the pain from the journey infertility takes us on and not knowing where it will end. That's one of the most difficult parts of it. I'm glad you sought help and I just pray everyday that the end of your journey is right around the corner. I want that for you so much. Thank you for sharing :)

MoDLin said...

Michelle, thank you so much for sharing this. Depression is real and troubles so many of us. It is wonderful to hear that you have turned the corner on it. Best wishes to you on your journey.

Lemons said...

You don't even know me, but like BabySteps (above) I too crossed your blog via other infertility blogs. And I can't thank you enough. I have been so down lately over my infertility. Year after year of this trial never seems to end. I go through the motions of things we are taught in church, but get frustrated because nothing seems to change. Other than my husband, no one really knows the depths of what I feel at times... but sounds like you've been right there with me. Thanks for having the courage to share that. You too are in my prayers,

Heidi
www.hopeformotherhood.blogspot.com

Callie said...

Michelle,

I echo the other commenters with my thanks for sharing this with our community. I think your experience is all too real to so many of us. I admire your courage and am happy that you found help and support - both spirtually and medically. It's a hard hard road we travel.

ICLW

The Pollocks! said...

I wanted to tell you that I think you are an incredible writer. I've been reading your posts for the past hour (instead of sleeping as I should be doing) and am in awe of your ability to express in words that which so many can't even wrap their minds around. I do not share in your trial of infertility, but I do know the real, true feelings of depression - I had to deal with that while on my mission. Your analogy of the hike is so fitting. We will all make it to the end of our individual trails, and I hope to be able to celebrate the end of yours with you! You've truly inspired me, and for that, I thank you.

FAITH IN GOD MEANS HAVING FAITH IN HIS TIMING.