Dark Place

Some bummer news…  Over the past few weeks my mental outlook has continued to decline at an alarmingly fast rate.  I’ve been seeing my therapist (who is the absolute best) rather sporadically because of the hours of my new job, but at the last meeting she was really concerned.  I’m upping my meeting back to weekly, she called in a favor to a psychiatrist friend, and I have an appointment with my OB to discuss putting me on antidepressants.

Prenatal depression isn’t exactly uncommon, although obviously it gets less attention than postpartum depression, and I am at a much higher risk with my past history, but I’m still bummed.  I’ve never had to go on antidepressants before (although maybe I should have), and it feels like such a failure.  I’m worried about the side effects because I know these meds are serious drugs.  I’m worried about taking too long to figure out the med situation and being too late because I know it takes awhile to get the right combination/level of these drugs.  I’m worried about this being the right choice because I’ve been able to deal with this on my own in the past.

It just sucks!  Health-wise I’m doing so well.  My stomach issues are calm.  The baby couldn’t be growing more perfectly.  I’m just starting to hate the baby and this pregnancy for so many reasons.  I hate that it’s changing my relationship with DH.  I hate the pressure I feel having to shop for it.  I hate the intrusion I feel from my family because they’re excited for it.  I hate how my body’s changing to accommodate it.  I hate strangers asking personal questions about it.  I hate the uncomfortableness and the squirminess and the sleeplessness that it’s causing me.  I hate the public expectation to be overjoyed over it.  I hate everything right now.  I’m stressing over the birth, over shopping, over single-parenting while DH is gone…  It doesn’t end.

I’m bummed that I have to go through this healing process again, but I’m more worried that because of its different causes, this time is going to be harder and I’m not going to be able to be a good parent.  I already feel like it’s unfair for DH to live and deal with a mentally ill person regularly, but a kid isn’t going to understand.  I don’t want to burden him with it when he should be worry-free and ignorant of such problems.  And that’s how my thought process goes full circle and I start feeling like crap again.

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Therapy and Reality TV

I’m a total sucker for a lot of reality tv.  DH and I don’t pay for a ton of cable, so I spend a lot of time on Bravo and TLC other such channels that seem to come with every cheap cable package.  You learn to love tolerate what you have.

Anyway, in my channel surfing I have been hugely impressed and happy to see how much reality tv is showing people going to therapy.  More celebrities like Catherine Zeta Jones and Demi Lovato have openly talked about seeking mental health treatment, which I think is awesome, but (as I think it should be) it’s kept a private affair.  Even though mental health treatment is talked about in the media, there’s still a ton of stigma around therapy and seeking treatment.  Gene Simmons, Bethanny Frankel, Sarah Ferguson, several 16 and Pregnant cast members, and Tatum O’Neal are a few I can name off the top of my head who are willing to take their mental health and therapy work public.

I think it does a ton to chip away at the preconceptions people have about talking to a therapist.  Rarely do you lay on couches.  Rarely are the therapists providing neat answers.  Medication and hospitalization are not usually needed.  Powerful, productive, and beautiful people want to go to therapy.  It’s not less manly or less strong or less anything to need to talk to someone about how you feel.  There’s no target age or target gender that benefits more than any other.

I’m torn though.  I really feel for these people.  I know they sign up to do these shows and put their personal life on display.  I don’t think it’s ever a good idea and probably does a ton of damage in the long run.  I just wish they could do their therapy work in private.  I’m sure a lot of it is.  Not a ton of therapists would agree to open sessions like that for tv.  But no matter how honest they think they’re being even with cameras there, it’s not the same.  There’s at least the teeniest sensor there before they start saying something, and one point of therapy is to provide a judgement-free space where anything can be said without repercussions.  Fan/hate mail, press coverage, and knowing the family/friends could eventually hear what’s said are huge burdens that I wish these people didn’t have to worry about during their therapy.  At the very least, it slows the process for them, and I wish no one would have to purposefully drag out an already arduous job.

So maybe I just need to say thank you to these celebrities for taking one for the team for the rest of us.  By bringing attention to how beneficial and non-threatening therapy can be, hopefully more people will get the help they need.

Meetings

I’ve started back with a new therapist, and I really like her.  We’ve met a few times already, I’ve been meaning to post an update on how the appointment went but things come up–as usual.

Anyhoo… she seems like a super cool lady.  She’s young-ish, which I think I like better.  I’m not ageist or anything, but the last time I tried meeting with an older lady I got a lot of “well, in my 30+ years of practicing…” and that didn’t sit well with me.  We’re both learning about my messed up insides together.  She works a lot with families, so her office has comfy chairs and toys and just feels homey rather than office like.  And because of her emphasis she likes to work in spouses into therapy whenever it’s helpful.  I’ve always felt things would be so much easier if DH could listen in on my meetings, so that sat well.  She works a lot with military families too, so that’s nice.

I guess it’s hard to quantify, but really, I just got good vibe from her.  She seems like someone I can talk to you, which is the whole point really.  I’ve had to fight incredibly hard to work through the insurance process, which I think is actually half the hospital’s fault, so I’m happy to finally make it to a live person at the other end.  It really shouldn’t be this hard to get help, and it makes me sick at how many people don’t end up getting any because they can’t make it through all the crap in the way.  It sends a huge mixed message to military families when more mental health screenings and awareness are being pushed on us from deployments but then it’s so difficult to see someone.  The amount of time I’ve had to take off work and the long line of people I’ve had to re-describe my issues to so I could simply get an appointment to start really talking about what matters is appalling.  Why is it this hard when getting a referral for a heart of stomach doctor is a routine phone call?  Arg!!

So yeah, to end on a happy note (I’m trying to say at least one thing positive when I get on a negative rant), my lady is awesome and I’m super, super optimistic about our work together.  I’m hopeful that I can regain my sense of calm and control and put some sense to the tangled mess my insides feel like right now.

Hot And Colds

The in-laws just left this morning, and the hubs and I are glued to the couch sick.  It’s been a busy week.

There’s been no air conditioning at work for over a week and a half, and the summer reading program for kids just started.  It’s like a race between me and three hundred kids to see who can get the crankiest the fastest.

I’ve been wrestling with TriCare on getting a referral for a therapist.  As always, the referral process is cumbersome and slow, but you know, I will be going to a person eventually.  A friend of mine pays out of pocket for her therapist, and I hate hearing her struggle with her mental health versus the cost of care.  It shouldn’t be a factor, and it makes me so thankful for my frustrating, stupid TriCare referral system.  I originally wanted to talk more about that now, but this cold is taking over.

DH surprised me by coming home a couple days early, which was lovely and unexpected.  I don’t know about you, but after a long absence when the phone calls start to drop off, I sometimes daydream that he can’t answer his phone because he’s on a plane coming to see me.  Now that he’s actually delivered once, my daydreams are going to go wild.  Speaking of absences, we got notice for the next deployment.  Boo.

Now back to my kleenex box.  At least there’s AC at home.

Feelings Of Loss When I’ve Gained Everything

I truly, honestly believed the adjustments associated with reintegration would start once DH got home.  And I was very focused on him adjusting to regular life again.  I have been at home plodding along as usual.  What would I have to worry about besides scooting over to my half of the bed and squeezing another towel onto the rack in the bathroom?  Maybe that’s why I have been feeling so confused lately.

All I’ve been hearing lately is “Aren’t you getting excited?”  Honestly, not yet, and I’ve been feeling like a freak for it.  All my other mil spouses have understood every single feeling I’ve had about this deployment except this one.  So if these awesome women don’t get it, there’s got to be something wrong.

I’ve been extremely reluctant to talk to DH about it.  He absolutely cannot give me the time and undivided attention I know I need to talk about it.  I don’t want to burden him either.  I don’t want to bring up anything that takes the focus away from his job.

I made an appointment with my post’s military family life counselor the other day.  I just couldn’t shake this feeling that when DH gets home I’m going to lose every shred of independence I feel I’ve gained while he’s been gone.  I’ve been so afraid of saying something to him for fear that he’s going to look at it as me not wanting him home.  I also don’t know how to explain not wanting to go back to the status quo to someone who’s been dreaming of returning to that environment for months.

The counselor was nice.  I knew him from the library, so it was a casual meeting.  He suggested looking at how my new sense of independence would help our life together rather than how its going to screw it up.  It sounds easy, but sometimes I need someone else to remind me of that.

Can I say enough about how much I love military family life counselors?  They get the military, soldiers, mil spouses, deployments, and all that “wonderful” stuff associated with being apart of this lifestyle.  And they’re free.  TriCare covers therapy of all kinds, but sometimes you don’t want to go through the referral process for just a meeting or two.  On top of it, you might get a civilian therapist who, as talented as they are, can’t relate to military life.  My counselor, Tom, was so nice and he made me feel better.  I didn’t need a weekly meeting for the next six months.  I just needed someone to tell me I wasn’t crazy.  All posts should have MFL counselors, but Military One Source has tons of information about all sorts of things, but their counseling options are great too.  It can connect you with information or a local counselor, but especially if you’re a Guard family and might not be near an installation, the site has online and telephone counseling.

I’m shaken but still standing.  I will beat this deployment…with help.

Status Report: Overloaded

I didn’t make it to the first yoga class.  I didn’t sleep well on the first night.  I would have appreciated my first night in the bed alone to not also be the first night of a vicious cold snap–Thanks Mother Nature.  I finally got deep, restful sleep early in the morning and did not want to get up and about early enough to make it to yoga.  I’m not bummed though.  Missing this class doesn’t mean I’m never going to go.  It just means I need to try extra hard to make it to the next one.  I am so excited about being able to do yoga at the gym, but maybe I’m a little nervous too about joining a class with people I don’t know.  But how can I expect to be busy and have friends if I don’t go somewhere to meet them?  I have made it to the gym for a regular work out though, so I feel good about that.

I emailed the local museum about volunteering in their reference library and met with the local historical society about helping out in their archives.  I ultimately want to work in the museum/archives field, but I’m trying to be realistic about my current job prospects.  It’s hard to get those jobs, and volunteering is an excellent way to make connections and stay relevant to the field when you can’t find a job.  Smaller museum often get grant money for projects as well, and you might be able to be paid for temporary work.  Plus I thought it would get me out of the house a few hours a week and I could meet people who were also interested in the same stuff I’m into.  The museum sounds mostly art related, which I have little experience with, but I’m interested in learning.  Art is usually it’s own special area of museum stuff, so any experience I get would be great.  They also have internships that I would love to get to help with  my museum credentials, and if they know me as a volunteer I might have a better shot.  The historical society is more of a solitary project.  As with any historical society, they have little funding and are just happy to have someone to help.  I’ll have total freedom but probably won’t be meeting lots of people.  They were so excited to have someone with “experience” want to volunteer.  Ha!  Ego stoker…

I had my first therapy appointment too.  It was disappointing, but it was the first meeting so I’m trying to stay open-minded.  She doesn’t seem like she’s going to be a good fit for me.  I’ve had five different counselors over four years, so I’ve figured out what kind of style I like.  I’ve already done some serious foundational work that I don’t want to rehash.  No matter what I seem like now, I’ve come a looonng way.  I know the main areas I want to work on, and I’m not sure if this lady is going to be open to that.  She seems more interested in driving the appointment rather than letting me dictate where I want to explore or discovering things with me.  My biggest turn off was 1. she repeatedly interrupted me and wouldn’t let me finish and 2. she gave me a big packet of “homework” for me to write down all my background narrative.  I know it’s slow, but I want to be able to decide when and if I share some of this stuff with her as we develop a relationship.  I certainly don’t want to describe any sexual abuse in two short sentences or check a box if I’ve thought about suicide.  How impersonal, insensitive, and inconsiderate of the gravity that these statements mean to a person, and frankly, I think as a therapist she should know better.  I want to give her some time because the first meeting is always weird, but she really gave me a bad impression of her.

I’ve been running errands all over the place and am so proud of myself of driving.  I still don’t like to do it and wish that I could walk more, but at least I’m managing on my own.  I’m actually out and about more now than when DH was home.

My best friend Red called the other day and said she’s struggling with postpartum.  I was so sad for her.  I would never wish depression on anyone.  I was so frustrated that I couldn’t be near her to offer her more support, but I packed up a box and sent it to her to let her know I was thinking of her.  I packed comfy sweats, a chick flick, chocolate, and popcorn.  I hope she curls up and takes an afternoon to herself without feeling guilty.

I’ve also started my star banner.  I have all the pieces cut out.  I’m ready to set up my sewing machine and get them put together, but I’m waiting on fusing that my mom is sending me.  I needed like two inches to tack the star to the center while I sew it on and totally forgot.  Luckily my mom was already mailing me something, and the mail only takes a few days to get her from her house.

After recounting all that, I see how I’m feeling like I need to do it all before he’s even truly gone.  He’s only gone for a quick train-up and will be home in a few days.  I don’t need to start everything on my list on the first day I’m alone.  I’ll run out of things in the first month if I do that.  I was just so worried about preventing my weird slump and excited to do things that I’ve been looking forward to for months.  I can cut myself some slack about not doing yoga already and save it for when he’s officially gone.  I think I should be super proud of all the stuff I have done in just a few short days.  In no way do I currently feel homebound.  Actually, I’m feeling like I don’t have enough hours in the day to do everything I want, so I need to pace myself and not get burned out from being overly perky and optimistic before he’s even gone.  I think it’s a symptom of being checked out too early.  I’d mentally prepared myself for this part of things way in advance, and now I’m feeling the effects.  Time to scale it back some.