Wednesday, May 14, 2008

China itself not so bad after all???

In the spirit of that last post (which I guess no one has read yet since I'm posting them on the same day), I will shock you by sharing non-kid-related experiences even more thrilling than finding bell peppers on sale at the market...

I have post-partum depression! According to my diagnosis, that is. For the most part, I'm relieved. I was worried that I've just undergone an awful personality change or that cynicism is my new and permanent way of life. Knowing that it's just my brain chemicals that are out of whack is good news and so, ironically, knowing I have depression has given me hope. Even though it has only been a year since Didi was born, I still can hardly remember how I used to be, but Kyle does, and he's the only one who knows the pre- and post-Didi mes, and he's pretty convinced it's ppd.

The good news is that this means we've decided to move back to the US this summer-yippeee! China has been fun, but it would've been more fun if I weren't depressed. The bad news is that I'm still depressed for the next few months without any access to professional help, and somehow being aware of the source of my struggles has made them more poignant and discouraging.

One of my greatest frustrations, though, has been the reactions of some people with whom I've shared this news. See, I am not ashamed of being depressed. I know it's not my fault and it doesn't make me a bad or lazy person, though I may feel so at times. I am truly disheartened by how many people don't begin to understand what depression is, though! Yes, there is situational depression, which may come and go without medication and therapy. Post-partum depression, which is what I suspect I have, as well as SAD (seasonal affective disorder), require treatment, but are still temporary, in most cases. Biological/genetic depression can be a life-long illness. Some people still seem to think that we should be exercising or praying our way out of depression! Hellooooo-- can a diabetic exercise his way out of insulin-deficiency? Can a broken arm be mended by increasing spirituality? Kyle and I decided that the word 'depression' is just too broad. The actual, clinical illness should bear a different title so it's not so easily confused with just feeling down, which happens to everyone from time to time.

So yes, I'm irked that people are trying to sympathize with me by saying things like, "Oh yeah, my first year in China was hard, too. But you're young and maybe once you learn not to expect life to be so easy and stable, you'll accept it and feel better" or "I sure hope you're not planning to take an anti-depressant. My friend said it didn't help her and she just started eating more vegetables and living a simpler life and feels much better." I'm irritated because they don't understand me at all, but mostly I'm irked for the sake of others whose depression is much greater in duration and severity and who are perceived in such a way by well-meaning by-standers.

I think and hope Americans have come a long way in understanding and treating depression, but I feel the general public still has a long way to go in clearing up the unnecessary stigma associated with what is simply a disease, like heart or liver disease. Liver disease sounds like a lot more fun, honestly, but that's probably my depressed self thinking that. Anyway, knowing the audience of our blog, I'm preaching to the choir here. Actually I'm just venting. And lest anyone be truly worried about me, I'm doing fine. I'm grumpy and unmotivated, but I'll make it just fine. Be worried about Kyle, because he's the one who has to bear the brunt of my irritability and lethargy.

The other day he was struggling with some situations at work and contemplated the possibility that he may be having problems with anxiety. "No!," I thought, and a rule-of-thumb shared by my sister came to mind: "There's only enough room for one dysfunctional person in this relationship!" I laugh every time I think of that stipulation, but for us it is really true. One of the blessings of our marriage has been that while one of us endures a lot of stress, the other one is somehow able to stay calm and help to compensate. I'm not sure how, but that's what happens every time. Kudos to Kyle for assuming that calming role most of the time these days.


a. said...

oh, i'm so sorry, tiff! not only is PPD itself a curse, but the reactions from others! blech...i cannot understand and can only sympathize...i have a best girlfriend who's been struggling with this for ages. Her motto is, "parenting is different for everyone, so don't judge me!"

...but maybe now we'll be able to have another uganda reunion with you around (with LOTS of yellow peppers, just for you!)... do you know whereabouts in the states you'll be heading? hopefully we'll see you soon!

blaine and michelle said...

I'm so glad you have a diagnosis, and I'm also glad you have a great supportive husband to help you through. I wish I could be "there" for you, but though I'm "here" for you, you can always talk to me. I love you!!!!

The Country Larsen's said...

I had PPD after both the boy's were born, they had finally started to get the med's to work on me with Andrew when I found out I was pregnant with Brandon and had to stop them. Too soon after that my brother passed away and again I sank into a deep, long lasting depression. Know that you are not alone, and if you need to talk, I'm available, and it look's like you have many others who will be there for you too! It does get better, even though it may not seem like soon enough, it will!

Joe & Christie said...

Oh, Tiff. I would give you a big hug right now if I could...not much longer till that can happen, though. I'm glad you are not ashamed, as I still struggle sometimes with the labeling prescribed by both society and myself. There is a definite difference between "feeling down" and having a clinical diagnosis.

You are very strong, always have been, and I know you will improve as soon as you can get the proper crazy pills--er, help :)

I am assuming that the aforementioned quote came from me?? -haha- Sis, I wrote the book on dysfunction when I was at my worst...luckily, depression does not have to be a life sentence, it just has to be monitored. I've been off meds for two years now and hope has made a comeback in a big way!

Anyway! ~XOXO~
See you soon~
(I guess I've been saying that with each comment--we're very excited, if you can't tell!)

The bleeding ear said...


You are amazing. I admire you. I really, really do. Although you have ppd, you are very optimistic for a depression patient. How do you do it? I need your help.

Our little Braeden was born about 6 months after Didi and I went through the most awful time of my life. I was severely depressed. Everyday was a living he.. for me. I could not function. I was really in a bad shape. But unlike your supported Kyle, my med. student husband told me that I did not have ppd and it will get better... The bottom line is that I am so glad that you are going to get medical help. Best wishes!