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Let's Panic: The Book!

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How to Endure and Possibly Triumph Over the Adorable Tyrant
who Will Ruin Your Body, Destroy Your Life, Liquefy Your Brain,
and Finally Turn You
into a Worthwhile
Human Being.

Written by Alice Bradley and Eden Kennedy

Some Books
I'm In...

Sleep Is
For The Weak

Chicago Review Press

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Let's Panic

The site that inspired the book!

At LET'S PANIC ABOUT BABIES, Eden Kennedy and I share our hard-won wisdom and tell you exactly what to think and feel and do, whether you're about to have a baby or already did and don't know what to do with it. → 

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Want to hear something funny?

I actually thought I was being hilarious, with that last entry. I thought that was a return to form. Hilarity was mine again! I'm back, baby! So imagine my surprise when the comments were in the "oh, honey" and "I am inappropriately hugging you in my mind" vein.  I then read the post again, and, huh, well, yeah. I guess all that talk of doldrums and not being able to dress myself appropriately said more than I meant it to. Now I feel a little silly. Silly, and odd.

To those of you who are worried that I need to seek professional help, please be assured that I have an entire army of professional helpers at my beck and call.  I seek the counsel of mental health-keepers  more than I talk to my friends these days. And oh, I wish I were exaggerating.

I went to see one of them today, one of those medication-prescribing  types, who declared that I am more depressed than I think I am, and menacingly waved her prescription pad at me. She, like the Internet, refused to be dazzled by my hot jokes and my jazz hands. Instead she wanted to know if I've been sleeping and eating, or just entertaining thoughts of suicide. Oh, therapist!  Who has the energy for suicide?  All I ask is to sleep for six months or twelve years or so. Is that so crazy? 

I actually don't think I'm doing all that badly, for the most part, except when I'm doing so badly I can barely breathe. I can engage in chit-chat, and play with Henry. I can go to the store, and do store things! I go about my day and no one is the wiser. There's just this niggling pain roaming about my insides, is all, and at intervals that pain will reach an intolerable level, whereupon I retreat to the bathroom and cry for a little while, or else a long while. But usually the former. These crying retreats have become less frequent, so that's encouraging. Right?

Meanwhile, my professional helpers are telling me that my grief is "normal" but also that I'm depressed. I can't quite wrap my mind around this, because as we know depression is abnormal,  and if this is normal, than it can't be depression. That's logic! Then again, I seem to be unable to think clearly, so maybe there's something I'm not getting or something they said that I forgot to listen to. Next time I should take notes. Or bring a translator. Or just stay home and mail them checks. 

I don't think I'm depressed as much as I am emotionally unmoored. Is there a prescription to help that? I don't know what to do, or what I'm supposed to feel, or how I'm supposed to… hmm. I can't remember how I was going to finish that sentence. I'm a solution-minded kind of person, ready to read the book or take the course or do the work that will make things better, and there's no solution for this. And I'm more than a little dissatisfied with this state of affairs.




Reader Comments (126)

Have you heard the line from the song, "how can I breathe with no air"? Yep, I hear it and I agree.

I also am a "fix the situation" and a "doer". It really bothered me that I couldn't do anything about it, I just had to endure the pain of the loss and get through it. Day by day. And 4 weeks later it is slowly getting easier. I can say "I'm good" without completely lying. But am I completely good? No. All you can do is be. All you can do is feel what you feel. There's no right or wrong or qualifying it, labeling it. Just feel it and move through it. Really, I'm writing about me, but maybe you feel some of the same.

May 21, 2008 | Unregistered Commentermelanie
I actually thought your last post was hilarious too. Until I realized that those are really your feelings and then I was sad. So anyway, sorry I laughed (unless you wanted me too).

I'm really sorry for your loss.

Oh, and by the way. If your not going to be using that perscription, can I have it?
May 21, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterKimberly
I will not opine on your mental state or what to do about it, but I CAN say that you are freaking HILARIOUS: "I know the phone is ringing. It does that. It will stop, don't worry."
May 21, 2008 | Unregistered Commentervictoria
Why is it that when something bad happens to you and you are grieving all of a sudden people want to tell you that you're depressed? No, you're not depressed, YOU'RE GRIEVING. Big difference as far as I'm concerned.

I agree with some of the other comments that the only way this will get a little better is with time. I don't think it will ever get all the way better, you will always remember this time and feel sad, but there will come a day when you will eventually change your stinky pants and vacuum your dust bunnies.
May 21, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterNoelle
You know, this might be an unpopular response but having had my share of depression, I think I can talk about this without sending too many people up in arms.

I think that only you know exactly what you can and can't handle. Personally, I think that doctors are very important and educated people but I think that they are very quick to jump to the prescription pad when the word depression is uttered. I think that people are, very much so, over medicated. That's not to say that depression isn't a clinical issue, but I think that most people can refocus without medication.

If you feel like you really need chemical help to get through this, then I think you are in your right mind to ask for the prescription. If you don't, then I think you are well within your rights to refuse.

You'll get through this "normal" time... but it does take time and no prescription in the world can make up for that.

May 21, 2008 | Unregistered Commentersaucygrrl
I'm not a licensed psychiatrist (I don't tell my patients that), but isn't depression -- situational or clinical -- the most normalest (I'm not a linguist) thing in the world, if not the country (bad at geography). The same Unfair Universe that doles out the ill and the bad, also blessed thee with the tools to deal with it: wit ... an imitable way with words ... the sensitivity and creativity to express with those words ... liquor ... soft pillows and good sleeping weather ... Henry and Steve ... and a fuckload of devoted readers who would follow you off a cliff.
May 21, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterdianne
Too bad there aren't traditional rituals of grieving associated with miscarriage. Maybe you can devise a ritual or rituals that would help you mourn and honor the loss of your tiny one.
May 21, 2008 | Unregistered Commentersheila z-c
Well, I did think yesterday's post was funny (in a gallows humor sort of way) and was going to say so in the comments; but when I saw all those other comments, those serious comments, I thought, "Boy, I must be some sort of a jerk - I thought she was trying to make us laugh."

So now I feel a little better. Depression in this situation is normal, so long as it doesn't get too normal. Does that make sense?
"These crying retreats have become less frequent, so that's encouraging."

Yes, absolutely that's encouraging.

Don't overthink your grief and depression too much. It will just add "anxious" and "sad" to the list. Just be in the moment. Cry. Eat. Sleep. Play old blues tunes on the harmonica.

Fall asleep with 1,000+ virtual arms lifting you up. For real.

Not just to steal your blankets.
May 21, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterJozet at Halushki
Alice, go take pills, please. And run, don't walk to get them. I went through a tough time myself (displacement due to war, funny, ha, ha), and slipped into really bad depression. Went on Prozac, and never looked back. There are times, I'm sure, one does not need to retreat to medications, but it doesn't seem to me this is one of those times for you. No, anti-depresants do not make you different, or weird, or whatever, they do help be your normal yourself. And in my case, I swear, Prozac made me like myself better. (I'm leaving this last sentence here, eventhough it's making me all uncomfortable and shit. That's how much I like you.)
May 21, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterVesna
And I have to secon Brooke - depression is as normal as the apple pie, it is just that Americans are conditioned to always be so 'happy, shinu people.'
May 21, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterVesna
Depression is perfectly normal. How are you supposed to feel when something horrible happens? Sometimes if situational depression goes on "too long," some SSRIs can kick your Serotonin into place pretty fast and keep it there and then you stop taking the drug.

Man, when I have a UTI I fly to the doctor. If god forbid I had diabetes, I'd so take my insulin. Depression going on for way longer than seems right? Nothing else helps? Doc, bring it on. 'Cause we don't live in the 1600s.

But the thing is, your depression is still pretty damn new, if you ask me (which, ahem, you didn't).

And I did think that post was funny and I was delighted that you were writing like that. Humor is how my getting better starts.

Keep on keepin' on, lil' lady.


May 21, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterJoanna Rubiner
Oh my goodness, I am SO glad you wrote this. I was laughing so hard at your last post and went to delurk (finally) and after reading all of the comments I felt like such an arse for laughing.

So for what it's worth, I thought you were hilarious and I was relieved to see your humor back! I think you are amazing!
There IS a drug to assist the emotionally unmoored. So keep trying whatever pills you have to pop and eventually one Will help. (Yes, I sound rather cavalier about pill popping. Because I've been through this, am medicated for life and I can laugh at my

In the meantime I suggest booze and a long weekend with the ladies.
May 21, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterMeegan
Grief makes you sad. It takes time to feel better. In the meantime, treat yourself gently. I second all these sentiments.

One thing that might not help, though, is alcohol. Some people are fine with it, and it helps them. For some people (me, some loved ones), it just makes crawling out of the hole slower and more difficult. When things are going well, bring on the beers, but drinking when I feel like crap gets me nowhere.

And now I feel like a jerk. I don't mean to be preachy, and this doesn't apply to everyone, I just did better quicker when I realized that about myself.
May 21, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterAnna
Last weekend at Mamapalooza, a panelist talked about depression as "anger turned inward," which makes total sense, I guess. We're advised to grieve and be sad, but we're not supposed to get angry when something terrible happens. I'm not a successful enough armchair therapist to overtly advise you to, I don't know what that would be . . . bask in your anger? Roll around in it? That's not right, but you know what I mean. All that to say, whatever you feel -- sadness, anger -- it's all appropriate, and a part of the way through this place (whatever this place is), however long that takes. And, yes, people with prescription pads know a lot, and so do you, and I have complete confidence that together with them and Scott and Henry, you'll find your way through.

Sending much love your way now, until then, and beyond.
May 21, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterShariMacD
Thank you for being real, for admitting how hard life is, for not painting a false, pretty picture. Your authenticity clearly touches all of us and I'm amazed that you're able to share through your grief. I join all of your well-wishers in wishing we could wish you well.
May 21, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterKirsetin
Off a cliff? Now let's hold on a minute. I love the woman, sure, but OFF A CLIFF?

Let's regroup and discuss this.
May 21, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterHeyJoe
Oh, but Joe, there's candy at the bottom of this cliff! I'm like 85% sure of it! Now come ON.
May 21, 2008 | Unregistered Commenteralice
The sadness emanating from your posts lately have seemed quite sane and normal. Meaning - you are not losing it per se, but that you are simply sad. I saw these posts as a way for you working it out. Maybe I relate because I am still navigating the murky waters of PPD.
May 21, 2008 | Unregistered Commentercagey
Hi have an amazing community of support here on the internet, and, it sounds like, in real life. That is so great.

Pain and grief are what they are. And they ebb and flow at their own rate. The man I was engaged to about seven years ago died suddenly. Long story short: I had to deal with the sudden pain and grief. People and therapists also waived prescription pads at me. As if!

The BEST advice someone gave me was this: "cry when you want to cry. laugh when you want to laugh."

I still think that is good life advice as well as good grief advice.

Hugs and all that.
May 21, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterKimberly
Oh man, I wanted to go to sleep for a minimum of a year after my shitty thing happened. Grieving is SUCH hard work. I had no idea how exhausting it was.

You'll know in your gut when it's gone beyond regular ol' grief, and if that happens I hope you will look into meds because they can really, really help get you out of that hole if you feel like you just can't do it on your own.

I don't know if reading about people who are going through the same crap as you makes you feel better or worse, but you might check out the Miscarriage, Stillbirth and Infant Loss Directory to find many, many women experiencing similar things.

I hope the grieving gets less hard for you soon.
May 21, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterSara
Thinking of you and sending you happy thoughts and virtual hugs - also, I prefer a nice, summery Mojito.
May 21, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterRachael
I was a bit confused but I didn't want to be all jokey when you are so sad. As for the response of everyone--the blog as the mirror of your soul?

"I don't think I'm depressed as much as I am emotionally unmoored. Is there a prescription to help that?"

There's a pill for it. There's a pill for everything. It might help with the feelings. I don't think it works for the real problem, which is that something actually happened, something very sad, a real loss. I wish they'd come up with a pill to change the real world instead of just our brain chemistry. Since everyone is different, I can't say whether it is better for you to realign the brain chemistry. Because I tried to get pg. again right away, I couldn't take pills. I had another loss but since I am still trying to get pg., no pills. In the end, I think the inability to take pills showed me I may not have needed them. But I sure wanted to take them when I was unmoored (also I could not sleep at all, etc.). It took about three months to be functional again.
May 21, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterozma
Again with the nodding! What I found so helpful was to just feeeeel what I was feeling at the time..whether it was sadness, anger, relief (unbelievably), happiness, despair...that the next time the difficult emotions cycled around, they wouldn't be quite as intense. People around me asked why I didn't ask for antidepressants. I told them that I needed to work through this crap, not medicate myself through it. I didn't want it biting me in the butt years down the road. It's been 8 years, and there are times I miss my babies intensely and bawl for awhile, but those times are fewer and further between. I miss them still, but don't feel like dying anymore. PROGRESS!

May 21, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterlisa

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