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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

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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)

I don't have anything better to add than the posts above (see: I think Brooke is reading my mind), but I too thought your previous post was funny, in your coping-with-my-loss kind of gallows-humor funny. But then I, too, felt like a jerk when I saw that all the comments were so sympathetic. See: why I didn't comment.I, too (see, I'm just an echo), think that we as a culture are oft-over-medicated. You are still early in the grieving period for your loss. If and/or when you think medication is necessary, go for it. But you don't have to take anti-depressants just because someone (even though that someone is a licensed professional) says so.I've seen both sides of the coin. I've wallowed until I felt better (and it was oh-so-much "I can't get dressed, get off the couch, do more than pop a beer top" wallowing for a good while) and I've asked for medication myself when I knew the wallowing wouldn't help.Do what feels right to you. It's when the feeling stops that you should be concerned. Apathy is worse than feeling sad.As you hopefully know from all these comments and your faithful followers, we only want the best for you. Whether you decide what's "best" or a professional does, I (I believe WE) will support you.Hang in there.
May 21, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterclarabella
I think the best thing is to lay around and cry when you need to. But try to get outside too - sun does wonders. Even if it's just sitting on your front steps or laying in grass. Sun helps. Showering is good too - on those days when that felt like more work than I could deal with, I did usually feel better after I did it. If not, I just went back to bed and cried.

Then I spent a couple years in therapy and on some good drugs and look at me now! I get up and take a shower everyday! I'm very fancy.

I'm very sorry for your loss.
May 21, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterCara
In case you didn't notice, I, yes, I myself (oh. that's TWO people) I totally "got" your post of the doldrums. Yes, I'm that person who jokes with the anesthesiologist right before I get knocked out for surgery. I know about "leavin' them laughing and asking for more". Don't over analyze it and be glad that you have the gallows humor. Few people do and that is sad FOR US, because too few people "get" us.
May 21, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterdana wyzard
Not being able to think clearly is actually -- guess what? -- a sign of depression! So there you go. So is fatigue and being too tired to think about killing yourself... most depressives who commit suicide do so once they're starting to get better, because they actually have the energy to do it. So yeah, you probably are depressed. And since you are a solution-oriented type of lady, here are my recommendations (pulled directly from my ass, also from my and my mother's exps. with depression): 1) Do not be afraid of the pills, at least in the short term... they will almost certainly help, and if you don't like how they make you feel, you can always get off them. My life is way, way better now that I'm a little more even and happy. But 2) a miscarriage is a stressful, traumatic, depressing event... an individual occurrence, which is not really the same as having been clinically depressed for a long time. And it may be that you feel you should weather the storm and come out the other side without the help of medication. I don't think you necessarily "need" pills to make it through.

So there is some contradictory advice for you. I hope that whatever you decide, you feel better asap.
May 21, 2008 | Unregistered Commentermfk
I'm sending you good vibes. The fact that you're writing about these things helps others tremendously.
May 21, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterChrista
That is confusing! Plus isn't a little early to tell if this is "depression" or just "rightfully really sad"? I think so. Those therapists. What do they know.

I thought it was funny. And revealing. Don't worry, we were there with you.
May 21, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterKristin
maybe there doesn't need to be a solution? it's grief, sometimes it just needs to be felt. this is often the same logic i use to convince myself i need to eat the entire contents of the fridge, though.
May 21, 2008 | Unregistered Commenternatalie
I don't know if you're clinically depressed or "just" grieving.

But when else SHOULD you be grieving? You lost a baby. Reason enough. Those of us who've been through it know. A miscarriage scars your soul. You're entitled to your tears.
May 21, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterpogonip
I have no clue what the solution is. This probably isn't something that can be solved that way anyway, so be nice to yourself and allow the emotionally unmooring. It hasn't been that long and there are still a lot of emotionally unmooring hormones coursing through your veins (see: crying spells).

Give yourself some time.
May 22, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterJennifer
Oh, I'm so relieved you were trying to be funny with that last post because I bust a gut with your "ass face" comment. But then I also bust a gut when my grandmother made a joke on her death bed (admittedly she was laughing, too) - and that's the kind of family I come from. Sometimes grief and mirth get all intermingled. And then I read all the comments and I was kicking myself thinking - what a senseless fool I am, of course this isn't funny. Who would think this is funny? And then I giggled again when I re-read your post and got to the "ass face" part.

As for depression - well right now I would say that depression is NORMAL. Hey, who said we're supposed to feel hunky dory all the time. As long as you're not concerned that you're falling into a pit that you see no way out of, I'd say ride the roller coaster a little bit longer. It might be tempting to medicate it all away - but you know the dangers of some of these meds - they aren't to be toyed with.
May 22, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterJuju
please please PLEASE don't sleep for the next 6 months or 12 years. the reason i'm awake right now is because i'm reading this blog. i'm not joking.

you know what, sometimes life is SHITE.and that's REALLY shite. shite!ok i will stop saying shite now.

May 22, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterla_chypriotte
I had actually considered commenting on your last post that even while depressed, you're hilarious.

I think there's certainly situations in which being depressed is completely normal. I mean for cripe's sakes, you lost a CHILD. That's not something to just hop up and get over from.

At the same time if there's something that can help you heal, and be able to function a bit better, that might not be a bad thing.
May 22, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterMarcy
Time... its the only true answer. The scar will always be there. Do not make your goal forgetting because you never will. Like the previous poster, allow yourself to feel whatever it is you are feeling. Don't run from it and don't blame yourself. Unless you are seriously plotting out your own demise, I would not recommend anti-depressants. Will only delay the healing time. And don't you DARE feel guilty about any joy or laughter you MAY feel during this confusing time. That's called life poking you in the arm and saying, "remember me!?"

"Life happens when you plan for the future"
May 22, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterLa La
It was funny, but it reminded me too much of CS Lewis's book, A Grief Observed, which is excerpts from his journal just after his wife died:
"No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear. I am not afraid, but the sensation is like being afraid. The same fluttering in the stomach, the same restlessness, the yawning. I keep on swallowing.

At other times it feels like being mildly drunk, or concussed. There is a sort of invisible blanket between the world and me. I find it hard to take in what anyone says. Or perhaps, hard to want to take it in. It is so uninteresting. Yet I want the others to be about me. I dread the moments when the house is empty. If only they would talk to one another and not to me.

And no one ever told me about the laziness of grief. Except at my job — where the machine seems to run on much as usual — I loathe the slightest effort. Not only writing but even reading a letter is too much. Even shaving. What does it matter now whether my cheek is rough or smooth?"
It doesn't sound to me like depression. It sounds like grieving. If you were exhibiting all the signs of grief without cause, then sure, depression. But this? This is a normal reaction to a terrible thing.
May 22, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterHeather Ann
I think one of the hardest things about dealing with grief is that it takes as long as it takes. You can't look at a calendar and say, "OK, only 2 more weeks to go, then I'm back to normal!". As you are discovering, there are good days and bad days, and maybe the bad days are now just parts of a day instead of a whole day, and maybe you have 2 or 3 good days in a row, before something makes you sad again. Progress, but it's never as fast as we want.
May 22, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterEllen
(((Cupcakes))) Cause wouldn't you rather have a cupcake than a hug? or ((Margarita))

You dolt. You're supposed to be sad. This is a very sucky time for you right now. But believe me, it gets better. Some days the sun stays behind the clouds, some days its blinding.I still mourn my lost babe, gone almost 3 years now. Never made it past 6 weeks, but the IDEA of that baby, that little missing person shoots a pain through my heart every now & again. Even though we now have Will, I still miss that baby-that-wasn't.You'll move through this, Alice.
May 22, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterCatizhere
Your last post was hilarious, very funny, but also very descriptive of the sad place you're in -- or emotionally unmoored place. And what your therapists are telling you is that it is normal to be depressed given what you've experienced. Depression isn't normal for every day but when you've experienced a loss, especially a sudden one, it is normal. But I'm sure you know this. And I think getting through your day the best you can, and especially spending time with Henry, is the best thing for you to do. Like I've said before, it took me time to get over it when it happened to me, and I wasn't sure I'd ever be able to have children. Then I had a beautiful boy -- 10 months ago -- and though I am deliriously happy with him, I still feel sad about my first baby. But not all the time. Anyway, not to make this about me (too late! I know, and I'm sorry), time really is the only thing that will really help you heal. And I'm impressed you are still posting and not just curled up in a fetal position somewhere crying. Not only posting, but still funny! Very impressive. You're my favorite blogger, and I wish I could do something to help you keep feeling better besides post lame comments.
May 22, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterlesli
Your post yesterday was brilliantly written and bloody hilarious, and I think most of us thought so. In fact right after delivering my maudlin message yesterday I felt lame for forgetting to mention that I had callously and inappropriately snorted more then once while reading it, but still..we're sad that you are sad, and that much is clear.

I'm all about the getting help sooner rather then later for depression but I can't help that think that we don't leave enough room for a normal,necessary grief process these days before we diagnose and medicate. Situational depression can turn into clinical depression, sure, but it is not a foregone conclusion that it will.

It is a fine, fine line to figure out when normal grieving has become a lifestyle and I think there can be a backlash when we tell a woman who is going through the normal grieving process that it isn't (normal). In fact I think that this can be a catalyst or at least contributor to the "real" depression that cannot be eased with time.

Having suffered depression in silence for way too long before I finally found very effective relief through the utilization of pharmaceuticals and shrinks, I too am loathe for anyone else to suffer unnecessarily, and speedy-quick to suggest getting extra help. When we have all these things at our disposal to "fix" things,it is tempting to whip them out and use them at the first sign of the niggles rather then giving time, the great healer, a chance first.

But drugs and such..they are not a panacea, they will work when chemicals are out of whack but they can't, or shouldn't keep us from being sad, ever. Sad is normal, horribly sad at a time like this, one of those icky but inevitable part of the human experience.

I don't doubt that you have enough wise, loving, and watchful people around you and enough self-awareness to figure out when you truly do need some extra help. I think it is helpful to use time as a measure for that, so I would be inclined to give it some more of that.Hang in there! And again, thanks for the honesty, you are helping so many.
May 22, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterKirsty
I know that you're sad (sometimes) right now, but you should know, your honesty is radiant and beautiful. Thank you for your openness.
May 22, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterSarahThe
Actually, there's a difference between clinical depression and depression depression, and the latter is quite normal. It's not caused by a brain disorder or whatever, it's just caused by life sucking at the moment. And in that case, the crazy-seeming meds they prescribe for you are basically just to lift your mood so that you can deal with the life-suckiness problem by talking it out a lot. And they can really be quite helpful.I am, however, surprised that your medication-prescribing doctor was not fooled by your jazz hands. I've heard that they're quite dazzling.
May 22, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterAlly
I was going to add, along with this cast of thousands... no matter how outrageous it sometimes seems, grief does get better. It gets better because there is no alternative. It has to. It just takes longer than we ever want it to and is so wildly un-fun it defies description.

You are getting better and you will get better still -- you don't need me to tell you this, I know -- and in the meantime, keeping your delightful sense of humor certainly does help.
May 22, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterTitanKT
This is the first time I have visited your site, and I just wanted to say how impressed I am by your incredible courage and strength. Because that's what it takes to sit and think about your feelings, record them and share them with the world. And while you may not feel like it right now, I think you are an incredibly strong woman.

My thoughts are with you, your family, and with your lost little one.
May 22, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterAnne Curson
Buck up, Joe! I'm no history buff, but wasn't it President MacArthur that said "You are either WITH this fuckload or you ARE not!" Besides, there might be candy!
May 22, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterdianne
Oh, I hope President MacArthur said that. Please make it be true.
May 22, 2008 | Unregistered Commenteralice
I know what you mean about reaching the intolerable level. For some reason, I hold it at bay for as long as I can. I hate that we all have to endure things this horrible. I really hate it.
May 22, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterAmy

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