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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)

OK, I thought your post was funny. But then, I'm in about the same mood you are. (Although not for the same reason. I'm sorry to hear about that.)
May 22, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterMaM
You should let yourself grieve. It hurts, it sucks, it feels like and is depression, but to try and buck up, or be normal right now is a farce.

Anne Lamott, one of my favorite authors, says it better than I can when writes about grief:"Don't get me wrong: grief sucks; it really does. Unfortunately, though, avoiding it robs us of life, of the now, of a sense of living spirit. Mostly I have tried to avoid it by staying very busy, working too hard, trying to achieve as much as possible. You can often avoid the pain by trying to fix other people; shopping helps in a pinch, as does romantic obsession. Martyrdom can't be beat. While too much exercise works for many people, it doesn't for me, but I have found that a stack of magazines can be numbing and even mood altering. But the bad news is that whatever you use to keep the pain at bay robs you of the flecks and nuggets of gold that feeling grief will give you. A fixation can keep you nicely defined and give you the illusion that your life has not fallen apart. But since your life may indeed have fallen apart, the illusion won't hold up forever, and if you are lucky and brave, you will be willing to bear disillusion. You begin to cry and writhe and yell and then to keep on crying; and then, finally, grief ends up giving you the two best things: softness and illumination... I figured that eventually the plates of the earth would shift in side me, and I would feel a lessening of the pain...I kept starting to cry and then falling asleep. Sometimes grief looks like narcolepsy...In 'Song of Myself,' Whitman wrote: "Sometimes touching another person is more than I can bear."
May 23, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterJLS
Alice, have you talked to Heather at all? By Heather I mean Heather Armstrong.

I mean, I know this comment borders on ridiculous. I don't even know if you guys know each other (I recall seeing photos of you together at some point, but that doesn't mean you're friends! I know! I'm assuming things!) and if you are friends, reminding you to talk to her is rude and presumptuous and blah de blah.

I guess I just wanted to throw it out there, because I've been where you are right now, for the same reason. What you're describing, my God, I've definitely been there. And professional help definitely made a big difference for me, but the thing that meant the absolute most was talking to a good friend who had been there herself.

Having her to talk to was like having someone there to translate what everyone else was saying because I just couldn't be bothered to make sense of anything. And I know when you're in that fog of sadness, it can be hard to see that there is someone in your immediate circle who might be able to help.

And Heather just seems like she might be able to help, having been there as well.

Anyway, I'm sorry if this comment rubbed you the wrong way. Just keep it in mind.

I know that you will be ok, but I know that it's hard now. And I'm sorry for that.

I'm not a regular commenter, but I'm here, silently rooting for you and you family. It seems that quite a few of us are.
May 23, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterAshley
Time is the only solution. Every minute that passes between you and this pain will dull the sharp edges of it. You will never forget - I certainly haven't - but it can hurt less. With time.
May 23, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterBeen there, too
An older, wiser friend told me 2 very important things after my miscarriage.

1) You were pregnant. Your body will take longer than your brain to figure out what the hell just happened. In addition to a very normal depressive episode following this loss, you have to deal with all your hormone levels freaking out and going haywire while you wait to return to normal biorhythms. It's a mini-case of PPD, but it will almost definitely begin to calm down a little as hormone levels return to baseline.

2) If you don't feel up to facing housework and house chores every day, it's time to call in the services of a good Cleaning Lady. Even if it's just once, for a good spring cleaning, having a clean house without having to do the back-breaking work of it yourself is an amazing way to help clear out the dark corners of your brain. The depression dust bunnies love to settle there; evicting those bitches is fabulous therapy.

Hang in there, and take long walks in the sunshine. That helped me, too.
May 23, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterMeL
Oh, it was very funny. Funny and sad.

Which makes it really enjoyable to read, which is the very weird thing about reading blogs, because how can I enjoy so much reading about your pain? It's one thing to be bummed when Billy Joel gets married and happy because he stops writing the really good heartbreak songs, but it's another thing altogether when the artist producing the pain-fueled Good Work is just another woman like you, not some distant millionaire dude.

Anyway, I hope you feel a little better every day, and I hope you continue to write just as great combos of funny and happy as you do funny and sad.
May 23, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterCarrie
You were hilarious.

It was just all the more poignant for being so heartbreaking.
May 23, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterTherese
To be both funny and emotionally unarmored is a sure sign that you are on the road to All Good Things.

That will be $150 please.
May 23, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterMom101
Alice. The stupid-ass face made me giggle. So there. There is nothing funnier than calling someone's face their ass. And then insulting its intelligence.

I'm sorry you're so down, and I think all these people have tons and tons of good advice. As, probably, do your mental health professionals. If you want to see another stupid ass face, which might cheer you up, you can come visit the pear and watch a silent video I made called "crab of tides." It's like Prince of Tides, but not. And could take your mind off of the dust bunnies for like three whole minutes.

In other words, I'm thinking of you. Heart.
May 23, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterlis
Um, I think that while depression might not be normal normally, if you recently had a miscarriage, it would be totally normal, and so would wanting to sleep for 12 hours or so, and in fact I think you ought to sleep more. And the concentration thing? How can you concentrate when this big thing that happened is hogging up so much brain space? You sound pretty normal, and just going through the stages you need to go through. Hope it gets better.
May 23, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterShellie
I didn't read all the comments, but I was told that the sudden shift in hormones after miscarriage is pretty severe. I was absolutely crazy for a little while. And of hormones in general: my nurse practitioner once told me to "never underestimate the power of female hormones." I thought it was good advice, so I blame a lot on hormones.
May 23, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterLisa C
Alice, after my first miscarriage (which required a D&C to "resolve"), I had a very, VERY hard time, harder than I'd expected. In retrospect, my PTSD was coloring the experience and making it harder to move through that pain. Perhaps that's an angle to explore with your staff of helpers? (Not my PTSD, but yours, which iirc had to do with witnessing a car accident and very narrowly missing direct involvement?) I think the body unconsciously connects the scary and sad and amplifies the effects accordingly.
May 24, 2008 | Unregistered Commentereffective nancy
Oh, Alice. I'm so sorry I haven't been around to see you lately and I didn't find out about your loss until just now. I'm so sorry.

Go ahead and grieve as much as you need to, dear. Your state of mind sounds perfectly normal to me, given what you've just been through. I don't care what your team of specialists says. Just feel what you need to feel. Get the help that you need when you need it, from whomever seems most helpful.

I am sending you virtual hugs.
May 24, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterjaelithe
I'm a long time lurker, but I had a similar experience well into my second trimester. My doctor said the depression was "common" instead of normal, which made sense because normal people don't cry hysterically in the shower like I was doing, right? I had some physical complications which dragged on, keeping my depression around. It took six months and a bottle of ativan that came with a refill, but things eventually improved, got back to normal in all regards and then got even better than that.

I'm so sorry about your baby.
May 24, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterkimberly/tippytoes
My therapist used to equate Depressed with needing Deep Rest.

I hope you are getting what you need and I support you and accept the place you are in.

Nurture Thyself!

May 24, 2008 | Unregistered Commenteroptimist
Oh Alice, we all love you.

I've been praying for you, too.

May 24, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterNeb
Hey, I just got the Coleridge reference below. Spoken like a true English major. There's nothing to crack yourself up in moments of utter misery than a little Rime (unless it's a bit of Beckett).

Myself, I like to wearily proclaim when I'm annoying myself with my torment: "Water, water everywhere. And all the boards did shrink. Water, water everywhere. And not a drop to drink."

May 25, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterozma
Grief and depression are definatly kissing cousins, but not everyone who is grieveing is depressed, and visa versa. I know you've got pills,but do you have someone to help you hold the emotional unmorredness for a little while?
May 25, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterSarah
I think it's too soon to worry whether you have a true depression - after all, you have a reason to be sad and unmoored. As others have said, time will help, as well as ice cream and movies - and of course Henry's antics.

I'm a real believer in better living through chemistry, so if you are still feeling this way months down the road, then it would be time to think about that. But for now don't judge yourself and just feel what you need to feel.
May 26, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterMauigirl
The good news is you are talking to people. Whether you need meds or not, only you can decide, but it's important to keep communication up and touching base (not necessarily with us, mind you) as you go through it. Cause it's all hard shit.

Best wishes.
May 26, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterAimee Greeblemonkey
Maybe I'm right there with you in the "needing professional help" department but I did think your last post was hilarious. In a pathetic way, sure, but apparently I am right there with you, sister-friend, as all of that sounded wildly familiar. And I have no excuse for the grief part.Do what it takes to help yourself feel better, including giving it time and not worrying about what we think of your writing. (I know, way, way, way easier said than done.) Hang in there.
May 28, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterMemeGRL
May 28, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterKat
I just have to say - get a copy of Dianetics and read it. You are in pain, you had a horrible thing happen, you are depressed, and I'm so sorry. From experience, I can say that there is something you can do about it aside from drugs that will mask it but won't really make it go away. Check it out.
May 28, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterKat
The only grief i've experienced was when my dad died 4 years ago & all I could think at the time was why do people keep saying "I'm sorry" it wasn't their fault & then I got drunk with my friends & it helped a little, but in the end we all have to move at our own pace & you need to do what ever works for you.

Feel better, x
May 30, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterLannyLee
Hi, I just discovered your blog for the first time today. I'm sorry i didn't find it sooner, somehow i feel like i should have been here telling you everything you were feeling was exactly how i felt 5 months ago, to the letter! i am so very sorry for your loss. your comment about wanting your baby back hit so close to home it made me cry, i miss my little pearl (thats what we named her) so very much. i haven't read much of your blog so i'm not sure where you stand on prayer, but i will be praying for you and your slowly healing heart (which there is nothing wrong with by the way, heal as slow as you want). I just wanted to let you know that i couldn't have put my feelings into word better than you did.~sarah
May 31, 2008 | Unregistered Commentersarah

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