Sunday, October 12, 2008


Nope, I'm not talking about the economy. 

I am going to make several unpleasant confessions, and if I tick you off, I am sorry.

When people have wanted to talk to me in the last month about my "depression," I admit I have been defensive. Depression sounded like a condition I didn't want to have, another diagnosis to add to the heap around our house. I could almost agree with saying I "feel depressed," which sounds so much more temporary, but still I wanted to bark back, "OF COURSE I FEEL DEPRESSED, haven't you been paying any ATTENTION? YOU WOULD BE DEPRESSED TOO if you spent a day in my shoes (which, by the way, I DON'T THINK YOU COULD!!!)" 

And I would say for the zillionth time to my husband, "It isn't really about things being worse, it's about..."
And he would finish for me, "...the war of attrition." 
"Right," I would say. "It's cumulative." 
"Right," he would say. "We're fried. Completely fried. And you are depressed." 

Okay, okay, so alright already. I have been depressed. I haven't had the energy to brush my teeth sometimes and my stomach has hurt a lot and it turns out medically speaking I'm fine, so I guess I've been depressed. Why is it I feel a need to justify it? Why is it I feel like saying, "BUT..." and describing the last five years, as if to defend my right to my sadness? 

I don't think there is anything bad about a person being depressed. Depression is not something to be ashamed of; it's something many people I love have battled. 

Maybe it's guilt. So many special needs parents out there handle harder circumstances with more grace. Maybe it's denial. I have been known to reside in the land of denial before, and as they say, it ain't just a river in Egypt. Maybe it's the exhaustion, though. I truly have felt like I don't have time to do anything about depression. Recently a friend asked me why I wasn't blogging, and if I was doing anything else for an outlet. I so appreciate that. It came from love. But, at the moment that I read her words, a whole rant erupted in my mind's blog: "I don't want to DO anything! That's just it! I don't want to DO therapy or DO drugs or DO depression. I've been busy, I've been TIRED, I've been DOING autism, its therapies, its drugs, its endless DOING. And working. And parenting. And being a wife. And not feeling well. I DO every minute of every day and I don't want to DO depression. I am DO-NE." 

And when I listened to my own thoughts, I thought: Well, aren't I ironic. Better get up off my depressed butt and roll up my sleeves. 

So here I am again. Back to my "outlet." Hoping some of you are still out there. 

Here's what I'm wondering: 
If you have a special needs child, or if you don't: Have you ever been depressed? 

And, if you are a special needs parent, how do you find balance? How do you take care of everyone, including yourself? 


pixiemama said...

Hi -
Just wanted to let you know that I am still here, that I am SO GLAD you're back, and that I know exactly where you're coming from. Depression is just another thing to deal with, like another rotten piece of paperwork, only worse, because it involves sitting in yet another doctor's office, and this time you're supposed to talk about you, not about your kids.

For me, it's the anxiety. When I have the anxiety "under control" (haha) I'm not depressed. I am taking a great medication that makes it easier, but I'm still having late-night panic attacks. I, too, have felt that I shouldn't feel anxious or depressed - like that's some sign of weakness or that it inappropriately portrays how I feel about my family. But, guess what? We don't have a rosy family life. And that's HARD. And it's no one's fault - not even mine. So getting help to deal with my sh*t is the least I can do for the family. They shouldn't have to live with me otherwise!

Take good care, friend. I really am so glad you're back.


Patty O. said...

I found you through Kia's blog. Hope you don't mind me commenting. My son has SPD and we have had near constant struggles with him for the last 3.5 years. I have recently struggled with a bout of depression, but am realizing (with the help of my sister) that I may have been dealing with some depression since my son was diagnosed. Lately, I have been depressed mostly I think because I am soooo overwhelmed with my two kids, another on the way (don't even ask what we were thinking....), etc. I feel guilty too because I know so many families have it SO much worse than we do, but the guilt just adds to the depression.

I wish I knew what to say to help you, besides saying you are not alone. There is nothing wrong with you--I think it is entirely natural to be depressed when dealing with soooo much. And anything wrong with your kid just adds so much stress and worry to your plate. Hang in there. Maybe search out people who validate you, who make you laugh, etc. If you feel like it.

Anonymous said...

yes yes and yes.Definitely go through bouts of depression. been on the verge of getting help a few times, but I just cant imagine fitting another appointment into my day. Excuses I know.

I run a couple of mom's groups. One for military wives and one for moms of special needs kids. Each group has at least one mom's only event a month that I try to attend. I leave the kids with hubby or a good sitter and I escape for a couple of hours a month.

Erica said...

1) I have a special needs child (3.5 years, PDD-NOS). I am depressed (that took a lot for me to write. Like you, I am defensive about the term, and can blithely say, "I FEEL depressed," but admitting that I actually am in such a state is difficult.) I had postpartum depression and took a very low dose of Wellbutrin, which seemed to help a bit, but quite honestly as time went by and my concerns about my child grew stronger, my depression grew worse and I didn't bother upping my dosage. Now, like Patty O, I am expecting, so I went off the medication altogether. My OB says I was on a "barely therapeutic dose," so I guess it's not that strange that I feel no worse now that I'm off it.

When I was going through the PPD, I did see a therapist for a while, who told me at some point that she suspected that I had "depressive tendencies" in my life even prior to my PPD onset, and I've come to reluctantly agree that she was right. In general, I am just not a glass-half-full type of person, so the stress and anxiety and exhaustion that naturally goes along with having a child with special needs is greatly magnified for me.

2) How do I find balance? What is this "balance" of which you speak? It is such a foreign concept that I can not even fathom such a thing. I mostly just nod blankly when my friends and family tell me that I have to "do something for myself" or "take care of myself first." I intellectually KNOW that I have to be more proactive and do things to regain myself to combat this depression, but even thinking about it makes me more tired and depressed. Just writing this is making more more tired and depressed. Sigh.

The one thing that sometimes gets me moving around a bit in the attempt to regain my "normal" life is when I think of what my mom once told me--"You have to last a long, long time for your son." She's right, you know? And I'm not going to last a long, long time if I keep this up.

Anonymous said...

How do I deal with it? I lead a rich fantasy life. ;-) Well, sort of. I read a lot. I watch stupid tv including Survivor and Lipstick Jungle. It's a bad connection to the outside world, but it is a connection, so I justify it.

I posted recently about a therapist I saw for awhile who said "Of course you are depressed. Who wouldn't be?" when I told her what was happening in our lives. Somehow, hearing that from someone objective was SO validating, and it helped me turn a corner. I am terrified of taking drugs, and it just isn't an option for me, so I've tried to find ways to work through it myself. Finding a doctor to take care of some of my health issues has been empowering, and taking charge of my own health and self again has done wonders.

But I still struggle. I don't know how we can't. We give so much to our kids, and there's no other option but doing that, of course! I think it just IS.

I am so glad you are back. So very, very glad.


ghkcole said...

i want you to know i had read your post (i read them all) and reading this helped me: "Of course you are depressed. Who wouldn't be?" thank you so much for sharing that. it is liberating.

Niksmom said...

Hi Sweetie! I'm glad you're back. I marked this to comment on but then, um, er, ah...well, you know that balance thing you asked about? Heh heh, not so good at it sometimes.

I can't say that I have ever been *diagnosed* as depressed bit I have certainly had periods of time where I was on the verge. I found that really asking people around me for help in taking care of MYSELF helped. Eating better foods, getting to the gym...not to work off the pounds but to boost my energy and give me an outlet. I can always tell when I haven't been taking good care of myself, too; I start to have trouble keeping a positive perspective on things.

Balance? That's a totally different story! I struggle with the pendulum swings all the time. I simply decide in a moment which is the greater good/higher priority, etc. I guess from Nik's being in the hospital for so long it put things in clearer perspective for me so I don't sweat a lot of stuff any more...unless it directly impacts Nik.

Lastly, sleep is key. When I am sleep deprived everything seems so much worse/bigger/harder/scarier/upsetting that it might otherwise be. When I get to that point, I ask for help from my husband (even if it's only to let me sleep a couple hours extra on ONE day), my mother, etc. Seriously, my mother has come to my house to take care of Nik while I went to hers (we live on the same street) and sletp in the guest room for an hour!

PBear said...

So glad you're back too! I know how hard it is to admit that you are depressed, let alone that you need to do something or take something for it - been there, done that, lost the battle, hard to say about the war.... I tried depression first, this go-round is more about anxiety. I had gotten myself to the point where I could barely function, and by the time I did get myself off to see a counselor, I had a complete come-apart in her office. Still took me almost two years to stop feeling guilty for taking the meds, but realizing that I wasn't doing either of my kids any good at all in that condition helped.

You are dealing with a tremendous amount - daily grind, above and beyond things with Rooster, losing your grandmother, etc etc etc. Yep, who wouldn't be depressed is darn right! And asking for, and accepting, help is NOT a statement of weakness. Don't take years to realize that like I did, it's not worth it :-)