Depression, Chronic Pain, and Motherhood
Without a doubt, the last five years of my life have been stressful. From the moment I conceived our second child, she had problems; therefore, I had stress. I’ve never been what you would call a calm person, so an added layer of stress in my life has had some detrimental effects.
After Rachel was born, I noticed my decreasing lack of ability to function. Where once I’d kept a neat home and stayed up late to finish projects, I now craved sleep and felt overwhelmed by simple household tasks. Plus, our second child hardly ever slept, so I was sleep deprived. Sometime after Rachel’s diagnosis of severe autism, I developed chronic muscle and joint pain. At first, I noticed it when I was tired, but as the years went on, pain became my constant companion. Sometimes even walking became too difficult, and forget opening jars or bottles. My hands just wouldn’t work right.
I suffered and tried to live with it for a long time, but the pain became unbearable. I finally gave up and went to the doctor. He told me what I’d been dreading. He thought I needed to take an antidepressant. I must stress that I’ve never seen anything wrong with people taking many types of medication, as long as it wasn’t me. For one, I didn’t want to be tied to something that would require taking it daily. I also feared it would change me, that I wouldn’t be me anymore, and I wouldn’t be able to find the creative side of myself. Yet, the pain was so terrible I decided I had nothing to lose.
My first foray into the world of antidepressant medications didn’t go so well. I didn’t feel much pain, but that was because I didn’t feel much of anything. I sat on the couch and stared at the wall a lot, when I wasn’t sleeping. It was exactly what I feared. I called the doctor and they prescribed me a different medicine and told me to at least try it for a month before quitting. As much as I hated the idea, I tried again.
The first few weeks were difficult. I had an incredible urge to nap all the time, and I felt quite apathetic. I even lost sight of the creative person inside of me. I couldn’t bring myself to turn on my computer because I feared I had nothing to say. Yet, the last few weeks have been incredibly stressful, with problems at Rachel’s school and many sleepless nights. I have hardly lost my temper. I’ve been able to discipline with a calm, loving heart, I’ve handled the situations thrown at me, and most of all, I’m not curling into a ball and crying at bedtime because my body hurts so much. I’ve even gone for a few jogs with the kids. Yesterday I turned on my computer and found that the creative side of me still exists, it’s just that I’m not having to use it as an escape any longer.
I still don’t know what is the root cause of my issues. Maybe it’s depression, maybe it’s fibromyalgia, maybe it’s both. The treatment path for both issues seems to be quite similar, so at this point I’m not too worried about it. I’m glad I sought help. I’m thankful I feel better. I’m happy I’m starting to be able to deal with more issues head-on rather than just wishing they would go away.
I am not alone.
Neither are you – seek help my friend.
God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.