For the first time I realized I could die. And not only me, but the baby who was dependent on me.
I had fought taking any medication for my depression all of my adult life, though the suggestion had come up more times than anyone would have expected. I knew I would never consider taking a prescription at this point -- while I was pregnant for the fourth time. I made it through the other three pregnancies; I could get through this one. But, when I was honest I realized, I barely made it through the other pregnancies. Barely. And this one was worse than them all.
When I first went in to my pastor's office asking for help finding a suitable counselor to see, I thought I was doing ok -- normal. I was looking for a list (or perhaps just one or two names) of people to talk to, short-term, about some specific dissociative compulsions. Actually, when I had made the decision to find out about counseling again, I was not aware of the new baby.
I had had three previous c-sections, and a fourth pregnancy was not recommended by my obstetricians. I was not trying to get pregnant -- not that I ever am, but that's beyond the scope of this post. My prior experience with a psychiatrist I was referred to by my OBGYN was so unpleasant that I went to my pastor first this time in hopes of not having to go through that emotional stress again.
It worked, I think. The emotional stress I had experienced before was averted by first meeting with a man I trusted. I had no way of knowing that this stress that I feared would be dwarfed by the remarkable difficulty that my multiple counseling relationships, including this one with the pastor, would consist of over the next two years.
But, when I was honest I realized, I barely made it through the other pregnancies. Barely. And this one was worse than them all.
Yes, years. I was not expecting years. I was not expecting this life-long fight -- though strangely, I had considered (and in some ways, expected) the diagnosis of bipolar disorder even then. I remember sitting alone wondering, with hope, if there was new treatment -- a pill maybe -- that would make all the difference for me. Maybe there was something or someone that could give me back some of the control I had lost. It wasn't long before I forgot this talk I had within myself and with it my reason for seeking counseling at all.
You present as someone who is depressed, he said. This really threw me off. I meant to come across as ok. Sure, I needed some improvement, but I had no intention of looking depressed -- whatever that means. He was right, of course; I just did not realize it yet.
You present as someone who is depressed, he said. This really threw me off. I meant to come across as ok.
It is not too uncommon for me to be mildly suicidal. It really wasn't until recently that I realized that's not a regular thing with people, so I've never thought much about it1.
This was different though. This was scary. This was panic. Irrational. Mania.
One thought after another in rapid-fire
over and over
Each scene more vile than the last.
One after another --
For the first time I realized, I could die. And not only me, but possibly the baby who was dependent on me. (I say possibly because I remember hoping -- irrationally -- that the little one would be extracted from me, essentially unharmed, besides being born prematurely.) I could horribly traumatize my other children -- and others. I could be that unwell.
So, while I had any clarity I decided to protect against the lack of clarity that had become so inevitable at that time. I talked to my OB and was prescribed the antidepressant Zoloft.
Praise God. Praise our merciful God.
Killing oneself is pretty difficult, I think. One of the ways I've coped -- not deliberately -- with suicidal thoughts throughout my life has been by reminding myself that any suicide attempt would likely be unsuccessful. People recover from gunshot wounds all the time. And do you realize how much force you'd have to use to cut yourself with any of those dull knives you have in the kitchen? I've somehow managed to convince myself, in the back of my mind, that I'd end up in a hospital somewhere severely injured and quite alive. The idea has served as a timely deterrent more times than I realize, I imagine. ↩