Posts Tagged ‘ depression ’

Should Depressed People Procreate?

Wednesday, June 27th, 2012

 

Before Phil and I had kids, we used to joke that with our combined genes we shouldn’t procreate.  Depression runs on both sides. Autism runs on his. Bipolar and addiction are strong on mine. And we both suffer from mild depression/anxiety ourselves. But despite these “bad genes,” what we really meant was we didn’t want kids. It was our excuse to remain selfish over selfless.

Thank god we changed our minds, because being selfless is far more gratifying. Plus, we have still retained plenty of our selfish lifestyle. We do date nights. But instead of coming home to an empty house, we get to kiss our babies while they sleep. There is nothing finer. We still take trips–we just take them with us. And frankly it’s far more fun. We still hike. Only now we each have a baby on our back (probably a better workout anyway). The things Fia sees in nature and her delight in something as simple as a spider web makes it far more interesting. But I digress. That’s not the point of this post.

In a recent interview, Sarah Silverman said she doesn’t want to have children for fear of passing on the depressive/mentally ill gene. Some called her brave and responsible for this. I call it ridiculous.  An article in Time pointed out, rightfully so, that, “the same genes that can cause depression may also encourage the sensitivity and sensibility that gives Silverman her creative talent.”

Thank you!

I caused a decent amount of controversy when I wrote about my decision to stay on antidepressants while pregnant. Some called me selfish. Others said I shouldn’t procreate. But far more people came to my defense. Many were relieved to find they weren’t alone in their decision to do the same. Plus, studies show the drugs I am/was on had no greater chance of causing birth defects than pregnant women who don’t take anything.

I hope Fia and Emmett don’t struggle from depression or addiction. If they do though, I have the resources and information to get them proper help. I also believe that raising a child in a loving, stable, and nurturing environment counts for something. In my early formative years, my home was all that. It wasn’t until I was a teenager that things got a little ugly. Even so, I still turned out fine (I think). I contribute to society (I think). In fact, I have often said I’m grateful for the hardships I experienced. It made me the person I am today.

I have no doubt my kids will make this world a better place. They already have.  Whether they end up suffering from a “bad gene” is beside the point.

Here’s who I don’t think should procreate: Abusive, neglectful people. I believe they will become abusive, neglectful parents. I’ll add lazy and inept to the list. And those who have more kids than they can afford who keep procreating because they’re probably too lazy or inept to use birth control. But a smart, witty, compassionate person who happens to suffer from mental illness, like Sarah Silverman? I bet she’d make a great mom and raise interesting, well-adjusted kids. There are plenty of reasons to not have biological children. And plenty of good, noble reasons to adopt. Or to just stay childless. But don’t make it because of a mental gene. There are far better excuses one could come up with.

 

Photo of Human Body via Shutterstock

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(My) Milestone Monday: Is My Tech Addiction Making Me a Bad Mom?

Monday, June 18th, 2012

Today I am partially unplugging for the week. My goal? To become more mindful and present. Here’s why:

My friend Teresa came over yesterday.  She  is pregnant and a vegetarian. I was ordering pizza. I needed a crucial answer. I texted her: can u pick the meat off or do I get veggie pizza? What kind of veggies?

She didn’t text back. I got a little indignant. I went ahead and ordered (one plain, one pepperoni). When she arrived I asked if she had seen my text. She said something that I’ve been floating through my increasingly scattered brain for a few days.

“I try and only check my phone every 2 hours. Especially when I’m with my son. It makes me feel like I’m not a good mom when I start responding and not focusing on him. I find that the more I check my phone, the more depressed I am at the end of the day because my mood is constantly shifting based on what comes in.”

What she said = gold in my book. And my brain. I kid you not: last week I had a headache for 3 days. I could tell it was from tension. Nothing made it go away. I honestly think it’s because I’m so scattered with a lack of schedule (read: Frustrated. Need to Vent) and feel pulled in a million directions that no amount of aspirin or Motrin will help. What will help is changing my behavior. Drastically.

Granted  I wrote last week about the beauty of social media. How I’m now a believer in it. But, that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t put limits on all this stuff.

On any given day, here is how my crazy goes:

Fia and I are playing. I check my phone. She frolics, I text or email someone back. Then I run into the kitchen. Open freezer. Remember someone else I was going to email about something. Write them. Freezer is still open. I pull out chicken to thaw. Fia shouts, “Mama, what are you doing?” I open a cabinet.  ”I’m coming baby.” I pull out a glass and fill it with water. I check the phone. Oops–respond to an email. Cabinet still open. I almost walk into it (two years ago I did and broke my nose. No sh-t). Glance out window. She isn’t maimed. I shoot a quick text to another friend. Reply to the email. Fia asks for me again. I walk outside with my phone.  Oops. Forgot water. Back inside. And on and on.

No wonder I don’t feel “present.” No wonder I have self doubt about my mom abilities. Or frankly any of my abilities.  It’s a CONSTANT yo-yo of emotions. Even as creatures of adaptation, our brains aren’t made for that.

My mom in her crass wisdom used the quote, “If you have one foot in tomorrow and one foot in yesterday, then you’re pissing on today.” I’m going to say that when I have one foot on my computer and one foot on my kids, I’m pissing on the present. I can’t straddle the worlds anymore. It’s a lose-lose situation, and one that apparently has consequences. A recent article in the New York Times says there is a thing called Facebook Depression. And that constant texting and emailing can cause mental illness. These include OCD behavior (me) and narcissism (probably me).

As my friend Teresa said, “Bottom line: this sh-t isn’t good for us.”

I find in moments when I am down on my knees, sans blackberry, playing with Fia, helping her poop, whatever, there is never stillness. Instead of absorbing everything about her and our moments (yes, even if it’s in a disgusting public bathroom), my mind spins. Crazy sentences begin. I literally have conversations with people, thinking about what I will text or email them–which then turns into an entirely different conversation that can range from my purpose in life to my next grocery trip. I am so tired of hearing myself.

TIME. TO. STOP. THE. F–KING. CHATTER.

Here’s what I’m doing: I am going to overhaul my life and really examine how I can schedule my week in a more seamless and sane fashion. Following Teresa’s lead, I will allot myself time to check my phone and time to put it away.  I will schedule chunks of time for my kids without the phone even in reach. I think this will reduce my mom guilt too. I’m going for quality over quantity.

Like I said, I’m giving this a week. Anyone else want to join me in this venture? I’ll report back on June 25th. If you want to do this too, post comments on this blog and I can share them in the follow-up post. And not to worry; I’ll read your comments during my allotted “work time.”

Lastly, if anyone has any suggestions on how to manage time and technology better, please share!

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Hypnotherapy–It’s Working!

Wednesday, April 25th, 2012

I am seeing a hypnotherapist. I found him on Yelp. Really.

I know how “LA” I sound, but I must say; this guy–Peter Bedard– is extraordinary. I decided to go this route versus traditional therapy to help me deal with my obsessions. I figured getting hypnotized would be a quick fix. However, as Peter puts it: it’s not about cleaning up a corner in your room. It’s about cleaning the whole house. Apropos considering I have a major cleaning obsession.

Ever since Emmett was born I have become increasingly uptight about our house. I literally cannot walk past a crumb on the floor without stopping to pick it up. My mind never stops racing about all I have to do. Having our gaggle of guests week, after week, after week, only made matters worse. My anxiety level reached an all time high while my milk supply went low. In short, living in my brain became exhausting.

I went to Peter hoping for a miracle. In him, I found a healer.

While I like to keep a clean house, I knew my obsession was largely about control. He took it a step further by pointing out that our bad behaviors “benefit” us in some way.  In my case, the “benefit” was my license to be angry, to be a martyr. I would storm around pissed off that Phil forgot to scoop the cat liter or take out the garbage (I have to do everything myself); I found myself angry at our friends who wanted to come visit (why are they here when I have a newborn? They should at least be getting up in the night); and ultimately angry with myself for not coping better (you suck at this).

I was reeling.

When I explained it all he said, “How’s it working out for you?” I nearly burst into tears. “Not so good,” I replied in misery. We talked at length. He threw out the old adage, “Would you rather be right or happy?” And more importantly: “Would you rather be right…or be a mom? Because your kids are going to f-ck up a lot, and if you are wound this tight, you’re going to have some f-cked up kids.”

Cue the sirens in my head: Time to avert disaster. 

Through a series of visualizations, he had me fire my “critical self”–that voice inside that keeps you spinning. Then he had me “rehire” it, but as my personal assistant. After all, it is a part of me. But I was back in charge.

Rather than controlling my environment and the people in it, he told me to visualize governing–graciously. I pictured myself in a white flowing outfit, looking out onto our beautiful garden. My arms are outstretched and my children are playing. It is a picture of happiness. Of serenity. And ultimately, of surrender.

I have had 4 sessions thus far and each time I feel like I’m making great strides. We are now working on “pattern interrupts.” Like at this moment I am wearing a purple rubber band around my wrist. When I start to spin, I snap it–hard–to jolt my brain back. The goal is to keep that personal assistant in his place (I decided it was a man). The breath of fire is another technique. The other day I was playing with Fia when I found my mind racing. I immediately went into the breathing and boom–pattern interrupt. Fia’s giggling at her strange mama didn’t hurt either.

At the end of each session we do about 15 minutes of the hypnosis. It’s really just a deep meditation. If I had to think of it as hypnosis, then the whole time I’d be obsessing and my brain would go like this: “Am I hypnotized yet? I don’t know. How about now? Now? Not sure…” and so on. But a deep meditation I can relax into and absorb his words.

It all comes down to training your brain to stay positive. As an example, I asked him how I could go into something with positive intention if I dread it, like paying bills. Without skipping a beat he said, “Be grateful you have the money.” The next day I sat down with that intention and those old thoughts of– why am I always the one to do this?– stayed away.

It’s a simplistic example, but sometimes that’s what resonates most.

In my September 11th piece I said that parenthood is a privilege. So is life. I only get one. But I gave life to two. I don’t want to waste this time controlling them. Or the crumbs.

 

Meditation Picture via Shutterstock

 

 

 

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Lexapro and Breastfeeding

Tuesday, April 3rd, 2012

I wrote at length about my decision to stay on my antidepressants while pregnant. It was the right one for me, and so far, knock on wood, Emmett is nothing but alert, healthy and happy.

I did end up going off the Wellbutrin at around 7 months. It was sort of by accident, because I ran out of pills and hadn’t ordered any more. There were no side effects to the instant withdrawal and I felt fine without it. I did stay on the 10 mg of Lexapro until 3 weeks before my C-Section.

At that time, I decided to taper. The reproductive psychiatrist I had met with told me that there was a 10-30% chance of having a baby who is slightly fussy (or fussier) post birth if you keep on the meds. Still, she encouraged me to stay on them, because the fussy-factor dissipates within a few days. However, I tapered with Fia and I wanted to do the same this time around. I can live with .01% risk of staying on an antidepressant while pregnant. But 10-30% felt high to me, even though it’s a short-lived problem.

My taper wasn’t fun. I felt that dizzy/spaced out feeling pretty constantly. But I went with it because when you’re that pregnant, you feel exhausted anyway.

Emmett was born on January 25, 2012 and he has, knock on a forest, been an incredibly easy baby thus far. However, about a week after he was born, my hormones were raging, my nerves were getting frayed and my husband was pushing me to go back on the Lexapro before things went south.

I consulted a lactation consultant who informed me that Lexapro is now an L2 drug. Here is the website that explains the categories and gives a list of drugs. An L2 is a drug which, has been “studied in a limited number of breastfeeding women without an increase in adverse effects to the infant. And/or the evidence of a demonstrated risk which is likely to follow use of this medication in a breastfeeding woman is remote.”

L1 is the safest, L5 is the most risky.

I was so relieved to hear that Lexapro had been studied, that the first thing I did when I got home was take a 5 mg dose. I’ve been on that for about 2 months, and just last week went up to 10 mg. I was feeling a lot of anxiety and intensity about things. I was hoping 5 mg would be enough, but it wasn’t. I have noticed an immediate difference in my state of mind.

Wellbutrin is still an L3, which means it’s moderately safe, but no controlled studies have been done. I may go back on a small dosage of that as time goes on. We’ll see. I have some semi-obsessive issues I’m trying to deal with that seem to be getting worse. Like my obsession with cleaning. I feel like it is getting a bit out of control–which is ironic because I think “control” is what it’s all about. I will blog about that soon, as I have some ideas on how I may try and tackle this.

Anyway, I just wanted to update all of you who were interested and/or in similar situations as I was with the whole antidepressant arena. Thanks for listening.

 

Picture of breastfeeding via Shutterstock

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Pregnancy and Drugs–A Good Website

Tuesday, October 4th, 2011

Just a quick follow up to my follow up (follow that?) on taking Antidepressants When Pregnant. I met a second time with this amazing Reproductive Psychiatrist from NYU. In talking to her, I explained how even though she and many other widely respected doctors have told me the facts, I still easily freak myself out about my decision to stay on my meds. Most of my doubt and angst is directly related to Google.  She suggested this website as a great go-to resource that states THE FACTS on just about any type of drug, drink, herbal concoction—even hair dye–that has been studied in relation to pregnancy. She explained it’s not a fear-mongering site, (like many of them are), so stop googling to save your sanity!

It’s called otispregnancy.org.

Now I will admit, the whole alcohol intake thing on Otis did scare me a bit, because I do have the occasional glass of wine. However, like the study states, they don’t know how much alcohol is too much, thus the reason to abstain completely. They refer to heavy/regular drinking, so I guess that depends on your definition of “regular”. For me, at my doctor’s approval, it’s maybe a glass of wine every week or two–if I feel like it (I often don’t. Well, actually, yes I do). But logically, I think many of us would agree that a glass here and there or an occasional beer is not going to harm a baby. Hmmm…I feel another controversial blog post brewing (thought this subject has been debated to death!) Let me stew on this for a bit! Cheers!

 

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