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With all the stigma about mental illness, it is hard to come out of the closet and admit you have a problem. Some people I spoke to, close friends and a counselor for Postpartum Support International (PSI), were very compassionate; others were rude or insensitive. I'm particularly upset with my doctor because she's supposed to be a professional (though in all fairness, she isn't a mental health professional) but she wasn't the only one who had an insensitive, inappropriate response to my cry for help:
- My husband: "I didn't realize you were so helpless. If you had a broken leg, I could understand, but I just don't get it." Ouch! He really isn't an ass, he tried to help in his own way - he got me a new (used) mountain bike so I'd enjoy biking more - but didn't support me by watching the kids so I could get out of the house. Two days after my meltdown, he didn't come home until 9 pm and the next day, as soon as the baby was down for a nap, he took M to the park for the afternoon so I was stuck at home from 11 am to 5 pm. It was all just a massive misunderstanding. He interpreted my bitchiness (yes, that's the technical term) as "Get the f#$k out of here!" rather than "I need to get the f#$k out of here!" Since then, we've talked several times since and he's been a huge help to me. Communication is so important when you're dealing with something you can't deal with on your own.
- Bimbo Front Desk Girl at My Doctor's Office (by phone): I finally got up the guts to make a doctor's appointment the Monday after the Meltdown. The receptionist started out all brisk and cheery. I wanted to tell her where to shove her "It's a great day at ____ Medical! How can I help you?" but didn't get the chance because she put me on hold. When she came back on the line, she proceeded to book me in sounding all chipper until I told her the reason for my visit: "Feeling depressed." There was awkward silence <Press play for ominous music now: Doom doom doom doom (or dum dum dum dum in the case of the stupid cow)> and then she said, "Oh........ kay, well, see you Tuesday at 2:30." Good save, beeyotch. Could you have made it any more obvious you think I'm a nutcase?
- Bimbo Front Desk Girl at My Doctor's Office (in person): When the fateful appointment day arrives, I wake Em up early from her nap to chuck her in the carseat, try not to cuss at M too much as she dawdles in the doorway refusing to put her shoes on, and we make it to the Doctor's office right on time. I shouldn't have rushed. The Doctor is "a little behind" according to Bimbo. I would really like to know what planet she's from as "a little" turned out to be one hour and 20 minutes! Bimbo actually looked annoyed with me when I asked her, "How much longer?" after desperately entertaining my kids for 45 minutes, a huge challenge when you don't have toys or books (forgot everything in the mad rush out the door). She then peeked at my file and said, "You're just here for....... ohhhhhhhhh........ right....." and peered curiously at me like I was a criminally insane patient awaiting a lobotomy. I had to chuckle when the rest of the waiting room went to inquire about their appointments and she got reamed out by two people. It was karma: if you shit on someone, someone will shit on you.
- My Doctor: Finally it was my turn. My doctor started out all professional; she asked me all the questions she was supposed to ask, but while I was sitting there crying my heart out, she took a call on her cell phone! I'm certain it wasn't work-related as the words "dinner" and "reservation" came up. When she had finished filling her social calendar, she returned and wrote me a prescription for antidepressants. I asked if they would interfere with breastfeeding and was assured that the one she'd given me was ok. Since I wanted to know what I was getting myself into, I did some internet research as soon as I got home and found that the drug she'd selected was contraindicated for breastfeeding. She should have prescribed a different drug but was likely too preoccupied to give me the right one. I haven't called to complain and haven't started the meds. I wonder what the Universe has in store for her! I'm betting her dinner date was terrible. That would be more than fair for jeopardizing my baby's health and well-being.
Have you or are you suffering from PPD? What are your coping strategies?