Depression

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Reverse Depression Naturally

Alternative Treatments for Mood Disorders, Anxiety and Stress
edition:Paperback
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This Is Depression

This Is Depression

A Comprehensive, Compassionate Guide for Anyone Who Wants to Understand Depression
edition:Paperback
tagged : depression
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Hello I Want to Die Please Fix Me
Excerpt

How do you talk about trying to die? Haltingly, urgently: in mes­sages and calls to friends. Abashedly: you stand in the middle of a hospital hallway on a parent’s cell phone as your grandfather bel­lows, “No more stupid tricks!” Gingerly: you stand in your psych ward at the patients’ landline, conscious of fellow patients watch­ing TV just behind you, white corkscrew cord curled around your finger as you murmur to your grandmother who understands better than she should. Who is the first to tell you, as you lean against the orange-tinted counter with its row of cupboards for confiscated belongings below the sink, that you have to write all this down. And even though you put it off for months, agonize for years, you know she’s right.
 
Quietly, desperately: in one medical appointment after another. Trepidatiously: to colleagues. Searchingly: in interviews. Increasingly loudly. In a book? With the world?
 
A disorder hijacks your life and becomes an obsession. Know thine enemy. Chart in minute detail the way it wrecks you and seek out every aliquot of information out there. Butt up against the con­stricting limits of human understanding, smash yourself against that wall and seek instead to map the contours of collective ignorance. Know the unknowns of thine enemy, learn them by heart. Because even if you never best it, never loosen its grip on your existence, at least your best attempt at understanding will give you some sem­blance of agency.
 
No one wants this crap illness that masquerades as personal failing. I had no desire to plumb its depths. The struggle to func­tion leaves me little capacity to do so. But in the end I had no choice. I approached this enemy I barely believed in the only way I knew how: as a reporter. I took a topic about which I knew nothing and sought somehow to know everything. I talked to people in search of answers and mostly found more questions.
 
Personal experience has made me more invested in addressing the gross inequities depression exacerbates, in hammering home the human, societal, economic costs. The depth of depression’s debilita­tion and our reprehensible failure to address it consume me because I’m there, spending days paralyzed and nights wracked because my meds aren’t good enough. But this isn’t some quixotic personal proj­ect that pertains to me and no one else. Depression affects everyone on the planet, directly or indirectly, in every possible sphere. Its very ubiquity robs it of sexiness but not urgency. I found this in every interview I did, in every article I read, in every attempt I made to sort out how the fuck this can be so bad and so badly unaddressed.
 
This book is also my way of exorcising endless guilt at having been so lucky—to have benefited from publicly funded inpatient and outpatient mental health care; to have maintained, for the most part, employment; to have had patches of insurance lighten the burden of paying for years of drugs. This shouldn’t be the purview of the priv­ileged but it is. We fail the most marginalized at every level, then wonder why they worsen.
 
I don’t want to be the person writing this book. Don’t want to be chewed up by despair so unremitting the only conceivable response is to write it. But I am. I write this because I need both life vest and anchor, because I need both to scream and to arm myself in the dark. Maybe you need to scream, to arm yourself, too.

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Day Nine

Day Nine

A Postpartum Depression Memoir
edition:eBook
also available: Paperback
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Excerpt

June 18, 2014

I sit in my living room rocking Fiona in the car seat while Gordon makes phone calls to three sets of parents — his mother, then my father and stepmother, followed by my mother, who left us a few hours earlier. I can hear my mother’s tears when he puts me on the phone to assure her I am doing okay. I’m sure she’s upset with me, but I need to centre myself tonight. I’m a mother now, too.

It’s time to go to bed. Four hours ago I was throwing up into my lap in a delivery room, and now at 1:00 a.m. I’m thinking about how to sleep with this tiny human in my arms. Gordon suggests we try to set up our co-sleeper bassinet between the two of us in our queen-size bed so we can all sleep together. He gently lays Fiona down on her back in the bassinet. We leave her wrapped in the receiving blanket and clothes we brought her home in.

Twenty minutes pass and I can’t sleep. Why can’t I sleep? I’ve been awake for close to twenty-four hours. I delivered a healthy baby girl. I did it. The worst is over. I’m exhausted. Gordon has fallen into a deep, snoring sleep. I look down at Fiona — she’s also quietly sleeping. My mind starts to reel. What do I do if she wakes? Do I pick her up? Rock the bassinet? I need to make sure she doesn’t get upset. I won’t know what to do. I scoop the sleeping baby into my arms and take her down the hall into her bedroom. Sitting in her dark, unfamiliar, and newly painted nursery, I am stunned by this immediate transition to motherhood. Maybe I’ll never sleep again.

All my shifting and rocking in the chair wakes the baby, and she begins to cry. Her cries get louder. I try to breastfeed her, but I can’t quite get the hang of placing this new human onto my breast. Desperate for a solution, I stick my pinky finger in her mouth and she suckles for a few minutes, calming down. I stand in her room, swaying back and forth, awkwardly holding my daughter, this stranger, in my arms. I’m still in the same mesh hospital underwear I was given days ago, holding an overdressed baby in total darkness. This is motherhood, I guess?

I head back to my bed and return her to her bassinet. Gordon is still snoring loudly, though, and I wince at the thought of him waking her. I scoop her back up immediately and head downstairs to our living room. I decide to set up the pull-out couch as a bed, then maybe I can get a little sleep downstairs with her. She starts to cry again. I feel panic, realizing I can’t pull out the couch unless I put the baby down. Where can I put her down safely? I spot the bucket car seat and gently place her in it. Then I quickly pull out the couch, scoop her back up, carry her back over, and sit down. She fusses a little at being moved. As Fiona falls back asleep, I realize I’m stuck in this sitting position upright on the couch. I didn’t think to lie down before she fell asleep, and now that she’s stopped crying, I don’t want to move. Even if I did lie down, she might fall and be smothered! I’m not that tired really, I tell myself. I can wait till the morning’s arrival. When the sun comes up and my mother inevitably arrives, I’ll know I’ve survived this night.

The middle of this night is scary. The quiet creeks of our house startle me. The earlier storms are causing power disruptions. I hear the power go out. Even though the lights are off, when the power shuts down, our street swallows the city’s rumble and leaves us in heightened silence. I can hear my next door neighbours’ steps when the air conditioning and house appliances shut down. With the power off, the baby’s breathing is surprisingly loud, reminding me of a subway train passing through a station. I can’t put her down and try to sleep. I can’t even lie back. I sit straight up, with no support for my back, and hold her in the powerless dark and wait. I sense my exhausted brain getting cloudier and cloudier. I wait for the baby to wake up so I can shuffle in my seat. Every second feels like hours. The power flickers on, then off again. She finally stirs and begins to cry. I try to latch her onto my nipple, but I can’t get the hang of the perfect seal Rose demonstrated while also holding Fiona’s tiny head. My hands shake as I shuffle the baby in my arms, pressing my nipple to her chin, hoping she will guide us both through this. Breastfeeding feels unnatural. Isn’t this supposed to be one of nature’s most instinctual acts? I let her head fall away from me and try to squeeze a little milk out of my breast and into her mouth. I’m hoping if I squeeze my sore nipples hard enough I can get a drop of milk to fall out and land on her lips. She squirms impatiently and I’m so frustrated that I can’t settle her. Why can’t I do this?

After another seemingly endless crying and rocking interaction, she finally settles back to sleep and I move into a more comfortable seated position on the pulled-out couch. The power is back on; I might as well send an email from my phone.

Sent: June 18, 2014, 4:07 a.m.
To: Mom
From: Amanda
Subject: I need
Depends or the thickest pads you can find
Some kind of soft battery transportable nightlight. Our lights are too bright and the power went off four times tonight waking her up. I need an easy way to move rooms. Maybe Walmart?
Watermelon and more fruit please

I wait for her reply. She’s probably awake. Aren’t all mothers awake at 4:00 a.m.? It doesn’t come for over an hour, but the ding of my phone makes me feel better. I peel myself off the couch with the baby and head back to our bedroom. I have something to keep me distracted in bed until the sun comes and I have permission to be awake again.

Sent: June 18, 2014, 5:15 a.m. To: Amanda
From: Mom
Subject: Re: I Need
NP
Keep thinking of more stuff you might need. I’ll leave here after rush hour this morning.

Sent: June 18, 2014, 5:15 a.m.
To: Mom
From: Amanda
Subject: Re: I Need
Advil regular strength
Cold compress for my stitches — I’m in a lot of pain
Cold cuts — salami and buns
Something else with protein

Sent: June 18, 2014, 7:20 a.m.
From: Mom
To: Amanda
Subject: Re: I Need
I’ll probably leave here after nine.
How do you spell Fiona’s middle name?

Sent: June 18, 2014, 7:25 a.m.
To: Mom
From: Amanda
Subject: Re: I Need
Fiona Adrina Munday

This is the first real conversation I’ve had with my mother since becoming one and it’s nothing more than barking orders between 4:00 a.m. and 8:00 a.m. A few weeks ago, Gordon and I agreed that he would be the point of communication with all of our family members once the baby arrived. Communication would be something he could own while I rested. I created an email mailing list of all our family members and close friends for him.

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Like Water Over Stone

A Family Memoir of Resilience
edition:eBook
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Journey to Joy

Journey to Joy

The transformation of a life...21 days at a time
edition:Paperback
also available: eBook
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A Joyful Life

A Joyful Life

How to Use Your Creative Spirit to Manage Depression
edition:Paperback
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