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Bright Lights

February 10, 2011

This post is in response to a prompt from The Red Dress Club, which is to write a piece that begins with, “I could never have imagined” and ends with, “Then the whole world shifted.”


I could never have imagined I’d end up on anti-depressants. I certainly wouldn’t have imagined it happening like this.

The doctor’s office is bright the way doctor’s offices are. Fluorescent lights burn overhead, hiding nothing. I’m waiting.

It was the second time I’d initiated this conversation. For someone who was extraordinarily resistant to the idea of medication as an answer to my problem, this seems odd to me now.

Now, waiting, I am dreading the conversation. What if she says, “You don’t need medication.” This is my last resort. If I don’t try it, if it doesn’t work, I’m in real trouble.

That was not at all my point of view the first time medication was suggested to me. That time it was by the counsellor I was seeing, the one who figured out my problem long before I was willing to consider it. I didn’t listen to her.

From the examination room, I can hear sounds in the hall. Doctor’s office sounds. People coming and going. The receptionist on the phone just outside the door. I ‘d had to tell her why I needed the appointment. “I need to talk to someone about anti-depressants,” I’d confessed. She, who I’ve known for a while, who loves my son and always talks about how happy he is, didn’t treat me any differently when I came in. As I sit here in this brightly lit room, I wonder what she’s thinking.

The second time was at one of my son’s well baby visits. At the “anything else?” point in the conversation, I broached the topic with the doctor – a locum I had never seen before and probably wouldn’t see again. During that conversation, I was tentative, exploring: “I’m not feeling like I’m doing very well,” I offered while inside thinking, “I’m feeling awful, actually, but I don’t know if that’s normal. I’m sort of afraid it is.” Made it sound as though it was the usual sort of stuff: “But, you know, he really doesn’t sleep that much. How much not sleeping is normal, anyway?!”

Different sounds now. Appointment-finishing sounds. Thank-yous and goodbyes. I figure that means I’m next, and the butterflies return full force. This is a different doctor – one I’ve never seen before – and I’ve heard rumours that she doesn’t have a great bedside manner. I jiggle my foot the way I do when I’m nervous or distracted and wait for the door to open.

I don’t blame either of those people for the outcomes of the first conversations. They could have pushed, I suppose, or probed further. But in order for the outcome to have been different I’d have had to be willing to listen. To be honest about how not okay I was.

The door opens and she comes in. Any fantasy I had about a dignified conversation rapidly disappears as I break down in tears upon the telling of my story. I’m not a dignified crier, but in this moment I don’t even worry about the blotches on my face or the fact that I need to blow my nose. I’m just focused on finding something that will help because if I don’t I know I’m going to lose my family. She gives me her usual “I don’t usually turn to anti-depressants as the first solution” speech but it’s just part of the routine. She knows I need them. I know I need them.

That night, I look at the bottle of little pills. It feels significant what I’m about to do. It is significant.

I pop one in my mouth and wash it down with some water. Then the whole world shifted.

12 Comments leave one →
  1. February 14, 2011 2:35 pm

    I don’t know where I’d be without anti-depressants. I’ve been on & off of them since I was about 19. And I agree w/ what someone else said about there still being something taboo about it. But there shouldn’t be.

    Very well done. Sounds totally similar to experiences I’ve had….

  2. February 12, 2011 11:37 pm

    I thought you captured those awkward patient /doctor conversations so well. And I’m glad that you wrote about this too, when mom or anyone really feels like they need antidepressants they shouldn’t feel it such a struggle to just ask for them. It’s so nessesary for a mom to be at her most functional not only for herself but for her child. But it is still taboo, hopefully talking about it more will make it less so.

  3. February 12, 2011 11:10 am

    I am glad you wrote this post, because the topic still seems to be a little taboo and it so shouldn’t be. No one would blink if you told them you went to get an antibiotic for an infection. But asking for meds to help with PPD seems somehow a sign of weakness, which is completely ridiculous. Asking for help is a sign of strength.

  4. February 11, 2011 6:32 pm

    I thought that you beautifully expressed the confusion of PPD as well as the agony of asking for help. I’m glad it’s working for you.

  5. February 11, 2011 2:21 pm

    Thanks for the comments everyone. To Angie’s point, people should comment. I need the validation! 😉

  6. February 11, 2011 1:20 pm

    This is the story that needs to be told. I never thought I’d be looking at my little pills every day, either. But I’m so glad to have them. I’m so proud of you for seeking the help you need, and for talking about it here. Even if they don’t comment, people read, and you’re touching more new moms than you know.

  7. February 11, 2011 1:08 pm

    I’m so proud of you for telling your story, your new blog look, your beautiful words, and your strength.
    You give hope to ppl who are still very much in the thick and not being heard.

  8. February 11, 2011 11:51 am

    yes. never thought i’d be on medication either. Never in a million years. But i love my little blue pills because they make me whole. right now, for the time being, and it’s okay.

  9. February 11, 2011 10:46 am

    What an amazing inside look at PPD. Thank you for sharing it and baring your inner turmoil.

    I loved the back and forth between now and then. It gave this post a certain rhythm that kept me glued to the screen.

  10. February 10, 2011 10:07 pm

    I am so sorry that you have struggled with PPD and I am so proud of you for sharing your story here with us. It’s heartbreaking. And hopeful. xo


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