Friday, January 25, 2013

Honesty: a scary policy.


I have been struggling the past few days with very conflicting interests.

On one hand I create these posts with the intention of providing family, friends and strangers alike with a comprehensive view of what my life is like as a type one diabetic.  I mean for them to act as an educational tool and a running commentary on my daily trials and tribulations so as to prevent perpetual ignorance about my disease and to demonstrate the breadth of impact diabetes has, regardless of the topic.  Of course this has been somewhat embarrassing at times, but in light of the goal I set out to accomplish with this blog I've been striving to say whatever I ought to say that is relevant to the subject.  Face it, one can't "comprehensively" talk about such things as pregnancy and diabetes without mentioning such socially uncomfortable details as one's cervix.

Which brings me to the other hand. The reality is, there are topics that I am quite self-conscious to cover and I avoid for fear of other's judgement and censure.  Not to mention, if I don't write about a topic, then I avoid acknowledging it and inadvertently providing validation to pieces of myself that I'd rather didn't exist. The lens that I voluntarily create, therefore, has the ability to insulate me from vulnerability by allowing me to share information on my own terms, edited as necessary.

But in placing my concern for criticism above my goal for "comprehensive" topic coverage, I stifle any self growth I could otherwise achieve and I might as well resign a career in creative writing before even starting! What's that old saying? If you can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen.  Well... I like to cook and I like to write... so I'd better work on tougher, more heat resistant skin.  That said, I find myself being untrue to you, the reader, by purposefully not writing about something that is central to my current life with diabetes: postpartum depression.   

I'd suffered from chronic depression a lot when I was younger and, mainly due to the social stigma around the condition, I've always found it very difficult to talk about being unhappy and why I was so.  I remember a conversation I had with HB early on in our relationship where I tried to openly share this part of my world and he dismissed the diagnosis as snake oil and advised that I attempt "keep more busy." Obviously that hurt, but that was then and we've since had time to come to terms with the factual existence of complications caused by chemical imbalances and to build a more constructive, supportive relationship.  (To his credit, I must say that such a quote seems horrifically misattributed to him and I very much appreciate his new found open minded approach to me and the world.

There is no appropriate time to talk about depression and there is certainly no easy way to go about it, but seeing as I've written about every other pregnancy complication I've experienced, it seems disingenuous to omit this one from the record simply to spare my own discomfort.  The fact of the matter is that postpartum depression is a childbirth complication that is caused by hormone changes and imbalances... and I seem to be struggling with it.  I'm moody, withdrawn, fatigued and frustrated.  Don't get me wrong I love being a Mom and some of these feelings are standard operating procedures for the job, but when showering sounds like too much work, the couch is my new best friend and I have no will to fight my son watching Chitty Chitty Bang Bang for the billionth time it is time to admit something isn't quite right.

I don't recall having issues with this after my first pregnancy, but in doing some reading about the condition, I am not at all surprised by its occurrence now.  As it turns out, a 2009 research study competed by the Harvard Medical School and University of Minnesota School of Public Health found a definitive link between diabetes and postpartum depression.  Among the 11,000 women who were tested, those with any kind of diabetes - be that type 1, type 2 or gestational - were two times more likely to develop depression during or after pregnancy.  Unfortunately the research did not extend farther to identify the connection between the two illnesses, but it is the first study to demonstrate the existence of a relationship and it certainly warrants further inquiry on the topic that I ardently hope they'll do.  Until then I guess I just happen to be one of the lucky 1 in 10 diabetic mothers who get to figure out how to deal with it... 

I wish I had a plan of action that would spell out S-U-C-C-E-S-S in treating this complication, but I don't want to be on medication and I can only guess at what other changes might be effective. I think writing about it here is at least one step in the right direction because no matter how hard it is for me to admit its exists or how much I dread what people may say, it is part of my reality and ignoring it wont make it disappear.  And if I am scared to write about this then what else am I going to be too afraid to publish?  I can't afford that fear and there shouldn't be a place for it here. 

I'm not perfect, but I am honest.  As terrified as I may be in saying these things, I believe it's the right thing to do and, on the off chance there is a diabetic Mom out there reading this and experiencing what I am, you're not alone.  It's not the best hand to be dealt, but we've got to face it and keep moving. If not for us, then at least for our kids. 

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