Now that I’ve discussed what post adoption depression is, the question is do I have it?
Yes and no.
Yes, I have the symptoms. No, I don’t have true depression. In fact, my depression symptoms are situational. Huh?
After talking to my therapist about my latest plunge, we realized that Peanut’s crying and whining is the true trigger to my symptoms. The actual noise is what bothers me. When I’m tired, it bothers me more. When the noise is on and off for hours or all day, I get overwhelmed. I ‘explode’ and then I get the ensuing emotional reactions like guilt which leads to the depression like symptoms. Does that make sense?
Most parents deal with crying at some point or another without having a meltdown themselves. Why am I reacting differently, more excessively? My therapist thinks I’m more sensitive to noise than most. Add to that, I’ve been dealing with a lot of unresolved emotional issues in short amount of time. Add to that I have a new baby who isn’t really a baby, but a more demanding and more vocal toddler. Who’s grieving her own losses.
Think about animals that have really sensitive hearing like dogs or bats. Certain sounds at a certain pitch and tone can really bother dogs. Apparently, Peanut’s tone/pitch when she’s crying is like that for me.
Still don’t get it? Think about being trapped in a room and there’s a really loud obnoxious fire alarm going off intermittently. For hours. You can’t escape. You don’t know how to make it stop. And it just builds up and builds up and your head feels about ready to explode. Or you want to do anything to make it stop.
That’s how my body and mind reacts to Peanut’s crying. I feel trapped because this is my child and I’m supposed to take care of her. I don’t know how to make it stop because when she get’s like that, it just need to work itself out. But that can take hours. Sometimes it takes the entire day. No amount of knowing that she’s grieving helps to alleviate the pressure that’s building in my head. It is as if I’m on a sensory overload. I fritz out. I shout. I bang doors. I get the feelings of wanting to run away, die, etc, anything to escape or stop the noise. Then I feel guilty that I screamed at a baby. I feel like a terrible person because in that moment, I hate her and want to ‘return’ her. I feel like something’s wrong with me because it doesn’t seem normal that I react this badly to crying. All of that is what leads to the feelings of depression.
The solution? Well, there’s no pat answer. I’m continuing to keep interactions positive to minimize that build up of noise in my head. Failing that, if I sense the pressure or if Peanut is having difficult day, I’ve been prescribed anti-anxiety medication to determine if it can help muffle the effect. I’m also going to look into getting noise cancelling headphones, though they are very expensive. Or try ear plugs?
So, more plans to help navigate this journey. Plans are good. People ask how we’re doing. My new mantra is, it is a work in process.
On a positive note, Peanut and I are liking each other more. Over the weekend, we had some genuinely sweet moments, like Peanut reaching for me and pressing her head against my head.
In the end, the biggest help will be time. Hopefully with time she cries less. Hopefully with time, I’m less affected by her crying. Hopefully with time, we’ve built up enough positive moments to balance the negative. Hopefully with time, love and patience will grow.