Instead of starting Clomid as planned, my last visit with my ob/gyn, I started on antidepressants instead.
This has made a HUGE difference – I feel more like myself than I have at any time in the past two years. It’s long overdue; when my ob/gyn walked into the room asked me the basic “How are you today?”, I started crying. For two years or more, I’ve been dealing with depression, panic attacks, anxiety that has been crippling my health. Anxiety over infertility, over extreme endometriosis pain, over my hearing loss, over these inexplicable vertigo episodes, over my dissertation – any one of those things would be enough to tip any normal person into depression and anxiety. All together, they’ve been draining me to the point that I couldn’t think straight. I didn’t want to ask any of my doctors for antidepressants; I didn’t want to admit that it was that bad, or act like I couldn’t pull myself out of it. I’m used to being a strong person, a strong personality – I conquer obstacles, I don’t wilt under them. Fortunately, I was at a low enough point that I didn’t protest when my ob/gyn suggested putting me on antidepressants for the next couple months. If that means delaying fertility drugs, I’m ok with that – because I’ve accomplished more in the past two weeks of antidepressants than I have in months. I’ve cleaned the house. I’ve caught up on my research. I’ve had a long talk with a friend about infertility – a devout Catholic friend, who, unlike most of the people in my life, understands and supports the decisions my husband and I have made about fertility or the lack of it in our marriage.
Growing up, I thought admitting depression and using antidepressants was a way of giving up, a kind of sin through lack of faith in God. I couldn’t see how any Christian could let themselves fall into the “pit of despair” (to reference my all-time favorite movie), not when they had recourse to prayer. Growing up, however, I never imagined that life would throw me so many curve balls all at once, nor the emotional and physical toll they would take. Clearly, I’ve learned better! I see this new medication as, not a kind of defeat, but as a new ally in helping me continue fighting – a physical boost that I need to aid me in the spiritual fight. Body, soul and spirit: they’re not separate, and they all affect each other. God is still sovereign, I still recognize that God is “my only comfort in life and in death”, the mighty fortress, the tower strong and mighty to save. But just as I wouldn’t let a disease ravage my body without the aid of medicine as well as prayer, I finally decided that I shouldn’t let this emotional turmoil ravage my soul unopposed. The antidepressants are helping me move forward, rather than staying locked in a stasis of paralyzing decisions.
Most importantly, the antidepressants are already starting to replenish my natural obstinacy. This may not be an unmixed blessing! On one hand, it will probably make life much more difficult for my husband! On the other hand, it’s helping me re-think the choices I’ve made about infertility, and helping me regain the strength to press forward in search of treatments that fit my beliefs, rather than caving to the pressure of doctors, friends, and family members who think I’m insane for not jumping straight into IVF or IUI or any of the other modern fertility treatments. I need this mulish, stubborn obstinacy. It’s what helped keep me plowing through my studies, even when I lost my hearing. It helped me keep pursuing my PhD, despite the efforts of one nasty professor to sabotage me. It’s helped me struggle through isolation and invisibility to the beginnings of some hard-won friendships. It’s even helped me avoid the temptations of extreme self-pity. It’s a trait that isn’t often attractive, and is never something people pray for, but it’s a trait I’m thanking God for blessing me with before I had to face all of these issues. As long as I can remember who am I in Christ, I will keep fighting to live life on terms that match my personal convictions. And isn’t that, in the end, what everyone in the world is trying to do?
I hope that in a month, I’ll taper off the antidepressants and be stronger than I was. Then, we can finally start Clomid, the first cautious step towards “fixing” the infertility that has dominated our thoughts for the past three years.