Hands nervously pushing her cuticles back, Noelle glances upward at me and says, “I have always had a history of depression.”
She began to tell me about her journey to motherhood and how in many ways her pregnancy was a miracle. After being told that she may not have kids, Noelle and her husband thought that parenthood might not be an option, but life had a different plan, and Noelle conceived her baby.
It is common in the medical field to believe that any medication within the first three months can be harmful to a fetus. Thus, most doctors will remove any medication regime completely from a patient’s treatment whenever possible. In Noelle’s case, this is exactly what happened. She felt disarmed without treatment, and she could not afford therapy, so she quietly slipped into an overwhelmed, anxious state.
She knew that she could potentially go far enough down into her depression that she would need to be hospitalized—or at least that is what she believed. She gave her husband instructions on what to do if that happened. At that point, she knew things were bad. She quietly struggled with her depression, but thought that once her baby arrived things would get better.
Noelle, shifted in her chair as she described how things felt once her son arrived: “Jack came into my world, and my body instantly felt better, but my mind—not so much. I wanted to be happy, and I was in a way, but I just could not move forward. I felt isolated. So totally isolated. And because I felt isolated, it didn’t matter if people were around, I knew no one understood me.”
I asked Noelle about her treatment plan and if she had one. Noelle’s face lit up, and she told me that she had a great and notable comeback because of her treatment plan.
“My treatment plan saved my life. I saw a psychiatrist, who also became my therapist. Since she was a psychiatrist and not a psychologist, she was completely in charge of medications, but also had the full story in front of her because would spend an hour plus listening to me and helping me figure out how to handle my emotions. I was initially told it was PPD, but my wide range of emotions mimicked manic depression and possible bipolar disorder. People think I would be sad about that kind of diagnosis, but honestly, it gave me hope.”
Noelle’s treatment plan also included prescription drugs, as well as supplements. She listed them off for me:
- Vitamin D
- Magnesium Malate
It was clear that Noelle was a bit embarrassed about some of her meds because she said they were “antipsychotics.” After corroborating this information, I found that in fact only one of her medications is considered an antipsychotic. Even so, it is of my opinion, that being on an anti-psychotic does indicate that one is a “psycho” or even psychotic, rather it is a medication that helps bring homeostasis to the mind. I echoed this opinion to her.
“I do credit a great psychiatrist for a great recovery, but also my family. My mom really stepped in and helped with my baby, and my husband was truly patient with me, as we figured out my meds—because figuring out medications can make you,” her voice trailed, and she began laughing before she began again.
“Volatile…is probably the best word for it.”
She ran her hands over her phone’s surface, illuminating the backlight, which reflected a picture of her family. She said, “I just don’t want people to think that they are ever alone in their depression, or that they’re broken because they have to take medication. A lot of women suffer silently, and there is no need to suffer silently. If we make noise, we can help others. If you need pills, take pills; if you need to sleep, sleep; if you need to cry, have a cry; if you need a friend, hey, I’m here—there are hundreds of women that are there for you. You just have to reach out.”
I couldn’t have said it better.
A special note of gratitude to Noelle Allen, whose name remains unchanged.