Health – PCOS

The Journey to Parenthood Can Lead to Depression

Not long after you get married, there’s this unspoken pressure to conceive. Your parents are anxious to have grandchildren, your friends are waiting for you to join “the mommy club”, and obviously, this is something you and your spouse had planned long before tying the knot. Now that the bliss of the wedding has passed and reality has sunk in, it seems like you’re on a clock to get knocked up within the next year. When months go by and nothing happens, the stress, anxiety, and pressure can be enough to send you into depression.

“Why is it taking so long for us to get pregnant?”

“How can I get my family and friends off my back?”

“Everyone around us is having children without a problem, is there something wrong with us?”

“Am I not trying hard enough?”

There are a lot of thoughts running through your head and with each passing month that you’re not pregnant these feelings get harder and harder to push aside. What was once an exciting journey towards starting a family with the love of your life has turned into a nightmare that you don’t know how to escape.

Could it Be Depression?

How do you know if you’re battling depression and not simply a bit down about not being pregnant despite your best efforts to conceive? There are different types of depression, each with its own set of symptoms, causes, and treatment. However, if you’re suffering from mental illness as a result of trying to have a baby, you may notice the following physical, emotional, and behavioral signs:

  • Lack of energy and exhaustion
  • Difficulties sleeping
  • Loss or increased appetite
  • Low libido
  • Social withdrawal
  • Restlessness
  • Mood swings
  • Not wanting to get up
  • Lack of motivation
  • Constant sadness and feelings of misery and despair
  • Helplessness
  • Anxiety
  • Numbness
  • Low self-esteem
  • Loss of the enjoyment of life
  • Self-doubt
  • Lack of focus
  • Thoughts of suicide

What Should You Do?

If you’ve experienced a number of these symptoms over a long period of time, chances are you’re depressed about the process of trying to get pregnant or the thought that your dreams of pregnancy may never happen. Either way, you should know that getting pregnant will not make your depression go away. It is making changes and seeking help (especially if you’re suicidal) that help to resolve the matter. Here are a few suggestions on what you might do to start turning things around:

Don’t get ahead of yourself – Just because you’re not expecting yet doesn’t mean you can’t get pregnant. Unless you’ve heard a clear diagnosis from a doctor, you shouldn’t allow the assumption of infertility to get you down. In fact, paying a visit to the doctor can help you understand what you may be dealing with.

Keep a journal – it is human nature to be upset when things don’t go according to plan. Keeping a journal can help you to get these pent up emotions out.

Find something else to focus on – many couples have reported that they tried for years to get pregnant with no luck. However, after putting their mind elsewhere they were able to get pregnant right away. Perhaps you’re too focused on trying to conceive and it’s stressing you out.

Stop planning it – if you and your spouse are reduced to having timed sex during you ovulation periods then maybe it’s time to take a break from the planned sex. Enjoy your partner intimately for the fun of it and whatever happens, happens.

Talk to someone – if you’ve reached the point where all you can think about is getting pregnant and it’s causing you to feel depressed you should talk to someone. A counselor, for instance, can help you to understand that you’re not alone. They may also be able to help you develop positive behaviors that can heal your mind.

Having children is something that most couples want some day. What many don’t realize until they’re actually ready to have kids is that it doesn’t always go according to plan. On your journey to parenthood, it is important not to put so much pressure on yourself or to let the outside world put pressure on you. Do what you know is necessary like eating right, exercising, and getting plenty of rest and leave the rest up to chance. If you’re really stressed about the ordeal the next most effective solution is to get help. Don’t let depression take away what is supposed to be some of the most fun moments in your life.

Dieting and The Brain

This post is sparked by the TED Talk by Sandra Aamodt: Why Dieting Doesn’t Usually Work. Video is embedded at the end of this musing should you want to listen in too.

At the heart of the talk is the fact that the brain, specifically the hypothalamus, acts as a sort of thermostat that signals hunger, energy, and metabolism. Whether you start out thin or fat, when you lose weight, your brain thinks you’re starving. For self-preservation, you will feel hungry and have less energy available.

Because I have been morbidly obese in the past 10 years or so, my body and my brain may very well have learned to think that this is the normal. Going down to a ‘healthy’ weight in the obesity scales will definitely not be a walk in the park because I am no longer wired for a lower number on the weighing scale.

Realizing that doesn’t give me an excuse to not make an effort. In fact, what she says next only encourages me further to continue with the lifestyle changes I’ve committed to recently.

Sandra points out that there are two types of eaters – intuitive eaters: rely on their hunger, and; controlled eaters: rely on willpower. Looks like I’ve been more of the latter. That explains the endless cycle of starving and then binging. Skipping meals and then going on an all-you-can-eat buffet.

When I was in highschool, my grandmother was against my going on a diet. She argued that I just need to stick to a healthy three full meals a day. Don’t skip, but don’t over indulge. If I had just listened to her then, I may have a chance to be 30 pounds lighter today. By the way, looking at my highschool photos now, I realize now that I wasn’t FAT! But at the time? Geez.

Sandra also talks about mindful eating. Listen to your body and eat when you’re hungry. But listen too when it says that the hunger has been satiated. Now that may take me awhile, so smaller portions will also help.

She then shows a graph of a long-term study across people of various weights and their risk of death based on four healthy habits: eating enough fruits and vegetables, exercising 3x a week, not smoking, and drinking moderately. It looks very similar to this:

healthy-habits-500x360

Image Source: http://thesocietypages.org/socimages/2012/12/31/evidence-that-fat-people-can-be-as-healthy-as-thin-people/

The short story is that the more of the 4 habits you have, the lower risk of death – regardless of weight. For the obese (darkest shaded bar on the graph), even just one healthy habit significantly reduces the risk by almost 50%. And when all four healthy habits are present? Then weight doesn’t matter. The person with the normal weight is just as likely or less likely to die prematurely than the obese person. 

So I guess I am on the right track. Except that when I resolved to make a habit of having green smoothies daily I had weight loss in mind. Now, I’m changing my mindset. My goal is no longer to lose weight, but to just be better. I think that can be achieved without necessarily losing all of my excess weight. If I can lose weight while eating more fruits and veggies and adding exercise in my lifestyle, then that’s a bonus.

What are your thoughts on this?

 

Cohen Lifestyle

One blog I started following via Google Reader recently is Shoot First, Eat Later.

Today, in this wonderful food/lifestyle blog, the author posted her breakfast meals, suitable for the Cohen Lifestyle.

Got me thinking about signing up for Cohen. It’ll cost a lot of money, but it might very well be worth it. I had read about this system in the papers maybe a month ago. It seemed interesting, more so because it boasts about a well-researched and tested system that analyzes a person’s blood make up to come up with meal plan suggestions. Because of this, the program is tailor-made for each individual. It is not to be shared, and there’s no mass-produced meals to be had. Each person will be given his/her daily requirements and restrictions.

For more info, check out their website.

I have at least three married friends trying to get pregnant this year, one is already a month or so into her first pregnancy. Soon, I’d have friends with hopefully bigger bellies than mine. Girlfriends looking pretty and sexy even in maternity clothing. My preggy friend, plus two others still trying are all diagnosed with PCOS, just like me. I think being on this new brand of lifestyle, might be my ticket to breaking free from PCOS. Though I’m not trying to conceive now, it might get me a step closer to that, eventually.

Have you heard of this? Any feedback you care to share?

Metformin

A few posts down, I mentioned having really bad headaches while I was on the pill. The pill is used as some sort of hormone replacement therapy for my PCOS. On my first check up after a month of taking the pill, I told my doctor about the 2-day headache I endured the weekend before and the pain in my breasts too. She did acknowledge that those were known side-effects of the pill and the proceeded to give me tips so I can avoid getting them. We agreed to go through another month with the same pill. If the headaches returned, we’ll change it.

Boy did they come back.

So I went to see the doc again the week before last. She wasn’t in and I had to see a substitute. That was not a good experience. Really. I went to the hospital early (as in 9AM-ish) so I wouldn’t have to wait in a long queue at the Medicard clinic. It took about 3 minutes to get the slip and I proceeded to Dr E’s clinic where I was told that she wasn’t in that day and was in a convention. If I wanted, I could see the substitute or I can wait until the following Monday to see Dr. E. The sub was to come in at 11am til 3pm. Since I was already 4 days into my period that day, I knew that I could not wait until Monday in case the doctor advises me to take the third cycle of pills. I would have to wait for the next month to start on the next cycle. I didn’t want to delay it any further so I decided to see the sub.

Instead of waiting at the clinic, I went to see my nephew attending a Vacation Bible School class in our church right next to the hospital. Promptly at 11, I was back at the clinic but the sub wasn’t there. It took several calls to her clinic, and a full hour, for her to come in. By then, there were three patients waiting and I was very sleepy. I had shift the night before and came straight from work. I was drowsing off at the waiting area!

She sauntered in. Listened to me a bit. Prescribed Metformin for three months. Said to come back for a TVS order after the medication. Wrote up a medical certificate for me (for work). All done in less than five minutes. I didn’t even get her name!

I was happy she took me off the pill (though Alfred ain’t too happy about it, hehe). But I felt that the whole consultation was rushed. Seriously. I don’t doubt that she’s a nice, competent doctor and all, but I waited hours to see her. KWIM?

I felt that way too when I first went to see Dr E – rushed. I thought, maybe it’s because I don’t pay her (the HMO does)? Or maybe it’s because she has too see more patients? But on my second visit, my perception of her changed. She did remember my case and seemed to have been paying attention after all.

Have you had similar experiences with doctors? My OB five years ago was very very nice, even the subs I had to see when she was out. I hadn’t had to see any other doctor on a regular basis aside from my pediatrician Dr. Lopez of St. Luke’s. He and his assistant are very nice people. All the doctors I’ve had to see at the ER are ok too. Eye doctors, Medicard clinic doctors, all ok. I guess I’m just not used to that.

Anyway, I had no intention to rant.

I didn’t purchase Metformin until last week. I am familiar with it because my second OB (the nice one from 5 years ago) prescribed that for me along with pills (which I didn’t have a negative reaction to). I only regularly took it in the prescribed dose yesterday. Bad me.

My mom saw the bag of Metformin yesterday and looked it up on the Internet. Reading what was here gave her a scare, I think. I assured her last night that I took Metformin for three months years ago with no side effects so I should be okay this time around too. I went through the info on the site though and it’s better to just be aware of those, just in case.

No more pain, please!

Last night and all through this morning, I had a very bad headache. This is the third month it’s been like that. I’ll swing by my doctor’s office tomorrow because I don’t want that again next month. The pill has got to be changed.

I started feeling the headache coming up while I was singing along to the videoke at my aunt and cousin’s birthday bash yesterday, probably at around 4pm. I blamed it on the fact that I hadn’t had a wink of sleep since getting up for work the previous night. I went back and took a dip in the pool and had my little nephews massage my head a bit. The shower after seem to have given me some comfort – but not for long.

The pain became a little stronger on the trip home, specially when I had to sleep at an uncomfortable position, having to share the backseat with three other sleeping boys – AJ 3, Esban 6, and Adam 7.

I had a temporary reprieve from pain when we stopped for a light dinner at McDonald’s and I bought a cooling Starbucks frappuccino next door. I didn’t sleep the rest of the way home, my nephews wanted to sing. It was straight to bed as soon as we arrived home at around
9pm. I didn’t even bother to download the few pictures I managed to take. I woke up several times through the night with the pain really giving me a hard time, and the heat making matters worse. Medication wasn’t something I wanted to resort to at that point, I was determined that sleep was all I needed. But at 6 in the morning – it was just unbearable. My mom said I should just take the meds, or go to the hospital. I took the pain medication and my dad used this massaging contraption on me. There was temporary relief with that, but the pain came back as soon as it stopped. I waited about 15 minutes but the nagging pain was still there. I felt like throwing up and remembered what the ER doctor told me last time: if I threw up, I had to go back and see them. No. So I went back to sleep.

At 10AM, I woke up and the headache was gone. I was still feeling heavy. When I went to the john, I saw a small brownish spot. All that pain for that!

I swear I feel it coming back right now. It’s like it’s lurking. Like the medicine temporarily numbed me to it but it’s still there. It’s not supposed to come back though, the doctor said the medicine has a 24-hour effect. I’ve only had it in my body for a little more than 12 hours.

Please, I don’t want anymore of it.

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