Tuesday, June 28, 2005

I've been meaning to write this for some time.

I think the whole Tom Cruise/Brooke Shields thing is what has pushed me to talk about it sooner than I would have liked. It's topical. Or at least part of it is.

For those of you who don't watch television or read magazines or talk to people who do, Brooke Shields has written a book called "Down Came The Rain". The book discusses her Postpartum Depression. In it she says:

"I started to experience a sick sensation in my stomach; it was as if a vise was tightening around my chest. Instead of the nervous anxiety that often accompanies panic, a feeling of quiet devastation overcame me. I hardly moved. Sitting on my bed, I let out a deep, slow, guttural wail. I wasn't simply emotional or weepy like I had been told I might be. This was something quite different. When PMS made me introspective or melancholy or when the pressures of life made me gloomy, I knew these feelings wouldn't last forever. But this was sadness of a shockingly different magnitude. It felt as if it would never go away."

That last sentence is what clues in many therapists and psychiatrists to the difference between being depressed (a temporary state of mind) and Depression (an illness).

Making reference to her book, Tom Cruise has said "When you talk about postpartum, you can take people today, women, and what you do is you use vitamins. There is a hormonal thing that is going on, scientifically, you can prove that. But when you talk about emotional, chemical imbalances in people, there is no science behind that. You can use vitamins to help a woman through those things."

I am not going into Scientology here, or into Tom Cruise’s personality. This attitude towards PPD transcends religions, genders...it is a sadly common thought.

I remember when I was diagnosed with Depression. It was in college. I was disgustingly thin. Exhaustion doesn't seem to be a word strong enough to describe what I felt physically...it's more like I was numb...a zombie. I would be either unbearably sad, crying for hours at a time, or venomously angry at myself, so far gone that I would spit insults at a mirror and smack myself in the head when I didn't do something "right".

I bristled at the thought of medication. I firmly believe that too many people today take a pill for their problems when therapy and homeopathic remedies can work just as well. I think that some children with attention deficit disorder can benefit from behavioral therapy and structuring without medication.

I have also learned that sometimes, all the natural world has to offer is just not enough. I tried it all, therapy, changing my diet, vitamins, herbal supplements, exercise, the comfort of my faith. None of it made the raw hopelessness go away, or even get better. Unless you count the hours of prayer that made me realize I was not failing anyone by getting chemical help. I was doing a service to myself and all who loved me.

Some things are not hormonal. They are not moods. All the self searching in the world can not change the fact that some of us have brains that are not making enough of something.

There is tremendous pressure these days on women in general, and mothers in particular. Most of it is totally understandable...it's is the most important responsibility many of us will ever have. There is a different pressure, one that is totally unrealistic, and yet we put it on ourselves. Everyone has an image of a "Perfect Mother" in our heads. It's different for all of us, based on our own mothers or primary caregivers, images of motherhood in the media, literature, and probably a dozen other sources depending on the individual.

This is very choppy, I know. I am going to put this up, and leave it open for anyone’s comments. I will go into this more in the future, I think.

3 Comments:

Anonymous Cyke said...

I just read several articles about this whole argument/discussion that Tom Cruise had. (with Matt Lauer, I believe?)

I don't know why I read more than one article. I suppose I felt like I was missing something. Indeed, I would like to see the interview in its entirety to make sure I'm not taking things out of context.

At any rate, Mr. Cruise seemed downright belligerent. I'll admit that chemical imbalances and depression are a mystery to me, but I've learned that being dogmatic about things no one really understands doesn't help anyone.

I've seen my sister aided by medication. Is it possible she could have been aided through another means? Who knows.

I guess my real point in commenting was to say: I think Tom Cruise is over-simplifying. He was always awkward in interviews, but I think he's flipped his lid.

4:28 PM  
Blogger Novice said...

Yes, it was Matt Lauer. The quote I pulled was from an Access Hollywood interview with Billy Bush.

I'm not angry at Tom Cruise, just frustrated with his ignorance, and mostly with his attitude. "Belligerent" he truly was. He was making a black and white argument about something that has a lot of gray area. Assuming that what works for some must therefore work for all.

10:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Actually, what Tom Cruise said was not as "off the cuff" as it seems.
Mental support, headaches, pain, injuries, skin problems, intestinal problems, immune system support, free radical damage, cancer, joint flexibility, inflammation, and countles other ailments can all be relieved or gotten rid of all together from a drink available wholesale at Yoursuperjuice.com. The drink contains special phytonutrients called xanthones which address nearly every system in the body! I'll bet Brooke Sheilds didn't know about it. Asians have known about it for centuries. Yoursuperjuice.com is a source to obtain the best health drink on the market today, and it's backed by science. Some doctors don't want you to know about it! Exercise can also help w/ deppression. So what Tom Cruise said was not so far from being excellent advice. I think the people making comments on him are being a bit hasty. Pregnant or not, anyone can benifit in many ways from the phytonutrients available at Yoursuperjuice.com, and it's sponsors and affiliates also donate to many children's charities including: The Forever Young Foundation(Steve Young's Foundation), Operation Kids, The Christmas Box House, Children's Organ Transplant Association, just to name a few. So shut up about Tom Cruise's comment because he was right.

4:49 PM  

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