Depression and hairy legs

I was having such a good morning on Friday that I forgot why I was there.

It wasn’t until the nurse asked if I could be pregnant, that I suddenly remembered. My eyes started watering. “No,” I said. “I’ve been widowed for 10 months. Pregnancy would be… well, it’s not even remotely possible.”

I scheduled a physical with a new doc a few weeks ago. I’m training for the mini (which is going SLOWLY, much like my running time…) and it’s been a few years since I’ve been to a doc for anything beside than needing meds for strep throat or vertigo. Best to establish a relationship with a doctor now, before I NEED one.

When the nurse asked about pregnancy, I suddenly remembered that I wanted to talk to the doctor about depression. Then I started crying.

For months now, I’ve been crying – a lot. I’m fine when I need to be “on” like while I’m teaching or meeting with students, but otherwise I’m crying for no reason. Sitting in my office. Tears. Driving to work. Tears. Going through the Starbucks drive thru. Tears. Reading FB updates from friends. Tears.

I hold my shit together really well when I’m in public (usually) and for the most part, people probably don’t know that I’ve been depressed. I’m a ray of fucking sunshine when people are around (unless they bring up the subjects of my kids, Mike’s death, my dad’s death, blah blah blah – then… TEARS).

(I write a lot about my grief and some sad/negative things on this blog, but that’s so I can be completely functional IRL. This blog is my therapy, my relief, my outlet for the stuff I need “to get out.” In real life, I think I portray an illusion of being pretty positive, pretty happy. I get stuff out here, then I try to move on.)

These tears remind me of when Ethan was born. About four months after E was born, I was crying all the time. For no reason. I was diagnosed with postpartum depression, and I was prescribed a medication, which I took for about a year. It was just enough to get me over the hump. Then I felt fine and was weaned off.

I’m feeling the same way as I did seven years ago. Same tears. Same feelings. Deja vu.

The nurse finished my health history then I waited for the doc.  After going through the normal stuff (health issues my mom and dad face/faced), I brought up the subject of depression.

“Are you seeing anyone about that?” the new doc asked.

“Like a therapist? No.”


“Because I’ve been focused on the well-being of my kids, especially my son,” I responded, eyes tearing. “That’s my priority. I have outlets – I blog, I visit an online widow forum/website-y thing, I participate in a parent grief group. But I think I need… something more.”

The doc stared at me for an uncomfortable amount of time. Then she took some notes in her computer and explained where the opening in the hospital gown should go (in the back). It wasn’t until I was stripping down that I realized I asked for a well-woman exam during this appointment.

“Shit,” I thought. “Totally forgot to shave.”

Who the hell forgets to shave her legs before a pap? That would be me. It’s not like anyone is seeing (or feeling) my legs, so I’ve been a little lax in the personal hygiene department. Damn.

I decided to play it off like there was nothing weird about quarter-inch dark stubble from my ankles to mid-thigh. I’ve found that (usually) if you act like there’s nothing going on, nothing weird, most people won’t notice what you’re trying to hide. That’s how I was going to play this off.

The exam was going fine, until the doc couldn’t find my cervix  (so “hi” to my friends who are now totally uncomfortable thinking about my inner girlie parts. Yeah… cervix. I have one, and apparently it’s shy and can hide. Who knew?) The nurse started to rub my calf to calm me down. Up, down, half way up, sudden stop…. HELLO, STUBBLE!!! A few seconds later, she quickly removed her hand from my leg. (She was probably thinking, “WHO DOESN’T SHAVE?!?!?!” Hi, that would be me…)

Cervix was finally found. Pap was finished and the overall exam was complete. The doc wrote me a prescription for an antidepressant – the same one I took when I had postpartum. I need to go back to see her in a month so she can evaluate how I’m doing.

Knowing I was going to my alma mater this weekend for a quick alumni board meeting – and with Mike’s birthday this weekend (and, thus, a few drinks for me) – I’ve put off starting the new meds until Sunday night – I don’t want to mix an antidepressant with alcohol.

Here’s hoping the meds work and I can stop buying tissues (and makeup) by the truckload.

EDITED TO ADD: While I think it’s funny that I forgot to shave, my mom was HORRIFIED when I told her the story. She’s the kind of person who dresses up to go to the doctor (think church clothes, the “good” coat, dress shoes), so forgetting to shave is close to sinning in her mind. Her reaction: “You need to go upstairs and shave RIGHT NOW. What if you get in an accident? Do you want ANOTHER doctor to see your legs?” (My reaction: hysterical laughter to her comments…)

5 thoughts on “Depression and hairy legs

  1. Once upon a time I would have been horrified if I’d forgotten to shave, especially going to a doctor appointment where it would require me to disrobe. But now? I say oh f*&k it! The doctor offended by my not shaving my legs? He’s an idiot then. Some men don’t like scraping their face every day, sometimes I don’t feel like scraping my legs everyday, especially in winter. Its my own mini-rebellion. In some cultures women don’t shave at all!

    As for your tears, I remember those days well. About 10 months after Mike died I cried constantly; except when in public. Odd isn’t it how you can hold the tears back sometimes? But everyday driving to work I would cry. At lunch I would cry. Driving home I would cry. Every single day for months. I realized their might be something wrong with me. I can’t stop crying. I went to the doctor, he prescribed some low dosage antidepressants. I didn’t want a “crutch” though. I figured I have to just get a grip! Come on put on my big girl panties and buck up! I just couldn’t though. Mind over emotions just failed me. I filled the prescription eventually. I had asked the doctor do I have to be on these forever? He said, nope. You’ll wake up one day and realize you forgot to take a pill or pills and will be fine. He was completely right. I forgot to take pills for a few days without realizing but the tears had stopped.

    As explained to me when you under go a trauma, a shock to the system, emotionally it does affect our brain in ways that are subtle, some meds taken over a small period of time (such as antidepressants for those in grief) help to re-wire the brain back to “norm”. It worked for me. I hope it works for you.

    • Rose, sounds like you’ve TOTALLY been there with the crying. I’m just over it and hoping that the meds will get me through this time and I can wean off them. Whatever it takes…

      • I have, I really have. Thankfully my boss was somewhat understanding and if I walked in crying he’d notice but pretty much ignore. The meds really did help me. I hope you’ll get some relief also. There is no pill to help with grief as you know, but sometimes we just need a little help plugging up that dam of we can function. Let us know how that goes won’t you?

  2. I’ve been somewhat alarmed at how little I’ve been crying the past few days. I think it’s just too exhaustering for me right now. Or maybe it’s because of my baby daughter. I never know when she’ll need something, and it’s harder to stop mid-cry, so I hold off as much as possible. Then at the end of the day I’m too locked down to open up the tidal waves of tears. I think I’m also going through a bit of shock/denial/numbness right now. When that passes though, I have a feeling I’ll go back to being a sobbing mess.

  3. You are not alone in the crying, putting on a good front and hairy legs. At one point I actually dubbed my own “widow legs” and started feeling like they were some kind of statement (like when athletes stop shaving in honor of a fallen/sick comrade). Not sure what I was thinking. Hope the meds are helping. Whatever it takes.

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