Archive for the ‘Zoloft Confessions’ Category

Sunshiny Days

Friday, September 7th, 2012

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I stopped taking my Zoloft back in June simply because I ran out. I kept meaning to make a follow up appointment to talk to my doctor about a refill, but as each day went by I felt better and warmer and happier and decided it was as good a time as any to stop. It wasn’t necessarily a smart, well thought out, medically advised decision. There was just so much going on – so many adventures, so many trips, so much SUNSHINE – that I forgot to make the appointment and before I knew it I was too busy to feel sad and frustrated and angry all the time.

It wasn’t an act of God or a miracle that I felt better. My anxiety reached an all-time high when Caroline was about 15 months old, which was exactly when we began weaning. A few people reached out to tell me they had experienced the same crazy hormone fluctuations and depression when they had stopped breastfeeding. It turns out it’s an actual thing, although not something that’s extremely well known.

The Zoloft got me through weaning and over that hormonal bump that made me feel like I was losing my mind. It was like a key and a sliver of light under the door I was banging my head against, trying to figure out how to escape my frustration.

Besides the medication, I think the light (sunshine, brightness, longer days) made a huge difference. I used to roll my eyes at people who claimed Seasonal Affective Disorder with their sunlamps and their dread of winter. How can that be a real thing?

My apologies to everyone who I ever secretly thought was making it up, since there is no doubt in my mind that the short dark days played a huge part in my anxiety.

Maybe it’s an actual vitamin D deficiency or maybe it’s a feeling-the-sunshine-on-my-skin-makes-me-happy deficiency, but when the days warm up and we spend more time outside I am always better. A better mom, a better wife, a better person. The lightness makes me lighter.

With Labor Day weekend behind us the evenings getting shorter by the day and I’m starting to worry a little bit. September and October are beautiful, fun-filled months for us in New England. There’s still plenty of time to spend outside, plenty of apples to be picked, the perfect pumpkins to find for jack-o-lanterns, hay mazes to explore.

But beyond that, there’s winter. Cold. Dark. The stress of the holidays. Although December might be my very favorite month now (Caroline’s birthday AND Christmas!) there’s no doubt trying to split up family time and E’s crazy work schedule and weather-related delays and cancellations and ruined travel plans can crush my festive spirit pretty quickly. I’m feeling a little stressed just thinking about it. And the heating bill. And the snow. And now my eye is twitching.

I’m thinking I should probably go ahead and make an appointment now to talk to my doctor, rather than waiting until I get overwhelmed and the thought of adding one more thing to my plate makes me want to just curl up under the covers and cry. I don’t necessarily want to restart the Zoloft (or anything else) now. I’d like to be prescription free when we start trying for baby #3 if possible, although I’m also a little worried pregnancy could do what weaning did and things might get out of control again quickly. But I think it’s a good door to have open.

So for now I’m floating through the end of summer, mindful of what’s coming but not letting it overshadow these beautiful days. This weekend is the best weekend of the year around here (Greek Festival and Italian Food Festival within walking distance, town fair in our old town) and my biggest problem is we have too many friends to hang out with. It’s a pleasant kind of busy-ness, rather than the overwhelming kind. Let’s hope I can recognize the difference if and when it comes and know enough to ask for help.

I feel like this cat knows everything I wish I did about life.

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Happy Days Are Here Again

Thursday, May 17th, 2012

I forgot to take my Zoloft over the weekend – three days in a row total – and I started to feel pretty lousy. Not losing-my-mind crazy but irritable and anxious and unfocused. I thought maybe I was overreacting but decided it (probably) wouldn’t kill me to take an extra pill to get back on track. So on Monday I took one at noon and one at bedtime – which is when I usually take it. Oddly, if I take it in the mornings I have really vivid crazy house on fire naked Christmas farm animal Barry Manilow pregnant high school war opening night Hunger Games dreams. And that’s even if I DON’T read dystopian fantasy novels while I fall asleep. So I took two and hoped I wasn’t over medicating myself into a coma or a heart attack or something.

INSTEAD, I did ALL THE THINGS in the past two days. And in a good way, not a “I’M BORED, LETS CUT BANGS” way.  I finally dealt with the mountain of baby clothes in Caroline’s room and organized her summer wardrobe (because yeah, girl has too many outfits). I bought plastic totes and put away craft supplies and decorations from Evan’s birthday party that happened *ahem* more than a month ago. I steam mopped all the floors. But not only is the house clean, I’m competing in an imaginary contest for Mother of the Year Week. We did puzzles (I HATE puzzles) and put on boots to splash outside and blew a billion bubbles and went to the library and read the same books over and over and over and over and over and tracked down all the balls to all the toys and let the kids them jump all over me and sang songs loudly and let them ride the elevators even though we didn’t need to and let them eat the last giant marshmallow. Even when I was annoyed I calmly explained to Evan he needed to listen better or I would have to use my angry voice – and I KNOW, saying stuff like that sounds RIDICULOUS but when my 3 year old says “Mommy, I can’t want you use your angry voice and I can’t want use my angry voice so let’s have hugs and kisses” I dies of cuteness so I don’t care how ridiculous it sounds. Plus, it worked. He now recognizes my angry voice AND his angry voice and knows how to stop them.

(Extra bonus cuteness: Evan had to have a blood draw for his anemia test an he was REALLY sad – although again, I handled it a zillion times better than I normally would have – and afterwards I asked if he wanted a Happy Meal and he said “No Mommy, I need a Sad Meal”.)

(Double extra bonus cuteness: Evan has stopped calling Caroline “Baby Sister” and started calling her “Stinky Pants”…which, oops, but when he yells “COME BACK STINKY PANTS!” across Target I can’t stop laughing long enough to breathe let alone feel bad about the nickname.)

ANDPLUSALSO I gave myself an at-home hair treatment – honey and olive oil, which sounds like a crazy mistake but actually did wash out and made my ends softer – and finally tried no heat curls (my hair says “MEH”) and I’m feeling pretty good about myself in general, despite eating too many ice cream sandwiches.

So now I’m wondering if I should call my doctor and ask to raise my Zoloft dose or just blame my sudden productivity on the domino effect of accomplishment – you know, where you get that happy buzz from seeing an empty kitchen sink so you decide to wipe down the cabinets and then the floors and then BAM you’re suddenly hoping the UPS guy shows up just so you can be proud of your super clean house when you open the door. I don’t think two days is long enough to definitely say my medication is why I’m doing so well but with everything else still as stressful as it was last week (E hasn’t seen the kids since Sunday because he’s working such long hours, rainy days, Evan is still three) I am desperate to keep it up. I LIKE being productive and happy. It’s definitely preferable to anxious, grumpy, shouty and tired.

WHAT SHOULD I DO, INTERNETS? Please come over to discuss, so I can show you my spotless kitchen counters.

p.s. Anyone still interested in a home tour link-up/blog hop/whatever? I should show off this place before it all goes to crap again.

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Privilege and Guilt and Tomatoes

Friday, May 11th, 2012

I’m writing this while willfully ignoring my children, who are running in circles throwing raisins at each other and vying for the title of “Loudest Noise Ever Made By Someone Who Weighs Less Than 35 Pounds”.  I am torn between feeling extremely guilty for not being a more active parent at this moment and knowing my sanity cannot take another minute of being used as a human jungle gym.

Evan and Caroline are going through a phase in their relationship – God, I HOPE it’s only a phase – where they are constantly trying to kill each other. Evan sits on Caroline’s head, Caroline shoves Evan off the couch, they both attempt to stand up on the ride-on fire truck. And when I shout at them to KNOCK IT OFF ALREADY they hug and make up…although the hug turns into a squeeze and then into a pushing match and then they’re rolling on the floor squealing again. I don’t think any of it is meant with malice, but damn is it exhausting. I need to record myself saying “Use your words” and “Hands are for hugs and high fives” and “Be gentle” and “Make wise choices!” so I can just play it on an endless loop.

It’s been one of those weeks where being a stay-at-home-mom doesn’t really feel like a privilege anymore. It feels like an endless, hopeless, pointless chore that is destined to drive me over the edge long before these kids become fully self-sufficient. We had an incredibly fun playdate on Monday with one of my very favorite mom friends and we started talking about preschools. We got a little giddy thinking about how next year we could both be child-free a few hours a week if we sent our youngest to under-2 programs, but then she said “I kind of feel bad though. I mean, this is why I stayed home – to be home with them.” And that is SO TRUE – although slightly less true for me (who quit working in a real estate office) than her (who had a really fancy job working to cure cancer). But I am home because I want to spend these years with the kids. Evan is more than half way to kindergarten. Kindergarten is full time school! He will take a bus! I will have hours and hours five days a week without him! And Caroline is only 20 months behind him. I’ll have 13 years of free time during the day to go to Target or unload the dishwasher or weed the garden or eat bonbons and read blogs.

But it’s hard to see beyond the next day of full time momming when my kids are hungry and cranky and sunburned and screaming and my husband calls to say he won’t be home before 9 pm. And it’s hard to stay positive when it rains for four days straight and I go to bed and wake up with a headache. And it’s hard to remember how lucky I am when Caroline smashes me in the face so hard with her head I see stars. And it’s really really hard not to beat myself up when I use my shouty voice practically every time I open my mouth even though I KNOW I’m using my shouty voice and I hate my shouty voice. I bet good moms who really appreciate how privileged they are to be home with their kids don’t even HAVE a shouty voice. I feel even though I recognized I was struggling and did what I was supposed to do and got help and I take my pill like a good 1950′s housewife I still fail, daily, to be the mother my kids deserve.

I know I am not the only mom who feels like this. Probably. I just have to remember that one bad afternoon (or day or week) doesn’t mean tomorrow can’t be better. Or hell, today can be better. After nap time we braved the crazy New England weather – rain! sunshine! wind! heat! cold! all at once! – and worked in the garden. Evan thought planting seeds was the most amazing thing ever and he can’t wait until we have a bean stalk that goes all the way up to the sky. Caroline carried her little pink watering can around like a baby. We talked about how our tomatoes need sun and water and food so they can grow and I forced the metaphor down my own throat so hard I practically choked. But I needed that moment in the dirt to remind me WHY I am so lucky to be here, even if Caroline did just throw a plastic cell phone at her brother’s head while he tried to ride the cat.

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Much Better

Friday, April 13th, 2012

My blog has a serious case of whiplash this week, with the insane direction changing – epic party with professional photos! sponsored post! deep feelings! – but my LIFE feels like it has a serious case of whiplash recently so it makes sense. To me, anyways. I probably owe you some extra strength Motrin and a glass of wine.

It’s been a while now since I decided leaving supportive comments on blog posts about depression and anxiety was nice and all, but wasn’t really the same as doing something about my own anxiety. Then I did something, and IMMEDIATELY felt better. So immediately better, in fact, that I started to doubt the medication had anything to do with my feelings and maybe I was placebo-ing myself into believing all my brain-crazy was fixed. Which made me feel even crazier, so then I felt like the medication wasn’t helping AT ALL. Good times!

My doctor made me schedule a follow up when she wrote my first prescription, and when I went back in I tried to explain my worries. She told me I was probably right about BOTH things – Zoloft doesn’t usually work quite so fast, but it could be helping enough that I had noticed, but it probably wasn’t a good idea to stop, but we could always switch to something else if I wanted. We decided since I was almost done breastfeeding we would try a slightly higher dose of Zoloft and I could come back in either when I felt I needed a change or I ran out of pills.

And then I sort of…forgot about it. Life kept happening and I kept dealing with it, only with less screaming and fewer moments where I felt like I was the worst mother in the world. Caroline weaned (which I think had a LOT to do with reaching my absolute worst point). I got a lot more sleep. I managed to go on vacation and truly enjoy myself (besides one teeny tiny panic attack) and came back feeling like a totally new person. And then yesterday, despite a really challenging day with Evan (man, 3 year olds have a LOT of emotions), I got to 7 pm without even once considering getting in my car and driving away. I joked with E about doing shots after bedtime but didn’t really mean it. And after both kids fell asleep I snuck into their rooms to kiss them one more time because I missed them.

My friend Brandy wrote about her experience with PPD this week and although my experience isn’t exactly the same, the way she writes – so straight forward and matter of fact – REALLY resonated with me. Because even as I was reacting in totally irrational ways I could SEE myself being totally irrational and recognized it wasn’t normal. I just couldn’t STOP it. Now I feel less overwhelmed by all the things I haven’t done and more like I am CHOOSING not to bother with those dishes in the sink. But now it’s because I’m too busy playing trains or having tea parties, instead of because I feel like nothing matters. It’s much, much better.

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Opening Up

Monday, February 13th, 2012

I finally scheduled a doctor’s appointment to get referrals – one for the scary mole on the back of my arm and one for the scary shouting I can’t seem to control. The appointment was at 9 am on a Thursday at the military healthcare building. On Wednesday, I realized my car didn’t have updated stickers and I couldn’t get on base without stickers.

I went to get new stickers.

I couldn’t get stickers because my ID had just expired, so the guy gave me a temporary pass to get to the ID office.

I went to get my ID.

I couldn’t get a new ID because my sponsor – my husband – has to be with me OR I needed a power of attorney OR he needed to come in and fill out a form.

I called my husband.

No, he couldn’t come. No, he had to be at work. No, he couldn’t do it on his lunch break. No, he couldn’t do it tonight. No, there is no way it could be done before my appointment tomorrow.

I started to cry.

“FINE!” I screamed into the phone, “I hope your job is REAL HAPPY when your wife goes FUCKING CRAZY because you couldn’t take TWO MINUTES to come sign a piece of paper. GOOD LUCK WITH THAT.” I hung up.

No stickers, no ID, no form, no appointment. No no no no no no no no no.

I watched the kids run back and forth in the grass outside the building and wondered if I was just imagining going crazy or if it was something that was actually happening. It was 55 degrees in January, after all. Maybe this wasn’t real life.

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 The next day I was really embarrassed about my temper tantrum, just like I always am. I calmly rescheduled my appointment and couldn’t figure out why it had felt SO URGENT only a few hours before. I should just stop overreacting and calm down. There’s no reason to be so angry. Good mothers don’t shout so much. I told myself I just suck at everything and need to get over it. Just like I said the time before, and the time before that, and the time before that, and the time before that… I kept my appointment.

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I talked to my doctor for a long time on Tuesday and filled out her questionnaires as honestly as possible. She said it sounded like anxiety – which I was just calling OVERREACTING TO ALL THE THINGS – with mild depression. I don’t know if it’s technically postpartum anything but when the doctor said “It’s OK, you’re not imagining things, I can help” I felt better than I have in months.

I took my first tiny Zoloft pill last Tuesday. I am still not sure how I feel about it. I am still not sure that it’s working. But I AM sure talking to my doctor was the right thing to do. I can’t believe I waited so long. I can’t believe I still feel so reluctant to share this. In my online life I know so many women who have dealt with or are fighting  or have overcome postpartum depression or anxiety or OCD or some other form of baby-related hormonal brain disease. Some days I wondered if I was crazy for NOT having postpartum depression. And then when things started to feel out of control I wondered if I was just exaggerating so I could fit in. Oh look, another mommy blogger on medication. What a cliche. Doesn’t she know Dooce already did that? It’s so 2009. Besides, my “baby” is 13 months old – didn’t my ticket to postpartum mental disorder town expire in December?

Although I know the internet is FULL of support, in my real life things like this are Not Talked About. The only person I’ve ever heard mention PPD was the sad, weepy, exhausted mom at breastfeeding support group who was so obviously depressed I wanted to bundle her into my car and drive her to a therapist myself. I’ve never felt like that. No one has ever said “You look like you’re struggling.” My husband has never taken the baby away from me and suggested I talk to someone.  I think my family is going to be really surprised to read this. I’m worried what they’re going to think. But hopefully soon, I won’t have to worry so much about what I think.

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