Sunshiny Days

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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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16 Responses to “Sunshiny Days”

  1. MommaExpat says:

    It’s good that you’re thinking ahead, because when it hits it’s always better to be prepared than face those really tough days. Not sure if you’ve ever thought of it but you might want to get your hormone levels checked. I had it done about a year ago and take the necessary supplements to maintain my whacked levels…. rather than taking a low dose anti-depressant. Just a thought. =)

    • bebehblog says:

      Thanks, I’ll ask about it. I had a bunch of bloodwork checks done a couple years ago and was told I was just imagining things, but I have a different (woman) doctor now who I’m sure would take me more seriously.

  2. Other Erin says:

    Not that you need more convincing but there are a lot of stories out there from people who solved hormone imbalances/depression by reducing grain/sugar. Best to talk to your doctor to have a plan in case but track your moods/emotions with the days you eat more non-paleo foods and see if it is a factor for you. Cruel though – the seasons of pumpkin pies and Christmas cookies are the ones where mood needs the most boost!

  3. Brigid Keely says:

    There ARE anti-depressants that are considered safe for use during pregnancy. It’s absolutely something you can talk to your doctor about, and it’s better to get that started while you’re feeling good and functional and ABLE to talk about it and make clear decisions. Prozac is one of them. I took Welbutrin/Buproprion while pregnant (although that’s not recommended until after the first trimester, I think; I didn’t start it until the 2nd or 3rd trimester). There’s also, as you’re probably aware, non prescription medication treatments for SAD including the light boxes/lamps you mentioned, OTC supplements, and just getting more light in general. If you think SAD might be an issue, you can absolutely discuss that NOW and get your plan in place before you have to think about it.

    I’m really glad your mood has been so excellent and I hope it continues that way forever! Good luck sorting this all out.

    • bebehblog says:

      I wonder if my doctor can get me a prescription for a light box? I’m definitely going to make being outside MORE of a priority than I have before, since I’m more aware of how sunlight affects my mood and behavior now. Thanks for your support and advice!

      • Other Erin says:

        Since you live in New England and all, if you just CAN’T get sun for a few days, try taking Vitamin D. There is evidence that it’s not just the sun that makes you feel good but the Vitamin D you get from it.

      • Brigid Keely says:

        It’s something to look into, especially as if it’s with a prescription your insurance might cover it. If not, you could pay out of pocket. And yes, try upping your vitamin D, a lot of people in the USA are vitamin D deficient and among the things it can affect is mood. I believe you can get a blood panel to check it, though.

  4. Cheney says:

    You are not alone there. I’ve been taking Zoloft for SAD for the last five years or so. I usually start it in October and wean myself off by April. I don’t really like what it does to me – even on the Zoloft I still pretty antisocial and zombie(ish) in the winter, but it does keep me from the uncontrollable weeping and desire to stay in bed all day. I think SAD is more common than people think, and seriously life changing issue. I become an entirely different person in the winter months, but the drugs do noticeably help.

  5. Robyn says:

    I have self diagnosed SAD, and I really think I handle it a little better since I realized I have it. Now when i feel it coming on, I can make a better effort of getting my butt outside before things get too bad. Yes, even going out in the cold, snowy, very overcast Michigan winters, makes it better. And going out and playing with kids in the snow! Even better still! the rainy days are worse for me though.

    I think you will handle it better this winter, just because you will know what’s going on with you, instead of it coming out of nowhere, but still, i think going to the Dr and being prepared is a great idea too!

  6. Meagan says:

    At least it seems like you have a handle on things – you know what could trigger you. I’ve never had a problem with depression or anxiety, but I’m so scared to wean my Caroline. I’ve been breastfeeding or pregnant for over four years straight and I have NO idea what my hormones will be like without it. My body really agrees with baby making hormones and I’m scared of what it’ll do without them. I might just make her nurse forever.

  7. Kate Hayes says:

    Girl, you are not alone. I have been there too – I think so many of us have. It’s totally normal. Do what you need to do to take care of yourself. Even if you have to be on a prescription with the next pregnancy, there are things you can take that won’t hurt the baby. After being on bedrest for four months with my last one, I stayed on meds through the very end. Lord knows I needed it! And you know what? Our son turned out perfectly fine. Oh – and the Seasonal Affective Disorder thing? I totally have that too. I dread winter every year, especially now that we live in New England!!

  8. Barbra says:

    When I read your first sentence, I thought NO, please don’t let what happened to me happen you! Stopping an antidepressant without weaning can be dangerous and/or very uncomfortable, emotionally and physically. Let’s just say that for me, it was a complete disaster. It seems that it turned out ok for you, and I’m so glad for that. Everyone going off antidepressants should work closely with their doctor to make sure they are safe.
    Ok, now I’m off my soapbox and I think there is definitely something to sunlight. When we lived in Portland (5-6+ straight months of rain), we would drive to the eastern Oregon desert for some freezing cold but bright blue sky and gold sunshine every weekend. It helped immensely.
    Even though you feel great, I would still make a dr appoint ment just to keep them in the loop. That way if you need some help again, it will be an easier process than having to explain why you weren’t still on them and what happened in the meantime. Your dr is on your team, and it’s ok to see them when you are feeling good -it helps them later when you aren’t feeling good if they know the whole story.

    • bebehblog says:

      I think I was really lucky that I didn’t have a terrible time coming off the meds. I realized I wasn’t going to make it to the doctor for a refill before I ran out at least a week before I ACTUALLY ran out and I started taking them every other day. I was already on a really low dose and had only been taking them for 4 months so the build-up in my system wasn’t enough to really feel the withdrawl. But I know I need to check in and make sure my doctor knows what’s going on.

  9. Rachel W says:

    I think it’s great you are aware of what is going on and have a plan to address it. I experienced the crazy anxiety that pregnancy hormones brought on while I was pregnant with my daughter. It was like a switch flipped one day at 30 weeks and I was having panic attacks and unable to sleep at all. I ended up going on Zoloft then at my dr’s insistence and my daughter is 18 months and I have stayed on it. I was thinking of weaning myself off since my Dr had given the ok but at the same time my father-in-law was diagnosed with cancer and I decided it was best to stay on it. It helps me cope with things much better!

  10. When Brayden stopped nursing, my world fell apart, and I ended up in my doctors office with a prescription for Zoloft. I took it for around 6 months, felt great, then slowly went off of it. When Kenley stopped nursing, the same thing happened, and I took the Zoloft for like 2-3 weeks, just until my hormones regulated again and I felt like I could get passed the whole my baby doesn’t need me cryfest. I honestly had no idea this was a real thing until AFTER the fact with Brayden, but glad I know now. I think its awesome that you feel good now, that you are aware, that you have a plan, because NOT having an idea of how it affects you is scary. :)

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