Sunday, December 11, 2011

Sometimes You Can't Try Hard Enough...

I was going to make this post about the good activities I do to help me cope with what life has thrown at me this year but I decided that this entire blog is basically about those good activities. Aikido, work, art, graphics, crafting, sewing, photography...these are all hobbies I've focused on as part of the healing process.

I prayed a lot before deciding to write about this. I even talked to my counselor and Mike before doing so and they are both really supportive of the idea. I am going to talk about what I did when everything I've written about before wasn't quite enough. And please, keep in mind, I am only talking about myself in this post. I'm not intending to be an advocate for anything unless it's maybe getting counseling if you're struggling with life.

About two months ago, I started a low dose of the anti-depressant Zoloft. Really, I haven't been depressed which is a little surprising considering how tough this year has been. But I have always struggled with anxiety problems, ever since I was a kid. Those stories can wait but I'm sure I will revisit the topic one day. I had a good stretch without any major issues through most of my 20's but after I had Autumn, I could barely leave the house without anxiety taking over. So, I went on zoloft but without seeing a counselor. I weaned myself off about 6 months later and was mostly fine.

I don't regret the time I spent on Zoloft back in 2007/08. However, in retrospect, I should have gone to a counselor while I was on the medicine because a few months before I got pregnant with Garrett in 2010, I ended up going to the counselor I have now. I pretty much had post-traumatic stress as a result of how traumatic Autumn's birth was and I was terrified to get pregnant again. Seems like a premonition in hindsight, doesn't it? Anyway, my counselor has been fantastic and if you're looking for someone, I highly recommend her. Last year, we talked about me taking something to, as a friend put it, take the edge off but ended up deciding against it for a variety of reasons.

We had a similar conversation in October before I decided to start back on the medication. I seemed to be in a fuzzy area where I didn't absolutely need something, but it might be worth trying, especially with the holidays coming up. In addition to my counselor, I talked to Mike and to Stephan, who works in a rehab facility, and ultimately asked my doctor for a prescription when I went to see her for a lump I found. By the way, I don't have cancer, thank goodness, although it took 3 mammograms and an ultrasound to determine that. Scary stuff.

I cannot tell you how glad I am that I did it. I am only taking 25 mg although I have a prescription for 50. The counselor told me that if I felt well on the 25, there was no reason to bump it up. I don't feel numb, like a lot of people say when they take anti-depressants. And if I did, I'd ask for an adjustment. I am always surprised at what side effects people put up with when they don't have to (I know some medical side effects are unavoidable and preferable to the actual disease but some side effects are completely unnecessary).

What I do feel is...not overwhelmed. I had a ton of things on my to-do list. I was sick for so long and so many things were left by the wayside, from the wreck of my pantry to all of Autumn's clothes that didn't fit still sitting in her drawers. Some days I'd be so overwhelmed by what I had to do that day that I'd just sit on the couch and not be able to do anything. I don't really have days like that anymore. I mean, I accomplish so much and feel like myself again.

Even better? When things in the house aren't perfect? I don't angst about being the WORST WIFE AND MOTHER IN THE WOOOOOOORLD anymore. I can chill out knowing that I'll wash the pots and pans in the morning and right now, I'm just going to snuggle with my family. And occasionally the cat who really likes my electric blanket (I don't care, I just want her to sit with me).

So there you go. I listen to good music; I read good books; I choose to spend time with my good friends and my good family; and I take Zoloft. But this series isn't over yet. :) There's one more thing I wanted to share with you.

(by the way, the images in this post are from a blog called Hyperbole and a Half. She has a good post on depression here but don't click that if you don't like strong language)


  1. I think anti-depressants are one of those things that, for people who don't have pervasive issues (i.e., chronic anxiety, chronic depression, chronic *seasonal* depression, etc.) that are good to go on and come off of as situations unfold.

    I'm proud you're able to talk about this. A lot of people* have preconceptions about zoloft and such that are just wrong. Just like a lot of people have preconceptions about ADHD and autism and so on.

    I think it's important that people speak out and be up front about their individual problems and what they do to fix things. Because, I feel that we can only come together as a truly inclusive society if we listen to others and try to understand where they come from. I may never know what it's like to be a black single mother raising her rapists baby, and I may never know what it's like to walk on the moon. But if both of those people tell me what it's like, then I understand better.

    There's some people, though, that don't make it through my filter, and I guess that's my fault.

    And again, more power to you for being able to use a multi-modal approach to helping you work through your grief.



    (*= Tom Cruz (misspelled deliberately so you don't get scien t ology people posting evil things on your blog) and his ilk, plus, the "older generation" (Boomers, early Gen-Xers))

  2. Thanks for the encouragement, Tamara. That's exactly why I am writing about all of this, well said. There's so much silence around death, grief, depression that I'd like to be part of what chips away at the talk taboos.