jetsetgreen

Thursday, February 23, 2012

How I Started Taking Zoloft and Saved Myself


You don’t have to read these, but they do provide background, in case you’re interested:
Part 1: Where I'm Honest-written from in the middle of my last depression
Part 2: The Nothing

8 Months Pregnant and Feeling It


Almost a year ago I was pregnant, had been through some personal upheavals, and was on the edge of major depression.

 After the depression that ate the year after my second son was born, I made everyone I know promise to get me help if I ever sank that low again. I made a plan with my midwife that included starting medication at the 36th week of pregnancy. I also made a vow to be honest with myself about how I was doing. In my case, I know that while my depression can strengthen under stressful circumstances,  it's primarily a hormonal shift due to pregnancy. And I knew, sitting on the couch, with giant tears rolling down my cheeks, that I was beginning the descent into depression.

What were the symptoms? A whole lot of crying, sleeplessness (more than usual,) anxiety, and a profound inability to deal with my life. Things that shouldn’t be a big deal were increasingly insurmountable issues. I couldn’t handle even basic tasks--like making it to the post office. The idea of filing taxes had me as flummoxed as coming up with a formula for cold fusion. And it didn’t have to be that way. So before anybody else had to, I called my midwife and told her that we needed to move the plan up. I asked her for the lowest dose possible, because I am extremely sensitive to medication. She gave me a prescription for 25 mgs of Zoloft and told me I could break them in half if I needed. My friends giggled at the dose, but, hey, different doses for different folkses.

I learned quickly that I had to take my half a pill at night, or I’d be too sleepy to function during the day. I also figured out that I needed to dial down even further and take half a pill every other day. It was just enough to rescue my emotional free fall, but not so much that I was catatonic. Within a couple weeks I was again able to handle my life. I was functional again. There were side effects (primarily the drowsiness) that I needed to manage, but the Zoloft worked. The anxiety, the anger, the hopelessness eased; it was almost miraculous.

After Lulu was born I increased to the full daily dosage. The precipitous hormonal shift after you have a baby is almost unbearable. Most women suffer through a few weeks of those “Baby Blues,” but if it doesn’t get measurably better, you need to get that sister, wife, daughter, friend some professional help. Back during The Nothing, I couldn’t admit to myself that something was wrong, even though those closest to me knew I was in a bad, bad place.

This time, it was completely different. I could be present for my baby and my family. I could keep working, I could deal with my life (as much as you can with a newborn.) It was radically different and radically better than my last baby. When Lulu was 5 months I began to slowly taper the medicine. I reduced to half a pill every day, giving myself the permission to take a full dose if I began to feel myself slipping. I checked in with friends, they checked in with me. I was honest about missing doses and when the taper was too strong, I corrected. I don't have to use anti-depressants forever; I can use them when I need to because they are a tool to help you live your life without the disruption of depression.



Baby Lulu is now 8-months-old. She’s the sweetest light of my life. Bouncy, crawling, nursing, silly, independent, trying-to-walk baby. Chubby cheeks, pouty mouth, smile that brightens everything. And I can be there for her, and for my sons, husband, friends, and work.

I am here for my life.

20 comments:

LuckyRedHen said...

Wish more people could be as truthful with themselves and honest with others about dealing with depression. That you recognize the swings and attack them with thoughtful monitoring is what more people should try instead of ALL OR NOTHING. Thanks for sharing your truth.

Emily said...

You, my dear, are one of the wisest women I know. Oh, and you make adorable babies.

Hilary said...

I sometimes wish I could experience post-pregnancy with some medication. I had a really hard time this last time, didn't let anyone know and I figured it was normal.
But I had serious anxiety and I couldn't tackle things that were normal for me.
Anyway, I watch my friends pretty closely now, call often -- just to see how they are.
It's a scary time. I am glad you had help. :)

whitneyingram said...

Beautiful honesty.

The more people write posts like this, the most awareness is raised for anxiety and depression being a real, solvable thing.

sara said...

That is wonderful; several close family members of mine have needed Zoloft (et al) for certain periods of their lives (not only post-partum) and it has made all the difference. It is so healthy to talk about it; so many people suffer from depression.

Kelly said...

So I am glad I read this today. I've been thinking about a friend that could read it. Heck a had a bad day myself today. Glad you can be so honest with yourself and be present for your family. Thanks for sharing. You are brave.

Tay said...

Thank you. It's so nice to know that I wasn't the only one. :) I know I'm not, but it's nice to see it written down by somebody. Thank heaven for Zoloft.

A Few Tacos Shy... said...

Zoloft is amazing stuff I tell ya! I started taking it 2 1/2 years ago after my 7th miscarriage. For the first time in my life I wasn't literally crippled by anxiety. Who knew I could take this little pill and not have panic attacks over doing laundry. When I lost my 8th pregnancy at 20 weeks last October my doctor and I raised my dose and added some Wellbutrin. This is temporary but I am pretty sure the Zoloft will be around for a while. Thank the Lord above for anti-depressant/anxiety meds. There is absolutely no reason to suffer.

Tire Swing Mom said...

As someone who has dealt with some semi-major bouts of depression before (both pregnancy and non-pregnancy induced), I thank you for sharing this. And I'm glad you are feeling better.

The Glamorous Housewife said...

I had horrible postpartum depression after my first son was born. So I went on Zoloft. Saved my life. Had two more kids while on it and they are the best kids in the world. Thank you for your story- I can relate.

Thanks doll,
The Glamorous Housewife

Vanessa Brown said...

Every time you post a picture of that baby girl of yours it makes me smile.

Celeste said...

Awww. ... I am telling Tom and Brooke. You are in so much trouble.

Kacy Faulconer said...

Good.

Kym said...

Great, honest post. I think we have all walked in that valley one time or another. I only hope to be aware enough to always reach down and assist those that feel as if they are alone in this. You reached down, Carina just by writing this post. This will help others immensely.

Amy said...

Ha ha. What timing. Here I am with a prescription for 25 mg of zoloft in my hand after several years of not needing it. I had been thinking I had failed and regressed. Thanks for your post. It was exactly the nice slap upside the head that I needed.

Mindy said...

I am a fan on anti-depressants, but have you ever heard of having your placenta encapsulated for beating post partum depression? Yes, I know it sounds crazy and disgusting, but it works! Just a thought. Thanks for being open and honest.

Vanesa said...

Thank you for posting this, Carina. I went through the baby blues with my first daughter but this year, when I had twins, it was completely different and it took me 5 months to do something about it.

The hardest part of the whole thing wasn't the weepiness, it was how angry I felt all the time, at my husband, at my daughter, at my babies. I finally started antidepressants last month and it has made a world of difference.

I had debated whether or not to write a post about it on our family blog, but I think it may help get rid of some of the stigma, both for me and others, it's worth it.

Bebe McGooch said...

Catching up on your blog. I'm so happy to here that you've found a treatment that is working for you, since sometimes that seems like half the battle.

I'll have to be on antidepressants for the rest of my life, that I know. Sometimes I worry though about the current drug I'm on, if it's working or not. When you've been on them as long as I have, you have no real semblance of what "normal" is

Also, Lulu is absolutely adorable.

Anne-Marie said...

I'm obviously sorely, sorely behind on blogs. I blame that partly to the list of things you mentioned in symptoms, paragraph 2. My baby is almost 2 though. I guess I can't blame it on ppd anymore. I'm doing better with my son's illness usually. sheesh. Often, I still feel like an anxiety ridden, batty lady. Meds are a blessing. If I keep going on, this will turn into the therapy I ditched last year that I should probably go back to. anyway. Thank you for your honesty.

Tiffany said...

I know I need to get on something. I know my mom needed to when we were young too. It isn't fair to my family that I am mean and moody and emotional. :(( Thank you for showing your strength.