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.