To help those of you that struggle with pre- or postpartum depression, or just everyday suck-the-will-to-live-out-of-you depression, I wanted to write about my overall experience with depression and, moreover, my experience with antidepressants. Why? Because, quiet frankly, there is not a lot of real information out there from real people. (But if you Google antidepressants, there is a HELL of a lot of misinformation out there from cray crays.)
So, why did I go on antidepressants in the first place?
Well, first of all, I was depressed. Second of all, I had the balls to do something about it. Needing treatment for depression doesn't mean that you are weak. It shows that you are strong enough to ask for help when you need it. I have had bouts of depression all of my life, even before I had children. Nothing huge or life-changing, just an overall dark-cloud-following-you-around feeling. Then I had kids...
After I had The Quiet Contemplator, postpartum depression hit me like a pile driver to the vagina. I went down and went down hard. Que the after-effects of having a baby in an already depressed person, take away all things that resemble sleep and add an infant that cried from about 3 pm to 8 pm, and you had me: one hot fucking mess of a mama. I lost friends, alienated the ones I loved, lost all sense of self-worth, etc. The only thing I managed to do right was to be a good mom. But that is all that I was. Outside of being a mom, I was a shadow of my former self.
Things got better after a while, but never got great. Then I got pregnant again. This time, I decided to take control before The Crazy Train of postpartum depression even left the station. I started antidepressants in the hospital right after I had The Cool Cucumber and had a prescription filled for when I got home. How did it go? Best. Decision. I. Have. Ever. Made. I was able to be the mom I wanted to be, and though there were hurdles (fuck you, colic and acid reflux), I was able to jump over them and land on my feet.
Well if antidepressants are so fantastic, why did I go off of them?
Many reasons. Money, wanting to be able to feel more grief over my brother's death, etc. But the biggest one was: I just felt like it was time. If it went horribly, I could go back on them, but I wanted to give myself a chance at being good enough again without the medication. I also felt like I couldn't really "feel" any severe emotions. I couldn't cry, whether it be for joy or pain and I needed some emotional relief to deal with my brother's death. Being on antidepressants is kind of like having emotional blue balls: you feel on the verge of an explosion, but the release never comes, and then you just feel annoyed and exhausted.
How is it going now that I am off the smack?
So far, so good. I don't feel the overwhelming dark cloud anymore, so the overall storm must have passed. Now, I just have to deal with the normal up and downs that are everyday life. I cried the other day when my daughter told me I was her best friend. On antidepressants, it would have just made me really happy. I feel a lot more of everything now, both good and bad. It is nice. If it gets to be too much, I will just go back on the smack for a while.
Now, let's talk about withdrawal.
Oh, no one told you about withdrawal when they gave you your shiny new prescription for happy pills? Yeah. Me neither. Most antidepressants are SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors). WTF does that mean? Fuck if I know, all I know is that getting off of them causes withdrawal symptoms that suck donkey balls. Some of the wonderful parting prizes you may receive for playing? Nausea (yep, got it), headache (nope, sidestepped that landmine), dizziness (is that what they call it? I thought I was just FALLING OFF THE EARTH), lethargy (zzzzzzzzz…), flu-like symptoms (I was actually taking my temperature to make sure I wasn't really sick). I also was unable to sleep and when I could actually sleep I got horrible nightmares. BONUS! Withdrawal sucked BAD but it only took me about two weeks (though the fear-mongers on the internets told me it could take MONTHS). It is bearable knowing there is an end in sight.
What antidepressant(s) did I take?
I have taken Celexa before. It was ok. I liked it but never really felt it was doing all I needed it to do. I am sure it works wonders for others, it just wasn't the perfect fit for me.
When I wanted an antidepressant for after The Cool Cucumber was born, my Dr suggested Lexapro because it had less side effects than some other antidepressants. So, for seven months following his birth, I was on Lexapro. It was really a good fit for me. It did what I needed it to do and I didn't have any side effects.
So, knowing what I know now, would I do it all again?
Hell yes I would. Even with the emotional blue balls and withdrawal symptoms, going on antidepressants for my postpartum depression is still one of the best decisions I have ever made. They helped prop me up when I was really down and gave me the strength to make it through a really dark period. They also left me with the wherewithal to know it was time to go off of them and give myself a chance to be me on my own.
It is hard to be strong enough to take care of yourself when you really need it, but you can do it. The first step is to admit you need help. The next step is to find it. If anyone, I mean ANYONE has any questions about depression or antidepressants, PLEASE contact me. You don't have to go through it alone. I am here and ready to help in any way that I can.
Thank you for sharing this. I believe that there is so much pressure to be awesome at parenting as soon as the baby pops out. But you can't be totally on your game if your chemicals are off. As my OB told me several times, "Happy Mommy, Happy Baby." God bless Prozac!ReplyDelete
I agree- how are you supposed to be an awesome parent right away (especially if it's your first?) I wish I had gotten on mine sooner.Delete
This is awesome. I suffer from just life sucks depression, have been on Celexa for years and it sucks! I am slowly weaning myself off, but a nasty seperation keeps me tied to them. I hate the way I feel and even more how others treat me like I am overreacting. It sucks when you get pulled in.ReplyDelete
Nice to know someone else is out there that has overcome it and is willing to talk about it.
Hang in there, friend. Things will get better.Delete
I'm on anti-depressants too. I feel like I have probably needed them ever since I moved out, got a real job, got married, etc. So when "real life" hit. I am on Paxil, which is a good fit for me. I can still be happy, sad, etc, but it makes the extreme versions of said emotions a little less intense. I do get extremely dizzy on Paxil and have crazy dreams (including lots of REALLY bizarre sex dreams) and I have trouble climaxing now. So that's just another option for some people, but it's always GOOD to talk to your doctor. Depression is a REAL thing, and once you get help you really FEEL better. I feel like me again.ReplyDelete
Thanks for sharing!Delete
Kudos to you for sharing about your depression! While I've never had to deal with depression, I am studying to be a therapist and I know how had it must have been to admit you needed help/medication. And thanks for being so awesomely human about it all!ReplyDelete
You are awesome!! Never needed anitdepressants but so glad you have the moxie to let people know it can be part of life and is no bigger deal than taking care of yourself to enable you to take care of others!ReplyDelete
Yay for you it is over and your life is your life again, warts, (or crying jags) and all.
It took me almost a YEAR to realize I needed help after I had my first kid. Worst year of my life! I did the same thing...Alienated friends, lost friends, almost lost the hubs. It was rough! But going on the "smack" was the best choice I have ever made. And like you, it gave me the ability to realize when things are starting to go downhill now before we're in a major landslide. Best. Decision. Ever.ReplyDelete
Thanks for sharing and glad you got help!Delete
I can tell you what selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors means but I think you would get bored half way through it. My sister has been chemically depressed since she hit puberty. Basically her brain doesn't make enough of the feel good chemicals. She has been on and off of pills but basically holds her life together through the sheer force of will and crazy busy-ness. She is about to have her second and I hope she will take the time to get a new Rx if she needs it to get through that first year.ReplyDelete
I hope so too. It is so hard to get the help you need once you actually need it.Delete