Monday, May 4, 2009

14 Days

14 days ago I made a pact with myself that I was going to do something for myself without any one person’s opinion. I was going to take charge of what is valuable and precious beyond words, which I felt like was suffering for reasons I couldn’t quite put my finger on: my mental health. 14 days ago I made the difficult decision to begin taking anti-depressants. I struggled for months over this. This was the third time I had talk to my physician about it, and the third time I had received a prescription for them and the first time I went through with it and began taking them.

I think my reason for being reluctant was my own person history with anti-depressants, namely Paxil. At the tender age of 17 my doctor, who only spoke with me for about 5 minutes, decided to place me on Paxil and Xanax. I continued taking Paxil for nearly 5 years when one day I just thought to myself why am I still taking these? It had become more habit than anything. My life was in order by this time. I wasn’t partaking in activities and surrounding myself with people who added to the anxiety and depression I was suffering from, so I thought Why the hell not? So I decided to give it a go. I quit cold turkey*. What transpired from that pronouncement was a week long battle of detoxing from a substance I wasn’t even aware I was addicted to. I laid helplessly, crying, day in and day out, I was plagued with chills, vomiting and dizziness. I was stunned at what this drug had done to me. I swore then that I would never, ever take such a drug again.

Fast forward 2 ½ years. Throw in a marriage, then a baby, and I started to feel the way I used to. I wouldn’t necessarily define it as “depression”, but more my inability to cope with certain emotions, such as anger and irritability and feeling overwhelmed. Most of all I felt lost. I felt lost in a world where every mother was happy, had perfect little babies, except me. What was wrong with me?

Like I said before, I had consulted my physician two times previously and they agreed that my taking the anti-depressants would be the best scenario for all parties involved. But as soon as I left their office I would change my mind. I think part of it had to do with the fact that I breastfeed Vincent. I became paranoid that the drug would get to him through my milk and he would become dependent on a seritone booster and that I was paving the road for a life of depression for him. But I think, more than anything, it had to do with feeling defeated. I kept telling myself I could get through it, I could handle it. Everyone else does.

14 days ago I had enough. I knew something wasn’t right. I could feel it deep in my bones. This was something I could change. Something I could help. I can be better for my son. I can be better for myself.

I didn’t tell anyone in my family that I was beginning to take the pills, because I wanted to first see if they noticed a difference in me. No one has said anything but that probably stems from fear they may jinx it! But more important, I have noticed a difference. I smile more. I appreciate life more. I become less frustrated and overwhelmed. I am better for it. I am a better mom for it. I have taken other approaches to building up my mental health as I do not want to rely on a pill to “make me happy”. I have ditched the junk food and made it a point to exercise every day. And I quit those nasty cigs!

I cannot feel defeated over this. I am not weak because I started taking anti-depressants. I am strong for admitting to myself that maybe I could use some help. I am strong because I say fuck the judgment and fuck what people say. I am doing this for us. Us.

You and me, babe. Always and Forever.

* All medical professionals will strongly advise to not stop taking these types of medications abruptly. It can have serious complications. Do not stop taking anti-depressants without consulting your physician.