Let me preface this article by saying that there is nothing wrong with antidepressants. If you need them, you need them. it’s all good. I took Lexapro on and off for 9 years. It truly helped me. I have something lurking in my brain somewhere between Generalized Anxiety Disorder and Raging Crazy Person disease. It started before I had kids but definitely got worse after kids. On the bad days I felt paralyzed. I felt that I couldn’t take the next step. In any direction. I would second guess, over analyze, and become VERY fearful. I would lose my appetite and suffer panic attacks. On the good days I was just aware of a buzzing anxiety cloud around my head.
I was very lucky. My psychiatrist prescribed Lexapro and it worked almost immediately with very few side effects. Over the years I would go on and off of it for whatever reason. Sometimes I would need a larger dose and then I would go back down to a lower dose. One summer I needed to add Ativan as well. I definitely felt better on the meds than off the meds.
Somewhere along the line I stopped going to see my Psychiatrist and started getting the Lexapro from my PCP. Gosh who has time to go to a Psychiatrist AND a PCP after you have kids?!? (AND the dentist and Gynecologist and God forbid actually get a hair cut???).
Things went well for awhile. I knew I felt better on the meds. I did have a very tiny voice in my heart somewhere that was whispering something but I didn’t pay much attention to it. What I did pay attention to was how hard being a mother was for me. I did the dangerous stare and compare. I would see other Moms with their kids and think “Wow they look so happy and they so obviously belong together.” It would leave me feeling guilty and sad because I didn’t see myself that way with my kids. Other Moms would tell stories of how hard terrible twos and teething are but always end with “But it’s all worth it.” Or I would see Moms post on Facebook about how much they missed their kids and couldn’t imagine being away from them too long and I would think “Really?” I could easily leave mine. That sentence was really hard to type. I could easily leave mine. But that’s how I felt. I didn’t get it. It’s one thing to have a day or two (or even a week or two) of feeling like you need a break. But I always felt that way. And gosh I’m crying right now typing this because it sounds so awful and waves of guilt wash over me.
Of course I loved my kids and took great care of my kids. I just knew I was missing something. Something real and true and visceral.
God works in funny ways and one day the Lexapro just stopped working. I was like a ship wrecked sailor flailing around in the water. I didn’t know what to do. I was taking my medicine and still feeling the strong grip of Anxiety around my throat. My sister handed me the number of a therapist and I started seeing her. That was my first baby step in the right direction.
I heard the tiny voice in my heart a little better. It said “Slow down. Take care of yourself. Love yourself.”
I slowly started taking better care of myself. I made time to eat well and exercise and even meditate. I cared enough about myself to dive into that scary ocean of my inner self and start swimming. There’s a lot more to it than that but a lot of things came together (and fell apart and came together again) to make me feel better.
I can’t pin point the exact day it happened but slowly and bit by bit I started to feel this big piece of my heart growing. I giggled with my daughters and held them in my arms and started to SEE them. I guess I let myself fall in love with them. Maybe I was scared of that before. When you fall in love you are so vulnerable. You open yourself up to so many risks. Maybe I was shielding myself from that before somehow.
I am so happy and thankful that my medicine stopped working. I am Uma Thurman in Kill Bill laying on the bathroom floor crying tears of joy happy and thankful. I don’t know what the future holds and if I will ever have to go back on medicine but for now I am just taking it one beautiful day at a time.
Tricia is a photographer at http://vivaportraitstudio.com and loves capturing beautiful everyday moments.