When I was in nursing school, I went on antidepressants. And there is a post in my drafts folder on all this, and when I’m brave enough, I will post it, but the point is, I decided to go on medication because denial, distracting, and self-talk wasn’t enough to push the feelings away.
I used to be on antidepressants
Anyway, I went on them, and I remember distinctly chatting with a friend before the start of class and she was talking about how stressed she had been for weeks, short-tempered, crying bouts and all that. I had been on Welbutrin for a few weeks and she had briefly known that I had started it. I tentatively told her how well it was working for me and how much better I was feeling.
“I don’t need to be on medication. I’m not depressed,” she replied, still focusing on rifling through her notes.
Of course. Because medication was a sign of weakness. And though she was my friend and a good friend at that, I couldn’t help feeling like it was a personal jab. I know it wasn’t meant like that.
Overcoming the stigma
But let’s be honest. There is still a stigma that exists that needing medication for anxiety or depression is a sign that you can’t handle it. Because eating healthy, getting enough sleep and exercising should be enough to drive the thoughts away in a normal person, and if you need medication, you’re looked on as someone who’s failed or didn’t try hard enough.
I stayed on the Welbutrin (not talking about it with anyone except for Chris, that guy I eventually ended up marrying) until the following spring after graduation and I haven’t been on them since. But it’s something I’m always going to battle periodically.
And I’ve never been on a medication for anxiety ever, even though I’ve had anxiety ever since I was a child.
Because going on a medication meant I had lost. I wasn’t strong enough, and I just needed to work out more, eat better and try to get to bed earlier.
Ha. I like chips and dip.
So again, more about my past anxiety in another post, but my first step was seeing a therapist. I started back in July and it’s done wonders. Because I had no idea how much infertility, a traumatic hospital stay, and postpartum life had taken my sort-of-debilitating-anxiety and turned it into a raging beast that I could no longer control.
Therapy helped tremendously, especially with my phobia thing of Olivia getting sick.
Still, I tried to remain strong, telling myself I was in therapy now—I could work through this.
I consider taking a medication for anxiety
My therapist was talking to me one day in the beginning of September about how some people will take an antianxiety to be able to bring the anxiety down to a more manageable level so that talk therapy would work better. A few weeks after that, I had an appointment with my primary to talk about it and walked away with a prescription for Zoloft. Since I was breastfeeding, we had to be more particular with medications, so I said I would try it for a few weeks. This was also the time I had started birth control pills for my premenopause diagnosis.
There were some side effects (low libido sounds much better than saying I didn’t care about ever having sex with my husband again) that I ended up having that were just not going to work for me, but other than that, I felt good. Well, initially I was nauseous. Which sucked, but that lasted about a week, (and I’m not sure if that was the BCPs I started within two days of the Zoloft) and then I just was living with a suppressed appetite, which made me cheer because hey, two birds and all that. I felt noticeably less anxious.
And when Olivia got sick at the beginning of October, I felt more in control. But I decided to see my primary again that week to see about trying another medication.
I try another medication and so far so good
I took a little holiday for five days to get my body back, and then I started on Effexor, a small dose, with the option to increase it after a week if I needed it. I tried it, and so far, after three weeks, I haven’t increased it.
I don’t have any side effects, though I was a bit disappointed that my appetite still remained as hearty as ever, and I think the anxiety is being managed. I say that, because I don’t feel as good on it as I did the Zoloft, but the whole libido thing is also pretty important as well, so I’m going to keep on the Effexor for now and see what happens. I may have to increase it, but maybe this will be manageable.
It’s taken some work on my part to be OK with needing a medication. And I have been weight lifting again and it really has helped with the anxiety as well.
So I’m doing good. I’m taking care of myself finally, for the first time in years. I’m seeing a therapist, I’m taking a medication for my anxiety, I’m weight-lifting and I’m surrounding myself with good people. I haven’t given up the frozen pizza and cream cheese salsa dip with lime-flavored dip, but no one’s perfect. Perhaps most of all, I’m talking about it all candidly here for y’all. Because it needs to be talked about. And since I have, I’ve gotten emails and messages from other women, thanking me for talking about something so hard, so taboo, and that’s why I continue with it.
Even though it’s hard.
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