Life + Style

March 28, 2018

Life Lately

Screw it, I'm going to talk about Zoloft and Wellbutrin today.  I've tried writing some posts about something other than the pretty; Tagg's hospitalizations last year and how they've affected our family as a whole and individually, an update on our house/move, why I dropped off the face of the earth last fall, how I'm adjusting to my baby in kindergarten, our new dog, etc. but every time I go to write I get stuck.  My mind and hands literally levitate off the keyboard and a sense of calm washes over me.  Eh, don't worry about that-it's all good-you don't need to think about that actually echos in my brain and I get back to looking at what dress I want to buy for Easter or whats left on my to-do list.  Maybe it's a sign that I should talk about that-how that calm feeling came to be and why taking anti-depressents are the best decision for me right now and they've helped me to be in a really good place.



In 2010, I miscarried and then a few months later I got pregnant again.  That pregnancy was wonderful. I had a really great and healthy pregnancy but I held myself back from being too excited or thinking about it being real because I knew it could all disappear.  My OB scheduled a C-Section but the baby came early!  M was out of town, my bags weren't packed, and my best friend had to drive me to the hospital.  Thankfully he made it back at the 11th hour and they let him in the operating room in time to see them pull her out and show her off to me for one of those upside down face to face pictures.  That was just after midnight and I didn't get to see my baby again until morning when they brought her in under the incubator lights for jaundice and told me I couldn't hold her except to feed.  Then the pediatrician came in to tell us that she was 99% sure that the baby had a cranial difformity and we'd need to see a neurologist.  WTF.  At seven weeks old she had her first cranial reconstruction surgery at MUSC for Craniosynostosis and they sent us home with springs holding her skull open and a helmet for protection.  Six months later she underwent another surgery to remove them and sew her skin back together.  A year later I had another baby and I suddenly felt completely overwhelmed and unprepared for caring for these two children.


Looking back now, I never really felt any symptoms of postpartum depression after my first child was born despite her medical issues and the intense world change after having a baby, but with my second child it happened immediately.  The day I came home from the hospital with him I was convinced I had a blood clot in my leg that would kill me-of course from a complication from my c-section.  I spent 24 hours calling the OB's office, my nurse friends, and googling symptoms and survival rates.  It wasn't depression but what I now know is postpartum anxiety.  A few weeks later he rolled off the couch and I was convinced I had broken his neck.  When I carried him down the stairs I could picture myself accidentally throwing him or both of us down or dropping him-like from an arm spasm, not out of anger or wanting to hurt him.  I now know those were intrusive thoughts, part of OCD tied to anxiety.  As he grew and his needs grew bigger, specifically keeping him safe from food allergens, my OCD and anxiety grew as well.  I was constantly worried and overwhelmed.  I checked labels over and over again, washed my hands religiously, refused certain foods in the house, spent countless hours on websites and forums looking to learn information or a secret clue to keep him safe, I dreaded taking him out of the house at all for fear I would accidentally contaminate him and cause an allergic reaction that I didn't feel prepared to handle.  He was sick a lot and every cough made my heart race.  Was is a cough or was he dying?  There was no in between in my head.  Fast forward just a few years; nebulizers, tonsil and adenoid removal, severe food and environmental allergy diagnosis, emergency department visits, hospitalizations, an asthma diagnosis, and the normal struggle of raising a three year old and a four year old had me feeling completely overwhelmed and isolated.


Things peaked on Halloween night 2016 when I thought I was dying.  I had chest pains, I couldn't breathe, my heart was racing, I was clay, my hands were numb, I couldn't control my leg and it was shaking, I felt an impending doom and knew I was having a heart attack or an aneurysm from a blood clot.  M called 911 and I left for the emergency room in an ambulance.  I begged them to drive faster the entire way there.  My heart rate was over 150 when my normal is super low, like 90/70.  This was no joke.  Obviously, I didn't die that night but it happened again about 10 days later only this time I was convinced I had developed an anaphylactic allergy to diary and had M drive me to the Hospital where I begged a non-convinced physician to give me epinephrine so I wouldn't die.  Obviously, I didn't die that night either.  What I experienced were panic attacks.

In addition to the tests they ran in the Emergency Departments, I followed up with a physician for a full medical work up which all concluded that I was healthy as a horse.  Whew.  That was news to me.  I began taking a small dose of Zoloft to help with the Anxiety and OCD I had been experiencing.  (I had no clue I had anxiety or OCD at the time).

So like I said, I started on 50mg Zoloft and over the course of a year worked up to 125mg where I still am today.  This was the first time I had ever taken an anti-depressant and I totally got lots of side effects that lasted about two weeks.  I was a exhausted in a way I've never been before or since and slept almost non-stop for two weeks.  I felt like I was on drugs.  I can't say that I hated it, I just went with it and enjoyed the high.  I felt floaty and in my head, and would get these peaks of adrenaline that if I rolled with, felt amazing but scary if I resisted.  I felt hugely emotional and fragile.  I found a completely random song in my iTunes that calmed me down and I listened to it with earbuds on repeat around the clock.  To this day, when M sees me with earbuds in he asks if I'm okay.  A reader sent me a podcast of a pastor describing his own Panic Attacks that I would lay in bed and listen to over and over again.  (sadly, its not available anymore) Another reader reached out and asked if she could call me because she knew what I was going through and hearing a real persons voice is a lifeline.  I had a few more waves of panic over the next few weeks that would hit me out of nowhere like a wave of heat similar to when you get the spins and leave me feeling scared and worried.

I learned to breathe through it. To poke the bear. To hug my children and breathe slowly. To get on the floor and stretch over my knees so my head was below my heart.  I continued to see my doctor.  I started doing yoga and quit caffeine and alcohol for a time.  I read and listened to as much as I could find on depression, anxiety, panic, insomnia, OCD.  I started seeing a life coach and began to allow myself to be okay with not being able to handle it all.

Then, about a year ago Tagg almost died.  Twice.  Two times in two weeks I saw my baby unable to breathe and his body shutting down.  This is no exaggeration on my part.  He was rushed from one emergency room department to the PICU at a larger hospital by a Pediatric Intensive Transport Unit after a severe asthma attack that did not respond to albuterol or traditional treatment.  Less than two weeks later he was back because of an anaphylactic reaction to cashew.  Previously his allergy was to dairy, egg, and peanut.  You can read more about that here.  I have yet been able to finish a post on The Asthma Incident.  Maybe one day I'll be ready to tell that story.  To say the two incidents above were traumatizing is an understatement.  But because there is little to be read on Moms who might have PTSD after watching something really shitty happen to their kid I was blissfully unaware that I was living in any state other than Planet Thank Your Lucky Stars And Be Grateful He Didn't Die.

Depression doesn't hit me like it does in the commercials.  I don't get sad and I don't have trouble getting out of bed.  I don't feel hopeless or lose interest in the things that I used to enjoy.  You want to know why?  Because depression tricks you into thinking that the only reason you accomplished nothing more than getting the kids to school was because you are lazy and incapable of being productive like normal people.  Because you are not normal and you don't have value and the world is probably happy you didn't show up pretending like you matter.  So you stop showing up.  See what happens there?  Depression lies.  Tears and sadness might be easier to identify than a slow numbing of yourself.


Like I said earlier, I continue to see a physician on a regular basis to monitor my physical and mental health but last August I had to squeeze in a quick appointment to get a refill on Zoloft before I ran out and the only available slot was with a PA.  I don't know what it was about me that made her hesitate after we were done and ask if there was anything else I wanted to talk about and I don't know what it was about her that made me blurt out "I think I'm depressed" but she did and I did and it changed my life.  On her suggestion, I started taking Wellbutrin along with Zoloft.  Wellbutrin for depression and Zoloft for OCD and Anxiety.  I'm quite the cocktail :) I didn't experience any negative side effects this time around.  But its has completely lifted my depression and helped to squash my ADD.  I am able to be productive and focus for the first time, maybe ever, and be proud of what I've accomplished  and not afraid of what I didn't.

These are not miracle drugs, and they don't take away anxiety or sadness.  I'm not numb to feelings or emotions but there is a steady and constant grounding that wasn't there before.  For example, when Tagg coughs, my first thought is still ohmygod is he dying? but almost immediately the rational voice in my head takes over, No, he's fine. and I'm able to calmly asses the situation.  I no longer need to look for validation from others because I am truly able to find happiness in myself.

I realize this was long and wordy and really had no clear point but I don't want to over think it or go back and delete it.  See, I still have to do the work, a miracle drug wouldn't have let me stall all morning to push publish ;). I'm not an expert or a professional, this is just my story and I guess I just wanted to say that if you're on anti-depressants or suffer from mental health issues or recognize some of yourself in my words, you are not alone and there is no shame in talking about it or getting help.  I'm here for you if you ever want to reach out


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11 comments

  1. Wow! Thank you for sharing this post. You may never know the number of people you positively impact by opening up. I wish I could help or do something, but the most I can do is say thank you. Another blogger I follow wrote about anxiety too. I don't know if it would help, but thought I would share: https://mrskansasmommy.wordpress.com/2018/03/01/sunshine-and-gray-skies-how-i-explained-anxiety-to-my-kid/
    and
    https://mrskansasmommy.wordpress.com/2015/02/12/6-things-i-want-you-to-know-when-im-having-an-anxiety-attack/

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  2. Oh, man, this is so honest and bare. It was brave and generous of you to share this.

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  3. Thanks for sharing your story. I can relate to the panic attacks. I have had them on and off since I was probably in my early 20s. They are hard to explain to someone who has never experienced them. My husband will say things like, "Just calm down"...Gee thanks I didn't think of that one! When my kids were little, I thought I was having a heart attack in the middle of the night while my husband happened to be out of town. I had to call my mom to come and bring me to the hospital while my stepfather stayed at my house with the kids. Needless to say, it wasn't a heart attack but just another scary panic attack. They can be hell. I have also had a few health scares with both of my kids over the years and the worry can be completely overwhelming. I haven't tried any medication because the panic attacks don't happen all the time. Plus, I worry about taking medication because I am somewhat of a hypochondriac! I try to exercise, eat healthy and do yoga which I think helps. I am glad to hear the medication is helping you and I hope you continue to feel better and better.
    Take care,
    Shelley

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  4. Thank you so much for sharing!

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  5. Sweet Julia! Thank you for sharing!!!

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  6. Thank you so much for sharing!

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  7. Thank you so much for sharing. I'm on Celexa and it absolutely changed my life. So many of us suffer with anxiety/depression/OCD - and hearing other stories really does help. Best wishes to you and your family in the future.

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  8. I'd like to say that I'm proud of you. In a day of thinking we absolutely have to "do it all" I'm proud that you've said we can't always do that and it is ok! I'm proud of you that you've shared something so personal. After years of hiding my anxiety from my closest friends even my husband didnt know. One day I made an appointment with my doctor and just came out with it. That in and of itself was freeing. I told him I was ready for any med he thought I needed. As he handed me a box of samples of something he said "you know I'd like for you to see a therapist before you take those." So I did and it changed my life,no meds needed. I'm still very open to that should anxiety rear it's head once again. Mine was due to going through menopause she believes.

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  9. That was a really brave story to tell - thank you for sharing.

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  10. Thank you for sharing. I have been depressed in the past but this really reaches me as I have family members who struggle with mental health issues (bipolar). Anything that helps people realise these are just health issues like any other and lifts the stigma is SO SO appreciated. Well done for your bravery in reaching for help when you needed it and for encouraging others to do the same. I am sure your experience and kind words will help many and I will keep them in mind should I ever feel similarly. Sending love.

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