ask boo: holy crap this the longest post known to man!

When did you realize you needed to take anxiety medicine? I took anti-depressants a couple of years ago, but sometimes i get panic attacks, or really overwhelmed. How long have you been on them?

Good question. I've actually been meaning to get to this subject for some time now, but it's just so much more fun to talk about funny stuff than heavy stuff :)

So: after my first baby, I was down. Like a big fat downer. I didn't really know it at the time. I recovered, but never fully. Then I had another baby, I felt euphoric, and then a few months later: crash. Again not really putting two and two together. A couple years went by with me fading in and out of these feelings, all the while I lacked the coping skills to prevent a slowly compounding issue. Finally, over 4 years, I found myself in the midst of a foggy depression with a death grip on the light in my heart, but this time I couldn't get out. I began to doubt my core beliefs....everyone was annoying and self righteous. For me it wasn't about feeling sad but rather: irritable, insecure, severely unfocused, intolerant, impatient, defeated, reclusive, anxious about everything under the sun, unmotivated, overwhelmed, libido shot, guilt ridden, dissatisfied, inconsolable, self loathing, and a downright bummer to live with. I was truly Zombie-riffic.

Now before you write me off as the crabbiest most extreme case of all time that you can't relate to, know that I didn't necessarily feel all these things all the time or all at once, but they were a prominent theme in many of my days. I didn't want to be perceived as dramatic or needy, so almost none of my friends or family knew i was hiding this secret....i must have been a good faker ;) But behind closed doors, I'd have major breakdowns about once a week (at the peak of it), and I fantasized about being put into a coma to skip the "hard" parts of my life. I wanted to run through the wall, leaving a Carolyn shaped hole, and keep running...only i had no where to go, and no desires to be anywhere for that matter. Strangely, i couldn't even put my finger on what or why i felt this way. Sure, times were stressful financially (but whats new? plenty of people enjoy life with much less) I wanted to be a mother (always have) my husband was adoring and supportive (still is), so what the "H" was my deal?? My husband was confused and didn't know how to help. I didn't know how to help myself...
{click "TELL ME MORE " below to read the full article}

Amazingly, it never occurred to me that I was...d, d, depressed. I was always an optimist. A worrier, yes, but prominently a happy playful person with a lot of energy and ambition. I came across an article in Self magazine that had bulleted points like..."you might be depressed if"...about 9 out of 10 of them rang true. It hit me like a ton of bricks. Then came the doubt..."It'll take too long to find someone and figure it out and i want to feel better now! Why don't i just snap out of it and realize there are lots of things i should be happy about...what if i go get help and they tell me i'm not depressed, just a crappy person?" However, with my children caught in the middle and my role as their now emotionally unstable mother, I knew the only way to hold them (and my marriage) above my swirling waters was to swallow my fears and make an appointment. So i did.

I had a whole script prepared to try and convince the doctor that i must be depressed. I thought of reasons she might disagree and retorts for her possible doubts. I didn't need them. It took her about 2 minutes, and she was sold. Believe it or not, my case was only a mild to moderate one. It was a relief, but I knew i had a long road so i still felt frustrated and skeptical (again, my poor state of mind). We talked about treatment and part of it included medicine. "Pills" have a bad rap, and for good reason (habit forming, abuse/overuse, etc.). I know there are many who believe taking a mood stabilizer is a cop out and that "laughter is the best medicine", "self discipline and hard work alone can cure the mind!" To that i say: "Thanks Tom Cruise, clearly you've never been clinically depressed." I liken it to trying to run a marathon, in mud...up to your neck. I had little children to think about! Every day in this mommy dearest state was a day too long for their fragile perspectives, and I needed it to stop, like 6 months earlier. We started with a depression medication, and about two months into it I felt a little better, but still would lie in bed mercilessly beating myself up for every bad decision or reaction, feeling guilt or fear for things i couldn't control. After many appointments, we came to find that my depression didn't start with depression, but rather untreated anxiety. So after a few medication switches and several months of tweaking, we found my formula. 

Now let be clear on one thing: I did not feel bad one day and wonderful the next. I was so gradual I almost didn't even notice! My "aha" moment was one day in the kitchen when i caught myself singing out loud to myself. This was something I had always unknowingly done, but had withered away during my decent into depression. The more i thought about it, the more I could pinpoint things that had changed...spontaneous dance parties with my kids, enjoying affection, not avoiding meeting new people in fears they would think i was the lamest person alive! I have been taking anti anxiety medicine for about two years now. And i have never regretted a single day. 

A lot of people reject the idea of medication for fear of feeling like a "zombie". If this is so, you are either not on the right kind or it's the wrong dosage, for it is highly individualized. Also, I know that I couldn't have be more void of feeling than i already was. I was never in the market to numb my problem, but rather treat my chemical imbalance that was causing my irrational anxiety and get back on track. Once we got my medication right, I felt like myself! My regular friendly, sarcastic, quirky, loving, creative, self-reliant, ambitious, future-so-bright-i-gotta- wear-shades self. Do i seem like a girl with no emotion?!? My life circumstances haven't changed (still a wife and mother, still financially strapped :)...I still experience good and bad days and get stressed. The difference now is it almost always pertains to a reason i can recognize. The spectrum is much narrower, meaning I don't risk getting so low, or feeling so paralyzed by anxiety, that i can't dig myself out with some good old fashioned perspective. I now can focus more on what i can control, over the stuff i used to spin my wheels on. I realize medication is not the only answer, and for some not even a necessity, but i was able to realize my recovery faster with their help. Of course when i can, I'd like to arm myself with all the tools i need to wean off the "juice" and continue living a happy productive life, but in the mean time there are two things I know for sure:

1.) i feel no shame in taking medication
2.) I never want to be in that horrific place again

I put myself out there a lot. Partly because I don't want to fear vulnerability, but mostly because I just want to help. However, my goal is not to have every person who feels bad to just jump on the medication bandwagon, but rather give you the support to help yourself if you are in an ugly place. There is hope!! And there are so many opportunities for joy even in a stressful, ordinary or even a what feels like monotonous life. We are all deserving of love and should absolutely love ourselves. You are important! This life was created by a loving Heavenly Father and he wants us to shout it from the rooftops! If we are stuck in our heads in the pit of despair, accomplishing this goal can feel nearly impossible. Life is about growth and service and joy and love. Let's experience those things together shall we :) 

Feel free to ask me any questions you have. Getting the ball rolling in such a state can be overwhelming and i can help point you in the right direction. The only story i can truly tell is my own, and if it can help even one person, I will be thrilled...might even tap dance on the spot. 

(you hear that? thrilled!! that's an emotion folks! ;)

team Boo 's you


Taylor K said...

Great post. I also have an anxiety disorder and medication has worked wonders. LONG LIVE LEXAPRO!

Ambs said...

Carolyn you are amazing and such an inspiration to us all. I am 2 months into my treatment and I went through many of the same things as you have. It's so nice to know that someone out there understands and that there's NOTHING wrong with getting help. I've been happier and more MYSELF than I have in years!I have my sparkle back and I'm just ready to leave little peieces of glitter on all my friends and family again! Many hearts to you Carolyn for sharing your story!


Addie Gaylord said...

hi remember me??? i never comment but always read your blog. seriously, who doesn't? :) I just had to tell you that you worded that perfectly. I think that this is a huge growing problem especially with mothers and no one talks about it. I totally take medicine, in fact i have been for 8 years now. The best medicine, besides the pill, is knowing that your not alone, crazy, or weird because little do you know your next door neighbor or even your best friend can totally relate but nobody talks about it. anyway, just wanted to tell you that i really enjoyed reading this post and wanted to high five you via the web.

cara. said...

how is it possible i love you? truly. thanks for being so vulnerable. i haven't had to take medication yet (though i probably would have benefited from it a year ago) but have dealt with depression, especially postpartum. i am encouraged to hear that people don't shy away from the possibility if it's needed. i like the middle ground of not tabooing either side and finding a balance. you seemed to communicate that well. (:

Megan Marie said...

Thank you. You are an inspiration. :)

Michelle said...

That would be so hard to go through! Plus it's not like a problem that you can see, so it's harder to know when you actually need help.

Glad you are your shining-bright-dancing-happy self!!!

communikate. said...

i'm terrified how i'll be during pregnancy and postpartum. i've got so many of those symptoms and situations you've described.

i love your honesty and words. you're a great writer!

Ashley said...

I've read your blog for awhile now, I don't remember when I started, but this one hit me hard.

I've never admitted out loud something you wrote. I won't write what it is, since I can't remain anonymous, but I know this entry has helped me.

I'm going to get help.

Anonymous said...

I recently got on anti-anxiety meds and let me tell you; it changed my life! My youth pastor husband was very skeptical at first, telling me that God's love should be enough. But after seeing how it hasn't turned me into a zombie, but rather, allowed me to function NORMALLY, he is forever grateful and has completely changed his perspective. Like you, I want to eventually be in a place where I can fully function on the mental tools I'm given. But for now, Lexapro has leveled everything out just right.

Thanks for putting yourself out there. :) What a blessing!

Anonymous said...

wow - - it is really rare to see such openness about such a personal experience. It's so nice to see though and important because people don't talk about these kinds of choices and situations very honestly in public forums. I know a lot of people who have been really helped by seeing/reading other people's stories in the matters. Thanks for sharing!

leigh said...

I lurve you!

m.estelle said...

needed this. badly.

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