This whole unmedicated thing has been an interesting experiment, ya’ll. The last post (written on Saturday) was at the height of the head-shattering-hangover stage. I’m past that now… it’s been a week+ since I’ve had Zoloft, & the headache’s finally gone. This is the longest I’ve gone without since I started in early 2007.
So this is what Sarah Unfiltered is like. Huh. And folks, there IS a difference. There’s an edge to everything I say, everything I do. Even my two-yr-olds are stepping lightly… it’s like they can sense that Ms Sarah’s fuse is a bit shorter, & their little baby butts will land in time-out a lot quicker. My emotions are extreme — if something makes me sad, I really, sincerely weep. If something makes me mad, I feel truly enraged. Like yesterday, for example… Komen’s pink ribbon cause-marketing shit always pisses me off, but yesterday when I saw this new ad campaign, I seriously wanted to HURT them, like break their legs or something. (I think my exact statement to Bobby was “Eating fried chicken to cure breast cancer?! Komen, KFC, & anybody else who thinks that’s ok is stupid as fuck.” Probably not the most eloquent statement ever, but it worked.) I’m less patient, more irritable, & more outspoken. Sans-antidepressant, I feel really annoyed by stuff that, with antidepressant, would be just a mild irritation. I’m feeling ok, but that can change at the slightest provocation. And because I know I’m chemically unaltered at the moment, I find myself constantly questioning my reactions. Is this a valid reaction, or an overreaction? Is it ok for me to feel this way? Am I acting crazy? Am I acting “normal”?
I know there’s a stigma around depression & antidepressants. Trust me, I’ve experienced it first-hand from the majority of my family. Growing up in a conservative church & ultra-religious family, “sadness” (we didn’t call it “depression”) was evidence that you weren’t praying & believing hard enough. Any kind of chemical help was not only a sign of personal weakness, but more importantly, a sign of SPIRITUAL weakness.
I was ashamed of taking antidepressants for a long time. I hid the bottle, & never mentioned it. After Mama died, though, I just didn’t care. So I’m on antidepressants. So what. That little pill is sometimes the only thing standing between me telling the whole world how effing stupid it is & me not.
I’ve never chronicled my depressive history, but now I shall:
I took an antidepressant for the first time at age 25, after Bobby & I graduated from grad school, got married a week later, & moved 2.5 hrs away from my mother. I was lost without her, without my sisters, the familiarity of my hometown. I had been in school for, oh, my whole life, & absolutely didn’t know what to do with myself. I was in a big (to me… I grew up in a town without a traffic light) city without a job, my new husband got up to go to work every day & left me alone, & I couldn’t even drive to the damn grocery store without getting lost. I dropped into a deep funk… too much time inside my head & my apt. I felt like I couldn’t cry to Mama because I would be betraying Bobby — I was afraid that any complaint about how I felt would be interpreted as a complaint about my new marriage.
About 9 months into our marriage, when Bobby was convinced that he had married a crazy woman, I finally cracked to my new mother-in-law, who just happened to have a prescription pad handy. She put me on Wellbutrin, just “until I felt better.” I took it faithfully for about a year, got a job, made some friends, felt better, & weaned myself off in early 2005.
Fast-forward to 2006. Bobby & I had completely maxed ourselves out financially. Balancing the checkbook had become a sob-inducing experience. In August, I quit my job and took a new (really stressful) one that paid a lot more. In September, Bobby quit his job with no replacement, and we moved back home from our cute, new little townhouse to a shitty 1970’s apt with gold kitchen appliances & dookie-brown linoleum. In October, one of my best friends from high school was killed in a stupid, pointless ATV accident. In November, Mama started feeling strange & made a doctor appt. In December, she was officially diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer. And everything fell apart.
I went back on antidepressants a couple of months later. This time it was Lexapro. I felt like a taut rubber band, pulled to the point of snapping. It’s hard to say if the medication actually helped — I suppose it did, because I didn’t actually kill myself or anyone else. Even with chemical help, I was a mess. My obgyn switched me to Zoloft after a few months because I was trying (unsuccessfully) to get pregnant. He was (still is) of the opinion that Zoloft is the safest antidep during pregnancy. Not that it mattered, because try as I might, I couldn’t seem to get knocked up.
And then Mama died. And then I kind of wanted to kill myself. And then I got pregnant. And miscarried. Three times. And I gained 50+ lbs. And Zoloft has been my constant companion through all of this. Until last week, when my prescription ran out.