I’m a big believer in the old adage “it takes a village.” Until recently I believed my village consisted of only people; now I’m welcoming anti-depressants into my circle. My life has welcomed many changes in the past three years. In that span of time I bought a home and moved, became pregnant and gave birth to two children 20 months apart, and worked full-time during it all (including a job change right before the birth of my second child). I took three months off work with my second before diving head-first back into normal life without slowing down or letting go of anything I was doing before.
A few months ago, right before my son turned one, I noticed a change in myself that worried me.
I’ve always been an extroverted, half-glass full kind of girl. I love interacting with people, especially strangers, and feel as though I was put on this earth to lift others up. Recently though, I felt a shift which I had never experienced before. I started to dread going to work because I didn’t feel motivated or fulfilled. At home all I wanted to do was sit on the couch and get lost in social media before going to bed early only to wake up exhausted. I was constantly in a state of confusion concerning where I was supposed to be or what I was supposed to be doing because I found myself unable to remember to add big events like weddings to my personal calendar. It was easy for me to put on a fake smile and cheerful spirit around others every day because I’m a people pleaser by nature. However, it didn’t take long for my husband to notice my lack of enthusiasm and short fuse.
I figured a change in diet and increase in exercise would lift my spirits like it had done before when I was stressed or overwhelmed. This time nothing happened, however. My husband and a close friend I confided in, urged me to talk to my doctor at my yearly checkup. I almost chickened out, not because of fear or shame, but because I felt like a phony. I was able to keep up at work despite my constant fear of opening an email or answering a phone call, and my kids were happy and healthy even though I let their dad take care of them every night while I went to bed early. I had to type the conversation I wanted to have with my doctor on my phone so I wouldn’t make up an excuse and forget to talk to her.
It worked. She listened and believed me.
I scored moderately high on the depression/anxiety questionnaire and additional lab work found that my thyroid and hormones were perfect. We discussed a few options and decided on a low dosage of anti-depressant medication that I will continue to take for six months in addition to eating healthfully, participating in some form of routine exercise, and decreasing some of my extracurricular activities and side hustles so I can spend more time on self-care.
I’m almost done with month one of my medication and it literally feels easier to breathe these days.
I don’t experience the paralyzing fear I used to sitting at my desk, trying to muster up the energy to complete a task. I am enjoying nights with my children and my husband is happy to have a partner again. I plan on utilizing my employer’s employee assistance program to begin behavioral health counseling and have started journaling when I feel a pang of anxiety build. Every day isn’t perfect, but I have the strength again to try to give it my best shot.
I’m not one to shy away from sharing. Heck, I’ve shared a picture of my postpartum mom body in a bikini. There’s not much left to share after that one. The more I have opened up with others, especially mothers, the more I have learned that a lot of women take anti-depressants to help them enjoy life and be their best selves. Being a mother is hard work no matter how many children you have or how prepared you were or whether your village is large or small. Life comes at you fast and changes occur that leave you scrambling to keep all the balls rolling. My medication is helping me keep it all going during this stage of life.