I’ve never been on meds. Excepting Zofran for the constant need to barf while pregnant, I’ve never taken anything besides the occasional Tylenol.
So one night when I broke down and told Sam I thought something was wrong, I couldn’t handle the constant fear that life was going to continue to spiral, that the boys dying continually haunted me, and the nightmares of him and Bella being killed, I also told him I was going to talk to my Dr the next week about it all.
We discussed medication. Because while this is my body, being on anything that alters me also affects him. He wasn’t a huge fan of it, having been on medication when he was younger and learning that it carries a stigma and often is prescribed just as the easy way out of things. We ended up agreeing that we trusted my Dr, she’s seen us through the entire thing so far, and if she thought something was wrong, we’d take her recommendation seriously.
When I was in her office that day, trying to hold it all together, I had so many thoughts racing through my mind. I was being over dramatic, I was short circuiting the grief cycle, this was all normal, if –
Wait. I want you to really read this. Really hear what I am about to say.
If I tried harder, if I could just pull it together, if I could put this all in perspective, if I could stop being so selfish with my feelings – I could get better.
And while all these thoughts raced in my mind, there was a small voice that said, “Part of this isn’t normal – it’s beyond grief and loss.”
So when my Dr asked if I wanted something to help me with the anxiety and nightmares, I swallowed my perfectionism and pride and said, “Yes.”
3 days later I went to get the prescription. And it sat on my counter – I’d pass it during the day and wonder what on earth would happen if I actually started it. What would I be like? I didn’t want to be different, I didn’t want to not feel the pain and loss of my sons dying, I didn’t want to zone out of my life.
So I took a half a pill the first day. And knowing it might take a week or so, I wasn’t surprised when nothing happened. And then, the next day I took the whole pill.
In two weeks I asked Sam if I was different. He said he didn’t like how zoned out I was so often, but he had to admit I seemed more at peace and able to cope with the grief. And way less on edge.
3 weeks in I asked again. This time, as things began to level out, he saw a huge difference. Here’s a scenario I’ll never forget – and it has nothing to do with grief.
We were on base one Sunday trying to get everything done before heading back to get Bella in nap. There is a very short window of time between nap and “I MISSED THE ALLOTED TIME FOR NAP AND EVERYONE WILL PAY FOR THIS” during the day. We still had grocery shopping and lunch to do, and it was getting close. Sam finally said, “What do you want to do, I don’t think we’ll get it all done today…” His voice trickled off.
I shrugged. “Well, if we don’t get to grocery shop today I’ll order a pizza for tonight and go tomorrow.” In my mind, this seemed rational. It was irritating as I’d had everything planned and have to make an extra trip, but whatever.
I looked over at him as he stared at me. “Did you know,” he said slowly, “that is the first time in our entire marriage I’ve heard you say something like that?”
“Um. Ok?” I said confused.
His shocked voice continued, “You usually get all upset, spend the rest of the day in a terrible mood, and make it a much bigger deal than it is. And I have to hear about it all day long.”
It’s true. It is. I’ve gotten much better over the years, but I have to admit that these type of situations would cause me to spend the rest of the day butt hurt over not getting my planned out morning to go my way.
Take BlogHer. All the conferences I’ve been to have me stressing out the night before about missing my flight – there and back. I lay in bed and think about ALL.THE.THINGS while figuring out a bazillion different ways to avoid them happening.
You know. Because I control everything. Including planes.
The night before I headed home, the thought popped in my head of, “What if I don’t make the plane tomorrow because I’m not sure how to get there?” And it was realistic – I was about to navigate NY to NJ on taxis and subways with almost no clue of where I was going.
My thoughts (totally unconsciously) went like this, “Ok. Well, I’ll just keep asking people along the way. Someone will know. And if I miss my plane I’ll go up the counter once I get there and see when the next one leaves.”
Then I fell asleep.
The next day was a giant mess with the weather, but I made it home anyway.
SHOCKING how that happened even without me trying to control it all.
I reflected on this a few days later and realized how big of a difference the Zoloft makes with me. ME. Not just grieving me. But the core of who I am.
Zoloft makes me more the person I’ve always struggled so hard to try to be.
It makes me a more patient mother, wife, and friend. It allows me to rationally think out problems instead of blowing them up into situations that could never happen. It helps me to focus on what I need to do in my life to achieve my dreams. It causes me to catch my grief spiral and feel that pain – but then to focus on the little girl who needs me here.
I realize there are other ways to do this. Sure, my Dr could have suggested something more holistic or whatever. I really don’t care. I don’t. This is what I needed. This is what helps me. It has some side effects; I had hot flashes like I was 50 for about 3 weeks, and I do catch myself spacing out a bit now and then.
But no one can fathom the change it’s made in me. It took my life from living like everything was the end of the world to everything having a solution somewhere.
I’ll say something super unpopular but maybe it helps someone else: if I have to take that little yellow pill the rest of my life – I will. And I’ll take it with no guilt attached. I’m still me. I’m still over dramatic and emotional and I nag and things have to be a lot cleaner than they need to, but it’s not life ending anymore.
It’s not the right thing for everyone, and I’m not going to advocate anyone else go get on it just because you tend to flip out over things or you lost a child and your grief is swallowing you up.
But for me, this was the best thing I could have done. I’m not going to be ashamed of Zoloft – I’m thankful it’s there. And if it helps me to be the person I’ve struggled to be for so long, then it’s worth the stigma and side glances.
I refuse to feel bad for needing help and being able to find it in a pill. And no one else should be made to feel that way either.