Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Loving through Lexapro

Thanks to a few infamous moms like Susan Smith and Andrea Yates and a few real crazies like Tom Cruise, Post-Partum Depression has gotten a lot of press. It's a good thing, really, since doctors and moms are taking it much more seriously. I've personally known quite a few moms who have sought help through medication and/or counseling for PPD. I think it's far more common than most people realize.

If there were ever a poster-child candidate for PPD, it would be me. With a long history of depression since childhood and a very serious episode 4 years ago that resulted in several hospitalizations, I was a PPD-disaster waiting to happen. When I was very sick, I even doubted whether I should even have children. As there is a genetic component to mental illness, I obsessed over passing on this illness to my children and ruining their lives. Then I read something in a book about parents with mental illness are the most capable of recognizing it in their children and intervening early. That made me feel better.

When I wasn't questioning my right to pro-create, I imagined myself a hormonal, crazy mess during pregnancy. I envisioned myself waddling around the psych ward crying hysterically.

Fortunately, they make this wonderful little drug called Lexapro. It was a life-saver. Since October 2003, I have been depression free! When discussing pregnancy, there was a discussion of whether or not to continue the medication. Research indicates that it is safe during pregnancy and breastfeeding, but you never know. But, there's always a fine line between the possible side effects of the medication and the risks of maternal depression and its effect on the baby. It was decided that with my history, staying on the medication was for the best. There are a few side effects. The one I notice the most is that I tend to not be very emotional. I don't cry very easily or get very emotional. It makes me sad sometimes because I feel like I'm missing out on some of the special bonding moments of motherhood. I feel like I should feel more. For instance, when I look at my little babies, I want to cry, but I can't. I just seem to be almost too balanced - too even-keeled. Sometimes I wish I could just lose it emotionally.

I always wondered what it would be like to live life without medication. I'd been doing so well, I began to wonder if maybe I was cured. Perhaps I had resolved any issues that contributed to the depression or maybe I just outgrew it. I always wanted to see what would happen if I stopped taking it. Now, I know.

By no real design, I sort-of stopped taking my medicine. It wasn't really intentional. I just forgot. I'd miss a day here, two there. I was a little busy taking care of babies. Then my prescription ran out. I'd call in to fill it, and couldn't find time to go get it. So, a few missed days turned into every day for a week or more. And then I started to lose it. Not in the nice, sappy, crying over the sweetness of my babies kind of way, but in the "I want to sit in my car and cry" kind-of way. However, before people freak out, it also wasn't the "drown my kids in the tub" way either. I was just a little - overwhelmed.

So, Ben picked up my meds, I popped a few pills, and now all is right with the world. Mommy is no longer a mess, Ben is no longer scared, and the babies don't know a thing.

So. I always wondered what would happen if I stopped taking my medicine. What I've learned is that I'm one of those people that needs medicine to stay sane. Sure, I'd love to experience a more "normal" range of emotions and have a few weepy mommy moments, but it's much nicer being able to wake up every morning and be able to face the day. My Ben, my girls, and myself are better for it.

God bless Lexapro.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Good for you! I admire your courage in speaking out about PPD and medication. It saved my life, too. Love you, Amy
P.S. Yes, I'm reading your blog as a study break, even if I'm too swamped to call.