This is part 4 of the series. If you reached this page first, start from beginning.
April 2, 2007
Week 12: After zoloft
How fast time flies by. I’ve been feeling a lot better. I guess medication is definitely working. I don’t know why I was so adamant about not taking medication because I haven’t felt this good in a long time. Well, I don’t actually feel “good” I just feel like how I should normally feel.
I thought taking anti-depressant was like giving up and taking the easy way out. I thought it meant I was weak and I always hated being weak. And now I realize I was suffering from an illness that I had absolutely no control over and that it’s okay to seek medical intervention to make myself feel better.
This has truly been an eye-opening experience for me. Until recently, I thought something was seriously wrong with me. I felt so flawed and helpless.
I started school. It’s tough and requires constant reading but I’m so much happier. I’m learning a lot and I feel much more productive.
I think this is the year of many positive changes and I pray that God will continue to guide our family onto the right path. I’m going to baptize T in about a month and am planning to give her the baptismal name of Therese after St. Therese of Lisieux.
I never liked the name Theresa but something tells me that I should name her after the saint that I had the privilege of meeting in Paris during World Youth Day. Something also tells me that I received many blessings in Paris that I’m not presently aware of. I’m not exactly sure what it is, but something tells me that I’m loved and that she is right by God’s side, asking our Dear Father to watch over me for I am her dearest friend.
April 9, 2007
Week 13: Onset of side-effect from anti-depressants
I’m experiencing some side effects from Zoloft. I felt better for the first few weeks and now I feel “different.” My mind felt like it was racing too fast yesterday and today it feels foggy. I can’t read, I can’t concentrate and I can’t think clearly. This is what depersonalization must feel like.
I’m not really inside my body and I feel like my creativity has vanished. My brain feels heavy. I wonder if this is something that’ll pass. Damn, what the hell is happening again.
April 14, 2007
Manic episode caused by medication
I’ve been obsessed with reading about anything related to manic-depressive illness. I’ve ordered two books by Kay Redfield Jamison called An Unquiet Mind: A Memoir of Moods and Madness and Touched with Fire: Manic-Depressive Illness and the Artistic Temperament and can’t stop obsessing about this newfound illness that I seemed to have battled from day one.
Wait, is this right?
My mind is racing again. I have to shake off the urge to jump, run around, scream or whatever. I want to go ride a rollercoaster and scream my heart out. I don’t want to take this medication anymore because it makes me feel “masked.” My emotions seem dull and artificial. Or is this how people are supposed to feel when they are “normal”? I don’t even know anymore.
I know I was feeling bad enough to get prescription for medication but I no longer recall that painful, shadowy feeling and would rather go back to that than this. I want to stop taking medication but doctor says I must be on this for a whole year. And I’m scared to feel like I’m going crazy again.
Is this where Virginia Woolf found herself when she watched the old lady closing the curtain from the other side? Is this how Sylvia Plath felt when she left out cookies and milk for her children before she put her head in the oven? Maybe her mind was burning so vehemently that she had no choice but to immerse herself in it. Or perhaps Virginia Woolf’s mind was frozen and cold, before she decided to drown her body in the river.
I’ve been experiencing severe neck pains again. My aches and pains seemed to be going away with Zoloft but it came back today. Today I am in more pain than ever.
April 15, 2007
Today is Sunday. I’ve been feeling anxious and manic these days. I’ve never felt this before the medication, and now my depression is replaced by something stronger and gripping.
My mind is flying a thousand miles. Death is so close to me these days that it scares me. I’m worried that my girls will find me dead one day. Or rather, dead on the inside while my body and words become mechanical….
After this point, my journal entry becomes incoherent and manic. During this time I wrote countless poems and stream-of-consciousness writings- some good, some bad- but all that indicates I’m experiencing a mental state that is new and foreign.
I can’t say I hated the way I felt, and in some ways it made me feel closer to being the artist I always dreamed about, but I knew it wasn’t necessarily a positive change as a mom of two children. My kids depended on me, and I needed to snap out of it.
I slowly weaned off the medication and eventually quit without medical supervision WHICH IS NOT RECOMMENDED, but I had to gain control over my emotions and mind again. At this point, the psychiatrist’s suggestion that I needed to take anti-depressants for at least a year sounded like bullshit and I decided I was going to take back control over my life. Looking back, I must’ve still had some room left in me to fight this painful disease– and constant prayers, meditation and reading helped me to better understand and heal during this difficult time.
After a few weeks of painful headaches, brain zaps, few emotional breakdowns and more writing, I slowly began to feel like myself again. As recommended by my psychiatrist, I started my first blog, The Gratitude Tree and began counting daily blessings on my online journal.
This blog is still kept private for many reasons, but it helped me to heal from and overcome this isolating disease. I began to exercise, returned to work part-time (this helped my depression in so many ways) and began to socialize with adults again.
Today, my daughter is 8 years old and I can honestly say I’m the happiest than I’ve ever been. It was a long road to get here, and it sure wasn’t easy, but I’m grateful for all that I’ve learned and overcome. Through this experience, I’m now more understanding and empathetic to new mothers who may be experiencing similar feelings of isolation and loneliness, and it is my hope that my honest journal from this time can provide reassurance and hope for other mothers out there.
For more practical tips on postpartum depression, go here. If you’re a mother feeling symptoms of postpartum depression, please do not suffer in silence. Talk to trusted friends, family or a professional and do not feel guilt or shame for reaching out to others.
Once I opened up about my experience, I was surprised to find that there are so many other women who went through similar struggles I did. You can’t do this alone. Be sure to seek help for your child.
You can always email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any question about my experience. I’d love to help.