Wednesday, August 10, 2016

One Step, Two Steps

I normally write when I’m down or ugly angry or have had a bad day. While it’s been a day of many emotions, it’s overall been a good day. Lately, the good have outweighed the bad which, in turn, is helping the good moments to come more often.

I have a new nurse practitioner psychiatrist who is wonderful. I’m so thankful that she happened to relocate to a clinic near my work since the previous one is over an hour drive away. Besides the two clinicians working in an office specialized that ante and postpartum periods, she’s the first who has said that I have postpartum depression/anxiety.

Some of you may wonder why that matters. I was pretty sure I was struggling with postpartum depression and anxiety after both Miss S and Mr. C were born. But, I’m not a nurse practitioner or doctor. Nurses can’t diagnose (even though most of the time we are right with our hunches). Without having a diagnosing medical professional say that I was experiencing postpartum mood disorders, it was just my “thinking” that my symptoms matched.

When everything is viewed through the lens of a mood disorder, that view is distorted. The rational side of me was thinking, “For 15 years, I was on sertraline. That managed my symptoms well. (In addition to counseling.) Now, my symptoms aren’t controlled. The best hypothesis (since I’m postpartum) is that my postpartum state is the reason why sertraline is no longer doing what it has before.”

The irrational side of me was screaming, “You SUCK. You can’t CUT IT. You are going to NEGATIVELY influence your kids because you are a FAILURE. Come ON. You are such a LOUSY excuse for a mom. Get your s&*t together already!”

When I went to my nurse practitioner psychiatrist at the time, her response negated that the postpartum period had any influence. After Mr. C, when I said that bupropion didn’t seem to be managing things as well as it had after Miss S, her response was, “We can continue trying to throw more chemicals at you, or we can try something else.” 

What I heard was, “You just want an easy way out, don’t you? If you’re really strong, you can do this on your own. Medications don’t matter. Even if they help, they are the easy way out. Buck up and deal.” 

Part of me was frustrated. I’m NOT someone who wants to take medications for the heck of it. I chose to give birth medication free to my babes. I’m not a martyr. I just believe in using medications only when I truly need them and have exhausted all other options. (And, while I’m being honest, an epidural scares the crap out of me. I don’t want a needle NEAR my spinal cord unless absolutely necessary. Plus, I had heard horror stories of epidurals only partially working or not working at all. Beyond that, I knew that epidurals can prolong the pushing and ultimately can result in the need for a c-section.) 

The other part of me felt like she was right. She was the medical professional. I needed to try something else.

My new nurse practitioner psychiatrist said (without prompting), “Your symptoms match what we’ve learned about postpartum depression. The symptoms tend to worsen after each subsequent birth.” Which was exactly what I had experienced. Thank you, God. FINALLY. I had a medical professional who understood and knew about what I was experiencing. She suggested we try a different medication. I felt more hopeful that day when I left her office than I had felt in a long time.

I’m officially off of sertraline and am taking Lexapro (the generic version). I’m also cutting back on my bupropion. I’m still having rocky days, but oh. my. gosh. I’m feeling better than I have in so long. It’s amazing.

How do I know?

Two weekends ago, for the first time in who knows how long, I didn’t dread the thought of household chores.

I’m not joking.

For SO LONG, weekend chores have loomed ahead of me, and my desire has been to stay in bed. Or fall asleep nursing Baby S. Or not to start because there was no way I’d get a task fully completed.

I wanted to avoid them.
I couldn’t face them.
There were too many things to do.

I emptied the dishwasher and reloaded it.
I stripped beds.
I did laundry.
You guys, I did SOMETHING.
I accomplished SOMETHING.
And, I didn’t feel dread.

While I can only speak for myself, it’s when I’m surfacing above the mood disorder that I realize how much it’s been pulling me down.

I kept rationalizing that it was me. I just needed to try harder. Get to bed earlier. Stop being angry. Stop being depressed. Stop being anxious. Stop being ME.

It’s hard to do when that’s what I’m telling myself.

The medication just helps to quiet those thoughts.

It’s wonderful. It’s life. It isn’t a high. It’s normalcy.

It’s awesome.

I still know that I’ll have bad days because everyone does. But, having more good days? It seriously is life giving.

I’m motivated to work out. To do laundry. To clean the kitchen. Not even motivated necessarily, but just normalized. The dread is letting up.

That is amazing. And, I’m taking less medication than in the postpartum period after Mr. C. Just different medication.

Please, mama. If you are suffering or you think something doesn’t add up, as hard as it is or even if that stupid voice in your head tries to talk you down, KEEP asking for help. If the first person can’t help you, keep talking until you find someone who can. Because, YOU are the only mama to your littles. YOU are the best mama they will ever have. Don’t ever let anyone (including yourself) tell you otherwise. And, until your head starts talking more nicely to you, keep asking for help. And prayers. And hugs. Whatever you need. You are worth it. Really. (And, for a little more help if you need it, please visit:


  1. Kristin,
    You're doing a lot more here than speaking for yourself. By giving voice to your own experience in such an honest and articulate way, you are undoubtedly helping others when they read this post.

    Thirteen years here on Nefazodone. The only drug problem I ever had was not taking the one I needed to survive and then thrive.

    Here's something that might make you smile in recognition. When someone once asked me what song best described my life, this was my response:

    Best regards,

    1. Almost 2 months later (I'm definitely not a top blogger, can you tell??), I want to say a very belated thank you for your post. I read it the same day you posted it and shared it with Karl...thank you for the support and bringing a smile to my face. We aren't alone, and hopefully as more people share our stories the less stigmatized this disease will be. I'm so thankful that you have found the medicine for thriving. :)