Yesterday was my 34th birthday and like every year since I turned 28, I gave myself a chance to reflect on the year before and think about the year to come. From the outside looking in, 33 was a great year for me. I launched two successful programs via Mamademics Academy. I won another Voices of the Year award, wrote several viral posts, signed with a literary agent, traveled a ton despite being pregnant, and last but not least gave birth to a healthy baby boy.
Yet what most people didn’t know was how inadequate I felt, which was fueled by depression. I did admit that this pregnancy seemed more emotionally draining than my first. I blamed it on having another human to take care of this time around but the truth is I was falling into a deep depression.
Sure I could blame the depression on losing my online teaching job two weeks before finding out I was expecting a new bundle of joy. I could even blame it on the stress the job loss and new pregnancy put on my marriage.
But that’s not the truth…
The truth is I’ve suffered from depression for a really long time. I can still remember my childhood pediatrician telling my mother that I seemed depressed and she should take me to a therapist.
I was in high school…
The word depression would continue to come up throughout college and graduate school. Each time I’d develop a way to function and the cloud would seemingly pass. But soon the depressed moments started to stretch longer and longer…
… until this past year when the cloud wouldn’t lift.
I couldn’t stop thinking the worse. Whether it was dreaming that my baby was dying inside me or wondering what would happen to my boys if I died in childbirth and finally just finding it so hard to get out of bed in the morning. My usual super organized self suddenly could no longer keep important dates straight. I was falling behind in my writing and work. No matter what I tried to do I just couldn’t get it together and people were starting to notice.
I blamed it on pregnancy brain but I knew it was something more. I’ve always been pretty anxious but this was an entirely different level and I needed help. Yet how could I ask for help? What would everyone think about me if I told the FULL truth? What would my family think if I shattered their “strong” image of me? People say they admire honest and authenticity but would they really stand by me?
I was still too afraid to be 100% honest, so I told people I was just struggling a little and needed to talk to someone. I went back to therapy and started to talk through my fears but it wasn’t until my postpartum checkup that I truly admitted how much I was truly struggling. My doctor’s office does a postpartum questionnaire and for the first time in my life, I was 100% honest about how I was feeling.
The doctor looked me in the eye and let me know that I didn’t do well on the questionnaire. She expressed concerns and then recommended Zoloft. After reassuring me that it wouldn’t interfere with breastfeeding, I let her call it in for me. As I took that first pill, I told myself that I was doing this for me. That I was loving myself enough to admit that I’m not okay and trying something new couldn’t hurt.
Yesterday, my 34th birthday, marked two weeks since I started Zoloft and the cloud that has been inside my head for as long as I can remember is gone. Even in the haze of sleep deprivation, the anxiety that had consumed my every waking moment was subsiding. As I reflected on my goals for this year, I decided that I wanted to love myself and allow others to love me as well. The first step to showing myself more love is by taking that little green pill that helps my brain make more serotonin every day.
Year 33 taught me that the bravest thing I’ve ever done was admit that I needed help and then accept that help. I know that year 34 is going to be amazing for me professionally, hello I have a literary agent, but more importantly, it’s going to be the first year of my adult life with no foggy clouds thanks to Zoloft.
Here’s to the clouds parting from my brain and feeling the sunshine on my skin!
P.S. If I owe you something, it’s coming I promise. I’m catching up right now!!!
If you or someone you love is suffering from anxiety and/or depression, check out the Anxiety and Depression Association of America.