Sharing My Crazy

Posted by: Maggie

I’ve been meaning to write about this for at least six months. I start and stop and decide not to write about and then that I should. But there never seems like a good time to fit it into the story of our life that I share with the world, which is filled with cute kid stories, fun family outings, pretty photographs and other happy things.

But I’ve decided that there’s just no perfect day or perfect way to fit it into our story, but it’s an important part of the story of who I am and if you don’t really share yourself and your feelings with the world then what’s the point of writing (or living if you ask me), so I’m just going to go ahead and talk about it now.

Last year, as part of my New Year’s Resolutions I decided that I was going to “Get Happier,” I mentioned that I had been feeling down for a while and I wanted to make an effort to feel better and so I wrote about my attempts for a few months and then I stopped writing about it because things started to get bad, and then they got worse, and then they got weepy, and then I finally did something to get better.

Apparently, despite my attempts to pass it off as “bouts of melancholy” (so much more lovely and romantic sounding right?), I suffer from Depression. Seriously. I know, don’t I always seem so cheerful and optimistic? That’s not just on the internet, friends. Just ask my real life friends, I’m pretty much always like that. I’m a very smiley person. Well, I have this amazing trick, that my therapist calls “pretending,” but I think it’s far more impressive than that, and is clearly very unhealthy. I just sort of shut it off. When I need to function for other people out in the world I just turn that part of my brain off for as long as I need to. I know it’s hard to explain how that works but when I need to be okay I just am, I just shut the depression down.

But here’s where the problem occurred that made me seek out help, at some point last year I got pushed to my stress limits, which might have been fine without the depression. I always have a lot on my plate, but something was different this time. I was shutting the depression off so often, and it was building up in my head so much, that any time I was alone it came out. And by out I mean uncontrollable sobbing for no apparent reason. Fun right? And then it got harder to shut off.

I’d never seen a doctor or a therapist about it before. I’d struggled with it forever. Probably since I was a kid, but it was always manageable. It got bad at times, but I dealt with it and I got better. I never wanted to admit that it was something that I needed help with, something that I couldn’t control. But last fall that’s exactly where I was.

Things changed when I had coffee with my friend Susan one morning last September. She’s written openly about her struggles with depression and anxiety on her blog and I love her for it and for a lot of reasons. She convinced me to finally get some help. I know that without her I wouldn’t have. I would have continued to suffer. But instead I made an appointment and saw someone and was immediately prescribed an anti-depressant. They (both the therapist and the psychiatrist) said that usually they ask a patient to consider it and have a discussion about whether it’s necessary or not, but that because what I was describing to them was so serious they thought that I needed to get on anti-depressants right away. Yes! I win at depression! I guess I was worse than I thought. And oh boy was I ever! I really had no idea.

I was nervous about getting on medication, afraid that I wouldn’t feel like myself anymore.  But a few weeks after going onto Prozac it was like a fog lifted, like the sun came out, like I had no idea that I had been living in so much darkness and the rest of you lived in the sun. I felt normal, not artificially happy like I thought I would, just normal. Except that I could concentrate on my work in a way that I couldn’t before, and those little things I didn’t have patience for before I now had all the time in the world for, and those small life challenges that seemed so daunting were really not a big deal. It was amazing.

But the medication wasn’t without drawbacks. It comes with some unpleasant side effects, that were completely worth dealing with to get out of that fog. First, after a couple months I lost my sex drive pretty much entirely. I just had zero interest in sex. Not so fun. Big bummer for Josh. Second, I gained about 30 pounds. Yup, right after working my ass off last year to lose 20 pounds over several months, I gained it back and more very quickly. Even less fun. But I was feeling better so I didn’t really care.

However, after being on the medication for six months I decided that it was time to go off. We wanted to start trying to get pregnant again and it’s not safe to do that on the medication and I wanted to lose the weight that I put on. So I’ve been off for several months now, and for a while I was feeling fine. But now I feel the depression creeping back in. I recommend reading this post Susan wrote for What the Jules describing what that feels like.

I had a couple of bad weeks, but I’m doing better right now. I’m recognizing what it is, instead of trying to ignore it. I’m trying to manage it, talk about it, and do those things that make me happy (see my friends more, get out of the house, plan photo shoots, have fun projects to work on) and most importantly, I’m trying to keep my stress level down.

I feel so lucky to have friends and family who love me and understand. Every day can be a bit of a struggle, but I’m really working on it.

7 Comments

  1. Jenny 

    Thanks for sharing. I too struggled with depression and anxiety a few years ago. It was triggered by extreme emotional stress. I was prescribed both zoloft and Xanax and took them for about 4 months. I quit taking the zoloft because the side effects were unbearable and it actually made my mood worse. So I just decided to deal on my own. My symptoms eventually got much better because I handeled and confronted the reasons I was stressed.but it is not easy. And it is compelling that you sought help. Many people don’t. You’re not alone =] and we’re always here if you need to talk!

  2. It’s funny that you posted this today. The past couple months have been almost unbearable for me and after finally getting off Lexapro last year it looks like my time to get back on something is pretty close. Depression/anxiety and any other form of illness like these are hard to talk about and admit to because of the stigma attached to them. The very best of friends and the people I admire the most suffer from varying forms of these things so I guess in a way we silently understand and recognise each other without saying something out loud. I know first hand how hard it is posting topics like these and I am very proud of you for doing so. Together, by being open and honest, maybe we can help each other and those who are too scared to admit they need help.
    Way to go Maggie.

  3. Chris 

    Thanks for sharing your “crazy”. I could relate to many of the things you wrote about and have often wondered if medication would help during my “black cloud moments”. Sounds like you are on the right path by acknowledging the problem, getting help, and moving forward with your life goals. I have no doubt that you will be victorious! Take care.

  4. Renee 

    Aw, Maggie -
    So sorry you’ve been dealing with that; I have been in that place myself. ;) I’ve tried many MANY things to deal with anxiety and depression over the years. For me, homeopathy worked the best, but everybody is different – most imp. thing is to do what works for you – and remember to take care of you ;)
    Xoxo,
    Renee

  5. Kristy 

    Maggie – I am not going to pretend like I understand what you are going through, but I wanted to tell you that you are an amazing person, wife, mother, and friend. I am glad you are getting help. Did exercise help too?

    If it makes you feel any better, Andrew would tell you that it isn’t only depression that makes a woman lose her sex drive. :-P

  6. Thanks Kristy! Exercise definitely does help. Tell Andrew, Josh feels his pain!

  7. Thanks Renee! That’s the hardest part, right? Taking care of yourself when you’ve got a house full of other people to take care of!

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