Longtime readers know that I’ve been dealing with some mental health issues since shortly after Margot was born. I usually refer to it as “crazy brain.” (What can I say? Humor and self-deprecation are two of my coping mechanisms.) I’ve tried a few different treatments and have settled on a medication that has been working great for me for about two years now. Given that it’s been a while since I discussed this here, though, I thought it might be a good time to check in.
Confession: I was really hoping to be weaned off my meds by the holidays.
More confession: That did not happen. Not even a little bit.
Much as I’m disappointed by that, it’s been a blessing. The last several months have been something of a shock to my system. I’ve been handed some very difficult lessons from a lot of different sources, and I’ve cried a lot more than I care to admit. If I weren’t medicated, there’s no way I’d be as optimistic, present, and open as I am now. My guess is I would have shut down around Halloween and might still be struggling to resurface now, five months later.
At the beginning of the year I met with my midwife for everyone’s favorite well woman exam (/sarcasm) and to discuss some physical health concerns I had. Naturally my mental health was also a topic of discussion. She is currently prescribing all the medications I take (birth control pills + sertraline, which is the generic version of Zoloft) and wanted to know how things have been.
Not great, in a handful of ways, I told her, but looking up. I was…am…hopeful.
She was happy to work with me toward my goal of getting off my mental health medication, and had some great suggestions to that end.
Side note: I just love when medical professionals listen and work with you. You know those doctors that are so condescending and don’t seem to be paying attention to anything you’re telling them, or worse, don’t believe you? Why do they do that?? Ugh. I’m telling you, good medical care can be so hard to find but when you find it, it is gold.
Anyway, after talking with her, adjusting my meds slightly, and looking at my current situation vs. where I’d like to be, here’s my plan of attack:
I’m looking into therapy.
By “looking into” I mean “I know it would be good for me and I’m all in favor of it but I’m worried about finding the right person and how I will pay for it.” Any suggestions on that front—especially if you’re local and have any connections or recommendations—would be great.
I’m making arrangements to allow myself some “me time” more often.
This means setting up a work space and setting aside time to use it. It also means taking advantage of the babysitting co-op I recently joined. Creative outlets are important. More writing, more reading, more doodling, more baking.
I’m still taking medication…for now
The combination of a higher dose of birth control pills and my same low dose of sertraline has been FANTASTIC. I feel more balanced these days than I have in ages.
Eventually I intend to wean off of the sertraline. I have sufficient refills to get me through 2017, but I really want to be off before Ryan’s birthday in November.
I’m not sure why I’m pushing myself to be off the meds. I’m very open about the fact that I take them for my mental health and feel no shame whatsoever about it. If it’s possible, though, I’d like to find other coping mechanisms and, ideally, real healing.
I’m continuing to give myself grace.
My standards are low, and that’s fine.
I’m learning to let go of guilt as a motivating force in my life. Just because I “feel like I should” do something doesn’t mean I have to.
I’m focusing on my priorities as much as possible. Posting beautiful photos to Instagram every day is not a priority; noticing beauty in everyday things is. Bathing my children and dressing them perfectly is not a priority; loving them (and making sure they’re healthy and appropriately dressed for the weather/occasion) is. Going on fancy dates with David is not a priority; maintaining and improving our friendship + love for each other is.
I’m comparing less and celebrating little successes more. Progress over perfection, right?
I’m paying attention to, and learning to be okay with, my limitations. There’s an event coming up that I want to attend, for example, but going will take a lot out of me. Knowing that, I feel better prepared for that day and whatever follows, and I’m keeping my schedule for the rest of that week open for prep and recuperation.
So far I’m doing really well. Most days are good. Some are great. Others are pretty rough, I’m not gonna lie. But I’m happy. Even on hard days, I know things are moving in a good direction.
I know some of you reading this have struggled or are currently dealing with less-than-stellar mental health. I see you. Depression is real, but depression lies. Never forget that. There are breaks in the darkness when you’ll see beauty + light. Look for it when you can; remember it when you can’t.
You’re not alone. You matter. And if you need a friend, I’m always here.
We got this.