Thursday, February 3, 2011

   Yup, let's go there. Let's have that (albeit one sided) talk. Does taking medication for your depression and/or anxiety make you a loser? Heeeeck no! Is it an important, sometimes scary and confusing, decision whether to take it or not? Yes!
   I've struggled with depression on and off for over a decade, but I've only been taking medication for about three years. The tricky thing about depression is that you aren't always depressed. So, on good days you tell yourself "See? I'm fine. I don't need medication." But, it could be the very next day that you aren't fine. I would go weeks at a time having a "good" phase and then hit a rough patch.
   When I moved across the country for college I started to realize that maybe what I felt wasn't normal. But, it was easy to brush the rough patches aside because there was always the next fun thing to do. A dance, a date, camping in the mountains. I was always going, going, going and, if I was struggling, I could go in my room and no one would see it. This made it easier for me to ignore. But, that changed when I got married.
   Here I was married to the best guy ever and my depression (which I still didn't realize I had) was worse than ever. I now had someone that could see me struggling, which made me realize I wasn't "normal." I didn't like that. But, with the love and support of my sweet hubby, I got a lot better. I managed really well. I slept and exercised a lot and focused on school.
   Things really got ugly when I was pregnant with my first baby. The chemical changes in my body made my depression very challenging. We also moved from Utah to Florida when I was five months pregnant to start a business. That's a lot going on for anyone let alone someone struggling just to get through each day.
   When Maribelle (Sassafras) was born the crap really hit the fan. I swear that child was possessed by a demon:). She had severe colic and screamed all day every day for eight months. I felt at some point like a part of my sanity chipped away. I cried every day. The hubby and I would rotate taking three hour shifts so the other one could sleep. It was the hardest time of my whole life and I'm still not sure how I survived. To this day my husband will say, "Do you remember when Maribelle did such and such when she was a baby?" My reply is always that I don't remember. I think I've blocked out a lot of that period of time. It was during this struggle that anxiety came into the picture and I haven't slept well since.
   Somehow I did survive that time and was actually crazy enough to have another baby. At this point, I knew I had depression and anxiety, but I was still scared of taking medication. I didn't want to take meds for the rest of my life, be labeled as crazy, have weird side effects, or be numb to life. I wanted to feel the good times even if it meant hitting some big time lows.
   Once again, pregnancy was brutal, but I also had a toddler to take care of. I was a mess, not all the time, but a lot of the time. When Campbell (the Commander) was born he had severe eczema that made him very fussy and I had to have surgery when he was only three months old. There went another chunk of my sanity.
   Thankfully, we had a dear friend who was a doctor. He had depression too and was willing to listen to me. I researched medication and found what I thought would be the safest and best for my symptoms. He agreed and prescribed it for me. It was then that I got back those lost bits of sanity.
   About two weeks after starting that medication I was driving and came to a stop light. A song I liked came on the radio and I felt so happy. I thought to myself, "Wait a minute, I feel happy. Is this what it feels like to be normal?" Tears streamed down my face and I thanked God right then and there. I didn't know how bad my depression and anxiety were until I started medication. Depression was my normal and was all I had ever known.
   I've been on that same medication since then and I feel so lucky to have found one that works for me with few side effects and that doesn't make me feel numb. I recently had my third baby, and though it's been hard, I still have my sanity and feel happy. Will I have to be on medication for the rest of my life? Probably, but so what? It's a small price to pay for stability.
   So, am I a loser for taking medication? No, but I'll tell you when I was a loser. All those years that I struggled unnecessarily. I literally lost precious opportunities for happiness. But, I don't regret the journey, because that's what it took for me to be comfortable with such a big decision. I can see the steps I had to go through (recognizing what I felt wasn't normal, giving it a name (depression/anxiety), reaching out to someone I trust, finding the right doctor, etc.) in order to take medication.
   Please understand that I'm not saying medication is for everyone. Highs and lows are an inevitable part of life. But, I do want people to know that if they think they may need medication, to speak with a doctor. Don't struggle unnecessarily like I did.
  Even on medication, I still struggle, but I'm kind of glad I do. I've gained a greater empathy and compassion for others and I've learned some very important communication and coping skills. I used to ask myself "Why me? Why do I have to have stupid depression?" But, I don't ask that anymore. That's the hand I was dealt and I can't change it. Now I ask myself, "What can I do?" I can take my medication, exercise, get as much sleep as possible, practice patience, and enjoy the ride. Because it's the the hard times that make the good times so sweet.


  1. Great post Jodi! Beautifully written and right on. This is a blog unlike any other I've read. This is something we would rather hide, I can't imagine writing my deepest feelings like this for all to see but I'm emboldened by your courage. It takes strength to speak the truth at times. This is one thing more people need to hear and so many of us can benefit from the blunt reality that this blog has to offer. Thank you once again!

  2. This past spring I went to Time Out for Women, and Michael McLean was one of the presenters. You guys grew up listening to a lot of his songs. Anyway, he spoke about having depression, being in denial about it, and fighting it for over 30 years. His kids would tell him, "Dad, there's a pill for that." but I guess he felt that would be showing weakness, or lack of faith. After many years, he finally did get medical help, and speaks openly about how it has changed his life.

    So I'm glad you didn't wait that long!

  3. Mine isn't the exact same, but I will have to take medication for the rest of my life also. My thyroid got all messed up after having my first (shannon) and I had a miscarriage because of it. I have to really watch my weight otherwise that is a sign that my medication is off. I thought that as I exercised and lost all my baby weight that maybe hopefully it would level out and I wouldn't have to continue taking it, but I have been taking it for 4 years, so I am a pill popper too and like you we just have to take it to make our bodies work the way they should. Glad you found something that works and that has the least side effects.

  4. Jody, it's so nice to read your blog and at the same time so sad, and frustrating. I ask myself how I did not see and why was I not a a better friend and helper during that time. Though I do not have depression, I do struggle with moments of it some times in life, and it's ugly. I also have a mother who has depression and it is as real you and me are. So I totally agree, and I am glad you are able to find something that helps you cope. We all struggle with different things. And our trials are all different, but they are still there. You are not the only one who ever asked WHY ME? I do with every miscarriage... And heck yah... now I take 4 different pills just to stay pregnant. And I would take 10 more if needed. You go girl. I am proud of you.

  5. Jodi, just seeing your blog recently and reading this now, thank you so much for writing, you speak my feelings and truth with your words.

  6. I found this today as I was lamenting how I have to add another medication to what I was already taking, and being frustrated by it. BUT it was nice to read this, thanks!

    1. I'm so sorry for your frustration with having to add another medication. If you ever want a sounding board..I'm here.

  7. Wow! I just stumbled across your blog and am super impressed by it :-) I finally reached the point where I have owned up to my depression with the people in my life, not just myself and my doctor, and it's really opened things up in a big way. I was resistant to meds for sooooo long and now they are really helping me. I even started my own blog on depression at Yours is a blog that will definitely be on my inspiration radar :-)

  8. Jody, Wow, You are truly one inspiring woman and you have an awesome blog as well. I too suffer from depression, anxiety and even bipolar. I too struggled with the thought on medication and the side effects but when it became too much for my family to take that is when I went on medication. Keep pushing on and you can get thru anything. I know the things I have been thru as a single mother of 2 on SSDI and 2 failed major back surgeries..If you need anyone to talk to I am here for email is and I do have a website that I talk about everything and anything including my mental health... please check it out!!


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