Hi so this is sort of awkward but I don’t know why. It shouldn’t be. I wouldn’t have really said anything except that I felt like if more people (especially other creatives) had told me their experience I might have acted sooner. Or at least have been willing to act sooner.
I knew I always had anxiety, but the anxiety also dictated how I managed the anxiety. As in, I was too scared to do anything about it. Particularly when it came to medication. In college, I may or may not have once taken my boyfriend’s prescription pill. (For legal reasons I may not have lol). And you know what? It sucked. I don’t recommend taking prescriptions that aren’t yours. (For legal reasons I especially don’t recommend it) It completely inverted my personality. I had no emotions one way or the other. No joy. No crazy anxiety. Nothing. I was this empty robot. I actually felt empty. Like walking around with a spotlight and a skull in my hand lamenting that I lost all my mirth and what is this quintessence of dust? So that really misshaped my perception of psychiatric medicine. I felt like all meds would make you robotic and weird and passionless.
I also had this other fear about my writing. Would meds interfere with my creativity? Because writing is a massive MASSIVE outlet in my life. It’s so deeply a part of my person that I would rather suffer indefinitely than have my creativity taken away from me.
So when I got pregnant with my daughter, I was unbelievably sick. I think I had to have a total of four emergency IVs? Maybe five. Just sick as a dog. And I didn’t recognize the depression that was creeping in on me. until one day I started crying uncontrollably. And I remembered that sort of feeling after I had Jack. After Jack I had gone through PPD/PPA without realizing what it was. Because when it’s your first child you don’t realize crying for 24 hours straight isn’t normal. But this being my third child, I realized that I was experiencing something out of the norm. And I hadn’t even had her yet.
After I recognized something was wrong (which is the first really hard step) I called my OBG and told her my symptoms. They ended up giving me a survey over the phone and when I heard the questions I was like “ohhhhh…. yeah.” Sometimes you don’t realize how bad things really are when you’re silently experiencing them yourself. I was eight months pregnant and suffering from antepartum depression, which I had never before even heard of.
My doctor prescribed me Sertraline on the spot over the phone and I was so nervous. I read the pamphlet front to back and felt panicked that I was about to lose my ability to write. My husband is a Pharmacist and he comforted me. He said if the medication didn’t work for me I could always go off of it. So I decided to give it a try and this was the important thing I learned:
The medication didn’t stop my creative process, the depression did.
Suddenly, I had my energetic ability to write again. And other surprise side effects that I hadn’t realized were related to my depression/anxiety.
Growing up I always had panic attacks about getting sick. Legitimate panic attacks. And the first week I was on the meds, I got a terrible virus and was throwing up (plus pregnant sick, so that required another IV). But for some reason I was like “oh darn I just threw up in the Bobby Que parking lot. Whatevs lol.” THAT HAS NEVER BEEN MY MO.
Another one was suddenly I could watch Forensic Files with my husband. Before, even just hearing that narrator’s voice and cadence gave me heart palpitations. And now suddenly I’m not terrified of true crime. I read about The Toy Box Killer and the West Memphis Three crime within days of each other. And was like “Yucky, that’s disturbing.” And then NEVER THOUGHT ABOUT IT AGAIN. No ruminating details for the next week or feeling like I was gonna puke late at night thinking about it.
After that I realized okay… probably shoulda been on this medication a way long time ago.
Suddenly I had all this motivation to get things done. Unfortunately for Daniel that meant a butt ton of Amazon purchases as I started fixing up and decorating my house. I also started dressing up. Even if it were for myself in my house and my newborn spit up on me. I’ve honestly never felt more aligned with my true self.
I will add, because I think it’s important, I also was doing “the work”. Being honest about some difficult things that had happened to me in the past and giving up things that didn’t serve or work for me anymore. But all in all I think I’m in a much better space and that was in part the medication.
So that’s it. In all my vulnerability. I wanted to talk about it just in case someone else had the same fears or concerns about meds that I did. Or even if someone is having a really difficult pregnancy and didn’t know that antepartum depression is a real thing. Sertraline really did work for me if that helps.