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Last January (2008) I went on Zoloft for PPD. I couldn't enjoy Gabey or bond well, his reflux and losing weight issues had me in a state of constant panic and terror and self blame. It worked great, but in October at 150 mg I began a slide into becoming what I now call a "Zoloft Zombie." This coincided with an online friend losing a second baby. The pain I felt for her, her family, and our support group just pushed me further inside myself. Plus as winter started, Kevin's PANDAS induced OCD would flare up more and more often--which made me angry and guilty and crazy. I found no joy in any of the holidays (even Halloween, which I LOVE). I could barely force myself to do even the bare minimum for each holiday for the kids' sake. I rebuffed every social invite I got (which aren't many). I stopped going to therapy--I didn't feel bad, so why did I need to go (AHHAHAHAHAHHA!). I could rarely force myself to go to the parenting drop in center that I've attended nearly weekly since Kevin was 2 1/2. I let emails pile up. I did nothing around the house other than the bare minimum. I took months to set up appointments or return phone calls. I spent little to no time playing with my kids, as opposed to taking care of them. The only socializing I did was in IM with two friends. Every night I sat with my laptop, online, and didn't talk to Pete or anyone. I stopped reading books (my lifelong passion). I had no energy. I could barely get out of bed in the morning, despite getting "a full night's sleep." I didn't give a shit what I looked like. I was so happy Kevin was in full day kindergarten. I didn't give a shit about anything.

But I thought I was fine because I wasn't depressed, right? I didn't feel sad. I wasn't screaming at my kids or husband, which was nice. In fact, while they pissed me off, I rarely got into arguments with them. I would just shrug, walk away, and do whatever needed to be done myself all the while thinking what assholes they were. I barely had anything that could be called an emotion. And I am and have always been an emotional person. But I figured that this was better than life was before the meds and I just had to deal with it. I could cruise along, not talk to anyone, and be totally turned inward. So what if I wasn't happy, at least I wasn't miserable (so I thought). Pete's job had him working all day and all evening at home--he'd break for dinner, eat, put the kids to bed, and go back to work until midnight. Several of Kevin's friends' moms were having babies, as was his kindergarten teacher, so I didn't really feel like talking to them (in fact, in some ways I was irrationally angry at them for having their babies when my friend's baby was dead). I had no motivation to talk to anyone--and winter time and being stuck inside just aided me in doing so. I had talked to my acupuncturist about it and nothing seemed to be helping, so I assumed it was hopeless.

I managed to surface just enough right around Valentine's Day to realize that not being depressed but not caring about anything and not having the desire to play with your kids or talk to your husband meant that something needed to change. I started researching online and found that actually Zoloft is not good for people with thyroid issues (I'm borderline hypothyroid and on medicine) because it just sinks your metabolism further into a coma. More and more research started pointing me at Wellbutrin. It's not best on Hale's breastfeeding list, but at that point Gabey only nursed twice a day, so I figured at his age and weight and frequency it should be okay. I also checked with several LLL folks about that and they said it should be fine. So I asked my doc for Wellbutrin and started transitioning from Zoloft to Wellbutrin that night.

The Wellbutrin has definitely helped. Much more energy. Much more desire to actually play with the kids (though in some ways I feel like I'm having to relearn it). I'm forcing myself to accept social invites and went out to dinner recently with asetwoman and an old friend we hadn't seen in 7 years. asetwoman  also talked me into going to see NIN with her in May and buying Lollapalooza tickets for August. Suddenly I have a sex drive again. Wow! I have all these plans and projects in the house that I'm starting to tackle and am getting frustrated because there isn't enough time and money to take them all on at once. In some ways I feel a bit manic, but hell, it is so much better than being a zombie. I do find myself yelling which I don't like....I ended up going back on 50 mg a night of Zoloft to help keep that in check because I was starting to feel the return of minor panic attacks.

I think another reason that I finally decided to do something about this was because March 12 was our 15th wedding anniversary. I was terrified that somehow we manged to survive Zach's death, infertility, my mom's death, a high risk pregnancy....and that instead it was going to be the Zoloft that would end our marriage. Pete's job is still crazy and we are still having to relearn how to hang out with each other and do stuff instead of our computers, but things are much better. Pete was traveling a lot during the zombie time, and honestly, other than the inconvenience to me of having to do his chores while he was gone, I liked it. I didn't have to talk to ANYONE when he was gone. The house stayed cleaner, etc. Of course now I'm irritated with him because he tends towards messy (he slid into it while I was a zombie) and I want him to keep up with me! So we have to work on that.

I have started going back to therapy as well. And now have the energy to work on exercising and yoga more consistently. I have been doing a better job getting Gabey to his mommy and me music class and the drop in parenting center. I'm using FB as a reintroduction to socializing. I really want this spring and summer to be fun. Last spring and summer were not. I have a vacation planned for us in July that should be nice.

I too suspect my hormones have something to do with it. Ever since Gabe was born, I now have a week of spotting pre ovulation. I hate it. Never had it before. I get eczema on my eyelids at ovulation and my period. My acupuncturist has tried working on it with needles and traditional Chinese herbs, but because I am still nursing, I can't take the herbs she would prefer me to take. I plan on nursing Gabey about two more months. Both the acupuncturist and my GP recommended the same endocrinologist, but it turns out she is no longer on my insurance plan. Don't bother with a GYN for hormonal stuff-most of the time their only suggestion is to put you on birth control pills. My plan right now is to wait a few months after Gabey is weaned and then go to an endocrinologist if my hormones still seem to be out of whack. MY GP has done some basic blood work, but the stuff she can do isn't very detailed.

It is so hard to take those first steps. God, I know. For me I have to just do it in one big leap and not look back when I can find a moment of impetus. It's not perfect. And I don't like how now my sanity seems to depend on medications. And I wish I could find a bit more balance between zombie and manic. But it's a start. I'm yelling at my kids more (esp Kevin...6 1/2....wheee) but I'm also playing with them more, talking to them more, and having fun with them more. Same with Pete.

I just want my life to be better. It has been so hard for so long. It will be 5 years this July. That's five years I will never get back. I don't want to give up any more time. I lost so much of Kevin's childhood to this pain and depression, I don't want to lose any more of his or Gabey's childhood to it. I can't erase those years. But I'm sick to death of being stuck in neutral, sometimes in reverse. I'll never be the person I was in June 2004 ever again. I know that. But that doesn't mean that I can't try to find out who I am capable of being now.

A few months ago I got into the bag of 18m/2T spring & summer clothes that I had saved from Kevin. I was sorting it out into piles so I could wash it and put it in Gabey's drawers. These are the clothes that Kevin was wearing right before and after Zach died. There were several shirts there that brought tears to my eyes--we have pictures of Kevin in these shirts playing with friends while I was on bedrest and afterwards when people would come and take Kevin out on playdates to give us grieving time. Kevin noticed and asked me why I was crying. I explained and he said we should throw them away. I told him, no, Gabriel will wear them and make new memories for us. Still, I am sure it is going to be hard seeing Gabriel in those shirts the first few times.

Zach died when Kevin was 22 months old. I remember as I neared the end of my pregnancy thinking what a big boy Kevin was and how he understood I was having a baby, etc. Now that I have Gabriel and Kevin is 6 1/2, I realize how wrong I was. Kevin was still just a baby at that point. He only said about 10 words and signed 40 words. He really didn't understand mommy was having a baby. He was just a baby himself who needed his momma to take care of him. He had only been weaned 3 weeks before Zach died.

Gabriel will be 22 months on May 10. And for some reason, that idea hurts me. Because then I will have concrete proof in front of me that at 22 months Kevin really was a baby and look how young he was when this horrible thing happened to our family. I can look at Gabey and what he understands and realize exactly how confusing and scary it must have been for Kevin for us to suddenly be gone in the middle of the night to the hospital, for asetwoman  and topherscott  to be here when he woke up that night, for my mom and sister to show up the next day and stay with him, for everyone to be crying. For mom and dad to be shell shocked. Just thinking of it, my heart breaks all over again for baby Kevin and what he must have gone through. I wish I could erase that time from his childhood. It hurts me so much to think what life was like for him at that time. So, so much. I wonder if his life would be better now or he would be a different and or better person if that hadn't happened. *sigh*

I think I also have an unconscious fear that now something equally horrible will happen in Gabey's life at this point. Right now, that would be my sister dying. *fingers in ears, la la la la la can't think that la la la la la shut up brain la la la la*

I hope this made sense. I had to force myself to carve some time out to write because I was afraid I wouldn't be able to find the words. I'm just going to put it out there and hope it makes sense. 


( 15 comments — Leave a comment )
Apr. 29th, 2009 02:36 am (UTC)
I'm just happy to see you posting again. You have been through the ringer, but you're fighting back for your life. It makes all kind of sense, it really does. Holding all of you close in my heart, Stef. You are amazing and strong, even if you don't feel it.
Apr. 29th, 2009 02:38 am (UTC)

sorry i haven't been there more for you. am a zoloft zombie myself but not brave enough to explore other options. you are a strong, brave, beautiful, awesome mama.
Apr. 29th, 2009 02:51 am (UTC)
Apr. 29th, 2009 03:12 am (UTC)
You rock because you always do what needs to be done, even if it sucks to do it.

Love you all.
Apr. 29th, 2009 03:26 am (UTC)
I'm very glad to see you post again, and knowing that you have a strong support system around you. I'm rooting for you, even if it's virtually :)
Apr. 29th, 2009 03:36 am (UTC)
It's so good to see you post! It takes a strong, strong person to look deeply enough into themselves to address the issues that you are addressing. GO YOU!

Apr. 29th, 2009 04:12 am (UTC)
Apr. 29th, 2009 05:43 am (UTC)
I'll never be the person I was in June 2004 ever again. I know that. But that doesn't mean that I can't try to find out who I am capable of being now.

Just to realize this takes guts and is tremendously hard to see from where you've been. I'm so happy to read it, I'm weeping.

You are one of the bravest people I know. *hugz*
Apr. 29th, 2009 06:02 am (UTC)
Thank you so much for writing this. Your courage has always inspired me. (((((((hugs)))))))
Apr. 29th, 2009 11:29 am (UTC)
I wish we'd had more opportunity to come up there over the last couple of years. I've watched so much of the outside word whiz by along with the people I care about while my head has been buried in school. But I still think you're one of the most clue-ful people I know and feel lucky to count you in my "inner circle" because you've always given me aid, comfort, or food for thought when I've needed it, even though I don't think I've returned much in kind, at least lately.

Sorry for getting rambly. :-) *hugs*
Apr. 29th, 2009 08:17 pm (UTC)
It makes sense, sweetie. I've been so worried about you since Zach died, less since the Zoloft but still concerned.

I keep typing shit and erasing it, because while it makes sense, it doesn't say what I want it to say. What it boils down to is that while you aren't the person you were in June 2004, you wouldn't be her in any case, because people are always changing.

Still very much love the person you are now, the people that Pete, Kevin, and Gabey all are.
Apr. 30th, 2009 03:08 am (UTC)
I'm glad yer back. =-)

love you always.
Apr. 30th, 2009 04:22 am (UTC)
it's really great to hear your voice, and to know you are making a comeback. Depression is a nightmare, and being numb is awful, and looking back at it... what a feeling. XOXOXO
May. 1st, 2009 11:35 pm (UTC)
I've thought about you a lot over the past year, but I kind of figured that you had simply moved on from livejournal. Thanks for the update. It's good to read that you're beginning to come out of such a bleak, grey period, and not letting the zombies win.
May. 13th, 2009 03:41 pm (UTC)
I just now read this. Haven't been on lj in weeks. I'm glad you put this out there though. I hadn't realized things were that bad before I moved, and now I wished I had at least some idea instead of being so wrapped up in my own plans and chaos at the time.
I'm glad things are going better and that your getting more involved in life in general, again. Wish we were still around to do fun stuff over the summer. *sigh*
( 15 comments — Leave a comment )