Preface to all of this: I am exceedingly grateful for the miracle of modern pharmaceuticals. There is absolutely no shame in taking them, and if you are feeling very blue and having trouble functioning, you must get yourself to a doctor or therapist and get it sorted out! There are even places that will do this for free! No need to soldier through misery without availing yourself of the help that is easily within reach.
It's been no secret here in the blog or in my life that my family went through a hard time around the time Todd was born (and probably the year before and the year after). I feel like secrecy and shadows and hiding are a big part of the problem, and are a huge component of addiction, so I have decided that I will be honest and forthright in discussing all of this.
Given the circumstances, it will surprise absolutely no one that I went into some pretty hard-core postpartum depression. My main symptoms were uncontrollable weepiness and equally uncontrollable rage. Sounds like a party, huh!?
Yup, pretty much.
I had taken my kids and gone to my sister's on the fifth day after Todd was born, so she could help take care of us. We stayed for five or six days, and decided together that I needed to get some medical and pharmaceutical help. When I returned to Nashville, I visited my family doctor and was promptly placed on a 50 mg daily dosage of sertraline (Zoloft generic). This was deemed the most breastfeeding-compatible antidepressant, and since I had never taken one before and had no history with these medications, it seemed like the best place to start.
I started the sertraline the next day, along with my daily routine of placenta pills and domperidone. And . . . within a day or two . . . I. Felt. Awesome.
Seriously, it worked like a charm. The best way I can describe my affect is one of things being in proper perspective. I have a tendency to get overly bent on little details, and have trouble ordering things in my life from "least important" (let's say . . . canning marmalade this weekend) to "very important" (let's say . . . eating properly and drinking enough water). With the sertraline, things seemed to fall very naturally into their right places. I felt even and calm. Vicki Jo's tantrums no longer rattled me. Todd's crying just meant he needed something, not that I was a crap parent. The weeping and the rage evaporated. I felt great.
I decided that I would re-evaluate whether I wanted to be taking the antidepressant after Todd was older - closer to his one-year birthday. And I did have one side effect: weight gain. Boo. However, weight gain might also just be a side effect of life for me. Not sure at this point. It might also be all the food I eat and the exercise I don't do. Just sayin'. Also, I was worried about dependency. I didn't want to spend the rest of my life taking this medication. I didn't want my neurotransmitters to be permanently adapted to the SSRI.
I believe it was around March of last year when I decided to begin tapering. Todd was about nine or ten months old. I felt confident that with some natural helps (which I will be detailing in my next post!), I could handle going off the sertraline. I consulted with my doctor, just to be sure, and got the go-ahead. I tapered over the next couple of months, going very slowly. Two weeks at 25 mg, two more weeks at 12.5 mg, and finally two weeks taking 12.5 mg every other day. And then I was done!
My birthday! I was really feeling quite good after the taper at this point.
I have not had another serious bout of depression since tapering off the sertraline. I am slightly more irritable, but my moods are nowhere near as labile as they were when Todd was first born. I'm glad that I had the experience of taking it, and I would not hesitate to take it again if I faced another dark time.
Next post I will tell you how I got off the antidepressant - with food, exercise, and natural supplements. Stay tuned!