Life is bright again.

succulent_700

Succulent, shot with Canon 6D

I’ve been mulling this post over for a while now. How do I sing the praises of Zoloft without sounding like a nut?

But to be really honest, those little blue pills are rocking my world. Maybe even saving my life.

It started off slow when I started the medication. The anxiety dissipated after a few weeks and I was grateful. I didn’t feel much different, but the stomach-clenching, hypervigilant, jumpy feeling had subsided. This had so completely become my normal, I just assumed it was me– wound up, neurotic, overwhelmed.

I didn’t know there was any other way. Last year though, I remember wondering often: Is this just life? Is this how everyone feels?

I started interviewing my friends – Do you feel overwhelmed all the time? Does it feel like there are too many people in the world? Do crowded grocery stores or trips to Ikea make you run for the hills?

Some would say yes. Others would nod slowly, looking at me suspiciously, like, Are you okay?

I assumed I was flawed.

That it was somehow my fault. That I was too sensitive. That the overwhelm was an issue of not being organized enough, or calm enough. I felt humorless. It was almost impossible to get me to laugh. I longed to be lighthearted.

I need to do more yoga. I need to start meditating. I need to do those breathing exercises everyone seems to talk about.

And those things would help, enough. And I would go on and muscle through. Buck up and deal. Soldier on with a curious kind of resignation –

  • Life is just hard.
  • This is what having small children looks like.
  • I just have to find whatever bits of beauty I can as the days unfold.
  • I’ll try to take better care of myself so I don’t yell so much.

I quit sugar. I hiked in the woods almost every day. I took my vitamins and supplements. I went back to yoga. I did therapy. I ate kale. I wrote, made things with my hands, took photographs and saw friends.

And it wasn’t enough.

I’m grateful for the panic attacks.

Without them, I would have continued on like this indefinitely. I wouldn’t have gotten desperate for relief.

They say it takes 6-8 weeks for the medicine to fully take effect. I didn’t notice a big change by this time and was a little disappointed, but grateful the panic and anxiety had calmed down. It was enough for me to feel grateful and happy about my choice.

And then.

Around week eleven, something happened. A friend called and asked me how I was. I’m doing great! I found myself saying. I didn’t recognize my own voice! I don’t think I have said those words (and meant them) in years. This was miraculous to me.

I’ve been watching myself over the past few weeks and marveling at my new-found hope. I love my life. I love my kids. I love my husband. I am hugging everybody longer. I am saying I love you. I am able to cope without getting whipped up into a froth. When someone asks me how I am doing, my voice doesn’t go up several octaves anymore with an oh fine…

I feel genuinely happy.

WTF? Pills are not supposed to do this! My new-age heart shouts. Yoga and meditation are supposed to do this. Hard work is supposed to do this. Copious amounts of therapy is supposed to do this. My mind is utterly blown.

I am funny again.
I am loving.
I bust out spontaneous dance moves to make my husband laugh.
I cry when I read a good book.
I don’t fantasize about death as a way to find relief.
I feel grateful for my life in a way I didn’t have access to before.

I am humbled, once again, by going down the road I didn’t want to go down. By opening the door I was afraid to open.

 

114 Comments

  1. cheri
    Posted January 9, 2013 at 6:24 pm | Permalink

    Thank you for your vulnerability and courage. Courage is my word for this year and you are an inspiration.

  2. Posted January 9, 2013 at 6:30 pm | Permalink

    One of the dirty tricks of depression and anxiety is that they fool you into believing that you’ve never really felt good or “normal”; that maybe you’ve been faking it all along and have finally lost you energy for it. Finding buoyancy again is amazing and hopeful and awesome. I can relate completely to your story! :-)

  3. Posted January 9, 2013 at 6:38 pm | Permalink

    Thank you. I needed to hear this today as I consider some changes in my life. (and so happy for you!)

  4. Posted January 9, 2013 at 6:52 pm | Permalink

    Thank you Andrea, really.

  5. Posted January 9, 2013 at 6:58 pm | Permalink

    You are so brave! Glad you found yourself again. {{{hugs}}}

  6. debbie
    Posted January 9, 2013 at 7:02 pm | Permalink

    my heart just spontaneously broke into dance for you! welcome back to you!

  7. Posted January 9, 2013 at 7:03 pm | Permalink

    So very beautiful & touching- thank you for sharing your struggles and triumphs, you are helping so many people.

  8. Lemoga
    Posted January 9, 2013 at 7:06 pm | Permalink

    I am so happy for you! This really hits home. I’m also debating”going to the pill”. I hear the same things constantly- you must be allergic to something, do the Elimination Diet, exercise, take Vitamin D, meditate, etc. Well, some days I’m so down and full of anxiety I can’t get out of bed to do any of those things. This post was much needed in my life today.

  9. JC
    Posted January 9, 2013 at 7:10 pm | Permalink

    Bless you, Andrea, for sharing here. I’m so glad you’re well and embracing life.
    I was in a place, having thoughts very similar to what you describe, and I concur, the panic attacks ended up making that revolutionary difference for me.

    Here’s to a fabulous 2013!

  10. Heather
    Posted January 9, 2013 at 7:12 pm | Permalink

    Whoooo HOOOOOOOOOO!!!!! Imagine me here, jumping up and down cheering for you. When I think how much good you put into the world while feeling so trapped (if I may be so bold as to put a word to it for you), I’m am blown away by the potential all this hope holds. That’s not imposing expectations, by the way. If the amazing you put in the world now is that you do nothing more than hug your boys and your husband longer and and more truly, I know it will make the world an even better place.

  11. Posted January 9, 2013 at 7:16 pm | Permalink

    I’m so, so glad this is working for you. Your description of what you tried, and how you finally surrendered and something shifted, reminds me a lot of your posts where you describe your struggle with infertility.

  12. Posted January 9, 2013 at 7:16 pm | Permalink

    I can’t thank you enough for sharing your Zoloft story with us. There is so much judgment and shame around medication. But it saved my kid (and saved me from being pissed at her 24/7). I still believe in yoga, kale and meditation. But I also believe in Zoloft :-) and I thank God for the creative scientists that created this miracle.

  13. Posted January 9, 2013 at 7:51 pm | Permalink

    So glad this is working for you and you’ve found your joy again. :)

  14. Posted January 9, 2013 at 7:52 pm | Permalink

    Thank you for sharing the conflict between what you THINK is supposed to create peace (and ease) for you and the reality of what is actually creating some peace and ease for you.

    One of the hardest things in the whole world for me is to let go of how I think something should be. Because frankly, I think things should really be my way and according to my plans at all times!! (Really truly, that would be best for everyone concerned).

    Yet your story is a beautiful testimony to what can happen when we are just brave enough to try something a different way, even when it’s completely counter intuitive to what we insist we believe. (That should be the real definition of “unbelievable!”)

    You’re awesome.

  15. Shannon
    Posted January 9, 2013 at 8:41 pm | Permalink

    Thank you so much for posting this! I’ve been struggling with my own issues with anxiety and deeply relate to the feelings you’ve shared here. I’ve been putting off finding a doctor to prescribe medication because life gets in the way and you make excuses for not making yourself a priority. You’ve inspired me to seek help, to know that it doesn’t have to be this way, feeling tied up in knots all day long. I’m always grateful for the honest and humble ways you share your human-ness. You truly touch and change our lives for the better by doing so. Thank you!!

  16. Erin Wilson
    Posted January 9, 2013 at 9:36 pm | Permalink

    So very, very happy for you :)
    Yeah!!

    If you were totally stinking cool when you weren’t well… look out world! ;)

  17. Posted January 9, 2013 at 9:36 pm | Permalink

    Oh yes, I recognize you. I also was plagued with panic attacks, nasty ones that left me cowering under a blanket on the sofa for days. Zoloft helped me crawl out, get my feet on the ground and eventually start seeing different paths in my life. After a few years, I could gracefully segue off the medication, but I would not hesitate to take it again if I needed to. And yes, I meditate, run, eat a lot of rich leafy greens, drink water, and get outside. Sometimes our bodies become off-balance and medication can help us steer the course until our bodies regulate themselves.

    Congratulations on getting your spark back! May 2013 be a year filled with many blessings for you!

  18. Posted January 9, 2013 at 9:38 pm | Permalink

    Thank you for being vulnerable and sharing with us your experience. That takes a lot of courage and you definitely demonstrated your superhero powers here. Keep on going strong!

  19. curious georgina
    Posted January 9, 2013 at 10:06 pm | Permalink

    Andrea – thank you – I’ve been feeling everything you describe, and desperate not to take medication. I’m scared it will diminish my creativity, that I won’t be truly present, that I will be a bit zombified – I know that probably sounds ridiculous, but these are my big fears, and I’m wondering if you could share your perception? Particularly around the creativity? Because I know at the moment i’m not functioning – I feel like a shell of a person.

  20. Posted January 9, 2013 at 10:20 pm | Permalink

    okay. i could have written parts of this.

    exactly.
    exactly.
    exactly.

    thank you.

    eager to read more.

  21. Posted January 9, 2013 at 10:20 pm | Permalink

    Thank-you, thank-you for sharing. Your story is my story too. I also didn’t want to go down the path of taking the pills… and some people have even said ‘oh no’ you didn’t (sigh!)… but I feel GREAT for the first time in a long, long time. And I’m SO grateful.

    Once I understood that it wasn’t as simple as just changing my mindset, that all the adrenalin and cortisol rushing around my brain for years on end was actually breaking down any serotonin (the chemical that helps you think sensibly and feel good), I finally accepted that medication might be a good option. A good decision. It’s just so wonderful to feel normal again. :)

  22. Jenny
    Posted January 9, 2013 at 10:30 pm | Permalink

    I cannot say better what has been said before me, you are amazing and deserve this light and easy happiness! You really articulated how it feels, the difference over time, it was so subtle but when you turn around and look at where you were, you can see that the changes are monumental. I’m sharing your joy!

  23. jen gray
    Posted January 9, 2013 at 11:01 pm | Permalink

    i love you brave friend.

  24. Posted January 10, 2013 at 12:41 am | Permalink

    Amen to all that! So glad you are feeling better and shining brighter. I agree that sometimes the type of help we want the least turns out to be the most helpful.

  25. Posted January 10, 2013 at 12:53 am | Permalink

    I’m so happy for you Andrea, and so glad you are able to live the life you deserve <3

  26. janharp
    Posted January 10, 2013 at 1:48 am | Permalink

    Beautiful, and encouraging (happy for you!).

  27. Posted January 10, 2013 at 2:02 am | Permalink

    Thank you for being so vulnerable and open. Just a beautiful and uplifting story. I was touched and I don’t really even know you. So happy for you.

  28. Posted January 10, 2013 at 2:14 am | Permalink

    beautiful. and such a necessary reminder that we don’t have to settle for medication OR a holistic approach. for me, medication allows space for the holistic bits – the yoga, meditation, and whole foods. without the medication first, it would be booze, cookies, and bad tv. ;)

  29. Posted January 10, 2013 at 2:59 am | Permalink

    <3

  30. Lara
    Posted January 10, 2013 at 4:29 am | Permalink

    You are so brave, and so worthy of joy and juiciness!!! So excited and proud of you!!!

  31. Posted January 10, 2013 at 4:33 am | Permalink

    Andrea,
    you are amazing … amazing! I am so happy for you — that you are experiencing life in brighter colors… and that you have the consciousness to see it — and the bravery to share it.

    My first thought at finishing reading the post was “wow, only Andrea could make me want to take little blue pills” but I think I really meant, only Andrea’s courage could help me to see that this need is like any other …like the need for food, or air, or water.

    Thank you … for always having the strength to be vulnerable with us. You are, as always, quite the role model — the kind we can aspire to.

  32. Posted January 10, 2013 at 5:09 am | Permalink

    What a beautiful brave post. Thank you for sharing yourself and your story so often here, Andrea. THANK YOU!

  33. Shosh
    Posted January 10, 2013 at 6:04 am | Permalink

    I’m so happy you found what works for you – and honestly, as long as it’s legal : ), does it really matter where it comes from? We’re always so afraid to admit what we do that’s taboo to other people or groups, when really we should shout it from the rooftops to let everyone know there’s a way for everyone to find happiness, and that my way may not work for you, but it works for me. And every way is totally valid, but it may not be a good fit universally.
    NO SHAME OR GUILT!!!! Only happiness, joy and light :)

  34. Aylin
    Posted January 10, 2013 at 8:37 am | Permalink

    yeay! so happy for you!

  35. Camilla
    Posted January 10, 2013 at 1:18 pm | Permalink

    Andrea, reading this was really, really, well, I don’t know where it will land yet, just wow. Thank you. For writing so openly about this. I’ve never even considered pills before, and after having read this post, and knowing how I have related to what I’ve read on your blog about your struggles for years and years now (since before Ben was born), I don’t know. Maybe I could consider giving myself the option. A huge step. Thank you. And my most heart-felt congratulations to you. So great to hear.

  36. Arabella
    Posted January 10, 2013 at 1:53 pm | Permalink

    Yes. To it all. Been there. Am there.

    And I have to admit that my pills are the one thing that has tempered a little of my new-aginess and caused me to find a little more balance in what I believe. Because while Yoga and therapy and whole foods and all that good stuff are GREAT, it’s OK if they are not “the answer”. They are not always “the answer” and while I believe in alternative first…I don’t believe in alternative ONLY. That idea just causes a lot of needless suffering. Balance in all things, right?

    So glad you found that good place that a little bit of the right medicine can bring.

  37. Sarah Ford
    Posted January 10, 2013 at 3:01 pm | Permalink

    Well done for taking the courageous step towards the real you again. Your story is inspiring and a subject that people need to speak more about.

    Much love x

  38. Posted January 10, 2013 at 3:07 pm | Permalink

    As I read this I felt as though someone had written what I’ve been thinking over the past few months. Congrats on your journey.

  39. Posted January 10, 2013 at 4:06 pm | Permalink

    Thank you for sharing this. Depression and anxiety sucks. I’m so happy you’re feeling good. I’ve started with depression and anxiety meds of my own it is changing my life, too. I have tried them before and been ashamed. Not this time! Life is too short!

  40. Beth
    Posted January 10, 2013 at 4:13 pm | Permalink

    what a gift you have just given to sooooo many people by sharing your story! Permission to not feel judged, to get help, to be okay with pills, to accept help for things beyond their control, to feel better and be able to be present for their dreams, children.etc……
    Thank you!!

  41. Posted January 10, 2013 at 5:09 pm | Permalink

    Oh Andrea, I’m so happy for you!! Here’s to feeling better and accepting how you got there – and to feeling GREAT! BTW, so looking forward to the CC course next week xxoo

  42. Kathy
    Posted January 10, 2013 at 5:32 pm | Permalink

    Andrea, thank you so much for writing this post. After a very difficult past year and a half or so, I find myself on a very similar journey to what you describe. The transformation I have felt since I started taking those little blue pills this fall(after exhausting many of the other things you mention) has been absolutely incredible. It feels SO GOOD to be able to feel joy again!

  43. Posted January 10, 2013 at 5:37 pm | Permalink

    So happy for you. Courage pays off!

  44. Daphne
    Posted January 10, 2013 at 6:07 pm | Permalink

    Once again… we are reminded that being “open-minded” doesn’t just mean being open-minded to the things we want, like, or approve of! I’m so glad it is helping. I was on Wellbutrin for about a year and a half after a total breakdown, and it was SO helpful. I was able to get off of it and have been fine for the last 7 years (through some really, really awful times) and am grateful to know that I have that in my arsenal should the need arise again. Sometimes just knowing there’s help, helps me get through otherwise dark places. “I can get through this… and if I can’t, I can get real help.” Hugs, and I’m so happy that you are feeling better.

  45. Posted January 10, 2013 at 6:56 pm | Permalink

    you are simply awesome & brave for seeking for those answers

  46. Teresa
    Posted January 10, 2013 at 7:55 pm | Permalink

    So very glad you are feeling better! You basically wrote my life story in this post. Well said. The entire thing is so incredibly difficult, although it’s been many moons since I drudged through the worst of it and walked out on the other side. I once told a therapist….”I’m weak”. She responded….”What you don’t understand is, you’re not weak, you’re so strong and powerful because you have walked through this and survived! That takes so much strength and courage”. So now I think about how powerful I am everyday and smile. And now you can too!

  47. Posted January 10, 2013 at 8:31 pm | Permalink

    Congratulations!!! SO very glad you are emerging from the darkness. Those kind of pills have saved my life, too ~ over and over again.

    You deserve every ounce of authentic goodness & happiness you are feeling, dear Andrea! Your story is beautifully inspiring!

  48. Posted January 10, 2013 at 9:33 pm | Permalink

    Thank you for sharing again Andrea. As you know we went back on meds at the same time and I am amazed at how much things have improved for me since accepting the need for meds again. I can see clearer, my mind is full of ideas (finally a spark again), and amazingly like you wrote ” I don’t fantasize about death as a way to find relief.”, I am also dancing all over the place – the car, the kitchen, with my kids) May 2013 be a fabulous year for us all! Much love – deb xx

  49. Posted January 11, 2013 at 2:36 pm | Permalink

    We are so ready to heap layers of blame and responsibility on ourselves aren’t we. It saddens me so much. I’ve been down this path myself multiple times and was filled with gratitude each time the meds began to work. Today I’m grateful to see these same type of meds helping a young family member and his dad find their way out of serious anxiety. I think it may be saving their lives literally and figuratively. So filled with gratitude.

  50. Posted January 11, 2013 at 11:46 pm | Permalink

    Oh, Andrea. Deep breaths…as I was reading your words about how you used to feel, I felt like I was reading my own, how fully I can relate.

    I am so very happy to hear that you are now feeling that deep breath of relief you’ve been longing for.

    You are a brave, wise heart.

    Thank you for your courage.

    Sending so much love your way.

  51. Posted January 12, 2013 at 5:04 am | Permalink

    Glad you are better. Inspiring how you bravely share your story for all of us. xo

  52. Posted January 12, 2013 at 1:23 pm | Permalink

    So happy to hear all of this…thanks forbeing brave and honest and sharing! So much shame is put out there on those of us who take help from medicines when nothing else is working.
    I lived with panic attacks for years…and anorexia. zoloft ( and no you don’t sound crazy) has helped me turn so many things around just by balancing me out.
    i put off taking meds for so long, and went through a few til they found the right one….
    do i still get anxiety? yes…but it’s so easy now to rationalize whats going on and stop it.

    “WTF? Pills are not supposed to do this! My new-age heart shouts. Yoga and meditation are supposed to do this. Hard work is supposed to do this. Copious amounts of therapy is supposed to do this. My mind is utterly blown.”

    mine was too…and I’m equally blown away that I am still myself, and I still have bad days…but I laugh again, and go out and enjoy life again. I’ve been on zoloft for 7 years, and I’m happy and not embarrassed to say that those 7 years have been a lot happier because of this silly little blue pill!
    BEST of wishes to you….and much love
    Thanks, Andrea.

  53. Andrea
    Posted January 13, 2013 at 6:39 pm | Permalink

    Putting this out there like that takes courage. I’ve been there. I’ve felt the anxiety, the tension, the “this is it?” feeling. The panic attacks were disrupting my sleep, which led to my getting help.I thought depression was being sad all the time, being dispondent all the time, not the tension and panic… thank you for having the courage to put your story out there, giving hope, letting others know they are not alone.

  54. Denise
    Posted January 14, 2013 at 4:10 am | Permalink

    Andrea, Thank you once again for your courage in sharing your stories – the good and the tough. I am always refreshed here by your utter honesty.

    I mentioned in a comment on your New Years post about my 2012 weight loss. It happened because I finally got help for an undiagnosed thyroid disorder. I too assumed I was flawed, unable to cope with life, unable some days to even function or get out bed.

    After I figured out what was wrong and asked for help, when I started with the first pill, I felt a difference. Thyroid hormones have given me my life back.

    Your post may have been about Zoloft, but I so resonated with it because I have had many similar thoughts about the thyroid medication I take every day and will take for the rest of my life. I sometimes have to remind myself that I am not cheating, I can’t muscle through it, and I am not morally flawed, I have a thyroid disorder.

    I am very happy to hear you are doing so well.

  55. Posted January 14, 2013 at 7:16 am | Permalink

    Thanks your story.Glad you are better.

  56. Julie
    Posted January 14, 2013 at 2:08 pm | Permalink

    I’ve been there too. Years of anxiety became my norm, my brain just got used to ‘reacting’. Only one year on meds made all the difference for me. It gave me a chance to build new habits, new responses. Using yoga and meditation during that time worked and gave me the skills I needed when I was ready to go off the meds because there was nothing there to get in their way. Sometimes we just needs to retrain our brains.

    So happy for you :)

  57. Nina
    Posted January 15, 2013 at 3:47 am | Permalink

    Welcome back

  58. Posted January 15, 2013 at 6:00 am | Permalink

    Yay. So, so happy for you, Andrea. And so impressed with your openness and honesty.xox

  59. Posted January 15, 2013 at 2:28 pm | Permalink

    Andrea–

    Thank you for your courage and vulnerability. I too live with “a pill” for life-long depression and am grateful for it.

    I am grateful that the zoloft is working for you.

  60. Posted January 15, 2013 at 10:14 pm | Permalink

    I’m so happy for you. That’s quite a burden lifted.

  61. Tracey (sparkyd)
    Posted January 16, 2013 at 9:10 pm | Permalink

    Just wanted to add to the chorus of thank yous. I enjoyed this post almost as must as the one about Nico’s birth (that I remember well enough to not even have to click on that link). Very happy for you.

  62. Tracey (sparkyd)
    Posted January 16, 2013 at 9:12 pm | Permalink

    Oh, and I’m stunned by that photo. Love it. I’m looking forward to hearing more about your new camera (and seeing what comes out of it). I’m still a ways away from taking that step, but eager to watch you show me how it’s done!

  63. Lemoga
    Posted January 18, 2013 at 3:33 am | Permalink

    Andrea- I had to read this post again because it’s so poignant in my life right now. I’m considering SSRIs again (I took Paxil 3 years ago and hated it), but am working with a new doctor who really has a grasp on “me” and what I need. I started crying after I read this again because what I wouldn’t give to feel happy and content. I’m going to talk to her about Zoloft and some other possibilities. I just feel as if my anxiety attacks and depression are at a point where it’s hurting my relationships, my work, and my life. Thank you again.

  64. Posted January 23, 2013 at 12:10 am | Permalink

    RIGHT?! been there sister, congrats on the feeling good again. Celexa saved me, and then some. I always say, they would not work if you didn’t need it. I have been back off for several years now, but I know, I KNOW, that if it ever gets too heavy or anxious or depressing, they will help lift me up again.

  65. Posted January 23, 2013 at 12:11 am | Permalink

    I TOTALLY remember experiencing the same thing when my SSRI started kicking in. THIS is how good I can feel? I remember someone told me that I would kick myself for not trying meds sooner. I was just GRATEFUL that I wasn’t so overwhelmed.

    3 1/2 years later, I realize that I still need to keep “doing the work” and taking good care of myself or else it’s all too easy to slip back into overwhelm and anxiety.

    With the SSRI, I can use my tools more effectively. Before, I would just shut down and drown.

    Praying for more and more JOY for you and your family!

  66. Posted January 23, 2013 at 12:12 am | Permalink

    So happy for you to feel such relief. Thanks for being so open about your journey and sharing so others can benefit!

  67. Posted January 23, 2013 at 12:18 am | Permalink

    So, I was just thinking this last night – I think I need to see someone about the possibility of medication. I was on the, “this is what my life has become?” spiral yet again. I am terrified because I am so poor, everything exhausts me, I react to everything, and I am just so lifeless – yet, i meditate and do yoga and have slowly stopped doing everything else because I am just too overwhelmed. The thing that scares me is I make too much money to not be on ACCHS (Arizona’s medicaid), and too little to eat and pay my bills. Not even sure where to begin – yet at the same time, your post gave me some hope. I will figure it out, with some help.

  68. Posted January 23, 2013 at 12:41 am | Permalink

    You are a brave and honest woman. I love that you are not afraid to share your truth! More power to you Superhero AND superhealer!

  69. Posted January 23, 2013 at 12:45 am | Permalink

    You truly are a superhero! Thanks for sharing your story and shining a bright bright light x

  70. Emmee
    Posted January 23, 2013 at 12:46 am | Permalink

    Wow oh wow. I know just what you mean. I was misdiagnosed (and mis-treated) for over 25 years!

    I had suicidal depression until I was 30. My pregnancy with my first child cured it. Yet, as the years passed my hormones changed again, and the depression set back in. By the time I was 43, I found myself holding on. Not suidical, exactly, but just functioning. The anti-depressants made me crazy so I was barely getting by on St. John’s Wart.

    One day, I made a stand. I AM NO LONGER GOING TO SETTLE FOR SURVIVING. I AM GOING TO THRIVE!

    I enrolled in a course at my local mental health center called WRAP (short for Wellness Recovery Action Plan). Most of what I learned there I had actually learned on my own in my 20s, but I did learn some new skills and it gave me the courage to go back to the doctor and look for something different. That is when I discovered a medication for Bipolar II. This is a form a bipolar that has ups and downs, but it has mostly downs and the ups are nothing magic. :)

    All my life, I have had this idea, “I can’t wait until I can get off of ______ medication.” Well. I can tell you that I NEVER want to get off of Lamictal. It is manufactured specifically for bipolar depression and it works like nothing I have ever experienced before.

    Hallelujah! Like you, I COULD get by, I COULD function, but for whatever reason (and I don’t need to understand it because it is true no matter what) I needed help and that help came in the form of a pill.

    Thank you for your very brave post.

    Emmee

  71. Sian Stargazer
    Posted January 23, 2013 at 12:47 am | Permalink

    Love this post!!! For years I had always felt alone. After reading this post with the line, I assumed I was flawed, I realised nothing could be further from the truth.
    I have been mood-stablising drugs in the past & felt like a freak, like a broken robot. And here you are saying you feel the same which makes me feel more connected. That’s it’s OK to be vulnerable & not have it all together.
    So thank you, thank you, thank you for having the courage to lay it all out there for all of us so we know that we are not alone. Truly the greatest gift one human being can give another is to let others know that they aren’t alone in their pain & struggles.
    You have given me a gift & it’s much appreciated.

  72. Posted January 23, 2013 at 12:50 am | Permalink

    I know this is said often, but it’s repeated because it’s true: We don’t hesitate to see the need for medicine for diabetes or other serious medical conditions. Depression and anxiety are no different. I’ve gone the Zoloft route and right now am in therapy and doing okay without it, but I know–and I trust my therapist to know–that should I need medication again for my anxiety and low-grade depression, I will return to it as needed. I’m so grateful to read your journey to what I call “living above the line.” It’s a great place to be. xo

  73. Posted January 23, 2013 at 12:51 am | Permalink

    Andrea darlin – SO GOOD! Now we can bottle up all your impromptu dance moves, your big smiles and laughter and the rest of us hoodlums who are still banging out the kale can take tiny sips of you. You rock Cookie!

  74. Susan A
    Posted January 23, 2013 at 1:13 am | Permalink

    I am so grateful for your bravery and willingness to tell your story. I’ve felt like you for 30 some years; fighting my ways through the days. It was my normal. Then the anxiety got to be too much and I sought help and was given Lexapro. I was 43 years old. I have never looked back. To be able to walk through a grocery store without having to talk myself through the anxiety was amazing. I know many people criticized my decision to take medication thinking that I could control the anxiety. And yes like you I tried meditation, herbal remedies, therapy, etc. But in the end what I found was the medicine helped me lived my life – the width and breath of it. I rarely share my story and wept when I read your post because I saw myself in your words. Thank you for educating and enlightening…

  75. Posted January 23, 2013 at 1:31 am | Permalink

    Thank you for such a beautiful recounting on what this journey must be like. I think its normal for mamas to have tinges of what you described but you just brought to my awareness that there is a line where medical help is needed. Your recovery is such an inspiration ~ you’re amazing!

  76. LinhC
    Posted January 23, 2013 at 1:33 am | Permalink

    I remember feeling so much better and therefore, being a much nicer person at home, at work, at the grocery store, etc. when I finally got on Lexapro. I didn’t hesitate to tell my friends about these miracle pills, because if my friend had not told me about them, I never would have gotten the help I needed. I no longer take anti-depressants because I no longer need them (not as much stress in my life right now). An added bonus is that I dropped 10 lbs just from not taking the Lexapro. :)

  77. Starrlife
    Posted January 23, 2013 at 1:37 am | Permalink

    I am so happy for you. Thanks for sharing such a vulnerable process.

  78. Posted January 23, 2013 at 1:54 am | Permalink

    Andrea, with this many comments I doubt there is anything I can say that you haven’t heard. Congratulations on being brave enough to try something new. Thank you for sharing your journey to happy. When I was living in the darkness and began to get better, I read such an article. It resonated so much with me I’ve always remembered it. Depression for me was a 3-headed monster. I needed to attack it on a physical (meds and exercise), spiritual (12-steps) and emotional (therapy) basis. My chemicals still get out of whack on occasion, but I can trust what I’m feeling. That sounds weird, doesn’t it? When before there was nothing about what I was feeling that I could trust.

    Continued success and happiness.

  79. Posted January 23, 2013 at 1:59 am | Permalink

    Oh sweetie I have been there. It was the panic attacks that pushed me over the edge too, the inability to drive over a bridge without panting and sweating like I was in labor. I didn’t realize how far I was in until I got out, and I am so grateful! Thank you for making this a conversation it is okay to have!

  80. Posted January 23, 2013 at 2:50 am | Permalink

    i had the *exact* same experience last summer. so, so happy [& i am!] you’re feeling better, too. it seems a bit crazy on its own that a little blue pill can make you feel like yourself again, but i’m right there with you. hugs & high-fives, my sister in zoloft . . . :)

  81. ChrisK
    Posted January 23, 2013 at 3:04 am | Permalink

    Amen! I’ve always thought of Zoloft as medicinal grace. God gave some scientist(s) the gift and intelligence to create it for those of us who need it.

  82. BP
    Posted January 23, 2013 at 3:10 am | Permalink

    Wonderful news!!! I’m so happy to read that it turned out to be “just the right medicine”. Thank you for sharing your story – you are making a tremendous difference in so many lives by doing so.

  83. Susan
    Posted January 23, 2013 at 3:20 am | Permalink

    Thank you for your courage in sharing your experience…not an easy thing to do, so bravo. It is inspiring and I am so happy for you that you are feeling better.

  84. Freddy
    Posted January 23, 2013 at 3:26 am | Permalink

    Very courageous decision! Way to take action and make a difference for yourself and those you love. :)

  85. Laura K
    Posted January 23, 2013 at 3:49 am | Permalink

    Thank you for this incredibly brave post. I so admire the courage to talk about this openly. I have considered it and also been afraid. Thanks for your honesty and hoping you continue to feel better and better!

  86. Mia
    Posted January 23, 2013 at 4:04 am | Permalink

    Thank you so much Andrea for sending this via email to me. You were right it resonates with me as it does with so many women. You spoke all my thoughts, feelngs and words. Your bravery and honesty is that of a hero for women. As I went into menopause after my cancer at 43, I had to take some things to help me. All my chemicals were off in my chemo brain, hormones and endochrine system. No herb or supplement was going to fix it, I tried. I found sleep with a pill and it was the greatest gift I have ever given myself. It helps with the anxiety. The shaking feeling that the world is crashing in on me. I am very honest with people about it. I say “do not suffer, take something to rest your body”. I am not embarrassed about it but feel liberated by the freedom it gives me to live my life happily.
    I adore you

  87. Posted January 23, 2013 at 5:05 am | Permalink

    Welcome home, Andrea. As always, I applaud your bravery. For realizing you needed more help than you were finding in your familiar solutions, and for sharing your experience so honestly with us. Thank you.

  88. Posted January 23, 2013 at 5:32 am | Permalink

    Andrea I hope you understand what you did when you wrote this blog post. You have helped all these women realize they are not alone and they can let go of their shame. They will have hope. That would include me. Thank you Andrea!

  89. Jan Brandt
    Posted January 23, 2013 at 6:20 am | Permalink

    I read the first line of your post … and was stunned. I JUST started taking Zoloft 1 week ago after struggling for 6 years with depression and anxiety. Like you and so many others, I tried the homeopathic route, yoga, deep breathing, healthy eating, hiking in the Sierras, writing, talking with good friends … I have a wonderful life, and yet sometimes felt so bereft. Unfortunately, my mental state has worsened over the last few days, but my doctor suggests I stick it out for a few more weeks. I now have a bottle of Xanax just in case. Your story gives me hope! And hope is what’s so lacking when depression settles over me. (I feel like J.K.Rowling’s Dementors are hovering, sucking all the happiness out of every cell of my body.) I am SOOOO looking forward to feeling like ME again. Thank you for the encouragement, Andrea. I will try very hard to be patient.

  90. jules
    Posted January 23, 2013 at 10:34 am | Permalink

    Hello
    I just came to this through some links and do not often comment but i wanted to say how brave and open and strong i think this is. Thanks!

  91. Tammy Askins
    Posted January 23, 2013 at 11:38 am | Permalink

    Andrea!
    Thank you for your courage and sharing your journey. You are a gift to the world. :)
    Have a wonderful 2013!

  92. georgy
    Posted January 23, 2013 at 1:04 pm | Permalink

    You are wonderful – and Brave – and a Gift . .
    Thank You.
    love & love,
    -g-

  93. Robin Troxell
    Posted January 23, 2013 at 2:40 pm | Permalink

    I’ve been taking zoloft for about 10 years. I have no plans to stop! I had more anxiety than depression, but it really kept me from enjoying anything. There is still so much stigma attached to this issue, thank you for putting it out there, putting YOURSELF out there, for others!

    giant virtual hugs!

  94. Christine
    Posted January 23, 2013 at 4:08 pm | Permalink

    Your post is brave, thank you for sharing. I, too, have started an SSRI and couldn’t be happier. Tried all of the same too. I will take care of myself by being healthy, and will keep being creative, while at the same time allowing my brain to refuel on the chemicals that have been depleted. You’re amazing! Keep up the honest posts that help so many!!

  95. Jamesmarie
    Posted January 23, 2013 at 6:39 pm | Permalink

    I feel that way ALL the time and no matter what I do – walk, make art, write, eat healthy, eat bad, eat chocolate – I still feel that way. I long to feel good again but have found antidepressants kill my senses and passions; I didn’t care about tastes or smells or colors or textures or beauty or light or love. I just didn’t care. So I stopped taking them. But I’ve never tried zoloft. Perhaps I will talk to my doctor about it. Thank you for your honest post.

  96. Linda
    Posted January 23, 2013 at 8:56 pm | Permalink

    Been there, done that,nobody ever sent a postcard!
    I was astonished by all the people who couldn’t understand what I was going through. If I told them I had cancer or a heart condition, they would have been right there and supported me all the way. Because it was depression, I was told that we all have off days, it would pass, just look on the bright side, take a little time off, etc. Once I got on proper medication, they all felt they had to point out to me that they’d been right and I’d bounced back. Needless to say, I dropped some of them when I realized they couldn’t deal with the fact I had an illness they didn’t want to acknowledge.
    The stigma about mental illness is very scary and it does make it hard for some people to get treatment. So many lives could be turned around if people had the proper outlook and treated mental issues the same as they do physical ones.
    Thanks for this, Andrea – you are making a difference.

  97. Posted January 23, 2013 at 9:55 pm | Permalink

    I am so happy to read about your upswing, Andrea. Right on! May you continue to grow stronger every day.

  98. lmen
    Posted January 24, 2013 at 7:51 pm | Permalink

    so happy for you! as you are helping so many others to feel their own joy, you are especially entitled to your own!!

  99. Posted January 24, 2013 at 8:16 pm | Permalink

    Feeling oh-so-much love and joy for who and how you are. You are so wonderfully aware and awake and healthy and courageous.

    There are so many things that contribute to our sense of well-being in the world. Good for you for being so open to whatever might work for you! May delight keep nipping at your heels, wonderful woman! xo

  100. Christy
    Posted January 24, 2013 at 10:48 pm | Permalink

    Oh,honey. I am sorry that you have been suffering for such a long time. And so glad that medication works for you. I found relief many years ago with Prozac. It was an amazing transformation in my life. I can remember weeping when the doctor said, “I can help you.” Having the vulnerability to ask for help – congratulations!

  101. Posted January 24, 2013 at 11:31 pm | Permalink

    I agree: as uncomfortable as intense anxiety or panic can be, and nothing–nothing–in my experience is as painful, it sends a powerful message that something is wrong, and a change needs to be made.

    I also agree that sometimes ‘modern chemistry’ is an absolute Godsend, and that meds, used intelligently, can literally save lives.

    And finally, yes, raising young kids is one of the most demanding and stressful things a woman can do. We don’t usually talk like that about those early years, but the day-in, day-out care for young lives can, and does, for many mothers create tremendous stress. Not just fatigue and garden-variety worry, but higher levels of stress. Why? Who knows? One’s personality, expectations of one’s self, sensitivity to the kids, other life changes and demands…All must play a role, big time.

    Good luck with this! Thank you for your openness!

  102. Emmee
    Posted January 24, 2013 at 11:54 pm | Permalink

    I keep getting emails of all these people who are responding with such loving and empathic words. Bless you for this post. I hope it brings you as much hope and joy as it does to me.

  103. Posted January 25, 2013 at 2:47 am | Permalink

    Beautiful. Real. Honest…so what I needed to read. I struggle with being overwhelmed, too sensitive,etc… and always wonder what it would be like to take a pill. I try to be holistic and shun this stuff away, but it’s okay to get help. It’s okay to be happy no matter what. Thanks for sharing your story and your honesty is simply beautiful.

  104. Posted January 25, 2013 at 3:48 pm | Permalink

    Oh,yes! I’m so happy you are in this place. Hand to heart, I could have written this post. My zoloft fully kicked in after about 3 months. Things are so much brighter in my world.
    Thank you for sharing your story.

  105. Denese
    Posted January 26, 2013 at 10:52 pm | Permalink

    thank you for sharing this. i can see myself getting attached to the outcomes yoga, meditation and kale “should” provide. i really appreciate your keeping my mind open to the possibility of another solution if all of that fails…

  106. Posted January 28, 2013 at 7:40 pm | Permalink

    I’m so glad you got meds! I loved zoloft; was on it for about a year. I remember looking at those tiny, blue pills with gratitude- they were so gentle! Ultimately, I plateaued on them and needed stronger stuff. I’ve been on Effexor for 20+ years with never a moment’s regret. Yes, the dissolving of that knot of anxiety came first. The relief to my gut was ecstatic! And the ability to relax! Please don’t abandon this journey if the zoloft isn’t your forever medication. Remember that it isn’t turning you into someone else, but rather correcting an imbalance that prevented you from being your full self.

    Please feel free to contact me if you ever need more input about other people’s experience with anti depressant and antianxiety meds. I had trial periods of a few months to a year before I found the medication that had the best long-term results for me. But I still think of zoloft fondly.

  107. jenny
    Posted January 29, 2013 at 12:53 am | Permalink

    thank you soso much for writing this. it’s hard to find other people dealing with this kind of severe and super monster-stubborn anxiety and depression. i’m still waiting (since like fall-ish 2010!) for one of these pills to do what they do in the commercials. maybe if I wait just a little longer i’ll wake up to some magic too, right? im pretty sure that i’ve been tossed enough growth experiences by now.
    so to whomever is in charge of assigning those: my catching skills are spectacular and im very super-wise now. I think im ready for some coloring books and pinecone bird feeder art projects now k?
    thanks. love, jenny

  108. Posted February 9, 2013 at 2:41 pm | Permalink

    I am so glad I came across this, even though late. I can SO relate to your feeling prior to your meds. I never gave meds a thought until I had a FULL BLOWN panic attack while driving. I guess my life crept up inside my being & I really couldn’t deal with it. I was unable to drive for a while. My doctor put me on Celexa for depression & Xanax for panic. I feel like a totally different person. I can deal w/things without freaking out. Welcome to the land of ‘happy’, my friend. You’re totally ‘normal.’ :-)

  109. Posted February 9, 2013 at 2:45 pm | Permalink

    Me, again; I wanted to add that I truly believe the heart of this mix of anxiety/panic that lies beneath the surface @ all times are the result of my wanting to be out of a nearly 25 year relationship. We’ve gotten quite comfortable, yet it’s unhealthy & my body & mind knows it. I figure the attacks are a result of my anxiety over ending this amicably, which I know it won’t be. Trying to hold all that in & function day to day caught up with me with a vengence. So, I’m medicated, yet not dealing with what I need to, hence panic. Stress will come out of us all, one way or another.

  110. Matthew
    Posted April 22, 2013 at 3:36 pm | Permalink

    Thank you so much. You are AWESOME, and an amazing inspiration. Thank you for sharing your experience.
    I am not a person who needs to take medications like Zoloft, but lots and lots of people that I deeply love are, and I always feel bad for them and the…stigma, I guess, that those kind of drugs sometimes carry with other (small-minded) people. The way you describes your experience is inspiring, and I think that everyone who takes mood medication, or suspects that maybe they should, should read this short blog post.
    I am happy for you, and rejoice that you have something in your life to help you access your inner-happy.

  111. shannon mooney
    Posted May 21, 2013 at 9:53 pm | Permalink

    What a powerful description!! I totally feel you and know what you are describing. The little pill does “so much” in the difference in how you feel, but “so little” because you just feel normal again (or for the first time)! Why do we feel so “weak” for accepting help for taking medicine when our brain needs help, when we would never even THINK twice about denying ourselves medicine for any other part of our bodies.

  112. Carolyn
    Posted May 22, 2013 at 5:35 pm | Permalink

    Andrea, I am here to thank you. This post truly changed my life. I had been on Prozac for many, many years and reading your post, seeing the same questions I have asked myself ad infinitum, I decided to DO something about it. After some doc trial and errors, I found one that GETS IT. Praise be. Have been building up the Zoloft over the last two months, and windows and doors are opening. Energy is moving. And I truly, unequivocally, consider you the catalyst for all this. It’s just true. And ‘thank you’ is no where near enough, but thank you.

  113. Posted September 22, 2013 at 2:31 pm | Permalink

    Very courageous to share your journey. Yoga and meditation are good, but not the solution for everyone. So happy you are feeling better.

  114. stacey
    Posted April 22, 2014 at 5:35 pm | Permalink

    This was such a moving and brave post. I remember well reading it when it was initially published. I wondered at the time if I should follow your path. Like you, I just kept/keep thinking more yoga, more meditation, more juices, and then maybe I’d find my happiness. But it’s such a struggle. Would you mind posting a follow-up and letting me/us know if you’re still taking Zoloft and how your journey has gone? I could use some advice on this topic. Thank you!

8 Trackbacks

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