Little Green Pills

“Jesus, it’s just a little pill,” I chided myself when I balked at swallowing the smallest and most innocuous-looking pill I had ever seen. It felt as light as an eyelash.  I had taken pills three times this size trying to beat back menstrual cramps or to avoid malaria in India.

“What’s the big fucking deal? It’s just 25 mg of Zoloft. Take it!”  Now I was hysterically screaming in my head, while my husband brushed his teeth next to me at his sink.

I couldn’t believe how hard it was to swallow the pill.  The hardest part was supposed to be over, right? I had survived the C-section and its attendant pain.  Sure, I was still soaking pads with blood almost everyday, but even I had to admit I wasn’t going to die.

But Depression had come unbidden, casting ominous shadows over everything.  I was actually grateful my Depression wasn’t subtle.  If the Grim Reaper is the Angel of Death, Depression is a seriously pissed off, insatiable asshole whose chief attribute is greed– she wanted all my joy, my spirit, my will and my light.

I pinpointed the day she dropped her bags in my psyche as the day I spent the afternoon certain that Sadie’s umbilical cord was infected (so of course she was going to die), while watching Will and Grace re-runs.  I knew Depression had arrived, not because I felt her hot breath on my sore neck, but because nothing that Jack, the hilarious queen of Will and Grace, did made me laugh.

“I have to take this to enjoy my baby? Isn’t the bliss of motherhood my birthright? It’s bullshit that I need medication to enjoy my baby.” I continued my internal debate, while Jeff moved silently around me getting ready for bed.

My shrink had not hesitated to offer a prescription; he wanted me to enjoy my baby.  Still I resisted.

“Bob Dole told the world he needed Viagra, so you should be able to swallow a pill for depression! Get a grip!”

I shook the bottle. I had a three-month supply thanks to Costco pharmacy’s unsurprising policy that I had to order in bulk.  I studied the one in my hand and reminded myself that I had not hesitated to take the full complement of drugs the hospital offered after my C-section.  In fact, I rather enjoyed the appetite suppression from the Norco.

I tried to appeal to my vanity. “Swallow, Christie, maybe you will lose weight faster.” After all, that extra baby weight wasn’t helping with Depression.

I heard Sadie let out a cry from her co-sleeper.  According to the clock, she wasn’t due for a feeding for another hour. I felt my breasts tingle in anticipation of the imminent feeding; my heart tingled with rage at my devastating lack of control.

“Maybe this pill will make these moments easier,” I spoke more gently to myself.

“It’s worth a try.” I swallowed it and went to nurse my hungry baby.
read to be read at yeahwrite.me

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84 thoughts on “Little Green Pills

  1. Thank you for sharing this honest, funny and REAL story. I battled the same thing after Olivia was born. I could not believe this little 7-pound stranger just turned my life upside down and I wanted nothing to do with her. Harsh? Yes, but so is the reality of PPD and all of the unnecessary stigma that surrounds it. Thank you. Thank you.

  2. I FINALLY accepted the help of medication for my anxiety and could not be happier that I finally took the dive and “swallowed” that pill. I’m sad that I didn’t do it earlier because so many of what were supposed to be life’s treasured moments (like my two babies) I found crippling because of fear. I’m glad we were both strong enough to let modern medicine help out or little brain chemicals ha ha! Great post!

  3. You captured the stigma surrounding taking mood elevation medications in a very personal and thoughtful way. We all need to get over that treating mental pain is any different than treating physical pain. Nicely done. Ellen

  4. This is haunting. I remember those post-partum days so clearly (I wrote about sleep deprivation today) and this brought me back. The pressure we put on ourselves to do things the way we’ve imagined is so hard. I never tried medication because I kept telling myself I would wait until it got ‘bad enough’, which is totally insane. Looking back, I wish I had talked to my doctor about what I was feeling. Great post!

    • I can’t believe how I resisted. I was still reeling from my C-section. I had dreamed about a “real” birth and felt robbed and ashamed about my C-section. Then I was depressed and needed meds. I just want to give new-mom me a big hug and promise her it’s ok to take care of myself. Going to read your post now.

  5. You really need to let up on me, Outlaw Mama. How many days in a row can I handle posts that make me think to the depth of my core? This one, the transgender one and your guest post over at Stephanie Saye’s page. You are rocking my world and, probably for a combination of reasons, I am left speechless. Your voice is brilliant in this one (not to mention the content and the writing style too).

  6. Geez, 25 mg of Zoloft is hardly anything! :) I started at 50 after my 2nd daughter was born, about 6 weeks in, when I discovered myself sleeping all the time because it was when I was happiest (?) and, when I was awake, breaking dishes in the kitchen sink. I’m now up to 75mg and see no need to go off of it…..at least not until my girls are in college. We mommies need to stop guilting ourselves over every single thing and just RELAX….easier said than done! :)

  7. I struggled with a mild case of PPD after my first son, though at the time I don’t think that I would have labeled it as that. I just thought that I was a seriously f-d up, uncaring mom. Now I realize that it was the hormones talking and that I was far from alone in my struggles. Thank you for sharing your story.

  8. I swear I had just hung up with my mom after asking her if she thought I might have PPD when I got the email notice of your post. I can’t tell you how comforting it is to know others have struggled with what I am going through. Thank you so much for reading my mind and posting about it. :)

    • You still have a super little guy– and those middle of the night feedings are INTENSE. I was never good on no sleep, but once you added all the other stuff (sore nipples, confusion, fear and loss of my old life), I just felt bonkers. It helped to talk about it, but I guess I needed more. I sure wasn’t afraid to wear make up or wear contacts…was it really so different?

      Good luck. I know it’s so hard. So so so hard. I had a loved one chastise me when I started talking about my blues…”YOu have a healthy baby. Some people have ‘real problems.'” That’s an attitude some people have, but you don’t have to suffer. It is a real problem to be depressed. Oh and so fucking tired.

      • I think it’s the loss of my old life I’m having the hardest time with. I love my Beckett. I wouldn’t trade anything for him, but I had to let some of my dreams go, and it’s really been a hard adjustment. And then I feel horribly guilty for feeling depressed about it, because like you said, some people have “real problems” and would kill to be where I am right now.

      • I get it. I so so so get it. I just wanted one hour to be “off the hook,” and remember who I was….I used to run around doing anything I wanted and it was a hard change I wasn’t prepared for. How can you prepare for it anyway? I know you love him; of course you do. No one doubts that for one second. It’s just hard.

  9. I freaked out too when my son’s belly button cord fell off too early. Since the day he was born I was convinced I was going to lose him. Then he was diagnosed with a heart defect because my life is full of irony. LOL. Great post. I could relate.

    • We called the pediatrican but they wouldn’t let us come in because they could tell I was a total head case. They said until Sadie’s belly button started to smell, I had to stay home. Great… wait until she has gangrene. They were right, but still.

  10. Oh god I feel for you – because I have seen my friends deal with postpartum depression and because I have that same bottle of pills screaming at me “just take me!!!!!!!” but so far I have refused.

    • I still sometimes play fast and loose with it. Supposedly one of the side effects is lowered sex drive. Sometimes I think that it’s Zoloft’s fault that I am not as interested in sex, even though fatigue and mothering also lowers my sex drive. I wish I could just follow my doctors orders and accept the help.

  11. Oh this post has so much heart! You did an excellent job of expressing your fear and trepidation about both the pills and the depression.

    I was truly fortunate not to have postpartum depression after our daughter (now an adult) was born. I’m so grateful because most of my friends and family members were strongly affected by that gnawing, deep, dark state of melancholy. I saw how they suffered and my heart broke for them. I remember trying to cheer them up but ultimately feeling so inept and helpless during the times they went through it.

    Wonderful posts like yours are such a great help for new moms who are going through something similar so they can see they’re not alone.

    • Thanks! I wish I didn’t have it, but since I did, I might as well be honest about taking it and how hard it all way. Sheesh, those were hard days. Thanks for the affirmations!

  12. Been there, done that, still doing it. I was better prepared the second go round with Luke, but after my first was born (Ian), there were some really dark days. Depression can also manifest itself in chronic pain. Lived for two years not being able to move my neck, with paralyzing pain all the way down my spine. Couldn’t sleep or handle anything. Every day life would send me in a tailspin. Finally Rick made me go to the doctor. We both know better now. Won’t ever live like that again. Never. Started a blog post about it but can’t seem to make myself finish it yet. This might push me along. Thank you for sharing … it means more than you know.

    • What a great doctor who could take your physical pain and understand it. I am glad you found the doc. And having a supportive spouse is crucial. I can’t believe you had spinal pain. It’s so awful!

  13. I understand the hesitation. So many people take pills as a quick fix for everything, even when there are other options. Then, when there’s a real need, we hesitate, not wanting to be “those people.” I’m glad you were able to see the real need and do what was best for you and your family. Great post.

  14. This is beautiful. Thank you so much for sharing. There is so much stigma about depression and other mental health issues that it is often kept as a dark secret, which of course only serves to exacerbate the depression. I hope the Zoloft is helping you. When someone has diabetes, they don’t have guilt over taking insulin. You shouldn’t have to deal with guilt over treating an illness. Great post! Also, I tagged you for a Liebster Blog award: http://strollerparkingonly.blogspot.ca/2012/07/liebster-bloggy-love.html

    • Ah, thank you. How wonderful and supportive you are. I didn’t realize I had bought the stigma perception until I needed medication. Thanks for the nomination– is there anything I am supposed to do?

      • Just click on the link I posted above. It explains how it works. Basically, you answer questions, you make up your own questions, and you pass the award on to 11 other bloggers who have under 200 followers. No pressure to participate if you’re not interested. Have a great day! :)

  15. I love everything that you write! I don’t think I’ve been 100% “myself” since Drew was born… but I would NEVER ADMIT THAT TO ANYONE. (Oops.) Thanks for sharing your story! :)

    • I won’t tell anyone. And, that’s it right? Am I myself? Where is that lost part of me? Ob I could cry for all of us. Tears of relief and fellowship and belonging.

      Thank you for the affirmation!!!

  16. Periods, pregnancy, preeclampsia, childbirth, postpartum depression, menopause – what a crazy way to make people, and what an unfair distribution of the associated pains.

  17. Hauntingly brilliant and courageous! A grand slam post if I ever read one. Thank you for taking risks. Love you!

  18. I think it is so important that we talk about depression and especially post partum depression! You are so brave for not only successfully dealing with it, but for openly talking about it. Thank you for that.
    Also, the writing was wonderful! Your conversation with yourself was believable for sure. Great job!!

    • Most of my conversations are with myself! I agree– we gotta talk about it. Thank god the other people talked about it before I did– Dooce and brook shields and other women I actually know. I am forever grateful.

  19. 18 years ago I watched my then husband-to-be have the same argument with himself about Prozac. He finally took the pills and boy, what a difference! Thank you for being brave enough to help yourself…

  20. Your honest and complete sharing is commendable. You, sharing your pain…might give others courage for the little green pills ;) blessings to you!

  21. Brilliant, brutally raw post. I love, love, love your writing.

    I was the dumbo who didn’t think I needed help after either pregnancy. Looking back, I wish someone would have stepped in and pushed me toward it. I muddled through somehow, but it could have been less emotionally unpleasant — for all of us.

    I finally gave in when my dad died. Just couldn’t get out of bed. With a 5- and 7-year old at the time, I knew I had to get some help. Three months later, I was able to manage without them again. But thank god those little pills were there when I needed them.

    • It would have been easy to tell myself to soldier on but luckily I was already in therapy so I couldn’t hide. I am glad you got help. It’s nice to know its there when/if we need it!

  22. I took Zoloft for about six months after I had my son. Mine was more for blinding anxiety. It took me six months to even question why I was taking it. That’s when I knew it was time for me to stop. But I thank God it got me through those six months.

  23. Bipolar combined with PPD made me one of those crazy people who isn’t really safe to be around. My little pills were green, then blue, and now they’re yellow. And I love them so much. I loved this sentence “depression is a seriously pissed off, insatiable asshole whose chief attribute is greed”

  24. Oh, this was wonderful. I have battled anxiety for so long, that I’m almost fearful of what might happen if it’s gone. Would something worse take it’s place? Would I lose my edge? Good for you for taking that pill, and for sharing your story. You’ve helped so many.

    • Oh, this is so true. Some of my depression was like anxiety because I would get whipped up into a frenzy sometimes. I was afraid I would miss it when it was gone or that I wouldn’t be “creative” or interesting or funny or morbid. I am still all those things as much as ever.

  25. I love how much happens in this story without you ever leaving the bathroom sink (until the end). Great handling of time, the present juxtaposed with recent past, and vivid descriptions of what depression actually feels like (instead of assuming we all know). Well done.

    • We are all still at it and I enjoy most of it, so that’s saying something. That’s all I really wanted: to enjoy it. I waited so long to have a family…..

  26. I just got off the phone with my psychiatrist. I haven’t had my Zoloft since Saturday. I’m a wreck. The pills get bigger and bigger. It’s a life saver. I hope it’s made you feel that!

  27. thank you for being real. Thank you for understanding and verbalizing how difficult it is to get past the fear and denial and just take that first pill. To be gentle with yourself, and hope for a better quality of life. *HUG*

  28. I loved what you said about enjoying your baby as a “birthright.” I had no idea about the expectations and opportunities for “failure” that accompanied motherhood. I just assumed it would all be naturally perfect, except for the paper-towel commercial moments when we all made pancakes together and delighted in our messy revelry. Not so much.

    This was a poignant and honest retelling of a difficult time.

    • Doing this post really takes me back to those early days after my first. The WORST WORST WORST part was how devastated I was about my C-section. It set me up for depression that was so deep and wide. I felt like my body failed me and I hated that my daughter’s birth was full of horrible memories of anesthesia (can’t spell that) and being cut open. I used to weep every time I talked about her birth, and not because it was so glorious, but because I felt like a frog being dissected by an 8th grade life science class.

  29. I love the contrast of you hysterically screaming at yourself in your head while your husband calmly brushes his teeth next to you. That pretty much sums up life with husbands, doesn’t it? Thank you for your honesty on this subject.

    • Totally. Even now I can totally picture him humming to himself and being happy he can get about 45 min of sleep before the baby wakes up. Meanwhile I am totally freaking losing my shit next to him about ONLY getting 45 minutes of sleep, which of course turned into 0 because the baby woke up.

      Thank you.

  30. You did a great job capturing the stigma surrounding PPD and taking psychiatric medication perfectly. And depression is such a jerk that she actually works with the stigma like, “Hey… Yeah. WTF is wrong with you for having to take pills to enjoy your kid? Oooh. You feel that?That was me sucking away a reservoir of joy you didn’t even know you had.”

  31. Lovely post of the internal dialogue that goes along with these milestone moments. I love where you compare it to the other drugs, always so much easier for us to stomach than these mind pills.

  32. “Depression is a seriously pissed off, insatiable asshole whose chief attribute is greed– she wanted all my joy, my spirit, my will and my light” Wow. What a spot on description. As everyone says: get the relief you need. The easy and immediate bliss of motherhood is no one’s birthright. It’s a fairy tale we swallow along with the easy and continual bliss of marriage. Hope the pill helps!

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