Monday, April 5, 2010

curiouser and curiouser

I was reading Ms. Moon's post about stopping her anti-depressant and how she feels anxious and how maybe it wasn't a good idea and how she would wait and see, and it brought back to me forcefully how impacted my brain chemistry is by simply slicing off the 25% end of my smooth zoloft pills. A task I gave to myself after reading a large and reputable recent study which showed that despite what they used to think, zoloft does affect babies in utero, and in a terrible way; zoloft causes heart defects. A statistically higher chance of heart defects. As soon as I felt the first strange, dizzy and hmm life feels strange feeling of pregnancy, I went that night and sliced off the tail of my monkey medication. Less is more, here, for prevention.

Within two days the world as I experience it shifts. I feel slightly dizzy. Off balance. Tears begin to threaten over slights or perceived slights- not like me at all, very much a brush that dirt of your shoulder kind of girl when it comes to everyone but my husband. The irritation begins to tingle my arms, the long smooth ligaments in my legs, and like impatient sperm tiny nerves begin to twitch in the corners of things: fingers, eyes, mouth. I do all the right things....I take fish oil and B vits daily in addition to my gluten-free prenatals, I eat right, I am avoiding all caffeine for Biggie Pea anyhow, and I know all about diaphram breathing ( which has nothing do do with birth control ). Exercise is the main weapon against anxiety and I can't use it to it's fullest, because during this first trimester I'm not going to do the kind of heart pounding work that lowers anxiety.

And so during a time when everyone expects beaming optimism and the hope and renewal of new life, I'm suppressing internal growls of irritation about the manners of co-workers and stomping my feet to rid these legs of their frizzy bratness. As my co-worker says to the kids Oh you so fresh! So we can connect the dots, of course, but it all ends in the same place, here, happily gratefully pregnant with Biggie Pea, but sad, daily, just feeling browbeaten and sad. My brain chemistry was surely formed in the trauma of my childhood, but also in the snag of my individual DNA, the " writer ", the " sexual being " - two things very deeply embedded in who I am but also two forces that do call on a kind of quiet awareness; even the life force of sensuality and sex acknowledges, tacitly, the quickness of our pleasures and the poignancy contained in their brevity. I don't regret who I am, but Kermit, it's not always easy being green, is it?

Every day I wake up and feed myself and the kids and deal with the small repetitive demands of modern life the best I can, with the most strength, grace and wisdom I can. Some days I sing and dance with Lola in the car ' boogie down down, let's groove tonight, share the spice of life ' and other days Dakota stands outside of the bathroom asking if I'm Ok while I cry. And I AM OK. I'm sad, but I'm finally all grown up. Almost nothing is too hard for me to tackle. I won't mention the few that are, superstitious. You can guess- they are the same things you fear at 3am I'm sure. Everything else will just be a lot easier to handle once I can replace the tail on my monkey.
Marion said...

I have to say that NO antidepressant should be stopped abruptly EVER. The effects can be catastrophic. They must be weaned off of. I tried many antidepressants but the side effects were worse than my depression, mainly 30 - 50 pound weight gains in a few months. But I weaned myself gradually over 3 months from the Zoloft. This was several years ago and I don't regret it. I think you're making a smart move. Good luck with it. Blessings!

Steam Me Up, Kid said...

Oh wow. don't I know that feeling, sister. When I was going off Zoloft, I lined 40 of them up on the counter, and took a nail file to the end of each file for the first one, two for the second, etc., until finally after a month I was down to half dose. It's so hard to get off those little blue fuckers.

SJ said...

My antidepressants dont seem to be working that great,but I think part of it is that I have been inconsistent lately. I feel nutso lately too. Very, very sensitive.

Rebecca said...

I sometimes wish I had an emergency anxiety pill. Something to take the edge off when I feel all antsy and full of rejection and isolation.. I wanted one on Sunday when I was running late for Easter Brunch......I was so frustrated with myself for letting us run behind, I felt frustrated with the traffic for being more busy than expected, I felt embarrassed because I showed up at the wrong location first (already 5 minutes late) which made me about 20 minutes late when I finally made it to the correct location. It was all too much for soon as I got there, I was just fine....but being late nearly sent me off the edge that I was just barely dangling on by a thin thread.

Ms. Moon said...

Well. Here we are. And you are shaving the tails off your monkey for a very good reason.
Oh Maggie. Why does life have to be so hard? When the bible talks about the sins of the fathers being visited yeah, even unto the whatever damn generation it is, I know exactly what they are talking about.
And you are trying so hard to stop the buck, stop the flow of the river of the sin you never started at all.
You're so brave. Go slowly. Go very, very slowly. Being an adult doesn't necessarily mean you have to walk and wake and be in sadness all the time. And being a mother pretty much requires that you are not.

Elisabeth said...

I've never experienced the chemical thrill or burden of medication, whatever form it might take, but I wonder often that it can be, as you imply, a hindrance as well as a help. Like most things I hear myself saying.

I gave up cigarettes about thirty years ago with my first pregnancy at around the seven week mark, when I discovered I was pregnant and worried the whole time through until she appeared, that I might have damaged her.

If not the smoking I would have found something else to worry about, I'm sure.

Pregnancy is a worrying time. It triggers our most primitive fears, our greatest hopes an joys.

May yours go on well and steady and filled with love to counter all those dark surges.

Thank you for a beautiful post.

Annje said...

Hmm... I don't havemuch experience with anti-depressants. I have read about women changing or adjusting drugs during pregnancy. If things get unbearable, you might consider that--finding a safer one. Not that you could forget, but being pregnant comes with its own whirlwind of irritations and emotions, that could certainly be part of the turmoil you are feeling and would seem to coincide with how far along you are. I hope you feel better.

* said...

I like how you said that you're finally all grown up. I feel that way, many days, too. It's not a heavy feeling as I once thought it would be (or maybe that's just because I'm feeling so light today).

And this: "Exercise is the main weapon against anxiety" -- every time my voice raises to my children and/or husband, I realize my own addiction to adrenaline, how, if I would only exercise more, I would somehow be fixed. Ok, maybe not fixed, just improved, more balanced.

Here's to heart and whole and fizz in your days, monkey tail or no.

A.Smith said...

Body chemistry and thus, brain chemistry continues to be an experimental science. Try this, try that, one may work for a while and then the body decides it has enough of it and the merry go around continues again.

But the sad truth is that once there is an imbalance of some chemical the brain needs to work properly and correctly, one is bound to pay a price for not providing it. When we are depressed we often suffer from poor sleep, crying spells, anxiety, worry, poor memory, inability to concentrate, body aches, stomach aches and a lack of interest in the same we enjoyed at some other time. Sadness, sense of loss, tears, insomnia and headaches are the most common symptoms when cutting the monkey's tail abruptly.

Acupuncture is a good way of providing some relief for this. A holistic approach is always best and perhaps there is some sage person around San Diego who can help you with this. Here is an address I culled from Google and maybe you want to take a look and see if there is anyone who can help you during this very hard transition period.

Take good care of yourself Maggie, you are of value and Sweet Pea is going to be thankful some day when she realizes what sacrifices you made to bring her here from the stars. (I don't know why I continue to think of "her" as a "she" but every time I think about you I think about "her" as well)

Irish Gumbo said...

No, it isn't easy being green...or blue... or black...coming to terms with that monkey is one of the hardest things we have to do.

The monkey nearly strangled my Big Bro, and the monkey has brushed me with that tail on more than one occasion.

Breathe, my dear, breathe...I send you good vibes and best wishes.

Ida Mae said...

I took myself off anitdepressents in 2004, but I can totally relate, and I certanly was not's tough Momma. Keep up your brillaint writing, and good work

Laura Lee said...

I tried some Adrenal Support when I was anxious, I can try to find the website - a blend of something like 30 herbs, B vites, etc... all strategically aimed at overworked adrenal glands. After two months I didn't need them anymore. Tho who knows what chemistry works for whom.

Lately I've been feeling anxiety, and having that "inside myself looking out" feeling, and thinking of taking more cuz they worked so well the first time. OH, it's from Nutri-West. Called DSF Herbal. No porcine additives like most adrenal support products. Just in case.

Good luck! LOVE the Biggie Pea!

Amy said...

I am not exactly proud of this but I did it cold turkey. I had been taking Zoloft for anxiety following childbirth and one day I realized I was out of pills and just never got it refilled. The worst part was the dizzies but I have to admit that feeling the feelings again felt kinda good, like I was me again. That said, those little pills really saved me in my time of need.

mosey (kim) said...

Ah, depression. I know not what to write except the very banal hang in there. xx

Maggie May said...

Marion - I totally agree. I once did cold turkey years ago and it's hell on the body.

Steam Me Up - Sometimes the most comforting thing to hear is just ' don't I know that feeling ' so xo to you.

Clearness - When I was having debilitating panic attacks a few years back I had an 'emergency pill' that I often simply stared at. It seems such a strange curiosity. Cognitive therapy can reaaaallly help things like what you are talking about. A few months of seeing someone can change years of your life.

SJ - I wonder how long you've been on them, and also if you have other sadness or great stress the pills don't stop you from feeling that- thank God- which I'm sure you know. I had to try a few meds before I found that zoloft worked for me.

Ms Moon - I agree...being a mother requires you aren't..that's the hard thing, though, the reactions I"m having from stopping the tail end are outside my control, even though I can control how I handle it to some degree.

Elisabeth - I hear you! Although, I never worried with my other two pregnancies. I knew I was eating healthy and doing everything right. This is thefirst time I've found I'm doing something that might be bad for the baby that I consciously am aware of.

Annje - Unfortunately zoloft is pretty much in the highest safety range..others are much more dangerous.

Terresa - Exercise is amazing..for people with anxiety, it's not about having an adrenaline addiction as it is that exercise helps your body regulate the hormone production of adrenaline and cortisol, which is flooding the body of people with serious anxiety. Exercise is pretty much the 'natural' way to reboot your body when it's fritzing.

Allegra - I have recently realized that I Adore you. I look up to you. I'm so glad I found you.

Irish - There is something about GET it. I always love when you post.

Ida - Thank you new friend!! I am glad we found each other.

Laura - I did a holistic program to heal my adrenals some time ago, and it helped but not nearly enough. I think my anxiety is such a brain pattern/chemical thing, caused by trauma and exasperated by biology, that the healing methods just weren't quite enough for me to function in life. I can't take Adrenal Supports while pregnant but thank you for thinking of it!

Amy - I wish I could be a 'time of need' person. I have tried to get off and replace the pills with SAME, exercise, food therapy, etc, and just can't function.

Mosey - Sometimes a word of encouragement really is encouraging.xo

Angie Muresan said...

Thinking of you. I know this isn't easy, but you are a woman of great courage, and you have an army of friends behind you to support you through the dark moments. You are wonderful! Know that!

Avo said...

My response to many things lies in cooking... For instance they make excellent monkey curry in the Mauritius.
Ah yes, I can see how that wouldn't work for you... shaven-tailed monkey curry is still monkey.
Then perhaps you could get the mock turtle to temp for the monkey?

The Kitten and the Bear said...

Maggie, I totally understand and can relate. Although I wasn't pregnant when I gradually reduced my meds. It was a big deal, something I wanted to do. Initially it was ok, then other days it wasn't ok.
Some days it's still not ok, and I wonder if I should start them again but it seems like a big commitment. And also, as backward as it sounds I think I take some pride in being unmedicated, even though I'm ashamed to admit it because it's stupid.
If I had high blood pressure or diabetes I wouldn't take pride in not taking medication for it.
Funny how mental illness has a moral weighting, but physical illnesses don't.

You're doing a good job, Maggie. Go easy on yourself xx

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Jessica said...

Didn't reading this come at the right time; I've been considering going back on my anti-depressant.

I wish there was something tangible I could give you to make it better. Just know I'll be thinking positive thoughts for you.

Beth said...

You are definitely “all grown up” - exhibiting maturity, focus and an amazing strength in this battle.

Mwa said...

And it's so hard already being pregnant, especially in the early stages. I've never been on Zoloft, so I've never had to miss it, but my anxiety sure got worse. And I would sit and cry in the bathroom, too. The combination of the two must be too hard. Take care of you now.

Anonymous said...

"To every woman, a warrior's heart." I'm serious. Hang in there, MM.

Evangeline said...

Maggie that is so hard. How come doing the best, right thing is always so dang tough? Love and good, calm, contented vibes to you and the Biggie Pea.

Allison the Meep said...

I understand how hard it is to wean yourself off antidepressants. I did it with zoloft too. And wow, I had no idea that zoloft was actually harmful in pregnancy. That was the main reason I got off it in the first place, because I knew I wanted to get pregnant again someday and wanted as few extras in my body as possible. And my doctor was so pissed at me. Insisted that it's safe during pregnancy, and that I could be doing more harm than good in the long run. Guess he was wrong.

Good luck to you. Dealing with depression is so hard, on top of being hormonal. I'm thinking of you. xoxo.

Coppertop said...

Just discovered your blog and can truly relate. I had some depression in the first six months of this pregnancy and it was bewildering.

I enjoy your writing style: "even the life force of sensuality and sex acknowledges, tacitly, the quickness of our pleasures and the poignancy contained in their brevity."


michelle said...

It is a double edged sword. I am so thankful for my sky blue pill, yet worry that after a while it might become ineffective, and then what do I do? I also worry about coming off it. I'd been depressed my entire life, and didn't really know it. Don't particularly want to go back there. Life is enjoyable now.

Sounds like a hard decision. Especially during pregnancy when you can feel so wacko just because.

I'll be thinking of you

The Big Dog Bites said...

This is the first blog I have ever read. Was creating my own as something to do while I was unemployed, and was drawn in by the name. Therefore I feel that I am unable to comment on the pure benefits or even medical benefits on cutting medication. But my humble opinion would be that the pills have probably been prescribed for a reason, by a doctor that I would hope knows what he/she was doing at the time. What it has made me do though is contemplate if I need anti-depressants. (I really hope that doesn't sound condesending, that's the last thing I want to do).. If you do need something to help cheer you up, you could always read my new blog at sorry to pimp myself out like that.

Rachel said...

Sometimes a good cry is all we need to just let it all out. I feel so much better sometimes after I cry.

Gberger said...

May you receive every single thing you need - whatever you need for yourself, whatever you need for your family & work. May the universe open and may it rain gifts upon you so that you KNOW you are blessed & beloved.

Lola Sharp said...

Oh man, Maggie, I wish I had some answers. I've never struggled with depression or anxiety, so I've never been on those kinds of pills.

But I am a mom (so I know the worry, and the fears), and I'm your friend... I'm sending you long distance hugs. I trust that you will take good care of yourself, be patient with yourself and write out some of these feelings (like I know you do). Also, reach out if you need help, which I know you will.


Caroline said...

I like what you said about being "all grown up"..I feel that way sometimes too and then sometimes I feel so lacking is wisdom. You seem so wise, Maggie and your writing is amazing.
I didn't know about the new study with zoloft and pregnancy, but that is interesting. I will be thinking about you as you taper down on the meds, and just think--once you are in your 2nd trimester you'll have all those feel-good hormones to help you along. Although my face looks like a 15 year old (SO broken out) those 2nd trimester feel-good hormones are in full swing over here.
God bless, Maggie.

Unknown said...


just be who you are, go easy on yourself.

enjoy the journey as much as you can, and get help however you can.

freckletree said...

dearest maggie. i feel so much for you. such a terrible dilemma for so many women.

i hate the pill. hate that i have to have it to feel a semblance of normalcy. but i have to have it.

i will not judge but only show concern in saying to please consult your psychiatrist, as dealing with this shit on your own can be much more harmful than not changing anything.

love and calm energy.

Mary said...

As I write this I am recovering from a bout of wooziness - I'm weaning off the anti anxiety tabs too and man does it feel queer sometimes.

But since my goal is to FEEL again - this is what I must do..

Rashel said...

i too suffer from severe panic/anxiety. i also have ocular vertigo which in turn triggers panic/anxiety. i pop xanax everyday. i hate it. i vaguely remember what it feels like to not rely on meds to make me feel "normal". i am crazy allergic to all ssri's but i have been on them before and coming off of paxil was a hell i never want to go through again. i feel for you. i thought i was going to lose my mind when i was pregnant with scout and couldn't have my pills. i made it. i also made it five months after that so i could breast feed. i wish you peace and sanity on this journey.

mrs.notouching said...

As if you were in my head for the past 3 days... It's been crippling. I know I should be happy and celebrating the new life. I know I am. I just wish I could feel it. ((hugs))

anymommy said...

Be gentle with yourself, beautiful lady, as you grow this child and try to balance all that complicated brain chemistry differently. Very gentle, okay?

Murr Brewster said...

No matter what you're taking, if your hormone levels are all topped off, you are guaranteed to be weird. If you don't feel sad/scare/pissed off/weepy/vulnerable/heart palpitations/homicidal, THAT should worry you.

Magpie said...

sigh. i know of what you speak... propping you up from afar.

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