For me, working motherhood is better when I’m on drugs.I ‘m not talking about the kind of drugs that make you high, but instead the kind that keep you sane.
I am a better mother, wife, and employee when I’m on Zoloft.
I’ve always been an anxious person. When I was a teenager, I remember my parents suggesting I try some kind of anxiety medication to take the edge off. At that time I scoffed at their suggestion. And then I went to college and realized that many, if not most, of my friends had as much anxiety as I did.
Into my adulthood, my anxiety ebbed and flowed.
So it should have come as no surprise to me that after I had my first daughter at the age of 29, I began to have some postpartum anxiety.
But somehow it snuck up on me. See, it wasn’t the normal PPD or PPA that the hospital brochures describe. I never even had the “baby blues.” Honestly, motherhood was a huge blessing to me and caring for my newborn came easier to me than I expected. She was a dream baby and the first few months, although exhausting, were a breeze.
Then I had to go back to work. And postpartum anxiety hit me like a ton of bricks.
I cried myself to sleep almost every night of my last two weeks of maternity leave. When I finally went back to work, I was an emotional and mental mess. I had baby brain. I didn’t feel like I fit in anywhere except for at home with my husband and our new baby. Even going out to dinner with friends was an exhausting chore. Every minute I didn’t spend with my daughter, I felt crushing guilt.
And when she got sick, it was like the world was ending. And, spoiler alert, babies get sick a lot. So I was breaking down quite a bit.
Around my daughter’s first birthday, my anxiety spiraled out of control. My husband and I had a special trip planned for just the two of us when our daughter would be 13 months old. When she got sick with a stomach bug around her 1st birthday, I flat out told my husband I wasn’t going to go on our trip. We fought for days. I lost my mind. I couldn’t bear the thought of leaving our daughter for a few days/nights.
I ended up going on the trip and everything was fine, but I still had the nagging anxiety.
Finally, around 18 months, I started to feel like myself again.
That’s when I finally realized that all of my worry, my guilt, my freak outs, had been postpartum anxiety. It was really normal, but it could have been helped.
So when I got pregnant with our second daughter about six months later — a pregnancy that proved to be high risk and very emotional — I vowed that I would stop my own insanity.
Around 8 weeks postpartum on my second go-round, I began taking a low dose of Zoloft. And I am so thankful I did that for myself and my sanity.
Since having my second daughter, I have rarely had any helpless thoughts or bouts of “not feeling like myself.”
When my second daughter was around a year old, I tried to wean myself off Zoloft and immediately regretted it. Most of all, my work suffered because I found I was more irritable, less willing to help co-workers, and more stressed about petty things.
At that point, my husband said to me, “Why bother? If it makes you feel better, than it’s worth it.”
Listen, I don’t love the fact that I have to take a pill every.single.day of my life, but I understand that it makes me a more patient mother, a more loving wife and a less stressed co-worker.
I understand that at this point in my life, it might be necessary to help keep me feeling “normal.”
Motherhood is hard. Working full-time and trying to grow a career is stressful. Put those two things together, and add trying to be a loving, supportive wife, and it can be a recipe for a breakdown — with or without anxiety.
So my point is, don’t wait until it’s too late. Take a lesson from me, if you need help, ask for it. Because everyone deserves to live a happy, (somewhat) sane life — even working mothers.