When To Quit

We’re both feeling much better today, although I think Cordelia was kind enough to pass her cold on to Aaron and I. Ah well, I can deal with a cold.

As we approach summer, I’m trying to get my body ready so we can try for baby #2 later this year. One thing I’m considering is getting off any medications I’m on. For those who have been reading this blog for some time, you may remember that I suffered from postpartum depression. Well, that’s not quite true. I suffered from pregnancy depression first, and it was bad enough to need antidepressants while pregnant.

I hated taking any risks with medications while pregnant, but in this case, the depression was more dangerous than the medication risks. Since I was depressed during pregnancy, there was an extremely high chance that postpartum depression was not far off also.

Even with my antidepressants, I was still a sobbing mess those first few weeks after Cordy was born. I questioned if I was ready to be a mother, since I couldn’t even enjoy my baby with the help of drugs. I felt guilty that I was so disconnected from my newborn.

Luckily, I realized that this was only a temporary time, where the hormones were being dumped out of my body faster than a mob informant being dumped into the Hudson with cement shoes. No matter how good the drug, it simply can’t keep up with a hormone exodus of that scale. After a few weeks, I adjusted, the drugs adjusted, and things were about as normal as things can be with a newborn.

It’s been over a year and a half since Cordy was born, and I’m still on the antidepressants. I was on two, and I successfully weaned myself off of one. Now I wonder if it is time to wean off the second one? The drugs have been a big help, no doubt. But how do I know when it’s time to quit?

A part of me wants off the drugs. Not only is the prescription expensive, but I’m curious to know if I can function normally again without it. I also would like to be off any medications before pregnancy #2, just to play it safe. I know that my current antidepressant is one of the safest out there for pregnancy and nursing, but even if it is safe, I’d rather go with no drugs than a safe one.

However, a small part of me asks, am I really ready? I remember those days of depression, feeling as if a dark cloud was hanging over my head. Nothing made me happy at the time. I was pregnant, with a child I had planned for and wanted more than anything, and even that didn’t make me happy. I felt so hopeless and helpless, and wondered if I was going crazy. I don’t want to feel that way again. I’m scared to feel that way again, because I don’t want Cordy to ever see those dark moods.

Am I ready to wean off? Am I crazy for agonizing over this decision so much? I’m a little embarrassed by this, because I feel like a druggie, saying I can stop anytime I want to, really. The difficulty lies in the fact that with the help of antidepressants, I feel good. That’s what they do – they make you feel good. But how do I know if I’d feel good again without them? That’s the tricky part. While not addictive like heroin or other feel-good drugs, antidepressants can pull you into a dependency, leaving you to fear going off of them and slipping back into that dark place again. Damn you, pharmaceutical companies. Your pretty blue pills sucked me in and now I fear going off of them and then begging others for a hit of Zoloft.

I think I’m going to try it. After all, if it doesn’t work, I can always refill my prescription again. But hopefully the old me will resurface, no worse for wear, and I can continue feeling good, only without the drug backup.

Besides, who can be unhappy when you have a cute kid like this:

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  1. Although I did not suffer from depression the same way you did, I suffered greatly after we miscarried in December (can’t tell by my blog? I am a great big fake! I was happy but not). I am on a prescription now and I wonder how I can ever let go, even we will be trying again soon too!

    hehe Maybe we can do it together!!

    Make sure you talk to your doctor about weaning off though! If you go to fast it may feel like you cannot manage however that may not be the case!

  2. No matter what you decide, if you wean, do it with the help of your doc. Cold turkey sucks.

  3. Anonymous says:

    I take anti-depressants and have for almost 20 years. I was one of the first prozac users. I’ve tried weaning many times and failed. Finally, I had to say to myself that depression is a chemical imbalance, not one your have and then don’t have. Yes people have successfully weaned from the drugs but I honestly don’t beleive that you will ever be the person you were prior to the drugs, nor do I think most people want to be. My final decision was that without the medication, I would not be a good mother. I’d rather take my meds and be a good mother than to do without them and not be the best person/mother I can be.

    You do what feels best for you and that is the only right answer. However, do not be disappointed if you find yourself in a position where you just have to say, “I need this med”. It happens and it could happen to you, the weaning also happens, and it could be you that gets by without them. Just be prepared to do what you have to do, regardless of what it is.

    Jerri Ann

  4. Christina,
    You are very in touch with your feelings and your thoughts about the subject. I believe you will be successful when you decide to wean from the medicines.

    I take a medication for anxiety. I just started. I was petrified to start taking it, because of the side affects, but I know it will help. And my doctor believes that I will be able to come off them when I’m ready. It’s a mindset. We have to think positive and know that we can do it. I’ll be rooting for you!

  5. Whatever you decide to do, I wish you the best of luck. I think a lot of people suffer from PPD and Pregnancy depression and never even realize it. The second time around you know what to look for and what to expect.

  6. Mommy off the Record says:

    I wish you much luck in stopping the medication. (And that IS one cute kid you’ve got.)

  7. I think it’s great that your agonising over this decision, well not great, but good that your at least thinking it through….good luck and I have no doubts the right decision will come to, and no matter which way you go, as long as right for you, it’s right for everyone…take care.
    Sorry for being a sucky reader lately, but life sucks right now!

  8. This is my first visit to your site, but your post really hit home. My depression tends to be hit-and-miss: really intense for a few days, and then it goes away for a month or two (and it’s hormonal – shows up whenever there’s a change in the milk supply). What shocks me about it is how terribly difficult it is to parent through those feelings. I feel like I’m underwater: I can see and hear my children, but they’re distorted, far away, and I’m really alone.

    Good luck with whatever you decide – I think it helps so much to know what you’re dealing with. The guilt is still there (“I’m not a good mother. I should be happier.”) but it helps to know it’s not real – and to know that we are fortunate to have access to drugs that can help if we need them.

  9. I linked you up over at my Clubmom Blog, Christina, because I think you bring up some really valid questions and thoughts that perhaps a lot of people have.

    I agree with others that say talk to your doc – and don’t feel bad one BIT if you have to go back on them. I think that would be the hard part for me – feeling disappointed if I couldn’t do it.

  10. My son has been on an antidepressant since the death of his dad – and along with the doctor I am considering weaning him off this summer. It’s a huge decision. It’s not me taking the medication, it’s my child. He is in for big changes this next year, and I’m wondering if it’s the best time to do this. I still haven’t decided. The dilemma can be paralyzing – but who has time for that?

  11. Christina, I read Kristen’s post about your post, and I replied over there at ClubMom. I’ve been where you are, and I’m sure of it now, having read your post – right down to the pretty blue pills.

    Feel free to e-mail me directly if you have any questions about how I handled preparing for #2 (as well as the pregnancy and PPD). But please do not think of yourself as a druggie or addicted because you are taking medication. I’m a bit sensitive to that viewpoint myself, as I thought the same way for a long time which prevented me from seeking help – fear of what I (and others) would think of myself.

  12. I suffered from a nasty bout of post-partum depression after my first child and a few less severe incidents before I had children. I have been on and off medications over the years.

    When I was pregnant with my 2nd child I was not on medication at the time. However, during my 2nd trimester, I started having symptoms of depression and very quickly got myself on meds. Even though my symptoms didn’t feel that severe, I knew that they would get worse if gone untreated. I also knew that it would take several weeks before I felt better on the meds. And when you’re feeling that bad, those few weeks seem like years.

    In my opinion, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with deciding to go back on meds. It is NOT a sign of weakness and it is NOT something you can control yourself by thinking positive or changing your mindset. Just remember that you are not doing yourself, your children or your husband any favors by toughing it out without meds if you need them.

  13. Christina!

    I applaud you for thinking this one through. I am and have been on antidepressants since 2002. They are a godsend to me. My family practioner quickly weaned me off of it when I visited him early in this pregnancy. He was worried about potential side effects. When I saw my ob/gyn a week later, she strongly suggested that I remain on the medication, that the risk was greater for me if I stopped. I also struggled with the fact that I needed the meds to function somewhat normally. I came to my conclusion that it is a part of my life. I don’t like who I am when I don’t take it.

    Please speak with a physician before doing anything. Some antidepressants cause serious side effects when you stop taking them…suicidal thoughts and tendencies being a major one.

    If you decide to stop, good for you. If you decide to continue, good for you. The important thing is that it is your decision.

    I will always be here if you need to talk to anyone!

  14. Ok I’m a little late on this comment, but I had to throw in my 2 cents’ worth.

    I have been on anti-depressants for 4 and 1/2 years. When I became pregnant the dr and I decided I needed to stay on them, due to the severity of my depression. I, as well, suffered horrible post partum, even on the drugs and it really messed with my head.

    I am now over the post partum, but still not stable enough to wean from my meds. This saddens me, but I would rather be the competent mom that I am now, than to be a complete mess and an “absent” mother.

    I really hope that you are able to wean successfully, but don’t feel like a failure if you can’t make it. After all, Cordy is a beautiful little girl who isn’t suffering any side effects. But I can understand your wanting to try the next one without. Just know that you’re doing the best you can to be a wonderful mommy, even if that means you have to take those pretty blue pills!

    If you ever want to cry, vent, or break down, it helps to have someone to talk to about this, so you are more than welcome to come to me!

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