I made a mistake. I didn’t pick up my prescription on time. I take antidepressants for depression and anxiety. It had been a few days since I was able to take my antidepressant, and I was really starting to feel it yesterday. I finally got my meds last night and promptly took one. But this morning I still was feeling off.
This morning was (as usual) a rush to get my two oldest kids ready for school and drop them off. My oldest has been in very grumpy mood in the mornings lately and hard to wake up. Then it’s nonstop whining and complaining about literally everything. He says he doesn’t want to go to school. His cereal doesn’t have enough frosting. He can’t find his pants (that are on the floor in front of him). He needs help with his button. He can’t get his shirt on. He says, over and over, how he wants to stay home and sleep and he DOES NOT want to go to school. I told him that I understand, but he still has to go…and to PLEASE stop complaining and get ready for school.
But he doesn’t stop. The more he whines and complains, the more I felt overwhelmed. The stress just kept building and building. We were starting to run late. I felt like crying. My heart was pounding faster and I felt a huge weight on my chest. It was getting harder to breathe. I tried to stay calm and keep it together. I kept moving to finish making their lunches (when will I learn to make them the night before?).
He came over and started critiquing what was in his lunch and finally the ball of anxiety burst open and I yelled at him: “BECAUSE I AM NOT DONE YET! IF YOU DID SOME THINGS YOURSELF INSTEAD OF WHINING ABOUT THEM, I WOULD HAVE BEEN DONE BY NOW!” I felt a moment of relief from yelling, like a release. But that moment was immediately followed by guilt as I saw the expression on his face. I apologized for yelling and gave him a hug. I thought to myself, “I am the worst mom.”
Finally we finished getting ready and I drove them to school. I gave them hugs, told them I love them, and said goodbye. When I got home, I flopped down on my bed in the dark and I just cry. I NEEDED to let this out. I felt awful, and it was not going away. I just kept hearing myself say, “I can’t do this. I can’t do this.” over and over again. Deep down I knew I COULD do this, but my heart was just so heavy that this was the only way I knew how to verbally express it. Processing this morning was exhausting, but I did it. And now I am feeling a bit better.
The point of this story is although it doesn’t seem like missing my meds should be a big deal, for me it is! I feel stupid for not taking my meds as I’m supposed to. Because I KNOW from experience that this is what happens. I go from feeling totally fine to utterly overwhelmed in a matter of days.
This is my life. I need medicine to function. I wish I didn’t. I have thought so many times to myself, “Why does it have to be like this?” and feeling like a failure for needing to take medicine. But that is the depression talking. Depression lies. The REALITY is I am NOT a failure. Because this is what my body needs. Personally, I know what it feels like to want to die. That is a place I was in several years ago, and I don’t want to go back. A medicated mom is better than a dead mom.
Medication is LIFE SAVING for many people. Yes, there are side effects and not everyone responds well to the same types of meds. And I know some people cannot find anything that works for them. Things like diet and exercise can help, but for many people that is not enough. For me, antidepressants ARE life saving. Not just in the physical sense of keeping me safe from my own brain, but also from a quality of life standpoint. I am able to LIVE life because of antidepressants instead of just BEING alive.
The truth is, I am a better mom with antidepressants. I’m able to have happy moments with my kids much more often. I can play with them. I can be there for them emotionally. I’m less irritable, I have more energy, and I can see things as they really are. Of course I still have bad days, but I am able to recognize that the anxious or sad feelings are temporary and I can ride it out.
That’s the kind of life I want to live. That’s the kind of mom I want to be. And antidepressants give me that chance every day.
And I’m taking it.
This piece was originally published on the author’s Facebook page and blog, Driving Mom Crazy.