I’m on drugs. There. I’ve said it. This isn’t something that’s easy for me to admit to myself, let alone the world of the web. But I am. And I’m talking about it here because I realize if I’m uncomfortable with it, I know (or at least hope) that I’m not alone.
Right after we lost the twins, I had asked my OB to prescribe something for me to take the edge off. I was taking something to sleep, but truthfully, wanted something to make me numb and not feel the pain, anger and overwhelming sadness (even though I knew nothing could really take that away). He rightfully said that he wasn’t comfortable prescribing something that he didn’t know the best dosage and recommended I call my GP or therapist. I talked to my therapist about it, and she recommended someone, but at that time, calling a psychiatrist or even my GP and having to relive everything seemed like a lot of work. Painful work. So I didn’t, and just soldiered on.
Double A and I acknowledged the small victories of every day. Getting out of bed. Showering and getting dressed. Going to work. Getting out of the house on the weekends. Simple things, yet to us, being exposed in the real world, felt like huge accomplishments. In spite of doing this, and putting forth the brave face to others, I was still a puddle inside. Functioning, but not living.
It took me a while (read: 3 months) before I finally realized that I needed the extra help. It was not something that I was happy about, but I knew I needed something to help get me through, to take the edge off, and allow me to carry on. The thing is, I see nothing wrong with medication. Just not for me. To me, it is a sign of my own personal weakness. I should be able to get through this on my own will and determination, right? Wrong.
Let me repeat that, WRONG.
A single loss is painful enough, but multiply that by seven, where each time hope is dangled a little closer to your finger tips only to be yanked away just when you think you can feel it. People say to us all of the time, “I don’t know how you’re doing this. How are you still standing?” And when I think about it…really think about it…it IS a wonder. I guess I go back to my friend S’s saying, what else can we do?
I needed to figure out what else I could do. And the first thing I needed to do was set my ego aside. The first visit to the psychiatrist was torturous. Not only did I have to relive my worst nightmares, but then I had to say it out loud: I can’t do this on my own. Now, I was hardly alone, but all of the support in the world couldn’t have helped me at this point.
Double A came with me to that first visit and held my hand as I filled out the (first of many) postpartum worksheet: Yes, I’m having trouble concentrating. Yes, I’m not sleeping well. No, I’m not having harmful thoughts. And so on. I understand the need for this sheet, and hated filling it out all of the same. The psychiatrist is a kind woman with caring eyes. She listened intently, letting us tell our tale, and was patient as I peppered her with questions about going on meds:
Will I get addicted?I don’t want to be on meds.How long do I have to be on them?I don’t want to be on meds.Will they turn me into a zombie?I don’t want to be on meds.Will others know that I’m on something?Will they numb the pain?Will they make me feel better?How long do I have to be on them?I. Don’t. Want. To. Be. On. Meds.
While I knew there were not going to be any magic answers here, it was important to me to come up with a plan that felt comfortable to me. To know what I’d be taking, what it would—and wouldn’t do, and what the monitoring process would be. This allowed me to feel as though I had some control over what had not been controllable. And perhaps the biggest reminder/reassurance for me, was that I wasn’t going to be on these medications forever. This was a temporary fix to help me better live with the grief as I continued to work through the pain and sadness.
That said, I started on my new pill cocktail in secrecy. Most of my family and friends don’t know (…until now). I was embarrassed. Truthfully, there’s still a part of me that cringes when I think about it. The fact that I’m just now writing about this as I am tapering off of the meds says so. But you know what? It helped me. It helped me a lot. And it did so in a way that I still felt like me. I still had feelings. And sadness. And grief. But I was able to better navigate those feelings.
I’m not trying to advocate for drugs here. But what I am advocating for is to allow yourself to put your ego and/or preconceived notions of what you should or shouldn’t do to survive, aside. To take the advice you’d give a friend, for yourself. To look at doing whatever it takes for the sake of helping you heal yourself. It’s true that nothing can bring our baby(ies) back. But there are ways to bring us back to be able to survive in this new normal in which we live.
Did you have to try something outside of your comfort zone to help bring yourself back from functioning to living?