Mind Over What Matters

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?


17 thoughts on “Mind Over What Matters

  1. Yes, I needed help after our 5th loss. I went on meds for about 6 months and felt the same way you did/do – that I was somehow ‘weak’ for needing them. WHY couldn’t I do this on my own?? But then people who’ve had single miscarriages ask me how I’m still sane after suffering through five and I feel better knowing they hear me, they FEEL me…they GET IT. Hugs to you. You do what’s best for you!

  2. You are so brave my friend. Love the opening line of the blog. Through all of the heartache you have maintained your kindness and humor. So lucky to call you a friend. As I’ve said before: we still stand because there are not many other options available to us. A broken heart still beats. (still haven’t had the courage to read that book.) Not sure I’ve pushed myself much beyond functioning but sometimes I feel moments of living. I can experience flashes of a genuine smile and that I know is a moment of really living… fleeting though it may be. Sending love always.

    • A lot of that bravery comes from being surrounded by friends like you. Those who (unfortunately) get it, will cry with us and hold our hands. You do better than you can see, something I think is probably true for me as well.

  3. I went through major depression for 10 years and drugs were the only thing that helped me. I wish I had taken them sooner, and I probably would have if there wasn’t such a strong stigma attached to taking meds. I’m so glad to hear that you’re doing what makes you feel stronger. xo

    • I, too, am glad to hear you did what you needed to feel stronger. It is a shame about the stigma, and I’m hoping as more of us share our stories, that will lessen over time.

  4. Asking for help is never a sign of weakness. It is a sign of courage. Good for you….. To recognize what you need to move forward when life knocks the wind out of you.It doesn’t have to be forever, you will know when to stop. Love you. Aunt Joni

    • You’re right, asking for help isn’t a sign of weakness. For some reason, this seemed bigger/different than that. You and Uncle Jeff have showed us that it is possible to get through loss like this, and at the same time, that it’s OK to never “get over” it. We are always grateful for your support and love.

  5. What a brave and honest post. I know that so many others will find comfort and validation knowing they are not alone in taking medication to help get them through. Thank you for sharing your experience and demystifying it for anyone who might be considering taking that next step and wondering how it works.

    Though I have not taken medication to cope with our secondary infertility and losses, I needed therapy, an awesome perinatal support group, 6 + years of blogging and lots of regular exercise to survive. Though none of that was really out of my comfort zone, it was still pivotal in my coping and healing. Great question an post!

    • Thanks Kathy. Therapy and support groups have been instrumental to my coping and healing process as well.

      Perhaps none of these are outside of your comfort zone, but I’m sure that your blog and the support you’ve given others in group and online have helped people back into theirs…not to mention showed them they’re not alone.

  6. Hi, I am new to your blog. I am so sorry for all that you have experienced and I am so sorry for your losses. I admire you for taking the steps to get help even if it means with drugs. I think healing took me a lot longer because I wouldn’t take that step. I was too scared and wouldn’t admit it. I was able to do without but in the end probably lost valuable time that I can’t get back. Wishing you the best!!!

    • Thank you for your kind words. I completely understand being scared and not wanting to admit it. Hindsight is usually clearer, but I think when put in situations like these, most of us do the best with what we could at the time. While you didn’t turn to medication, it sounds like you were able to find some things that worked for you, and that in itself is a feat that shouldn’t be ignored.

  7. I just found your blog through BlogHer. I’ve just recently had a miscarriage near the end of my first trimester – my first – and am saddened to find that there is secret world that exists for so many of women who don’t talk about it.

    Thank you for talking about it. I’m so sorry for all you have suffered through.

    For years I have suffered with seasonal depression. In the winter it collided with further depression from my divorce, I finally admitted to my therapist that I needed chemical help to get through. I really didn’t want to take the drugs either. I chose to start with St. John’s Wort, which ended up working well for me. I didn’t tell anyone for a long time that I was taking anything because I was ashamed. I, too, thought it was a sign of weakness. But it did help, I got through the dark patch, and eventually I didn’t need the pills any more.

    What I have learned from the experience is that I’m so much better able to know where the boundary is between “I can handle this” and “I need help now” and I’m much more able and willing to ask for that help before it becomes critical. I’ve also learned some ways to help support my body and mood so that I don’t need the St. John’s Wort every winter.

    I no longer think it is a sign of weakness to ask for medical help out of depression. I know how hard it is to ask. I now know it is a really sign of strength.

    • Thank you for sharing, and I’m sorry for your loss. This really resonated with me “I know how hard it is to ask. I now know it is really a sign of strength.” Couldn’t agree more.

  8. Good for you for advocating for yourself and doing what you needed to do. There is absolutely no shame in that. I think that sometimes our society forgets that our brains are organs just like our hearts and lungs and stomachs, etc. If we needed medication to help those organs work better, we would take it, but there’s a stigma about using medication to help our brains function better. I think of it like diabetes (type 2). Can it be managed with lifestyle changes? Yeah, probably, but sometimes we need that little extra bit of help to get ourselves to a place where we can do what we need to do to take care of ourselves. Anyways, all of this is to say that I hope that this stigma dies down eventually. And again, good for you for practicing good self care and advocacy. But more than all of that, I’m just so sorry for your losses…every one of them.

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