To my friend who’s secretly considering anti-depressants.

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To my friend who’s secretly considering anti-depressants.

I hope you don’t mind me bringing this up. I know we’ve joked that come the end of a long day at the cot face, we all need something to take the edge off. ‘Mummy’s Little Helpers’. Here’s hoping that for you, the odd glass of wine is enough. But just in case…

Thing is, I’m worried about you. We all have bad days, but when I saw you the other day it struck me that all your days seem bad at the moment. Yes, strapping a planking two-year-old into a car seat is enough to bring any mum to tears. And running out of emergency rice cakes is definitely rant-material. But I got the feeling it’s more than that. If that’s the case, and you’re anything like I was, you’ll need someone to cut through the small talk and tell you how it is. Ask you how it is. REALLY.

Let me guess, you’re not even sure you’re really depressed. You keep telling yourself you’re fine. Everyone says parenting is hard. You’ve just got to mum-up and plough on.

You feel guilty about moaning cos you know you’ve got it lucky in some ways – there’s always someone worse off. And people keeps telling you how wonderful your kids/ house/ life is. On a rational level you see that – they ARE wonderful – and you know you should be grateful and happy but…

You feel guilty you’re not the parent you want to be. You have such good intentions but somehow things always spiral and you end up shouting and/or crying without meaning to. You go to bed feeling you’ve let your family down. Again.

You’re convinced you’re just not doing it right. You keep telling yourself that one of these days you’ll get this parenting thing nailed. Get more organised. Get up earlier. Develop some sort of system. How hard can it be to get through the daily routine in an acceptable fashion?

You’re probably obsessing about parts of your day. Torturing yourself about how you could’ve handled things better. How you’ll manage next time. My trigger was the riddle of a double bedtime routine, but yours could be the hunger strike mealtimes or the excruciating school run. Whatever, you dread it and the inevitable tears every time.

You wonder how other people manage, what they’re doing that you’re not. You cross-examine other mums, hoping they’ll share a secret formula. How DO they get their kids out of the house without a full-on family breakdown of a morning? Sometimes it feels like a conspiracy. Sometimes it feels like a farce. Are they faking it?

I bet you’re feeling a bit disconnected, right? Isolated maybe, even though you’re knackered and can’t face company. Or perhaps you’re over-scheduling playdates because you’re terrified of being alone with your kids. You dream about a lazy day at home with them but daren’t risk it.  I’ll always remember that hollow ache of feeling unsociable yet lonely all at the same time. But you’re not alone.

Let me tell you. All this is really common. Normal, even. But it doesn’t have to be. Your life is your life, but there are ways to smooth the path.

Speak to your doctor. Ask for advice. And when she suggests anti-depressants, don’t blow her off just cos they don’t fit in with your ideal you. Take a breath before you tell her you’re not the sort of person who takes pills.

I know you think anti-depressants are a big deal. In a black and white world, they feel the dark side of the moon. A bleak last resort. I know you’d love to juice your way out of this with more yoga, Omega 3s and meditation. Hell, you might even try running.

And who knows, maybe you can ‘chose happy’. Maybe coconut water really does cure everything. Maybe you can think positive or sweat yourself happy with more downward-facing-dogs, Nutella and sex. People really do that. Apparently.

But in the meantime, why not give yourself a break? If you had a headache, you might think about changing your lifestyle, improving your diet and tackling your stress, but not before the painkillers kicked in.

Life with kids is hard enough to ask for help. Reaching out is not admitting defeat or cheating. It’s being proactive. OK, so anti-depressents were never part of the life plan, but neither was sobbing over the school run, right?

And if you STILL feel funny about it, think of those tablets as a favour to your kids. All mums make sacrifices. Sacrificing your pride and admitting you might need a bit of a boost is just another one of them.

And the compromise is worth it. When I took my tablets, I was a step closer to being the mum I wanted to be. More patient. More balanced. More resilient. Leading two children through the bath-bed-book routine every night no longer brought me to tears. My failings were less crushing, too. I stopped lying awake worrying about what might have been when my daughter slipped my grasp and ran into the road or my son fell into the pool on holiday.

And no, the tablets didn’t change me, or numb my feelings. They just made the feelings easier to deal with. I felt like the me I’d be if I ever managed to go for a run or two weeks in the sun. The me I’d be if I had time to look after me.

So please, when the doctor reaches for a prescription, have a think about looking after you too. Who knows, maybe anti-depressants won’t be such a bitter pill after all.

But if they’re still not for you? You’ve always looked great in yoga pants too.

All my love

A medicated mum xxx

And then the fun began...

34 thoughts

    1. Aw, sorry to hear this, but at least you’re not alone. Hope you feel better soon, in the meantime stay away from running. Thanks for reading and commenting. xx

  1. What a great article! Fab way to start my day – and has broken down some of the issues I have with anti-depressants, despite being on them for a year myself! Thank you!

    1. Why do we beat ourselves up so much re anti-depressants?! As if being a mum isn’t hard enough! Thanks for reading and commenting x

    1. I know, how weird is it feeling alone when you’re surrounded by noisy kids. Hope you have some good friends and family around you. Thanks for reading and commenting x

  2. It’s so important to get this stuff out in the open isn’t it? It’s amazing the number of people who you discover are actually suffering from depression but didn’t feel able to say. It really shouldn’t be a taboo subject. An important post. Well done. x
    Suzanne recently posted…Faking ItMy Profile

    1. Yes, I’ve had a massive amount of people contact me privately to say that they relate. So many don’t want to comment publicly and I don’t blame them. There is a stigma, but their shouldn’t be. Me on the other hand; no shame! Thanks for reading and commenting honey x

  3. I think there is a questionnaire you can take which kind of helps you self-diagnose – am I depressed or have I just had a few bad days/experiences lately – you know everything from problems sleeping to wanting to self-harm. Its nice to read that the drugs do work and they aren’t this evil chalice that doctors want to poison you with! I would always consider counselling too – I have heard good things about counselling. Thanks for linking up Jude – this is a great post and you are a writer who deserves to win a prize in my opinion Xx #thetruthabout
    Sam recently posted…The Truth about… #47My Profile

    1. Aww, you’re so sweet, thanks Sam. I wish someone else thought that too. Maybe you can have a word to the powers that be for me? Cheers m’dears x

  4. Great post…. Nothing wrong at all with taking anti-depressants. I’ve been on them for a while now – I’m not depressed anymore but I have no intention of coming off them until the hurdle of the menopause is over – so that’s quite a few more years then! Sometimes you just have to give yourself a break. And no, they don’t numb your feelings at all, but they do help you to enjoy life a little better, to take things in your stride a bit more. X

    1. Thanks for reading and commenting. Glad I’m not alone. I just don’t see the point in NOT taking them. I’ve tried to come off them a few times but I need the kids to have the best of me, and without them I’m half the mum I want to be. Glad you’re enjoying their stability too. x

  5. I only shared this on Facebook cause I thought the picture described me. I then thought i had better read what I was sharing. You nearly moved me to tears, not easy to do.
    Thank you so much for writing this.
    Rache.x
    P.S After reading this I think I might need to up my dose. So my family thank you too!

    1. Aw, sorry to hear you’re crying but I hope there’s some relief in knowing you’re not alone! Up with the meds! Down with depression! Hope you’re feeling so much better soon. Glad you’ve got family around you to support you. Thanks so much for reading and commenting and sharing. Means a lot. xxxxx

  6. I’m loving my meds. (Been on them 2 yrs now) It took me too long to realise I wasn’t a fraud or trying to cheat. I hated the shouty mummy that I was and the mummy who just struggled with getting through the day. I only have mild pnd but it was enough to make me realise I couldn’t put it straight with diet, exercise, etc.
    Your words are exactly how I felt. You have pin pointed things I’ve only just come to realise I was suffering with. Being disconnected or unable to engage with the people around me. Leaving me feeling even more isolated even tho I had been in the company of friends.
    It has taken me 2 years to find the right medication for me. That has been the hardest thing. Hoping that something would make me feel a bit more like me.

    Thank you for your post, I will share it with my friends, those that have it and those that try so hard to understand.
    xxxxx

    1. So glad this struck a cord with you. And to hear that you’ve found the right medication for you. Really hope you can enjoy feeling more like you now. Really appreciate you reading, commenting and sharing Thank you! x

  7. Jude, this is totally incredible. So well written and your friend is so lucky to have you. I haven’t personally been depressed or anxious, but three of my siblings have had serious mental health problems in the past. One was admitted to a psychiatric unit years ago. In the beginning they took pills to cope, but the thing that truly healed them was family, true friends, support and lots of private counselling. Almost 24 hour care from family and friends. They each found a counsellor that resonated with them, and my parents were heavily involved in the process even though they were all late 20s. It is ok to have a counsellor, or admit we aren’t coping. I feel so terrible for those who have to face problems like this alone, or with little support. My heart goes out to them. It’s a subject so very close to my heart, despite not having suffered myself. I also think a problem can be that ‘depressed’ is overused so we’re quite desensitised to the word…there is a difference between being sad, and truly depressed. They’re thousands of miles apart xx
    Esther @ Inside Out & About recently posted…#Littleloves – cousins, Christmas and jeansMy Profile

    1. Thanks so much for stopping by and sharing your experience with mental health. I’m sorry to hear about your siblings but so good to hear they have supportive family and friends around them. What an inspiration for others. It really does help if people can reach out without shame or judgement. Really appreciate your comments and hoping your family say well. xxxx

  8. Such a beautiful post. I particularly like your point – ‘Sacrificing your pride and admitting you might need a bit of a boost is just another one of them’.
    For some reason we think it’s nobel to suffer alone, but the really brave thing to do is accept help. xx

  9. This is just perfect. Mine allow me to be a much better and happier version of myself. You’ve hit all the nails on the head here. This is a bloody great post and I hope loads and loads of people read it x

  10. I love this post. I wish I’d have seen it when I was battling depression. I’m relieved to say I swallowed my pride and the prozac and now I’m totally fine but it was very difficult at the time. I hope more people read this and get the relief they need. The truth is we’re all secretly faking it x

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