As many of you probably know, last year, I had a bit of a breakdown. My personal and health problems became too much for me to handle. I became paralyzed by anxiety, fear, and physical pain. I couldn’t sleep. I couldn’t eat. I couldn’t enjoy the little things that make life worth living: a challenging, sweaty workout that you hope never ends, a leisurely stroll on a crowded city street, the simple pleasure of just holding your husband in your arms, laughing with friends, SEX, dressing up and looking damn good on a Friday night. The list could go on for days.

All of the above situations made me anxious and nervous. I often couldn’t breathe, let alone find enjoyment in anything. Damn, I was a mess. I have never felt that low in my entire life. EVER. I sought help from a doctor. That part most of you know. I was thrown a lifeline and I took it.

That lifeline was Paxil.

I have never talked about the Paxil part of my recovery until now.

I don’t know why I haven’t discussed taking an antidepressant on here before. My family has a great deal of experience with mental illness, and I am well aware of the stigma surrounding it. But all of that knowledge didn’t stop me from hiding it from you guys. I disliked seeing new doctors because under the section for “medications you are currently taking” I always had to write in Paxil. I hated that. It was painful to have to describe to inquisitive doctors why a seemingly level-headed girl was on meds. “Well, let’s see. I’m a super easy going person. Nothing bothers me, and that’s why I’m on anti-anxiety medication.” I was a walking contradiction.

I think it has more to do with my pride than anything else. I have always been too proud to ask for help. Before, during, and after my breakdown, I continued to feverishly clutch to my pride in a pathetic, self-defeating sort of way.

I was too strong, too sane, too “normal” to need help. In my mind, taking medication was a sign of weakness.

Well, I’m here to say that even the coolest, most put together, smartest, whatever-est people need help sometimes. It’s not weakness. It’s being human. If I’ve learned anything throughout this ordeal, I have learned that. I leaned on my husband and my family like no other. I lost friends. I’m still processing what it means to go through such a bad time in your life, and to never get a call from people, who for a long time, you called dear friends. Best friends, even. When I think about it, it’s like an open sore that won’t heal. But, I’m rifting.

Anywho, back to the Paxil.

I started taking it in September 2010, and I instantly felt better. My chest loosened, and I could take deep breaths again. My mind was clearing, and things began to make sense. Within months, I was seeing glimpses of the old me. I scheduled an appointment to see a new gynecologist, and I got the surgery I desperately needed.

I got my life back, and that was such a good feeling.

After surgery, I became consumed by my recovery. We went back to trying to conceive again, and I was afraid to go off Paxil for fear that my nerves would come back with a vengeance. So I stayed on it a bit longer. A few doctors warned me that I shouldn’t be on Paxil while pregnant. Yes, I’ve seen the scary commercials where they talk about Paxil, birth defects, and class action lawsuits. I know the risks, but at the time, I felt like I couldn’t go off of it. I was frightened by the withdrawals, but more importantly, scared to death of relapsing into a state of constant, out of control anxiety.

Since then I have made the decision that I do not want to be pregnant and on it. I think it is an individual choice that needs to be made with your mental and physical health prioritized first. I’m not telling anyone what they should or shouldn’t do. I will say that Paxil saved me right as I was about to break in half. I took a low dose, and fortunately, it was enough for me to get back on track.

As of this week, I am happy to report that I am taking half of my prescribed dose. Hopefully next week I will be completely drug free. I don’t know for sure how this will affect me, but I think I am ready to let go of Paxil’s hand and face life on my own.

Have you ever taken antidepressants? Feel free to share your experiences. 

 

thelessthandomesticgoddess

15 Comments

  1. Reply

    Linda

    September 30, 2011

    I took Paxil for about 2 years. I was so anxious I couldn't see straight. I started having a hard time leaving the house. Once I started taking Paxil it was like a fog lifted. I could see everything clearly then. I've been off of it for about a year now and would get back on it if my anxiety became unbearable again.

  2. Reply

    thelessthandomesticgoddess

    September 30, 2011

    @Linda: Thank you for sharing your story, Linda! It sounds like we have had similar experiences. How have you been while off the Paxil, if you don't mind me asking? You doing okay?

  3. Reply

    -J.Darling

    September 30, 2011

    Good for you for opening up and getting help when you need it! Sounds like you're using it responsibly – which proves that you really are that smart woman. Remember this blog? http://www.jsjourneybook.com/2009/09/long-duree-my-pcos-then-now-and-bigger.html
    You're not alone!
    I thought going to counseling ment you were "crazy" and for YEARS I wouldn't go. Finally I was at my wits end and went.
    That year of therapy was one of the most amazing, freeing moments in my life thus far. SO worth getting the help I needed at that time.

    Sounds like Paxil helped you dig out of the hole and now you're finding other ways to manage your anxiety and depression. IMHO that's exactly what those kind of medications are designed to do. Much like pain killers pill, they aren't a "cure" so much as a "help" so that you can eventually come to a place where you can help yourself.

    Hang in there! I used to not return phone calls or check voice mails because the anxiety of what might be on that voice mail or who I might have to confront was too much for me. I finally got the support (through therapy) to change my thought patterns so that I could handle confrontation without fear.

    Hang in there! (I highly recommend The Last Lecture audio book to help with a new perspecive as well!

  4. Reply

    Christina

    September 30, 2011

    Depression medicine saved my relationship with my mother. She was horrible to be around when I was younger. I won't go into details but one moment she would be fine and the next yelling and grounding me for no reason. It was hard on the whole family. Once she started the medicine it was like she was her old self again. I could tell she loved me more and the little things that use to set her off and stress her out just went away. I am an advocate for medicine when it is truly needed and have already told Sean that if I start acting crazy make me get on some medicine. Why go through life feeling awful when there is a way to stop it? My sister was on a mild anti depression med and she did go off it while she was pregnant and for the most part she was just fine. Thanks for sharing your story and know you to will be just fine. xo

  5. Reply

    Denise

    September 30, 2011

    It's so good and so hard to talk about these things. I JUST went off my anti-depressants which took about 6 weeks with some minor setbacks and physical reactions I wasn't initially prepared for. For me, it was just not wanting to be dependent on a pill. But I went on them because they helped So Much after a year with a death in the family, s/o losing his job, me just not feeling right. The tipping point was switching to a new type of birth control and that chemical change did not go well for me. After 30 days straight of crying, anti-depressants helped almost immediately and immensely. I don't regret them at all, but I still struggle to be open about it.

  6. Reply

    Hi I'm Victoria!

    September 30, 2011

    this is such a great post. Thanks for sharing. Many woman face those same issues. Life is scary sometimes and medication is sometimes the answer. No need to be ashamed or embarrassed. Life happens <3

  7. Reply

    Amy

    September 30, 2011

    What a great post. Thank you so much for sharing your story.

  8. Reply

    Layla

    September 30, 2011

    Maybe I should look into it. I'm still consumed by recovery and can't get past it. I can't even remember what my life was like or who I was before all of this, but I know that I absolutely hate everything now, myself included. But for some reason, I just can't bring myself to put even more medicine in my body. I just can't.

  9. Reply

    bookishbella

    September 30, 2011

    I had an anxiety/depression breakdown a few years ago and was also saved by Paxil. I only stayed on it for about 8 months, but it made a HUGE difference. I will admit that coming off of it was a challenge, but the transition is manageable.

    I was both less and more afraid to take medication because I had seen my mother go through major depression – I knew that medicine helped, but I also didn't want to admit that I needed it. I was afraid at the time that I would have to get back on the Paxil within a few months, but it's been 5 years – so far, so good!

    Good luck!

  10. Reply

    Geek in Heels

    October 1, 2011

    Depression meds probably saved my life. But at the time, I remember crying as the doc told me that I was on the max dose for both Prozac and Wellbutrin (the combo I was on), realizing just how unstable my mental health had become.

    I have written about my journey with antidepressants, and why I decided to stop taking them, in case you're interested: http://www.geekinheels.com/2008/4/15/unmedicated.html

    Best of luck on becoming antidepressant-free, and I hope that it will only help you on your journey to a healthier mind and body!

  11. Reply

    Karen

    October 3, 2011

    Thank you for writing this post. I’m currently taking Zoloft for post-partum anxiety/depression. After my son was born, I became a nervous wreck. I was constantly worried about my perfectly healthy child and paralyzed by self-doubt. My anxiety leaked into my professional life and I started having terrible insomnia and panic attacks. I couldn’t reconcile how my wonderful baby had somehow ruined my life and made me so unhappy. I started seeing an awesome psychologist and psychiatrist and a few weeks after starting Zoloft, I felt like myself again. Before I sought help, I kept trying to “relax” and talk myself out of my completely irrational obsessions. I thought I was strong enough and intelligent enough to power through my problems. But, in retrospect, I realize this is part of the stigma of mental illness. These are diseases. Not to say that meds are the answer for everyone with post-partum (or any) mental illness, but they certainly have their place in treatment. And I’m not any weaker for having chosen to take medication. We’re in the planning stages of Baby #2, and I’m going to try to come off of the meds. But, I would certainly say that Zoloft saved me as well. I’ve lurked on your blog for a long time and really enjoy your writing. I’m sorry about your fertility difficulties and I hope things go more smoothly with your docs. It’s incredibly brave of you to write so publicly about such personal matters (mental illness, infertility). People like you helped me feel like I wasn’t alone when I thought I was completely losing it.

  12. Reply

    thelessthandomesticgoddess

    October 3, 2011

    @Karen: Thank you so much for sharing your story and for lurking. 🙂 Your comment really touched me. I am so sorry to hear about your postpartum struggles. I was nodding in agreement to everything you wrote. We aren't any weaker for seeking help. Mental illness can be quite sneaky. It can also be devastating, so I'm glad that both of us found the help we needed. Best of luck coming off of Zoloft again, and in your TTC #2 process. Please feel free to be in touch anytime! xo

  13. Reply

    thelessthandomesticgoddess

    October 3, 2011

    @Jenny: I'm going to go back and read about your journey with antidepressants. Thank you for always having words of encouragement and comfort. I really appreciate it.

  14. Reply

    honey my heart

    October 6, 2011

    someone close to me is on an antidepressant. it's changed his outlook for the better, and has helped me with my interactions with him. we've discussed weaning him off of it, and it's been a few days off and a few days on, but it's still a struggle. i know when you do stop, it will be worth it 🙂

  15. Reply

    Shirtyourself

    March 22, 2013

    Hi, Please update us on how you're feeling right now! Are you completely drug free? Hows life without paxil?

LEAVE A COMMENT

RELATED POSTS