Prozac & Yoga

“Write in your journal and get a life,” she laughed. This is the advice of a therapist that I had been referred to by my OB/GYN office.

I was having a hard time. Actually, I was drowning. We were about to relocate to another base and I didn’t want to start another chapter feeling like this. I called the doctor and told them I thought I had postpartum depression. The triage nurse was great. She made me an appointment to see the doctor and gave me the number for mental health counseling.

Recounting my symptoms to the male resident doctor was a little embarrassing. He was learning about obstetrics during this rotation and I was just trying to survive. But he kept putting words in my mouth and I felt frustrated. Finally, one of the OB’s I had seen before came in. She empathized. She gave me a prescription for Prozac. I left feeling ok.

A few days later, I had to get up early to make it to my 8 a.m. therapy appointment clear across town. My husband took the morning off to stay with the baby. We didn’t have friends or family around to help. After filling out an extensive intake form, the therapist came to get me.

I remember the long walk to her office. The hallway was lined with the same white noise machines we had in our son’s room. She said it was to help with privacy inside the offices.

We only chatted for a couple of minutes when the therapist said “I’m a bit confused. Why are you here? This is to establish long-term care.” I told her we were moving in a few weeks. I, too, was confused.

The baffling part of our session wasn’t really what she said to me about not really being depressed. It was that we had a two-hour time block and she basically was kicking me out after 30 minutes. She said I had an “adjustment disorder” and since my son was less than a year old, I was still in “the window” of adjusting. I worked full time before I got married and I just needed a professional outlet. Take a dance class. Write in my journal.

Except this was the third time I had been to a counselor for depression in my life. I didn’t argue with her. I decided not to take the Prozac any further after just a few days. For those who are not aware, depression medication can take a few weeks to fully take effect.

The day the movers came to pack up our house, my sister called to tell me that our beloved aunt had died very unexpectedly. We were shattered. I chalked up all the turmoil and awfulness to being a new mom, the move, and the loss. I left it to fester.

A few months into our life at the new place, I was writing in my journal. Shockingly, I was not cured. I wrote “I wonder if it’s bad to take the Prozac?”

It was there in the medicine cabinet in the half bathroom next to the laundry room. I didn’t get rid of it. So, I started taking it.

That was about ten months ago. A funny thing happened – I felt better. Not amazing, mind you, but I could function. I didn’t realize before how angry I was, how small tasks felt monumental, how completely overwhelmed I was. Sadly, I also realized that I felt like my dog, who is 12 years old and I’ve had since he was about 10 weeks old, was a burden. Every time he needed to be let out, every time he needed more water, every time he wanted to be petted. That was a big wake-up call, too.

And all it took was a little pill every morning.

I started to reevaluate my life. What was I doing? Can this be better? And it turns out, it can. But it takes a lot of things for me, personally, to get there.

One, coming to terms with the fact that medication will probably be a lifelong necessity. Sometimes our brains just don’t have the right chemical balance. It’s no different than a pancreas that can’t regulate insulin.

Two, I need some form of exercise to stay involved with. I used to lift weights a lot but I kept injuring my lower back. Then I would have to take a time out and get really lethargic again. I decided to try yoga again and for this stage of my life, it’s what I need. Not only does it make me calm down by regulating my breathing, but you can do it anywhere. There are so few excuses I can come up with to avoid it.

And finally, I found another counselor who was a good fit. Did you know there are options now to have a virtual counselor, available to text or call or video chat from wherever you are? It’s a great option for those who want more privacy or don’t have a lot of local therapists that are available.

Sure, I still have some bad days where it all just feels heavy, but that’s life. It’s going to just suck sometimes. The never-ending loop of those days has been broken though, and I can enjoy my dog, my family, and life again.

My son also started daycare. I grappled with the guilt of that as the stay-at-home-parent but I could see that he was getting bored. And I was feeling like I couldn’t accomplish anything else that someone needed to do to keep the house in order. But now I can pursue my interests (like writing Pulitzer-worthy op-eds), keep the house sanitized, and The Child gets to learn from professionals. Let’s face it, I’ve never done this before and it’s a pretty big task. I don’t mind paying a village to help. And now I can’t wait to pick him up because I missed the little maniac all day instead of dragging myself through the hours.  

Yeah, you can take a walk. That helps in the moment. You can rub some essential oils on your face and do yoga with llamas. But there’s no shame in medical treatment for something you can’t control and isn’t your fault. Talk to your doctor. Take the medication. Find movement you love or at least can tolerate. And if this doesn’t affect you, check on that friend who is always “fine.” You could be a lifeline.

About the Author

Former ballerina-bodybuilder-pilot-corporate communications flack who lives in the body of a stay-at-home-mom/Army wife. She comes from a long line of ball busters and bullshitters and is doing her best to pass along all her knowledge to her son. Lifelong hostage of Buffalo professional sports. A living embodiment of trying to pull up your pants and underwear at the same time but only your pants come up.

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