If you’ve read my story you’ll know I have had a history of mental illness throughout my life. I’m opening up about this really personal experience to possibly help someone else and also because I find writing about this stuff really cathartic.
After we lost our baby Felix at 21 weeks, I realised I needed to get help for my mental health.
For such a long time I had tried a range of alternative methods to improve my mental health, but nothing was ever sustained. My happiness was still dependant on things going “well” and if any of these variables didn’t align I’d soon find myself at breaking point. Matilda didn’t nap that day – breaking point. Being late to something – breaking point. Messing with Matilda’s routine and things being a bit stressful – breaking point. You get the idea…
I genuinely believed that Nate and Matilda would be better off without me. I didn’t think about self harm, I just wanted to run away at times and thought life would be easier for the 2 people I loved the most, if I wasn’t dragging them down.
My GP had gently suggested I try Zoloft earlier that year but I wasn’t ready. I felt like if I had to take antidepressants I was failing, that I should be able to fix this on my own, despite the fact I had wholeheartedly supported friends and family who have taken antidepressants at periods in their lives!
Shortly after we lost Felix, at a check up with my GP we talked about a strategy for trying them again. At this time, I was referred to a wonderful psychologist who I started seeing weekly.
Within a couple of weeks my mood had lifted and a couple of months later, after feeling so much better, I realised how long it had been since I had truly felt like “me”. I like to think of myself as a really positive, easy-going person but somewhere along the way that person had been lost. For the first time in a long time, I felt like the bubbly Brooke I used to be. I had also become much more like the mother I had always imagined myself to be and my relationship with my daughter and husband markedly improved.
I was no longer at breaking point over little things and I had enough mental space to take a step back and really process whether this was something to get stressed out about or if it was something I could easily cope with and see it for what it was.
I knew that I didn’t want to take Zoloft forever if I didn’t have to – but I also acknowledged that if I did, that was ok too as I had seen such improvements within myself! I also started meditating consistently and doing yoga while I was pregnant with Darcy and really made an effort to implement some mental health scaffolding so when the time was right I would be in the best place to try and come off Zoloft.
I spoke with my GP just prior to us leaving for our holiday to the U.S. about possibly coming off Zoloft after our trip. There was no way I was going to try and do it beforehand – 2 kids and long haul flights, I’m not that crazy! I had missed almost 48 hours a few weeks prior to discussing this with my GP and I felt RUBBISH. So we came up with a bit of a plan to wean myself off properly once I got home.
Please if you are on antidepressants please speak with your healthcare provider before stopping your meds. I am not going to tell you how to come off them.
It’s coming into the third week of me being off Zoloft and I’m feeling pretty good. The first week I was nauseas, tired and felt like a space cadet. I was also still jet lagged so who knows how much was that.
I think the hardest thing has been what can only be described as brain zaps. It’s like an electric shock to the brain, sporadically, making me lose my train of thought for a moment or two as well as a physical zapping sensation in my head. Apparently, according to Dr Google, it’s to do with your brain adjusting to your new levels of serotonin. These brain zaps seem to have subsided over the past week which has been great.
I’ve also been running regularly to assist with this transition and will continue to do so as my mental health improves so much from my training. I’ve got some big plans for 2020 and part of that is getting fitter and faster again. It makes me a happier, stronger, and more level wife & mumma.
It’s still early days and I may need to call on Zoloft again in the future… and if I do, I’m totally ok with that.
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