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Diary of a Zoloft Mom

Photograph by Twenty20

Summertime is supposed to be relaxing, chill and happy. Yet, when this season came, I was more anxious and irritable than ever. I decided to take the plunge and ask my family doctor if I could try some anxiety medication. She prescribed Zoloft and asked that I keep a journal as I adjusted to the medication, to better know how to treat my symptoms. These are excerpts from that journal, edited only for clarity.

August 5th

So, I finally did it. I asked my doctor about anxiety medication. I’m tired of being irritated by everything, snapping at my daughter or waking up in the middle of the night to worry about silly things. I’m actually nervous to tell my husband about it—I didn’t discuss it with him before I left for the appointment. I’m embarrassed I need this. I feel like he’ll say that he’s upset that I’m not happy enough without medication.

The doctor said that I should expect some side effects, and I’m super worried about them. It’s supposed to get worse before it gets better. I feel like I should warn my husband, but … I don’t know. Well, here goes. Half a pill for the first week, then up to a full dose.

August 7th

I’ve been dizzy on and off the last couple of days, which makes it hard to chase my girl on her bike or get up and down from the floor to play with her. Last night, I woke up at 3:30 a.m. and couldn’t get back to sleep for a long time, just thinking about things. My anxiety brain was running circles. I’m exhausted today.

August 10th

I don’t know if I can go up to a full dose on this stuff. I have had so much trouble waking up in the morning. The alarm goes off and I feel like I have to claw my way back to consciousness. Getting up, I feel like I’m walking through Jell-O. I spent the whole day with this weird lethargy. It was so hard to get the energy to play with my daughter. Maybe I shouldn’t take my Ambien in combination with the Zoloft. I’ll try without tonight.

Also, super weird dreams. Bad people and monsters chasing me.

The little things aren’t bothering me anymore. It’s like there’s a new voice in my head.

August 11th

So much trouble sleeping last night! I thought I didn’t need the Ambien, but I definitely did. I didn’t fall asleep until after 1:00 a.m.! I’m so tired today that all I’ve done is watch TV with my daughter. Or not with her. Literally, I’ve let her watch "Moana" all day in the other room while I binge "The Staircase" in the other. I’m a horrible parent. She’s only 3—she can’t make decisions for herself. I’m enabling her. Too much screen time. God, I’m awful.

August 12th

Didn’t want to get out of bed. Didn’t want to talk to anyone. Another day of TV and being a god-awful parent.

August 14th

The exhaustion has dissipated a bit. I still feel like I’m yawning all the time. However, I’m noticing that my temper is a lot more … relaxed. When my daughter spilled her lunch today, I didn’t snap. It didn’t set off my anxiety. Also I didn’t spend all morning cleaning, like I usually do. I just felt, like, OK with the dishes in the sink. They’ll get done. Not everything has to be done this second. I felt free and relaxed to play with my daughter.

August 18th

Just a normal day, really. I felt pretty much like I did before I started this medication. I was anxious about money a lot today. My husband was doing the bills, which always puts him in a bad mood, and makes me think we aren’t doing well financially. But I get like this on bill day every month. Maybe Zoloft has given me some perspective.

August 23rd

I feel cheesy saying this, but … I’m happy. The little things aren’t bothering me anymore. I know this sounds insane, but it’s like there’s a new voice in my head. This voice doesn’t say things like “everything could go wrong” or “you need to prepare because who knows what’ll happen” or “that’ll never work.” It says positive things. “What’s the worst that could happen, honestly?” or “Well, if you made a mistake, how can you make it right? It’s that simple.” The tone of how I talk to myself in my brain has totally changed. I can sit down and play with my daughter and not think about the million things I need to do. I can make good parenting decisions and forgive myself for the bad ones. I can take a joke. That’s new for me. I’m so glad I took a chance on this medicine. I can’t believe I was nervous about how others would perceive me if they knew I took a “happy pill.” I told my husband and he said he can already see a difference in my demeanor. He was super supportive. And guess what? He’s on anxiety meds too, but didn’t want to tell me! I’m so glad I can be open about this now. I hope everyone dealing with anxiety or depression finds a way to ask for help. I’m definitely glad I did.

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