I read an article today that moved me a bit. It’s about a woman who takes anti-depressants every day, just like me. Someone who took them while pregnant, just like me. Someone who worries about revealing her need for them, just like me. Her mom is biploar, just like me. I’m sharing because it feels like her words came straight from my mouth, and I think she feels like I do about her issues, often alone. Here’s what she said:
“Taking Antidepressants When Pregnant”
August 17, 2011, 11:04am by Jill Cordes
“Full disclosure: I take antidepressants.
I will continue to take them through my pregnancy
I took them while pregnant with Fia.
I can’t believe what you just revealed. Hurry. Duck and run for cover!!
No. I’m not going to. It’s time to get this conversation on the table.
You sure? You will be nailed to the cross on this one. Judged and deemed unfit for motherhood.
I don’t believe that. I think women are terrified of talking about this. I think many will feel relief that I’m admitting my own dirty little secret. They may carry the same secret. And it’s okay.
Do what you will but don’t say I didn’t warn you…..
Alright, it’s out there. And I’m not shying away from it. It is my truth.
In my post about my dying mother, I mentioned her bipolar disorder. I breathe a deep sigh of relief that I don’t have that. But I do struggle with depression. And anxiety. For years I just “dealt” with it. With herbs and holistic medicine; with therapy and exercise; with meditation and yoga. Didn’t matter. Nothing changed how my chemical brain worked. I still do all those things, but now I take a small white pill everyday.
When I began taking it I felt this huge cloud lift. I felt less anxious. And far happier. I didn’t become an emotionless zombie. I became much more present in life not in my head.
I went off of them a few times to see if perhaps I was “cured.” It can happen. Not me. That familiar dark cloud would start to drift into my periphery and I knew the storm was coming.
When I got pregnant with Fia, I struggled with my decision to stay on my meds. I even tried to wean off again. I felt the pit coming almost immediately. So I made my decision and stuck to it. I had to stop googling all the horrible things people talked about. I know it’s a risk. So is breathing the polluted air of NYC. So is going through the x-ray machine at the airport. So is my secret love of Taco Bell’s #3 with a diet Pepsi.
What I will say is more studies need to be done so women can have the facts. For a variety of reasons, there is just not a lot of conclusive data out there on taking antidepressants while pregnant. As an article in the NYT points out, pregnant women often aren’t part of drug studies. Therefore, a lot of the data is inferred, not proven. And even the most ardent studies have holes in them. I have an excellent OB and psychiatrist, both of whom agree: going through my pregnancy depressed and dark is far more dangerous than sticking to what works. (Also, during my pregnancy with Fia, we moved to LA for a bit. I saw 3 different OBs/specialists. They all had the same unanimous opinion.)
What is proven is that some people have chemical imbalances. It’s in their genetic makeup. And sometimes medicine is the only thing that works. Yet when taking those meds, the judgment from others can be severe. I guess that’s why women like me don’t disclose this. But today I’m feeling brave.
So there you have it. Anyone else out there who wants to talk? I’m here.
Side note: I was recently informed about a study being conducted at Columbia University Medical Center exploring some of the issues around antidepressant use during pregnancy. If you are interested, and live in the NYC area, you can contact the study coordinator, Michelle Gilchrist…..”