Confession 9: The Things I’ve Learned From Zoloft

I’ve been taking Zoloft on and off for the past eight months. I initially began taking it after my son was born when I was struggling with some major “baby blues”. I stopped taking it about a month after I went back to work, a little earlier than my doctor recommended, and found that I just wasn’t ready to cope with life unmedicated yet. So, I went back to my 25 mg a day. This past week I pulled myself off the medication again. It wasn’t really intentional, I just forgot to take if for a few days and thought, maybe this is a sign that I don’t need it anymore. So far, so good. Yet, I’ve learned a lot about myself through the experience of anti-depressants.

First, I’ve learned that I am an extremely emotional person. People have told me this in the past and I’ve always stubbornly denied it. I’ve created a stigma around the idea of being emotional. It’s a stigma of weakness and of being out of control. (The older I get, the more I realize how much of an issue control is for me.) I equate being emotional to being out of control, and being out of control is something that is not acceptable to me. Therefore, I resolutely refused to acknowledge the fact that I am an emotional person. I realize now, of course, that this is ridiculous. One can be an emotional person and still have emotional control. Feelings are just that, feelings. They don’t define who we are, how we’re perceived, or even how we behave. If I cry it’s not because I’m out of control, it’s because my body needs some emotional release and rejuvenation. If I throw an unbaked potato across the yard because the grill is out of gas it’s not because I’ve lost control of my senses, but because my frustration needs a harmless vent. God made many different parts of the human brain. I can be emotional and still use the rest of them.

Second, taking Zoloft has allowed me to see that I am someone who gets easily frustrated. Looking back at my life, I see it’s always been like this. I threw huge temper tantrums until I was at least five. My husband might argue that I still do (see the above potato incident). I want things to be a certain way and when they’re not, I get frustrated. It’s a common problem many people have, but the true test of character lies in how we deal with it. This is something I need to continue to work on. If I’m frustrated with something I can change, (messy house) then I should change it. If I’m frustrated with something I have no control over, (traffic) I should let it go. I feel like I’m getting to a place of peace in my life where I am better able to do that. But, it’s a work in progress.

Third, Zoloft has taught me that I need to trust and have faith in myself and the wisdom and insight God has given me. One of the most frustrating things that happened to my husband after our son was born was that I stopped making decisions. I looked to him to figure out everything, and it was just too much. Old anxiety issues came creeping back in and I started to lose a sense of my own self-sufficiency and self-worth. Essentially, I lost my confidence. You can’t accomplish anything without confidence. I’ve been slowly gaining that back, but it’s hard after a life-changing event.

As much as I hate to admit it, Zoloft has helped me a lot with these issues. It’s been good for the transition into new motherhood. I feel very much at peace, although I’m not sure how much credit the Zoloft gets for that. The issue of taking an anti-depressant for me is that it doesn’t change the way I am. It doesn’t make me less of an emotional person, it just pushes the emotions down. It doesn’t make the need for control which leaves me frustrated go away, it just calms the frustration. It doesn’t instill confidence within me. This is who I am. This is who I always have been. These are issues that will always be with me. I can continue to take a pill, or I can deal with them. Right now, I’m ready to deal.

Blessings and Peace,