Wednesday, January 9, 2013

On Jesus and Zoloft

I'm totally depressed.

There. I said it. 

Oy. My mom is so going to call me over this one. 

I was, in total honesty, sitting in my office tonight, weeping, when I saw a post by one of my favorite bloggers come across my Twitter feed. Like...hands on my head, rocking back and forth, sobbing into my sleeve, weeping.

You can find her post here. It's worth reading. More importantly, it has given me the courage to write this post that has been drafted and on my mind for over a year. Because I know I am not alone. I have a feeling most of you are depressed, too.

“That's the thing about depression: A human being can survive almost anything, as long as she sees the end in sight. But depression is so insidious, and it compounds daily, that it's impossible to ever see the end.” 

― Elizabeth WurtzelProzac Nation

I was supposed to be at my monthly dinner tonight with my bible study girls, eating wings and drinking a glass of Malbec. But I was reminded of a deadline I had long missed that needed my attention, and when I became a blubbering emotional mess over it (and other things) I knew I couldn't go anywhere. I'd be crying my eyes out for sure, in the middle of the wing ding place, over my onion rings. Lovely.

Three weeks ago (and unbeknown to my doctor...and my husband) I weaned myself off of my 8+ year love/hate relationship with Zoloft. I know how to taper but I'm still feeling the effects of withdrawal. I honestly didn't think it was working anymore. Until now.

For years, I've hated myself for being on it. I hated myself for regularly forgetting to take it two days in a row and remembering only when my lips would tingle. I hated the emotional roller coaster I would find myself on when I would forget, then remember, then forget again. More than anything, I hated the sarcastic little remarks I would get from various people about me needing this little "happy pill" and what a hypocrite I had become; this so-called "Christian" who leads 2500+ people in worship on Sunday mornings.

The truth is, it didn't make me happy. I realize now it was doing something, but it didn't make me "happy." It just eased the anxiety and lessened the depression I knew was always hanging around in the background, waiting for me to forget to take my pill so it could forge its way back in. But I was never happier because of it.

I have always been a very happy and outgoing person by nature. Ask anyone. I am optimistic to a fault, and can find the positive in every situation. But now, having been off of my medicine for a few weeks, I have become quite the emotional wreck (my apologies to everyone at last Friday's 7pm showing of Les Miserables.) I'm crying at absolutely everything. Some things are justified of my tears. Some are questionable. But my life seems more of a disaster than usual (which has been mostly tolerable until now.) I find myself considering drastic measures to rid myself of how overwhelmed and depressed I have become. (Drastic as in major career moves and relationship assessments, not as in jump-off-a-bridge, suicidal drastic. You can stop worrying, mom.)

Now, I'm left to wonder if the only reason I was able to do everything I have done for the past eight years is because of the skewed reality this little pill offered. And I wonder if I should try to get that skewed reality back, or if these realizations are a blessing of some sort and I should work to set my path straight before entering that easier form of reality again. Regardless, I'm making an appointment with my doctor first thing in the morning. (You're welcome, mother.) Cuz this crying-all-the-time thing is for the birds.

As I sit here, out of Kleenex, dried tears stuck to my cheeks, I am reminded of what my doctor first told me when I was considering going on this medicine so many years ago. If I had cancer, I wouldn't refuse chemotherapy. If I had diabetes, I wouldn't refuse insulin. God wouldn't want me to forego any treatment that could make me better, and that includes treatment to be a better version of this daughter he created. 

Thanks for the post, Jamie Wright. For the reminder that being Christian doesn't mean we have it altogether, on the inside or the out, and that's okay. And for helping me remember that God does not want me to feel guilty over the person he created. He loves me. Zoloft and all. Just as I am. And that is all that matters.


  1. ((hugs)) I too battle depression and sometimes am given a hard time by "believers" who feel like they have something to say about it. IMHO, people should talk about their struggles, because we ALL have them. I think if we tried to help each other even a fraction as much as we all talk about each other, this world would be a much better place. You're in my prayers. <3

  2. Laura, I so agree with you. We are all equal at the foot of the cross. Anyone who criticizes another's "shortcomings" is a hypocrite and should take a long hard look in the mirror. I used to be one of those people. I am so glad I have found grace and confidence and am not on that side of the fence anymore. Hugs back at you my friend.

  3. New follower of your blog because I found you through Jamie's post, and found Laura up there when she found my post. Laura, I third that motion - we have got to start talking and sharing our struggles. After all, God tells us to share with each other our struggles and weaknesses to strengthen each other? We don't do it. Instead we walk around pretending we're so perfect and have it all together. Ick. And so counterproductive to the body of Christ.

    Prayers to you, Cherilynne. I've written about my journey too. Here's my post. It' long.

    I pray you find the peace you seek and only He can give, whether from His pocket or another medication.

    1. CLR - Thank you for following! I will definitely read your post. It is so true that we need to stick together on these issues. I'm willing to bet so many people think they are the only ones going through this and they need to know they are more likely in the majority! Peace to you my friend. Let's stay in touch.

  4. I'm on the 9-year-weaning program. I'll be done with Zoloft when Elisabeth is all grown up and has moved out. Until then, I might just need to UP my dosage.

    BTW, my iPhone reminds me every day at 9:30 to take my medicine. Obey the phone!

  5. I, too am a new follower after reading your comment on Jamie's blog. And, I too have a love/hate relationship with my prozac that has been ongoing for nearly 18 years. In the past few months, I have decided to wean myself off the prozac, mostly bc I am feeling as tho my brain chemistry is healing, perhaps due to being past menopause, and also bc I am stronger now than i was 18 years ago, and I have better coping skills, as well.

    Prozac never made me happy. It did however, in the very early stages cause me to exclaim to my DH, "This must be what normal people feel like all the time!" Prior to Prozac, I knew there was light out there somewhere, but from my position in the bottom of the slippery sided well, I simply couldn't see it. So, for years & years, I have taken it. I have increased and decreased my dose. I have tried other seratonin drugs (Effexor was amazing, but raised my BP dangerously). I have gotten fat and become uninterested in sex. Is this a byproduct of Prozac? maybe.

    But, now, at nearly 63, with years of therapy and drug treatment, I want to try to get off Prozac. I am taking it v-e-r-y slowly, even tho I am aware of Prozac's long half life. I want desperately to recover some semblance of intimacy with my sweet, uncomplaining husband. I am self aware enough to recognize any descent into the depths, so if things don't go well, I'll change my plan.

    I also know, that Jesus is beside me thru all of this.I was blessed, to be in a church filled with, for the most part, people who shared their failings, be they mental, emotional, physical. I came to faith in Christ at that church, and altho the Pastor was not a relational soul, many of the Elders, their wives, and others in the body were. I am grateful for the people I met there who were transparent and kind.

    Now, I am traveling fulltime in our motorhome and do miss the community and fellowship, but the trade off is that many of the stress inducers and anxiety causing factors are gone from my life. I would ask for prayer for contentment and joy, whether on or off Prozac, trusting the plans that He has for me.

    And thank you for sharing your struggles. It can't have been easy, but you have touched many. I will pray for God's will to be clear and for His strength to lift you daily.

    1. JeanMarie, I am so glad you shared your story. Thank you! I am so encouraged by the sheer number of people who have sent me comments and messages and how they can relate. It's refreshing to know we are not alone, isn't it? And I am SO jealous of your motorhome journey! ;) I'm praying for you as you go through your weaning process. Please keep in touch!

    2. As I posted in reply to Jaimie on another blog, if you find that weaning off your meds causes you to slide into darkness, ask your doc if there is something you can take in conjunction with your Prozac that is not libido-killing and can balance you as you get rid of the Prozac. For me it has been Wellbutrin while weaning off Zoloft. Libido is back, weight is dropping (ok--dropped a bit but then stopped), and I did not have to walk through the dark valley.
      Just a thought. God bless!