Children…My Life…My Passion…and the Reason I Take Zoloft

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI was 23 when I became a teacher. Fresh from college and eager to change the world by helping one child at a time. I was 29 when I became a mom and took a year off to raise my little boy. After that year was over I returned to teaching. I was 35 when I had baby number 2. This time I took two years off to be a stay at home mom, and would have taken a third if it had been possible. What shocked me was how much harder it was being a mom to two instead of one.

Perhaps it was because I was older, perhaps it was because suddenly the mommy stuff was never ending, or perhaps it was because I was newly married, newly relocated, and just had one to many changes in a short amount of time.Kisses

As hard as I worked the two years I was a stay at home mom though were nothing compared to when I finally returned to teaching. Just because I returned to the classroom didn’t mean that all that mommy stuff went away. Laundry still needed to be done, cleaning taken care of, dinner cooked, quality time given to my boys, quality time given to my husband, making time to visit a sick parent. I was at my wits end. I remember standing in front of the stove cooking dinner as tears rolled down my face because I was so tired.

Part of it is me. I want things to be perfect always, whether it is at home or at work. Part of it really is my situation. I basically do the kid thing 24 hours a day 7 days a week 365 days a year. My job and my home life are just too much alike sometimes.

But I had to acknowledge one more factor that I really didn’t want to face. I am not a spring chicken anymore. I am now forty and like it or not, my hormones were starting to get a little wonky. Can we say “premenopausal?” Yep, it was definitely a factor.

When you teach first grade patience is literally the #1 job requirement and I used to have it in spades. The past two years, however, I noticed that I was becoming more and more stressed out. At first I thought that I had just taken on too many responsibilities. I was on the fund-raising committee, the reading committee, and the carnival committee, as well as that full time teaching gig and motherhood thing. So of course I had a full blown hyperventilation panic attack one March morning just as the children were entering the building. I was burned out, over worked, and NOT medicated. Although a trip to the doctor’s office that March day fixed that problem. One bottle of Xanax with two refills coming right up.

The following September I decided I needed to take better care of myself. So I quit all the committees and just focused on the job and home. Things would get better, right? Wrong. I was still stressed, and now, I was easily angered by little things. My heart would race all day and I constantly felt like I was in “Fight or Flight” mode. I left work completely exhausted, and then when I got home I had no energy left for my own kids. All I wanted my boys to do was go away and leave me alone. I started to realize that the problem I had wasn’t a job problem. The problem was me. I was broken and didn’t even recognize the person I had become anymore. I finally realized that I needed help.

I scheduled a visit to see my OB/GYN. After a very long office visit where I talked about everything that was going on with me she confirmed what I was already suspecting. I was indeed in the early stages of menopause and my hormones were steadily driving me crazy.

She started me on a low dose of Zoloft which ended up getting increased just once. After a while I started to notice a difference. I still felt angry at times, but the anger didn’t control me. I was able to take a deep breathe and respond in an appropriate way. The same was true at home. I could now give my boys the quality time they needed and not feel resentful.

I don’t feel ashamed to admit that I needed a prescription. I know a lot of people would just say to suck it up and deal, but that strategy had stopped working for me and I was seriously going to have a heart attack if I didn’t find a way to calm down and get control of my emotions. If taking a little blue pill helps me to cope and be a better mom then I will do it.

I would love to hear from other moms, especially older moms who are also dealing with this situation. How are you battling your menopause?

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Comments

  1. I took Zoloft to combat PPD after the birth of my first (and only) daughter. I know it isn’t the same thing, but I can definitely relate to being a perfectionist and trying to have and do it all. I’m fortunate enough to be able to work part-time and am no longer on the medication that quite possibly saved my life. Working full-time is just not going to happen for me, not this year, not next year, but hopefully sooner rather than later. There should be no shame in seeking and accepting help in the form of medication. Good for you, addressing it publicly, maybe helping someone else who is struggling to get through the day on their own.

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