Adventures With Zoloft!

Remember: You are an individual with your own brain chemistry, your own medical history, your own everything. It’s tempting to over-identify with me since I’m sharing my story, but when it comes to PPD and any other mental illness, it’s important to talk to your doctor about medications.  But I do believe in transparency so that’s why I’m talking about my new adventures as I wean off Zoloft.

Quick recap: I started taking 100 mg of Zoloft every day in November 2015 right after Julian was born. My psychiatrist bumped my dose up to 150 mg in January 2016 when I started to show signs of insomnia and anxiety, reminiscent of my first round of PPD with Pippa. A month ago, in late December 2016, I started the very sloooow process of weaning myself off Zoloft, completely under my psychiatrist’s supervision.

Week One, I took 125 mg every third day and stuck with 150 mg the other two days. I did not notice any changes or symptoms.

Week Two, I took 125 mg every other day and still, did not notice any changes or symptoms.

Week Three: 125 mg every day. I did not notice any symptoms.

Week Four: Still took 125 mg because hey, this is a journey, not a race. For a day or so, I felt very irritable but chalked it up to PMS.

Week Five (this past week): I continued taking 125 mg every day and got my period. On Saturday, which would have been 1/28/17, I forgot to take my Zoloft. Oops! Over the past year, I have forgotten to take my Zoloft every ten days or so, with zero negative effects.

But this time, not so much. On Sunday, I was very short-tempered, especially with Pippa my 3 year old. I was moody, swinging very quickly from “fuck everything” to “euphoria.”

Then yesterday, Monday January 30th, I still felt edgy and short-tempered. I realized this was no longer me being menstrual, so I called my psychiatrist. We chatted and she decided I should go back to 150 mg of Zoloft for a few days, and then drop back down to 125 mg. So that’s what I’m doing.

Today is Day Five of my period. I feel a little edgier than usual but much better from Sunday. Still, I followed my doctor’s advice and took 150 mg of Zoloft this morning.

And so my adventures continue! They never do end, do they?

Episode 28: Jen Gaskell’s Story

Episode 28: Jen Gaskell’s Story

In this episode, Jen Gaskell shares her story of postpartum depression, postpartum anxiety, OCD and intrusive thoughts.  The Plain Mama English Symptoms on the Postpartum Progress website helped her understand her illness.

Jen blogs at The Tranquila Mama and tweets @Jenrenpody. She used to write a monthly column for the Postpartum Progress blog. Here is the post she wrote about postpartum rage.

She works for Listen to Your Mother Milwaukee, a live production of stories about what motherhood is really like. The show always includes a story about postpartum depression. Below is the piece that Jen performed for Listen to Your Mother Milwaukee.

Thank you, Jen, for sharing your story! You are truly an inspiration.

 

Scenes From A Walk

I need to spend as much time as possible outside. My entire essence craves time outside with nature. Lucky for me, I live in a city with tons of great places for fresh air and nature.

Pasadena has been getting a ton of rain the past month, so I have had to be aggressive about getting outside whenever the clouds clear. These photos are from an afternoon walk I took last week after a morning of rain.

I’ve been meditating and even though I only formally meditate for ten minutes most days, I can tell it’s spilling over into other areas of my life.  Usually when I walk, my head overflows with thoughts. My mind keeps up an incessant prattle, darting in a thousand directions. It’s a bit exhausting.

But this month, I have been more present during my walks.  Noticing the moss on bricks and plants bending to find the sun. Sometimes I look ahead and I pick a tree and decide I am going to stop thinking until I reach that tree. It’s like a meditation sprint. And it works. Not always, sometimes my brain jumps around with random thoughts in a bid to get my attention. Sometimes I think about how I’m supposed to be not thinking. But sometimes, my brain goes quiet. And the more I practice, the easier it gets to quiet my brain, if only for a short distance.

Mindfulness is an adventure. It’s not an adventure with pirates or swords or magical rings, but it’s still a journey through unknown lands. I don’t know where this is taking me. Sometimes, it’s scary. I worry that if I don’t think all the time, my brain will get mushy and weak. But then I remember that even Olympic athletes need to rest their muscles. Also, the mind is not the brain. And though the brain may always be busy, that doesn’t mean I should let my mind bombard me with constant chatter.

And so I keep walking and wondering, searching to see what this adventure brings.

 

Meditation Adventures

I recently started meditating and I’ve already noticed a huge improvement in my overall sense of well being. I am using the Headspace App, which is free for the first ten sessions if you want to give it a try.

Mostly I meditate at home in my bedroom after the kids go to bed.  I sit on my bed cross-legged. If I keep meditating at home, I think I will get myself a nice cushion so that I have a physical “space” for meditating.  But I don’t want to waste too much time thinking about the stuff of meditating when I could just be meditating.

But I did clear some space on a shelf in my bedroom and turned it into a meditation altar.  Whenever I look at it, it makes me feel serene – almost as if I just meditated for ten minutes.

Okay, I confess: I have bought a couple of things to aid my meditation practice. First, there’s my singing bowl. Before I start a Headspace session, I spend a minute or two making the bowl “sing.”  I can feel the bowl vibrating in the palm of my hand and the vibrations wash over me, filling in the cracks made by daily living.

Then there are my chimes.  At the end of a session, I like to clink them together three times: once for body; once for mind; and once for soul.

Episode 26

Some very belated podcast show notes, at last!

I talked a lot about JOMO, the Joy of Missing Out.  I first heard about that concept on The Good Life Podcast, which I highly recommend.  Melissa Ambrosini talked about it on this episode.

Jonathan Fields, the host of the Good Life Podcast, recently published a book, How to Live A Good Life, which is outstanding.

I hope you took it easy and enjoyed your holidays!

JOMO

In Episode 26 of the podcast, I talked about JOMO, the Joy of Missing Out. Melissa Ambrosini talked about JOMO on her episode of The Good Life podcast, which you can find right here.

FOMO is an acronym for Fear of Missing Out, the idea that no matter what you are doing, there is something better out there. The party you are at might be fun, but somewhere there’s a party with better music and cooler people.

For the month of December, rather than get swept away by all the holiday madness, I decided to embrace JOMO. These are some of the things I oh so joyfully missed out on:

  • Fancy tree lighting ceremony. Instead, we decorated our tree and that was awesome enough.
  • Visiting one of the elaborate Christmas light displays in Los Angeles. We walked around the neighborhood instead.

  • Christmas cards – didn’t send them. They cause too much stress.
  • Excessive holiday baking. In years past, I agonized over which recipes to try and hunted down obscure ingredients.  This year, we baked chocolate chip cookies and sugar cookies. Delicious and my daughter loved it.

  • Disneyland. I considered this for about 0.8 seconds. Do my kids really need to see Mickey Mouse in a Santa hat? No thank you.
  • Snow at our children’s museum. I could have dragged the kids and let them romp in the snow, but then fuck it, we stayed home and played in the sandbox.

I love JOMO!

Vision Board

I used to be the sort of person that sneered at vision boards. I thought they were lame and hokey. But last week, my therapist suggested I make one and my reaction was, Yes! Yes!  Yes!

I had a vision for my vision board. It would have lots of sea creatures and water.  So I went to a magazine stand and ended up spending $38 on magazines, but none of them had the ocean images I wanted.

So instead, I let go of the vision for my vision board, and just started snipping any image or word that caught my eye.

Mostly I used magazines I had already had. Oops. Guess I just wanted an excuse to spend $38 on pretty magazines.

This morning I got out a huge sheet of paper and a glue stick and set to work on my bedroom floor.

Most of the images came from old issues of Mollie Makes, but I also used some home decor and parenting magazines. The ads actually had the best words and images.

I was really drawn to images of plants and flowers. Time to nurture my botanical streak!

I have not made a collage like this in years. This was the sort of project that gave me so much joy and satisfaction in elementary school, but then I got older and worried about only making art that was perfect.

But it’s my vision board, and if I enjoy the process, it does not matter if the product belongs in a gallery. It’s for me.

When Pippa asked what I was doing, I almost told her it was nothing. But then I got proud and explained I was making a vision board to inspire me.

Of course she wanted to make one, too. I love how uninhibited three year olds are when it comes to art. One of my mothering goals is to help her stay connected to the joy of making art even if she is not the next Kandinsky or Monet.

The vision board is done but it is missing one thing: something to do with painting. Painting is one of my great passions and I want to do more of it this year. Maybe I’ll find a way to include painting in this vision board. Or maybe I’ll make another board entirely devoted to painting.

Who knows? That’s part of the adventure.