Medicating Mamma


I suppose it’s been coming for a long while. I resisted and resisted and resisted but finally the day came when I simply held up my hands and said “Ok. I’ll try it. I’ve tried everything else and nothing is changing. Maybe this will help.” And so here I am. One week into taking SSRI’s to control that nasty PND Fairy who has made another appearance. In some ways I’m honestly glad. The decision has been made and while it was agonising making it, it is less so in its execution. I get up, I take a tablet, I feel better. That’s it really. The hardest part was trying to figure out what was worse. Psychologically damaging my kids with the rampant anger that I can’t seem to figure out OR potentially psychologically (or physically) damaging my boy by taking the anti-depressants (a small amount of which comes through the breastmilk).  There is not a day that goes by that I don’t think about the long term effects of this decision on my rapidly developing wee boy. It worries me. Truly. I just don’t think that the kind of mother I was rapidly becoming – one that lit up like a flare at the slightest irritation and shouted more than she talked – was going to do him any good – and I worry all the time about how much damage my emotional rollercoaster ride has cost Lily. So this was the only reasonable decision to make. When your naturopath tells you there is nothing else for it, then I suppose you have to sit up and listen. I was on the strongest natural remedies there were and it wasn’t even touching the sides. Besides, I don’t want to miss the day-to-day joys of life with my kids and I don’t want to put any more stress on my marriage. I need to give my kids and my all too understanding husband a break from ‘cranky mommy’ and find my softer, funnier side again. She’s been missing for far too long.



Can I tell you a secret though? I feel weak. I do. (And this is in no way a judgement on anyone who is, like me, seeking mediation to cope with life). But I look at the life my mother led (with four kids not just two) and I look at the life my sister leads with 6 kids (4 adopted, two natural – one of whom has ADHD, ADD, Aspergers and is a high functioning Autistic) and I wonder why, with all the love and support I have (that they did not) that I am not coping better. I know people say not to compare yourself to others but it’s hard not to. These are the women of my family and I feel like I am letting them down. That I a letting myself down. I mean, I should be able to do this without medication, right? It’s just raising two children. I am privileged enough to not have to work and can be with them every day. They are wonderful, beautiful, funny kids and I adore them. Yet. I struggle. Why? I don’t know. I can blame my childhood sure but isn’t it up to us how much we let the past affect our future? I’m sure there is some deep seated resentments about mothering and whatnot but again, I chose this life. I am blessed to have two healthy, gorgeous babies to love and cherish, so why is it often so hard. The reason I decided to take the medication was because I found myself thinking that Beanie would just be better off without me. I felt for the first time that I just wanted to run away. I have NEVER felt that way before. Never. Admittedly, that day was a bad one but I took Finn and I got in the car and I truly was not sure I was ever coming back. I drove around the hills in the dark for over two hours and when I got back my hubby and my girl were waiting for me. Beanie wouldn’t go to sleep until I came home. And I felt ashamed of myself for wanting to leave her.


The guilt that comes with motherhood is immense for some of us. The fear that our mistakes will make permanent marks on our children’s childhood and lead to terrible emotional and psychological problems later on, is truly terrifying. The shame that comes with each mistake. The pain of knowing that you have made yet another scar on a little life. These are the things I can’t live with. I don’t want this to be my mothering legacy. I want to do it better. I want to see their faces light up when we play. I want to see them reach out to me for help or a hug or just because I’m there. I want them to know that their mother loves them and I want to show them that love by being here, by being fully present in the moment with them. I want to at least start to find the joy again because four years is a long time for it to be gone.


So far so good (if you ignore the nausea and the slightly squirrely tummy). It seems to be helping a little bit every day. I find myself not so anxious, not so irritated. Believe me when I say that this is a big improvement. I got through a whole week last week and barely shouted at all. Again- big change. Lily’s behaviour has improved. I’m not sure if that’s in response to me relaxing or because she’s finally coming out of the stubborn, rude, oppositional place she’s been residing in for the last year and a bit. It’s hard to know but it isn’t hard to appreciate the changes. Maybe I should have done this sooner. No doubt there will be guilt around that if I think too hard about it. I tried so hard to do it any other way but here I am. At least there is the possibility of change here right now and I’m very grateful for that. Maybe the lesson here is learning when to ask for help and know which help to take. All I can do is wait and see.


In reality, life moves along so unbelievably quickly and I don’t want to miss any more of it feeling bad. I mean look at them. Look at how much they have changed already. Blink and it’s gone. 



Lily’s fourth birthday party.


My gorgeous violet eyed Finn – 5 months (photo taken by Laura of Warmth and Light Photography). 


Me, tired but happy. As opposed to just tired.


So I guess this is where I am at right now. For better or worse this is the decision I have made. There is a lot of work ahead of me – inner as well as outer – but I ask only for a pause in my head between the spark and the flame – just long enough to blow it out before it consumes me.


That’s not too much to ask, is it?



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5 thoughts on “Medicating Mamma

  1. I can relate to that thing of, "those other mothers do so much more than I do and cope really well." I'm sure many mothers feel that way but don't tell. There's a lot of pressure on mums to manage well, be excellent role models, don't shout at anyone, make home peaceful etc, etc. I did the medication thing too and felt like a failure for it, but hey, it helps! Good luck with the journey xxx

  2. "Maybe the lesson here is learning when to ask for help and know which help to take. All I can do is wait and see"you said it, darling. Once again, a stunningly exposed and exquisite piece of writing. I can't get enough of what you create, whether it's words, craft, fabulously delivered anecdotes, or precious children! I am so pleased to hear you are feeling better, and yes, your kidlets will benefit a hundredfold. You did it at the perfect time, after such a long time courageously exploring every other option. Lordy, woman, don't feed the guilt anymore! It's just another way to stay mired in the past, while infecting the present. You are an amazing Mamma. They chose you. If you strip away the self-recrimination and comparison to others, you'll better see that you are doing your best, and your best is a double rainbow of Wow.xx

  3. I found your blog via your message on the post for Maddie's course (which I've also just started on) and I wanted to say that this post really touched me. A lot of what you wrote really struck a chord with me. Vanessa x

  4. Hi, I just came across your blog and found this post. I really feel your dilemma. I've been there too, still am there really. I ended up going on anti-depressants after having my little one and I felt ashamed too for having to "cave in", for "being weak". Really though, the weakest thing a person can do is to pretend to be alright and not seek help for themselves when it becomes necessary. It doesn't matter what anyone else says. You'll have to come to a place in life where you can accept it. I fought against medication tooth and nail and was really only able to allow it to help when I let go of the assumption that there's only one right way to be in life. Other people don't have the same biology as you. They don't have the same psychological foundation either. You have strengths and weaknesses that are unique to you just as your mother and sister have their own. Depression can make you feel like everyone else is on some superior footing, but really, that's just part of the lie that depression plants in your mind. The photos of you and your children are lovely. The deep bond is obvious. You're a good mother to be doing everything possible to be there in a positive way for them. Take care and try to be easy on yourself.

  5. hugs. thanks for finding my blog and commenting. I agree, we could be living twin lives, lots of similarities. I know the struggle of living with a brain that needs a little help from time to time, and i am so damn glad that medication is available for me. how lucky that we live in an age of science where there is treatment available, right? it doesn't matter if there are other moms out there who seem to do "more" and do it all with a smile and calm voice (and never need medication). it's not about failure, it's not about being broken. it's biology, it's chemistry, it's the hand we're dealt.

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