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Ode to Zoloft

by Betsy Jones

My baby boy was 4 months old (after being born 6 weeks early and a scary NICU stay that made us unexpectedly freaked out about “germs”) when the COVID shut down happened. 

We’d already had a very rocky start, which you can hear about on the podcast. We were just starting to get our footing as parents and less afraid, and the world told us to shut down our business and isolate. Our support system of family and friends had been absolutely crucial in dealing with our shock from his birth, and now we had to essentially cut them out. COVID was hard for everyone in their own ways, and our way was being alone with a newborn 24-7 and trying to reinvent our business to stay afloat, at the same time. Needless to say, the past 4 months + had been a lot for me, and there were a lot of tears.

I felt like I was drowning. During pregnancy I’d asked my doctor if I should be worried about PPD because I was already feeling so miserable emotionally during my pregnancy. She mentioned that we could start medication immediately and I essentially responded with a “hell no”. I often describe my “best self” version as “hippie Betsy”. Through living in California for 6 years, having friends from all over the country, and time traveling overseas on and off for 4 years, I developed a pretty “zoomed out” lens on life. Moving back to Texas challenged that girl, but I’ve worked hard to stay anchored to her. Part of that girl includes being very self reflective and doing the work to understand my feelings. The idea of medicating was completely off the table, as it essentially went against everything I believed about pharmaceutical intervention and mental health healing.

But remember, then the birth experience happened and then COVID. So I was starting to consider it again.  I told my husband one evening “I just need some relief”. He shared most of my beliefs about medication and was also pretty against the idea of me starting. But I was becoming less and less present with our son, more and more frustrated at day to day parenting tasks and crying AT EVERYTHING. Not to mention I felt like I was picking fights with him constantly and half the time I wasn’t honestly even sure what they were about. So in true desperation and protectiveness of my family, I decided to get on Zoloft. I honestly don’t remember much about when I started feeling better, I think because my memories of those days are just regular-life level memories. It wasn’t impactful the way the pain was. At some point I started truly melting into my son and how his sweet laugh made me feel, gained the ability to just chat with my husband, and most notably of all I started laughing. My husband completely shifted on his views when he saw the clarity it allowed me to have. 

My next step was to reach out to a therapist recommended by a friend. It was important to me that if I was getting on medication it wouldn’t mean that I didn’t have to “do the work”. I had dabbled in Better Help before and really enjoyed having someone impartial to help filter my thoughts. Still, the shoe didn’t totally fit. I gave it another try with Jess Durando of Mama Method Wellnness out of trust that my friend was so much like me that it had to be a better fit and BOY was it. Plus, she offered phone calls which was a great way for me to get outside and go on a walk while chatting with her. Jess helped me through a lot of deeper inner questions about my own purpose outside of being a mom, although it felt like my most cherished purpose, and daily habits that were hurting me. I started to feel incredibly clear on my own actions and even get ahead of meltdowns with the ability to rationalize. When I told her about my guilt for resorting to medication and the self judgment I was experiencing, she told me “it’s just a tool in your toolbox”. She helped me realize that getting that relief was ok, and self care is typically multi faceted. Getting on the Zoloft then starting my sessions with her allowed me to work through things with a clear enough mind to not drown in the emotion and lose sight of the facts.

Always look at your “why”. My why for avoiding meds had nothing to do with my desire to heal. I was able to still do the work with a therapist, which is the most long lasting fix of all, but used the “tool” of Zoloft to allow me the ability to work. If you’re struggling with Postpartum Depression or Anxiety (which are different by the way; mine was more anxiety) or just need relief, search until you find it. If you are only avoiding trying medication because of self judgment, please hear me when I say that self judgment is the most wasteful way you can spend your time and energy. Allow yourself to live, and open your mind to being wrong. Imagine being with your kids with no distracting thoughts going on! No worry about the stuff you’re not getting done. No racing thoughts as you try to fall asleep. Your experience is for sure different from mine, and talking to your doctor is always step one. But don’t you (the person who MADE A HUMAN and likely keeps the ship afloat) deserve relief?

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