Category Archives: Mental Health

When You Die

Therapist: “I know you’re overwhelmed and it’s a lot of change. But having a kid is the absolute best lesson in learning how to let go of control. You’ve had many opportunities for this lesson in the past, and it’s always been scary at first but beneficial in the end.”

Me: “Right. Well, I guess with those lessons, there was always kind of an end point. I feel like this time there is no end. Like the second I become ok and comfortable with something, she’s going to change.”

Therapist: “Correct. The lesson is ongoing. It ends when you die.”

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Therapist: “K so here’s your August invoice! See you next week!”

 

We Named Our Daughter After a Mouse

(Note: This post was written while still pregnant, lest you think I just shot a kid out of my baby-cannon and now have any ability to construct a coherent sentence, much less a mini-memoir.)

Yes, a mouse.

But stay with me. We have a rational reason for doing so. Well, maybe not a rational reason (not sure how anyone can expect me to be rational right now, as I am currently in month 9 of having two vaginas), but a reason that will at least provide some context for my desire to name our child after an animal that most people try to kill with strategically placed snap-traps.

Ten years ago, I suffered a deep, terrifying, paralyzing depression. I’ve written about it and referenced it many times on this blog so I won’t re-hash the details in this post, but needles to say, it was my darkest hour. What I haven’t mentioned before is a somewhat interesting (and now extremely relevant) aspect of this terrible time in my life– my obsession with mouse-kid Noisy Nora.

Yes, I’ll explain (because who? And huh?).

In the months I spent depressed living in my parents’ home at age 26, I was unable to do virtually anything. One day, while robotically eating breakfast and staring blankly at the Honey Nut Cheerios box, my mother put a pencil in my hand and suggested I draw something. Not only did I think this was pointless, as EVERYTHING was pointless, but I thought it was extra ridiculous given that, a mild talent for photography aside, I had never at any point in my life shown any kind of visual-arts ability or interest.

But I had nothing to lose (and nothing to do), so I grabbed the pencil and started drawing what I saw on the cereal box in front of me.

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Looking at it now, I think “Not a bad little Cheerios bee!” At the time, however, all I could manage was, “Well this drawing sucks.” Because, you know. Everything sucked. But what I did notice was that for the brief time I was immersed in the sketching process, I wasn’t, for once, writhing in despair and wondering how the minutes of life could possibly be ticking by so slowly. I was able to escape my agony for a short, precious time, and that alone was enough reason to keep drawing.

So I did. Basically, I stuck to sketching images that were on the boxes of the food I was eating:

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As you can see, I was really into carbs.

Then one day, in a further desperate attempt to pass the interminable minutes, I began sorting through mountains of crap in my parents’ storage room. To my delight (delight is a strong word– I hated everything) I stumbled upon a box of my most beloved childhood books. They were all there: The Very Hungry Caterpillar, Where the Wild Things Are, Doctor De Soto, The Snowy Day and, finally, at the very bottom of the box– Noisy Nora.

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GOD how I loved that book as a kid. It’s about a very endearing yet insufferable little mouse-kid who is jealous of the time her parents spend with her siblings, and therefore seeks attention by being a destructive little pain in the ass. I adored her, because I was her. No one could yell, stomp, and slam a door (then open it and re-slam it) for NO GOOD REASON like kid-me (and, ok, teenager-me. Adult-me…).

And for reasons I could not articulate, I suddenly became OBSESSED with drawing Nora. So obsessed, in fact, that I purchased a separate sketch pad solely for Nora drawings, where I could practice sketching her over and over again until I had her every tiny little detail perfected. (Side note: This genius separate-notebook idea backfired, as somewhere in the five times I’ve moved residencies since then, it got misplaced, while my notebook full of meaningless cereal box characters has somehow stood the test of time Face_With_Rolling_Eyes_Emoji_large ).

I sketched these Nora drawings in the privacy of my own bedroom, and kept the special Nora notepad under the bed where no one would find it. Unlike my Cheerios bee and Keebler elves, I was very protective of my Nora sketches and did not want to show them to anyone, even my mother, who was always so delighted and impressed by my cartoon drawings– so impressed, in fact, that she suggested I pursue a career in comic-strip writing (she was pretty desperate to give me purpose. She was also, understandably, drinking a LOT of wine during that time).

Nora was my little secret. I was never really able to articulate or explain to myself why I was so obsessed with her. Sure, I loved the book as a kid, but I loved lots of books and characters and wasn’t obsessing over any of THEM. At the time, the infatuation made no sense. But then again, nothing made sense, so I didn’t spend too much time or energy trying to figure it out.

Eventually, with copious medical interventions and the unwavering support of family and friends, I began to heal in early 2009, and life restarted again. I moved back to NYC, got a teaching job, found my marbles, and was functioning like the human I had forgotten I was capable of being.

And in the process, I let Nora go. Not completely and not forever– after all, she was there with me for those lonely, agonizing months and got me through a truly hopeless time– but now that I was able to participate in life again, the inexplicable obsession subsided and found a cozy spot in the back recesses of my mind, rather than in the fixated forefront.

Fast forward 9 years and I’m pregnant. As soon as we learned we were having a girl, out of (seemingly) nowhere, the name Nora came to my mind. I casually mentioned it to Eric as a name I liked, and he agreed it was nice, but suggested we keep thinking. He liked it but didn’t necessarily LOVE it, and maybe there was something out there we’d both LOVE. That was fine with me– I wasn’t even sure in that moment why I liked it so much, or why it came to me so suddenly, so I agreed to keep thinking. We looked through list after list and flirted with other names, many of which I did really like. But at the end of each day when I put my head to my pillow, I kept coming back to Nora.

And slowly, I began to realize why. Now, bear with me here– I’m not typically a hokey, whimsical or overly-spiritual person. But I am a big believer in things happening for a reason, and I do think “the universe,” however one might define that, plays a role in the direction our lives take. And in that time when I felt I truly had nothing to live for, I feel that maybe, just maybe, the Nora obsession was the universe’s way of saying “Do not give up, Emily. This darkness is temporary, and light awaits. There’s something big coming, and you’re going to want to be around to see it.”

Now I don’t want anyone to interpret this as me thinking that having a child is the only, or the ultimate, thing to live for. It has been 10 years since that depressive episode and my life has been beyond full of reasons to live– from big reasons (family, friends, major accomplishments both personal and professional, fabulous travel, discovery of new talents and interests) to all those little moments that make up a full, meaningful life  (a burst of uncontrolled laughter, hearing Journey’s “Faithfully” and remembering every single lyric to your camp alma mater, a post-run nap in a shaded hammock, the satisfaction of finally killing the pesky fly that’s been occupying your apartment for a week– sorry, that last one just happened like 5 minutes ago and DAMN it felt good! Anyway, we all have our things.)

There are trillions of reasons to live, big and small, but when you’re severely depressed, you can’t access any of them. So I think this Nora obsession, for which I had no explanation at the time, only an intense and seemingly primal NEED to draw her, was the universe desperately trying to shove hope in my face– to tell me that if I could just hold on and get through this time, I would rediscover all the reasons to be here, and come to see that I still have so much important work left to do in this life, including (but certainly not limited to) becoming a mom.

So I kept coming back to the name Nora, and although Eric liked it, he still wasn’t totally sold. I wanted to disclose the reason I was so attached to it, but I also worried he might think I was nuts (not sure why I still occasionally fear this. The guy has witnessed some pretty emotionally ape-shit moments and he’s still here, inexplicably, with bells on). For months, I kept pressing the name on him, with no explanation other than, “I just really like it,” only to get a non-committal, “I like it too, but let’s keep thinking,” in response.

So eventually, on a particularly hormonal day, I explained my reasoning. With tears in my eyes, I cautiously relayed the story of my Noisy Nora fixation, and how in hindsight I think it might have been the universe giving me a reason to hold on.

“Oh,” Eric said. “Well then that’s it. That’s her name. Why didn’t you just tell me that? Of course that’s her name. And now I love it.”

And that is why I married him.

And why we named our daughter after a rodent.

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“Someone Assaulted My Pregnant Wife!”*

*nope.

So here’s what actually happened.

Last week, I got into the elevator on the first floor, with 3 other adults and a 4-year-old kid. We all pressed our floors. Then the elevator stopped on floor 2, and a woman with a huge laundry cart got on. Fine, that’s allowed. But I would like to note that she entered the elevator somewhat aggressively, and essentially backed me into the far corner without so much as an “excuse me.” Technically still her right, but objectively pretty cunty.

Then, something strange happened with the elevator. When the woman got on at floor 2, all the floors we had previously pressed became unlit. So the woman, let’s call her Nasty McDouchecanoe, who was now standing directly in front of the buttons, barked, “Ok everyone just tell me their floors and I’ll hit them.” So, everyone did. Someone said 17, another said 20, another said 25, and I said 28.

She proceeded to hit floors 17, 20, 21 (presumably for herself), 25 and did not hit my request of 28.

So, thinking she simply didn’t hear me over the demons and firemonsters dancing in her head, I leaned forward from the time-out corner she had shoved me into, and attempted to press my floor.

When she saw my hand coming from behind and reaching for the buttons, she pushed it away, back towards my body, and hissed, “Back off, you can wait!”

Not knowing wtf was going on but assuming this woman was legit insane, I calmly said “Ok…” went back to my time-out, and stood there in silence. The elevator proceded to rise and go to everyone’s floor except mine, as she had not pressed my button nor was she permitting me to press it for myself, because apparently when I stepped into this elevator I had entered Gilead.

Everyone was silent and not really sure how to react, particularly with the 4-year-old kid there. A couple people looked at me, but mostly with sympathy, rather than what I wanted, which was either a gigantic “What an asshat!” eye roll or a punch to this woman’s vagina.

When the elevator stopped at 21, Nasty McDouchecanoe got off, and, over her shoulder, spat, “See, you still have plenty of time to get to 28.”

The doors closed and I was left in the elevator with one other woman. I calmly hit 28, now that I was back in the free world and allowed to do so, and took a deep breath. The woman looked at me awkwardly and said, “When is your due date? You look fantastic!”

She clearly felt sorry for me.

Again, not what I wanted– I would have preferred this woman save her compliment and instead put that energy toward tripping Nasty McDouche on her way out, but fine. At least she was being humane. I smiled, told her I was due in a month, and thanked her for her kind words. Then she got off on 25.

The bizarre incident was officially over and I had survived it with no real harm done, so what did I do once I was alone in the elevator?

I sobbed like a pregnant little bitch.

Yes, clearly hormones were at play here, but still– the amount and decibel of sobbing was batshit. I had clearly caught an insanity bug from Nasty McD, and there was simply no controlling the extreme emotional reaction I was having to what, in hindsight, was a pretty fucking minor event.

I tremble-sobbed my way into my apartment, and, once confined to the safety of my hibernation station, immediately texted Eric the following:

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Hey, here’s a tip! Don’t tell your husband that someone slapped you if no one slapped you.

Clearly I was distraught and wasn’t thinking through my words. Yes, this woman had pretty much “slapped my hand away” from the buttons, but if we’re going to get VERY literal about what happened, there was no actual SLAP. She pushed it away. Not gently, mind you. But nobody got slapped.

Too late.

Eric sent a series of concerned texts and then, when I didn’t answer fast enough (because the mucus-tears were dripping down my screen and preventing touch-typing, as somehow Apple has not yet developed the technology to keep up with my nervous breakdowns), he called.

I was still hysterical choke-sobbing, because sure. I told him the whole story between blowing snot into copious napkins, ending with “and then she slapped my hand away from the buttons and told me to back off.”

Again, that word “slapped.” Not QUITE in line with what happened. But then again, neither was my shitnado reaction.

Eric calmly said, “Ok, I’m calling management, and I’m coming home,” then hung up and did exactly that.

To be clear, this is NOT what I wanted.

I tried to text him to tell him to PLEASE not report this to our building’s management company, but it was too late.  He told me he reported it, that they were horrified, and that they were going to review the security tapes, find out who it was, and handle it.

I wanted to die.

Me: “Eric, seriously, I really don’t want management involved. This is getting blown out of proportion.”

Eric: “SOMEONE ASSAULTED MY PREGNANT WIFE!”

I closed my eyes, took a deep, snot-filled breath and PRAYED this was not the wording he used when he spoke to management, while at the same time fully recognizing that if he DID use those words, it was 100% justified and totally my fault because I literally relayed the information to him in the same way Sarah Huckabee Sanders holds a press conference.

Which is to say I lied.

Not intentionally, like Sarah Huckabee Sanders, but more inadvertently, because I don’t do words good, like Sean Spicer.

Regardless, semantics matter.

And unfortunately, when speaking, I’m not always so on-point. When writing, and given time to edit and revise, I can be fairly articulate, but even then I end up with phrases such as Nasty McDouchecanoe and words that aren’t words, like “cunty.”

Once Eric got home (because yes, he left work at 2pm to tend to a wife who got her feelings hurt, as he is a saint of epic proportions), I was a bit calmer (still crying a few more whimper-tears though, because I’m an adult with 2 masters degrees and my own business). I was able to explain to him what ACTUALLY happened versus what he was probably imagining happened based on my extremely shitty initial relaying of the story.

I then made Eric, god bless his definitely-regretting-marrying-me soul, call back the head of management (who is basically the nicest person on the planet, and who I will now forever have to avoid due to crippling embarrassment) and explain that no one is claiming assault of a pregnant woman. Yes, Nasty McD pushed my hand away. Yes, she prevented me from pressing the button to my floor, which I just kind of took for granted as my basic human right. Yes, she was extremely rude and yes, the incident clearly upset me and made me and everyone in the elevator extremely uncomfortable, but no, Mr. Management, we are not thinking of pressing charges or calling the cops and oh jesus christ what is happening and how is this my life?!

Mr. Management thanked us for clarifying (and luckily we were able to do so BEFORE he grabbed a tub of popcorn and reviewed the security tape, as he for sure would have laugh-choked once he viewed “the assault”). He also said that while it was not a crime per se, it was still an upsetting and unacceptable incident that should not have occurred. Therefore, the woman would be contacted and gently warned that her behavior had been reported and viewed on security footage, that what occured is not in line with the neighborly atmosphere they like to cultivate in their residencies, and to please consider this the next time she is interacting with her neighbors in the communal living spaces.

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So remember that post where I said I somehow manage to make enemies in every building I occupy? Well, add Nasty McD to the enemy list. Also mark this as #920183098219839382195 on my list of reasons why I am scared to leave the apartment or interact with humans in general.

But whatever, this woman was a huge asshole for NO reason, and a part of me is not sorry that there will be some kind of small consequence for her behavior (although let’s be honest, this woman is not going to give a FUCK when she gets that call from management…or, alternatively, she is outside my door right now with a shotgun.)

But yeah, overall, I definitely feel like that annoying Kindergartener who runs and tattles to the teacher instead of using her words to defend herself.

But let the record show: I did NOT want to run and tattle to management like a whiny little 5-year-old pussy.

I wanted to run and tattle to my husband like a giant 36-year-old pussy.

And that, I think we can all agree, was accomplished with accuracy.

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As Usual, I’m Making New Friends Left and Right

We just moved to a new apartment building last week, and I kid you not, Eric already knows the name of every person who works here, from the 7 different doormen to the maintenance crew to the service entrance security guards. He passes them in the lobby and with a huge, happy-to-know-ya smile, says, “Hey, how’s it goin [insert worker’s first name here, because I sure as shit don’t know it]!”, as he is already everyone’s best friend and probably in some form of fantasy sports league with them, as he was with the doormen in our last building.

Me? I’ve interacted with one person. Unwillingly.

It happened in the gym this morning.

Me: <“exercising,” headphones on OBVIOUSLY, and generally minding my own business>

Guy: “Wow, look at you! You’re ready to pop!”

Me: “Well, not quite yet, but yes, end of August…”

Guy: “And you’re allowed to exercise? That doesn’t seem safe! You’re sure that’s safe?”

Me: “I’m on a back-supported bike made for seniors, cycling at level 1. I think I’ll be ok!”

Guy: “I don’t know, you’re making me nervous…”

Me: “Well, you’re making me uncomfortable, so I guess we’re even.”

Guy: < Silent. Shits self. >

So it’s safe to say Eric and I have comparable social skills.

The unfortunate thing is that I know the guy meant no harm, and yeah, dude, OF COURSE I’m making you nervous. You think this situation doesn’t make ME nervous every time I look in the mirror?!

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The fact that I am not straight up face-planting every time I stand is truly defying the laws of physics (I assume. Can’t actually quote any laws of physics.)

But sorry, man, I’m in the home stretch here and the hormones win. Between my rapidly expanding frontal load and a preexisting discomfort with strangers talking to/looking at/being near me, I’m in no mood. If my rascal pouch makes you nervous, that’s fine, but keep it to your damn self.

So yeah I’d say we have about one year in this building before I make so many enemies that it’s simply too uncomfortable to stay. Took me about two years in the old place, but pregnancy is going to speed up this timeline a bit.

But that’s perfectly fine– since college, I’ve established a pattern of living in a place only JUST long enough to serve my needs and then moving out right before EVERYONE writes me off as the unfriendly, awkward weirdo-tenant, and it’s totally worked out for me so far.

Meanwhile, as I type this, Eric is enthusiastically shaking hands and exchanging “good-to-meet-ya!” pleasantries with yet another building occupant.

A corgi.

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Shit. We can never move.

 

 

It’s not you, Yoga. It’s me. But also you. Well, MOSTLY you, really.

I went to my first prenatal yoga class this morning.

I hated it.

I’ve been having some back pain for the past 2 weeks so various sources, including my therapist, recommended a prenatal yoga class to “open up the body.” I’ve tried yoga twice in the past (over 10 years ago) and didn’t particularly enjoy it at all, but I will always follow my therapist’s advice in the same way Michael Scott followed his GPS into a lake, which is to say that even if my instincts tell me this is not going to be good, I have no choice but to obey the all-knowing robot.

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So I nodded as if I knew what “open up the body” even meant, and signed up for a trial class.

The first thing I was instructed to do was put one hand on my heart, one hand on my belly, and send an “intention” to baby. In hindsight I realize that this intention was supposed to be something along the lines of “I intend to love you forever,” but mine was “I intend not to piss on this floor in front of all these people, so get off my bladder.”

After that was just a calling out of a series of poses I did not know, so I just kind of helplessly watched the person in front of me, which worked just fine until we all turned our bodies and I was the person in front img_2021-6.

That’s when I just sat down and pretended I needed water. Water was in fact the last thing I needed, given the aforementioned urge to piss myself. But I sat there sipping until I increased my odds of a public pants-wetting to about 98%.

The last 15 minutes of just lying back on an incline and breathing were fine, but I sort of felt like I could do that at home, alone, with a huge bowl of egg salad on my lap, like I did last week.

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Not sure why I need to add a $35 fee and a bunch of far-more-in-shape-and-confident-than-I pregnant ladies to this scenario.

Bottom line, I spent most of the class feeling anxious and wondering if I was doing everything wrong (which, to be clear, I was). I hear anxiety is the exact opposite of what you’re supposed to feel during yoga. Well, I’ve always been pretty good at feeling the opposite of what one is SUPPOSED to feel, so I guess this falls right in line.

And this is all meant with no disrespect to yogis. I wholeheartedly respect your love and appreciation for yoga, and I hope you are not offended by my distaste for it, in the same way that I am not offended when people tell me that running is boring, horrible torture and they’d rather stab themselves in the face with Satan’s fiery pitchfork than run a marathon. I don’t agree, per se (and honestly, calm the fuck down, you’re being a little dramatic), but I totally get it. Not your thing.

So, Yoga, we’ll just have to leave it at that. You’re not for me. I gave you several tries, I wanted to like you, but deep down I just know there’s something better out there for me. I had that mentality while dating, and I managed to land this guy:

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So let’s just say I trust my gut.

Mental Illness and Pregnancy: To Medicate or Not to Medicate? That is the Question. (…that I do not have the answer to. I’m not a doctor. But here’s my experience.)

**Disclaimer (in case the title wasn’t disclaim-y enough for you): Like literally everything else on this CLEARLY non-medical blog, the following is based on MY personal experience. It is not intended to serve as definitive medical advice for my fellow mental health sufferers. I am not telling you to go off your meds, and I’m not telling you to stay on them. I am suggesting that you thoroughly consider your options, under the close care of a doctor who knows you well, and that you advocate for yourself before making a rash, fear-based decision. Mostly I am just letting you know that no matter what you decide or what you are going through, try to go easy on yourself. You’re doing the best you can. You are not alone. And you got this.**

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A lot of people have asked me if I’m still on my depression/anxiety meds while pregnant. This is a totally fair and welcomed question, mainly because most of you have asked in a matter-of-fact, non-judgmental, just-curious way, like, “Oh, hey, what’d you end up deciding about that?” But some of you have asked in more of an accusatory “You’re not still on your meds, are you!?” way that implies some sort of moral wrongness should I be on them– and even though I know (most of) you people come from a well-meaning place, it still makes me want to light your face on fire.

So allow me to try to explain a few things. Knowdlege is power and faces are generally better not aflame.

The answer is no, I am not on my meds. But let me be VERY clear about this– I am not off them because I have some kind of holier-than-thou judgement about staying on meds while pregnant. I have absolutely NO judgement about that, and in fact encourage women to stay on them if that’s what works best for their health and situation. Obviously. I am the queen of mental health triage– you do what you gotta fucking do to keep your marbles, sista! #sanityfirst

The drug I was on, Prozac (an SSRI), is actually known to be safe for pregnancy, and I know plenty of women who have been on this drug or others like it and have given birth to perfectly healthy children. And in fact, countless medical studies show that having a depressive episode or being acutely anxious while pregnant is far more harmful to a fetus than taking medication that will effectively treat these conditions (these MEDICAL conditions, in case you needed a reminder that this shit isn’t made up hocus pocus, they are legitimate illnesses). But yes, it is true that some mental health meds are unsafe for pregnancy. As long as you are discussing family planning with your therapist ahead of time, though, he/she should be steering you clear of those particular meds while pregnant.

Soooo after reading the above regurgitation of all the fun medical facts I’ve learned during my family planning journey,  you’re probably wondering, “Ok, so if all of that is true, why DID you stop taking your meds?”

Well, in a shocking turn of events, it was for no good reason at all, really. Basically, my therapist presented it to me like this: “The optimal, ideal situation is that you are off all medications and feeling fine, aka not depressed or anxious. Should you go off them and feel anxious or depressed, then the next best situation is for you to go back on them and stay on them for pregnancy. The least optimal scenario is that you have an acute depressive episode or debilitating anxiety while pregnant.”

Ok, so obviously all I heard there was, “The optimal, most ideal situation is that you are off meds….” and then I sort of stopped listening and everything else just became giphy. After all, it was my first time getting pregnant, I had no fucking clue what to expect or what the process TRULY entailed, so yeah, I wanted to do the thing I was told is “optimal.” No-brainer here. Do the “optimal, ideal” thing, because those are strong words that sound good. And I’m gonna be a good mom, damnit!

I’m not saying that line of thinking made sense, I’m just saying it’s the line of thinking I had when I quickly declared, “Ok, off the meds we go!” with far more confidence than any medication-dependent person with a lifelong mood disorder should have. lets-do-this

This decision was made back in July, and we weren’t planning to try to get pregnant until December, so I still had some time to wean off and be completely med-free for a bit before inviting a fetus into this  shitshow of an experiment delicate situation.

A few things to note.

  1. For the previous year before going off it, I had been on a very low dose of Prozac. That was part of why I felt I could probably be ok stopping it. Had I been on a high dose, it would have been a much more difficult and lengthy weaning process and likely wouldn’t have been worth it in my mind. Going off a low dose seemed easy and low risk.
  2. That being said, the last time I was med-free (age 26), I lost my goddamn mind. Like, completely incapacitated, lost 25 pounds, moved back in with my parents, played lots of senior-living type board games and took copious lukewarm baths just to pass the interminable minutes. I was extremely sick, and it was terrifying.
  3. THAT being said, I was younger then, far more naive, and had no idea what was happening to me. I had no reliable therapist, coping skills, or treatment plan for dealing with my illness. I didn’t even remotely UNDERSTAND it as an illness, so I certainly had no way of managing it (and no faith that it would ever end). Since then, I’ve done a ton of work on myself and have learned how to manage things (to the extent that I’m able) when life gets dark.
  4. THAAAAAAT being said, I’ve always had the medication to help me.

The conclusion I made based on these four somewhat unhelpful and conflicting points? If I go off the meds and things get bad, they probably won’t get as bad as that really bad time, because things are different now, and I’m more prepared.

But let’s be real, given I’ve had the consistent help of meds for 9 years, there’s just no possible fucking way to know that.

So I took the gamble, because gambling is fun when you’re drunk in Vegas so it’ll probably also be fun when you’re sober and housing a fetus, thought no one logical ever.

And at first it was fine. The weaning went smoothly. By the time I was completely off the meds, it was late October, aka my non-optimal time of year thanks to colder, darker weather setting in, and a general life-long refusal to understand why summer ends. So I didn’t feel GREAT* (*not really my M.O. regardless) but I certainly wasn’t depressed. Plus we had the 2-week, warm-weather honeymoon to look forward to, so that kept me going.

But the second I got pregnant in early December, shit hit the fan. I alluded to a lot of this in my post In a Shocking Turn of Events, I Am No Glowing Goddess, but shied away from some of the grimmer details because a) it was my first post about the pregnancy so I didn’t want to come out Depression guns a blazin’ and b) I was genuinely excited to finally share the news. But I do now feel the responsiblity, as a mental health advocate and general blogger of honesty, to let it be known that I was NOT ok that first trimester. I was hesitant to use the word “depressed” while I was in it, because I really didn’t want to admit to needing meds, and I felt like I should “stick it out” until the second trimester. Plus, recognizing you’re depressed WHILE you’re depressed isn’t always easy– it’s part of the mind-fuck of the illness. The very symptoms of depression (self loathing, worthlessness, hopelessness) prevent you from assessing the situation as “This is medical. I am ill,” and instead twist it to “I am the worst, I am being a little bitch, and I need to grow a pair.” (but alas, you cannot grow a pair– and the harder you try, the more you hate yourself for failing. Tricky little devils, these mood disorders).

I convinced myself it was all normal first trimester stuff. And some of it definitely was. Constant nausea and exhaustion will make anyone feel like shit. But some of it was really fucking dark, and I’m not so certain that’s normal.

I cried every single day. I stared blankly a lot. I couldn’t write, and could barely read. I felt absolutely no attachment to the pregnancy, and had no ability to see how anything was going to get better, or how I was supposed to love or care for a child. I was stuck in a thought loop of “You’re going to be a terrible mom, what were you thinking? This was a huge mistake.” I could barely get out of bed and I felt horribly, utterly lonely– the kind of lonely that can’t be cured by another person comforting you, because that ironically just makes you feel all the more alone (on that note, God bless Eric. No, literally, God, PLEASE bless him with a bevy of Corgi puppies upon his eventual arrival in heaven). That self-hating loneliness was the only feeling I had– about anything else, I felt absolutely nothing at all. It was 3 long months of toggling between complete isolated self-loathing and absolute, utter detachment. I’m not sure which I prefered. Both were pretty fucking non-optimal.

But it got better, eventually. Very recently. Do I feel great now? No. But I’m not depressed, and I’m able to feel excited at times. I have some energy back. I feel more motivation to get up and go. I open the blinds. I listen to music. I’m doing my job, not just suffering through it. I walk on the treadmill. Food tastes like food again.

But please note, the second after this baby is born: tenor-1 (<— definitely what post-labor looks like, no?) I will be right back on that Prozac. That was always the plan– my risk for postpartum depression is high, and we’re not taking any chances. And when it comes to the next pregnancy, should I be lucky enough to have that happen, I will likely stay on the meds. Those 3 months were horrible, and I see no reason to make an experience that is so hard on even the average, emotionally stable woman even harder. 

So, this is just to say, if you are one of those pregnancy newbies out there, and you are presented with your options in the same way I was, please know that it’s ok to not choose the “optimal, ideal” scenario if it’s not going to work for you. It’s not optimal or ideal if you feel like a self-loathing garbage truck for three months. It doesn’t make you selfish– it makes you reasonable and responsible. There is no wrong moral choice here, and you shouldn’t feel bullied* into making a decision that might not make sense for you (*to be fair, I really wasn’t bullied by my doctor. I still completely trust her. While I wish she had worded it slightly differently, what she said was perfectly reasonable– but I heard what I chose to hear and then I proceeded to bully myself, because that’s what we depressives do best).

But how should I respond when told it’s best to try to go off the meds, even if I don’t feel that’s the best option for me, you ask?

Well, next time, I’m probably going to say this, so feel free to borrow it: “Nope nope nope! No thanks, Doctor Person Who Isn’t Me, but I am me and because of that, I know myself farily well by now, and I sure do enjoy being sane! Seems the risks of the meds are pretty low, and the risks of me losing my shit are pretty high, so I’m going to keep doing that thing where I’m lucid and functional and seeing the point in showering, because, even though I don’t know much about babies yet, I DO know it’s easier to care for them when your mind is firmly planted in reality and you don’t wake up wondering why you have to exist. Right? Babies like moms who care about living and eating and clothing themselves? I feel like I read that somewhere and it sounded accurate.”

Or something similar. There’s probably a less condescending way, I don’t know.

Bottom line, do what works for YOU. I am not advocating for either option– every mental health situation, and every person, is different. I am simply advocating for you to advocate for yourself (under the care of a doctor you trust, of course. I really hope that goes without saying), and to really think through what will work best– again, for YOU.

Did going off meds work for ME? Meh. Hard to say at this point, because now that I’m out of the darkest darkness (I hope), it’s like “Ok, I survived that and no one died or anything, so that’s good.” But should that be the standard? No one died? Probably not. I feel like it was a lot of unnecessary suffering and potential risk, and I can’t imagine ever willingly going through that again. Plus, I can only hope and pray that my struggle didn’t harm the baby. So far everything looks good in there, the heartbeat is rapid and strong (doc says “Sounds great!,” I say “Sounds like anxiety!”), and I have no tangible reason to think she’s not thriving. But who really knows. And whether on or off meds, I’d have that “who really knows” feeling regardless. So next pregnancy, pretty sure it’s gonna be tenor.

And if you’re not ok with that? That’s cool. Just express your judgement to someone else, not me. I can’t go lighting faces on fire once I’m a mom, but I can definitely teach my kid to spit in your eye and claim it’s an accident.

In a Shocking Turn of Events, I Am No Glowing Goddess

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We’re pregnant! With a girl! (Which is great, as long as she is nothing like me).

We’re definitely starting to feel the excitement now that we are entering the second trimester and I no longer want to Linda Blair vomit all over town and have stopped drooling like Homer Simpson at a pig roast (oh, you didn’t know involuntary drooling was a pregnancy symptom? Well, neither did I until I got up to pee for the 47th time one night and essentially slipped in a pool of my own saliva).

So on that note, hey, here’s something no one tells you: the first trimester fucking blows. No, I’m kidding. Tons of people DO tell you that, minus those goddess-moms who feel great and glowy from day 1, but let’s be real, I’m not friends with those people. Because ew.

So yeah, most people say the first trimester is tough but guess who sort of secretly thought she’d be different, based on absolutely zero evidence?

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In fact, not only did I have zippity do dah ZILCH reason to think I’d have an easy first trimester, every thing I’ve experienced in life up to this point perfectly illustrated that I would be literally THE WORST.  My run-of-the-mill non-pregnant existence– like, a day I’d describe as “feeling pretty good”– is essentially already a mild version of pregnancy (exhaustion, stomach issues, headaches, irritability, anxiety, moodiness, profuse sweating, overactive bladder….). So I told myself, based on whatever the opposite of logic is, that because I feel pregnant NORMALLY, when I actually AM pregnant I will feel BETTER. It’s similar to the kind of logic one uses when they’ve had 18 too many tequila shots or are Forrest Gump.

It was just hopeful optimism– something I don’t usually partake in, so I’m not sure why I chose THIS particular circumstance to start lying to myself.

Here’s the logical conclusion that a rational person would come to, and perhaps then wisely prepare herself for– If you feel sort of physically crappy in your day-to-day regular life, in no circumstance are you going to feel LESS crappy when you add a nutrient-sucking fetus into that equation (and by “into that equation” I mean “into YOUR UTERUS.” The uterus that is INSIDE YOUR BODY, GUYS! I will never get over this. The “What’s Happening to My Body Book For Girls” Mom gave me at age 14 did NOT adequately prepare me for understanding how this is a thing humans can and should be doing. It’s fucking Animal Planet over here, except I have to go to a job every day and politely respond to people without vomiting on their face).

So anyway, yeah: “Feel Semi-Crappy Normally + Fetus Monster in Belly = Feel Crappier” is not exactly as obvious, concrete and indisputable as “1 +1 =2” but it’s pretty damn close, Forrest.

So weeks 5-12 were miserable. And I don’t say that to sound ungrateful, because believe me, I know how lucky Eric and I are that this happened for us, and happened so easily (more on that in a future post entitled “My Geriatric Uterus is Wearing a Catcher’s Mitt”). We are of course thankful for that, this is something we very much wanted, and we are both beyond looking forward to being parents (in that terrified-excited kind of way you look forward to riding a super-rickety, still-in-the-test-phase roller coaster that you heard many people have died on).

But I’m not going to sit here and say this early part is magical. If you’re looking for that sentiment, I’m not entirely sure why you read this blog. Maybe this is your first time here and you know nothing about me, so if that’s the case, let me catch you up: My name is Emily. I don’t do whimsy.

So that leads us to the texts below. I was too tired, nauseous, and, quite frankly, sad to do any real writing these past two months, but I did somehow find the time to annoy/harass/alarm/frighten/disgust Eric with every single feeling I experienced as I experienced it. There was no emergency-bathroom situation that he was not a part of because A) THAT’S HOW LOVE WORKS and B) the late Steve Jobs definitely invented iMessage for the purpose of toilet updates in real time, so what am I going to do, NOT honor him?

So below is a chronicle of highlights (and I use that term VERY loosely, because I know of no society that would list “violent dry heave” as a highlight) of the first trimester, through text.

I’ll admit that reading through these was hard because, now that I am in a better place, my assessment is that I sound pretty damn whiny in a lot of these exchanges (and by “exchanges,” I mean me texting novels of complaints and Eric not knowing what to say because there is literally nothing TO say, but I just needed someone to listen and also not divorce me after listening. God bless his soul).

I imagine his face while reading was a mix of this blank-stare-gif-17.gif, this incredulous.gif and this 200w.gif , but he never let me know it, and that’s all that counts. 90% of marriage is knowing how to swallow your feelings and lie convincingly when your partner needs you to.

I actually ended up removing the majority of the sad, exasperated texts because they were just far too frequent, don’t make for great reading, and I think you can get the gist of my mental state by just perusing a few.  And the texts aren’t ALL misery– there’s humor sprinkled throughout, because I’ve done my best to try to laugh when I can, which is SUPER hard when you feel like death, but becomes possible when you have a partner with the temperament, light-heartedness and excitability of a newborn corgi.

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But bottom line– this shit is hard. For ANYONE. Is it harder for someone with mental health issues? I’m honestly not sure. I’d be lying if I said that I haven’t had some seriously depressive thoughts these past couple months, but I think early pregnancy can do that to anyone– veteran mental-health-sufferer or not– because the hormone surges are nothing short of batshit insanity. Sprinkle in some isolation (not sharing this HUGE thing going on in your life straight up sucks), the removal of your usual get-through-the-day crutches (coffee, wine, Advil, vigorous exercise, writing, openly venting to anyone who will listen including the internet) and add some persistent anxiety over not having that possible miscarriage that Google (and every Jew) loves to warn you about, and you have a perfect shitstorm for needing emotional life support. I legit don’t know how anyone keeps it together in the first few months (but if you’re one of those people, no judgement at ALL. Just a lot of jealousy and maybe also a touch of spiteful resentment and hatred).

And so if one struggling woman reads this and can relate and feel a bit better about the fact that her early pregnancy is/was no walk in the park either, then I’ve done the job I always set out to do– reach someone with the ugly, vomit-ridden truth.

So here’s what you missed– enjoy!….?

(note: Days refer to when we found out– so Day 2 is the 2nd day we knew we were pregnant)

Day 2 (while at a dentist appointment):

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 Day 3:

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Day 3, later:

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Day 4:

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Day 4,  (meeting my girlfriends for dinner): 

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Day 17,  (once daily vomiting commenced): 

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Day 19

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Day 20

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Day 23:

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Day 25:

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Day 28 (After finding out that my blood type is negative, and if Eric’s were to be positive, I would require an injection)IMG_4723.jpgIMG_4724.jpg

Day 35:

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Day 49 (after a lengthy ultrasound):

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Day 50:

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Day 64 (after finding out it’s a girl):

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Day 65:

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