• Anonymous

    I really needed to read this today. I’m going to finally call my doctor.

  • Kati

    Thank you. Welbutrin is my mental-sanity saving drug of choice, and no amount of non-medication could ever do the same as that lovely little pill.

  • TLC

    What a wonderful post! I too was on Prozac for a few years — I started out on Serafim (which is really just a fancy name for prozac that was marketed to women with chronic PMS). I used to fly into RAGES for no reason every month. [not as serious as what you have talked about, but it was debilitating for me at the time].

    i stayed on an antidepressant during my first pregnancy but weaned myself off – with my doctor’s OK – after the baby was born. i have not gone back on prozac or zoloft since then. i think i am one of the lucky ones, because my problems were related to the stage of life that i was in.

    that being said, if i ever do start to have those feelings again, i know that medicine does help. and no one should be ashamed to admit that they are taking something that so clearly helps so many people!

    again heather, you are an inspiration.

  • Melissa M

    Did you try to conceive this last time without going off your meds?

  • http://www.nickimoments.blogspot.com NC

    Wow. Heather, I am not only touched by your post but by all the comments people have written. Between my friends, my family and myself I have seen a lot of mental illness in my life. Thank you for sharing–you are such an inspiration.

  • Beeker

    Did you ever think that it might be easier for you to get help BECAUSE your problems are so extreme? For people who are borderline (meaning they can survive day to day life, even though it gets rough and might be better with meds), and ESPECIALLY for people who have specific anxiety surrounding taking medication, it’s not as easy as you make it sound.

    I am glad that medication has worked for you and I’m glad you got help and are better. But please remember that not everybody is in the exact same situation. No need to put people down just because they haven’t made it to the point you’re at.

  • Erin

    Thank you, as always such an open heart and mind. I look forward to reading your posts daily, and occasionally find myself cracking up at the most random times over things you’ve posted – Leta singing with the little mermaid hands over head, you transfixed, and John “Is that our daughter, or is someone fondling a llama in the living room?”

    Today I cried, and it was wonderful to feel such a release; wonderful to read something so accurate and close to home, and to feel not alone. I know I don’t only speak for myself in saying thank you thank you thank you, for your honesty and candor. It means a lot. I believe you have just made my day a little easier.

    Did I say thank you?

  • http://twinklelittlestar.typepad.com Lisa

    I believe I emailed you before and told you this, but I will say it again. Your story about your post partum depression after Leta was born saved me from a horrible denial about my own. I was pregnant when you were hospitalized, and a few months later, I was a suicidal mess, and I immediately within days after my children were born, took action to get help. So, Welbutrin was/is my friend.

    I think mental health is just like physical health. It is something we need to actively take steps to manage. Some people are blessed with an easier time with this, but we all need to take responsibility for taking whatever steps are necessary to maintain our mental health. I hope that people like you that tell your story help the stigma go away.

    Thank you.

  • Notablonde

    Thank you for this post. My mother “went away” at least 3 times that I’m aware of during my childhood. To this day, I still don’t know her “official” diagnosis. A few years back I stumbled across a prescription bottle for Prozac in her house and tried to talk to her about it later (I’d had trouble on Prozac and wanted to know what her experience was) but she denied it’s existance. Luckily, her shame never infected me. If anything, suffering at the hands of her illness made me that much more motivated to control mine. After years of therapy and various medications I was diagnosed with BPD and put on the proper drugs. Words cannot express how drastically my life changed. For the better.

    While I understand my mother’s shame, I can’t help but resent the years of pain and torment that could have been avoided or at least lessened. Who might I have been, what might I have accomplished if I hadn’t been raised to believe her “moods” were my fault?

  • http://theseatedview.blogspot.com/ Lene

    Thank you for that.

    The medication that saved my life is called Enbrel, the one that’s enabling me to live my life now is called Humira. Not for depression, but for the lifelong arthritis that flared so huge three years ago that I wanted to kill myself because the pain was too much.

    I have loved ones who’ve fought the pain of depression, who’ve thrown things and resisted treatment, almost losing their lives before they finally asked for help and now, they are fine and healthy and happy.

    An illness is an illness, whether arthritis or depression. No one asks me to fix mine with a stiff upper lip.

  • http://thatgur1.wordpress.com kat

    Thank you! My husband is going through something very similar right now, and it gives me hope that someone else has been through it and made it out the other side. I’m forwarding this to him so he can maybe read it and see that there is hope. So many of the things you’ve described we’re dealing with right now. Thank you again, it’s like reading this is a sign that although it’s hard, it will get better. I love him so much and that’s all I want is for him to be the John I married.

  • andsoitis

    Heather,

    Me, too.
    Brilliant.
    Thank You.

    g

  • http://amylynn1313.blogspot.com Grammar Sbob

    Thank you, Heather. Thank you a thousand times. I’ve been struggling recently and teetering back and forth about doing something about it. Some days I feel like I’m just this far from being in such a great place, you know? Maybe going back on Zoloft would help. Maybe a therapist. Maybe kicking myself in the ass. But for sure, reading about you and your ability to be so open about it surely helps. Thank you so much.

  • http://www.annieflorinphotography.com Annie Florin

    Heather,
    I’m so glad you wrote this. I’m glad to hear an update on how you’re doing. I’ve been wondering since you posted about your miscarriage.

    Every time I see a post about mental health from you, I think it’s SUCH a great service to so many people. Sometimes getting advice from someone “anonymous” but trusted can sink in better than hearing it from all the people we love most.

    Be well.
    Annie

  • http://michelleandchristy.typepad.com/rainbow_chills/ Christy

    Thanks for writing this, Heather. I too have anxiety and depression that started early in high school. I went on meds and started therapy 5 years ago. I will always be on medicine. Sometimes, the dose changes, sometimes the combo changes. But I am content to let the medicines help me live the happy life that I believe I should be able to live. Without them (and sometimes with them) life is dark, sad and scary. No amount of praying, or looking on the bright side will change that sadness.

    Thanks for sharing with your readers. There are so many people who need to hear this.

  • amarch

    I have been reading this weblog for over 5 years, since you and Jon ran off to Yosemite to get married. You are such a powerful writer and so authentic in your words. Thank you.

  • http://vonnegurl.blogspot.com/ Vonnegurl

    Oh, Dooce. You are so awesome in so, so many ways. And I imagine you will not have the time nor will to read through the bajillion comments that people have left here, but THANK YOU. I suffer from major depression and borderline personality disorder and it took me ten years of living hell to admit that (a) I suffered from a lifelong medical condition and (b) I would need to get help to feel okay again. Medication hasn’t been my path, but I do attend weekly group therapy (DBT, I love thee) and bi-monthly individual therapy to sort through my life. And my god, I may be poor, but I am happy. You rock! Thank you for being so brave and an admirable success story. Leta is so lucky to have you as a mom.

  • Rhonda

    Ah. Someone who uses the same soapbox I do. I was in therapy for eight (8) years. And I still find someone to talk to if I find myself obsessing over some minor problem. I tell people over and over to “find someone Objective to talk to”. It is unbelievable how an objective listener can clear up the murk you are swimming in. And, I no longer worry what people think about me taking “tranquilizers”. I will never never again try to do without SSRIs. I am mostly past the age where I have suicidal PMS but I owe it to my family to take the best care of myself that I can.

    And, as a side note, I so enjoy the relish with which you parent your child. I wish I had been more balanced when mine was young.

  • http://www.jengray.com jen gray

    well said.
    much shame and baggage around meds…i had no idea how wrecked my nerves were until i got on meds. i tried the other route, but truth be told ~ smelling the oil of lavender or visualizing a white light around my body didnt come close to minimizing a panic attack or a dreadfully heavy day.
    thanks for writing this heather.
    jen gray

  • Lori

    I’ve never really been able to engage in life because of my constant sadness and fear. I rarely try to explain this to anyone, because when I do they don’t understand. They see the me that holds down a big job and makes big decisions and leads big groups of people. What they don’t get is the amazing amount of pain and grit that it took for me just to get out of bed and take a shower. I don’t know how to fill that deep, dark void that continues to grow and smother me. You give me hope, Dooce. I need to talk to a doctor about medication.

  • Jennitals

    Thank you. Thank you thank you thank you.

    I will be on Zoloft for the rest of my life. That is fine with me. I have been on it since college, probably should have had something in high school.

    Until recently, I had tied myself up in knots thinking that I could never have children, because the thought of going off meds for pregnancy was too terrifying. I thought that staying on would be “selfish”, and exposing my baby to risks. I asked my therapist about this recently, and she directed me to http://www.womensmentalhealth.org/, one of Mass General Hospital’s websites.

    After reading the studies, I almost cried with joy: for someone with chronic depression, not only do they reccomend that you stay on meds, but it COULD BE HARMFUL TO YOUR BABY NOT TO!!!!! Thank goodness that I don’t have to feel like a bad person and an unnatural mother for NEEDING the drugs.

  • MPA

    When my 19-year-old brother died in a kayaking accident, one of the first things my mother said was “I need help. I can’t do this alone.” Two weeks later, my mom, my dad and myself started weekly (individual) sessions with a wonderful therapist, one who saw grief as a necessary part of life, rather than something we should “get over”. My parents asked for and got pills to help them sleep (my dad’s anxiety got so bad a night that he would get chest pains), whereas sleep was my pill so I never felt the need to get medication. But getting help – and sticking to it for as long as we needed it – remains one of the smartest thing my family has ever done. It saved my parent’s marriage and my own relationship with my family (because becoming an only child overnight at the age of 22 isn’t easy).

    Reading your post today, Heather, as well as the first 300 comments, I’m struck by the fact that the depression, pain and confusion I experienced when my brother died are just a taste of how some people feel every day. Thank you all for sharing – and if you listen really closely, you might hear me cheering for you every time you reach for the help you deserve.

  • http://lisamertins.com lisa m

    one thing not mentioned in your post is that depression isn’t always manifested in classic ways like feeling blue. sometimes, being freakishly happy can be a sign that one needs help. or the need to shop. or taking drugs or alcohol to self medicate. but talking about is the first step. thank you heather…

  • Anonymous

    I agree that medication can help and make life much better. However, insurance companies have become increasingly reluctant (or refuse) to cover people who take or have taken antidepressants. Some people forgo treatment not because they are mistaken, arrogant or misinformed, but because to do so threatens their ability to obtain health insurance should they lose their jobs. It is a sad state of affairs.

  • http://whyrustalkingme.com usedtobeme

    This came at just the right time. Seems I’m reading lots of blogs and the writers are having issues. Thanks for posting.

    Question: Do you read blogs?

  • Sukie

    I just started being treated for PMD. I could not imagine feeling what I feel for two weeks all the time. My children are better off for it. My house is calmer now — as calm as a house with two boys 11 months apart and two dogs nicknamed the Princesses.

  • Anonymous

    I’ve been reading your blog for a few years. I’ve made a few mistakes in my life of late that’s really hurt the woman i love. I’m realizing that i need help in certain areas. I’m realizing that ignoring things about life ain’t working. Point it, i just want to say the respect that i just gained for you was amazing. I doubt i’ll ever post again, i’ve never posted on any other blog before. But you put all out there and probably changed one life which is what makes it great to be alive, don’t it.

    Thanks Dooce..

  • http://readersandwritersblog.com Sid Leavitt

    Allow me to be the latest to say: Well said. Thank you.

  • http://amy-elle.net/blog AmyElle

    Amen. You said it so well Heather. I stopped fighting taking the meds a while ago, and I will never be off them again. While I am sitting here thinking I really might should have my dosage adjusted, I know how bad it all gets when I don’t take it at all. For me, it’s like putting on my glasses or contacts. Without them, I can’t see my hand in front of my face. Without my Prozac, I don’t care to see anything in front of my face.

    Hopefully many will understand more after reading this post. As always, thank you for writing about your struggles with depression so honestly.

  • Jenn

    Yes. Took me forty years to try meds.
    It’s amazing what 10mg can do.

    I describe my situation as being in a dark room. Sure you can do all the things you need to do. But it’s not easy. Lexapro turned on a simple light. Things are just EASIER.

    I don’t see the difference in my behavior, but those around me say it’s there.

    Maintenance meds. And no shame.

  • http://mylifein12x12.blogspot.com/ Gina

    Heather, I can not thank you enough for this post. I recently went back on Paxil after being off for a year. I felt so defeated. But I realize now that I feel so much better, the only person I was defeating was myself. When I was 24 I was diagnosed with Panic Disorder. I refused to go on medication until I passed out getting my Master’s degree at graduation from a major panic attack. Now at 30 I realize this will always be a part of my life. Although, I can live comfortably and happy and do not need to live in fear every day. It was my mom that said “People have high cholestorel, they take medication, they have heart problems, they take medication, you have a mental problem – take medication! It’s no different!” I am still not totally proud or comfortable that this is my life. However, I am greatful becuase I know things can be much worse. Have wonderful holiday & thanks for sharing!!!

  • Anonymous

    Thank you for posting this. My son is struggling with something … possibly depression. We have a Dr. appoint. soon, and have struggled w/ how to handle the whole situation. You have encouraged me today.

  • Anonymous

    Thank you. You are so brave for sharing your life with others.

  • Elena

    Thank you. Very much. I needed this in the worst way.

  • http://www.transcendentalreality.com/blog/ Tracy

    Don’t know if you’ll read this one since it’s like…#690 or so, but we have a child – she’s 11, who will be medicated (or should be medicated) for the rest of her life. As a parent, it is so hard to say that – it feels like a failure as a parent. This week she decided to quit taking them again (she does this periodically – hides them, or doesn’t take them when we tell her) And our world, once again, fell apart because she did.

    Thanks for realizing that it makes a difference in your life for not only you – but Leta, and John, and everyone. Mental illness is ugly, but it can’t be hidden or ignored.

    Thanks for being strong enough to be open about it. Hopefully your friend will see things the same ay.

  • L

    Stephen Fry – an immensely gifted British actor who was clinically diagnosed late in life with bipolar disorder – made a gut-wrenchingly honest documentary called The Secret Life of a Manic Depressive. Like many other sufferers, Fry has resisted medication and bought into the temptation that Heather describes: the belief that if one takes medication, one will lose a part of oneself.

    I urge everyone to try and see it.

    I am not listing my full name but feel compelled to mention that without the therapy I received for five years in my mid to late twenties I would very likely be dead from suicide. I didn’t understand my aggressive and exaggerated responses to normal stimuli were caused by PTSD. At the time, I didn’t even know what PTSD was. People who are perpetually exposed to violence and chaos – even with periodic lulls – are in a heightened state of awareness caused by constant adrenalin surges. These surges can actually permanently alter one’s brain chemistry. Like a soldier back from a war, I still find myself in flight or fight mode and have to work at this. I will have this all of my life. (PTSD is very difficult to treat.)

    Though I probably could have used it, I didn’t go on medication. (My shrink didn’t recommend it at the time.) I have had numerous physical therapies to help me release tension and rebalance my head. Meditation and empowering exercise is a necessary staple of life. (As Heather has mentioned before though, for clinically depressed people, medication is a staple.)

    Living with anxiety, depression, and irrational but visceral fear is like having a writhing python inside of your body. It’s an unbearable, intolerable, shameful – and unnecessary – mass.

  • Anne

    I feel the same way about my 9 years with the most kick-ass therapist in the world and a year-long course of Paxil.

    When I got into therapy, I was a mess of a person with a broken spirit, wearing a stained hoodie, hunched over in the waiting room, scared to talk too loud. When I walked out of my therapist’s office for the last time, 9 years later, I was standing straight, proud, a healed adult who could express myself all along the continuum, from childlike playfulness to stable, dedicated and hopeful girlfriend, cat mom, daughter, coworker.

    I did experience resistance from family and friends all along the way, though, and that can be really difficult to combat. When you’re in a weakened mental health state, it can be hard to stand your ground and own what you need to do for yourself.

  • http://www.smoochdog.com Michelle

    Heather – let me just be one of the 438 somthing or other commenters who say THANK YOU. THANK YOU for being who you are, for sharing that and for helping me be a little more OK with myself, my depression, my anxiety and my meds. As time goes by I accept all of it as part of me and not as what defines me.

    Aside from my husband, my parents, and my own dog, Chuck is a high 4th as to what makes me happy. I LOVE the photos…a calendar is not enough you really need to do a coffee table book!

  • robinv

    Thank you! It is more brave to face the problem, take the drugs and do the therapy, than “buck up” and get over it. you rock!

  • Claire

    I am so sad all the time, I keep reading this post hoping I will finally find the courage and the energy to ask for help.

  • Franca Bollo

    Yes.

  • Anonymous

    THANK YOU, Heather, for saying all of this.

    My ex suffered terribly from depression for years, for at least all of our 8 year marriage and probably decades before that. Finally, after I left, he got medical help. I don’t think he ever got therapy, which IMHO should always go hand in hand with medication, but at least he got half the treatment and recognized, as you did, that it helped, and that he’ll never go off it again. I want no part of him in my life now, but I’m glad to know he finally got over himself and went to a doctor. Whatever works, I say. Whatever REALLY works, not what glosses over real problems or helps you avoid dealing with your reality.

    There is nothing wrong with admitting you’re depressed, or anxious. Just admitting it is freeing, but getting help can bring so much more into your life.

  • Catalina

    Hi Heather,
    I just wanted to let you know that it was reading about your struggle with depression that allowed me to forget about the stigma and finally get some help. I suffered through debilitating depression & an eating disorder through my teen years & all of my twenties…not once did I consider taking meds. It just wasn’t an option for me. I thought I was above stuff like that.

    When I turned 30 it got to be too much. I knew I couldn’t deal anymore. It was ruining my life, and I just couldn’t cope. Even little things would bring me to my knees, and I was on the verge of losing everything; my job, my boyfriend & my sanity. This was right around the time that you checked yourself into the hospital. I remember thinking that you were so brave, and the fact that you were not ashamed to admit that you needed help made the stubbornness about my situation disappear. I made an appointment with my doc that week and promised myself to stick with whatever he prescribed. I think I got lucky because the first thing he put me on (Celexa) worked like a freaking charm, and I felt more calm within the first week of taking it. Within a month I felt like a different person…and about two months in the side effects had all but vanished. I have been on it ever since and I have said over and over again that I will gladly take it for the rest of my life. I know meds are not always the answer, but I can honestly say that they saved my life.

    I’ve directed several people towards your website hoping that it will help them as much as it did me. I hope they see todays post. You talk about depression it in a way that makes so much sense, in a way that I never could. Your honesty, your sense of humor & your brilliant writing opened my eyes & made me see that I too was deserving of help.

    Thank you a million times.
    Lots of love to you and your awesome family.

  • http://burrito19.livejournal.com Beth

    Heather,

    You rock. And you’re brave. And cool.

    Did I mention you rock?

    B

  • https://webmail.copart.com cookiebitch

    Yah for you!

  • http://www.passingiton-krista.blogspot.com Krista M

    Bravo. I suffered from dreadful PPD and I would lie down in the few minutes that I could get alone and remind myself that you did it, I can do it, and there will be this awesome little person waiting for me. I always wanted to tell you that, but never seemed to be able to.

  • http://www.enamoredsoul.com Marie

    This was very inspiring, thank you.

  • http://thehoneybunny.blogspot.com honeybunny

    this is great, heather. about 3 months ago i decided to see a therapist because i also suffer from severe anxiety and depression. i’m not on medication (i have been in the past) but i feel like just talking to someone for 50 minutes a week is really, REALLY helping me. unlike therapists in the past, she actually works with me to set goals. as a chronic list-maker, this was greatly welcomed! i know talk therapy alone doesn’t work for some people, but it sure is helping me. i’m glad i decided to not listen to people around me and take the leap to get myself back on track.

  • shellybean

    Yes. Exactly. What a great post!! Thank you.

  • Anonymous

    Thank you for presenting your life, both highs and lows in such a matter-of-fact way. Kudos and my utmost respect.