• http://lifeaslou.blogsome.com/ Lou

    I am impressed that you can handle that much Neurontin! I was on it for migraines. 2 pills made me sleep for 10 hours and then see double and lose the ability to walk a straight line. 1 pill just made everything verrrrrry funny. I distinctly recall laughing at a crack in the wall.

    Only took it twice :-)

    I’m glad there is something that works for you- they haven’t found a med I can take w/o bizzare side effects.

  • http://princess-luna.livejournal.com/ Ella

    Thank you for what you’ve written, this is a message that I just recently gave to a friend of mine who’s suffering from SAD.

    I first got treatment for depression when I was 17 and at the time talk therapy was enough. That gave me the tools to deal with my depression and SAD for a while.

    About 4 years ago I fell into the black hole of depression once again and couldn’t get out. I ended up going to the psych ward of the hospital asking for help. Out-patient therapy + medication helped but I am clinically depressed and probably will never go off my antidepressants.

    In the past 4 years I’ve felt how influential my hormones are when it comes to the depression. Just a normal cycle has it’s challenges and I can’t imagine what a pregnancy would be like. I know I’m high risk for postpartum depression on top of everything else so I fear getting pregnant and am on the pill. If my husband and I decide to go for it and have children it will be done with the approval and constant oversight of my psychologist and some input from a psychiatrist regarding medication during that time.

    This ended up being much longer than I intended but I’m going to post it anyways.

  • http://optimisticdiva.blogspot.com The Diva

    You don’t know me, but I can’t tell you how grateful I am that you posted this. My mother has battled depression for years and I was recently a part of a brutal breakup with someone who has a severe bipolar disorder and refused to seek help for the treatment he desperately needs. Thank you, thank you, thank you for putting in public something that is very private. Peace in 2008 for everyone.

  • Saple J

    Thank you, I have been on medication for about 3 years now and tried to taper off and when the symptoms of depressions reared their ugly head again I was like nope why would I live without the medication when I can actually have a life on the medication…

    Thank you for all your words.

  • http://dryink.org Erika

    Ditto to what everyone has said: A Big Thank You! You could totally be a spokes person for the American Counseling Association. Your gift with words applied to this important issue will hopefully help others through the darkness of mental illness.

  • http://fleetingmoments.typepad.com Megan

    Thank You, Thank You!!

    My happy pill is a little thing I like to call “chocolate bar/sexglow” Wellbutrin XL. Without it, I was misserable, gaining an insane amount of weight from binge/emotional eating, and “not gettin’ any”!

    Now, not binging, far from skinny, lots of work to still do,
    but so so so much more,… me

  • http://livingsmallblog.com Charlotte

    Good for you Heather — wish my mom had had the kind of help you have. There are few things as statistically damaging to children as maternal depression — and as someone who spent my entire childhood trying to “cheer Mommy up” and dealing with the fallout of trying to work around a parent who couldn’t deal with simple everyday challenges — well, a drug cocktail that worked (as opposed to the booze/valium combo that didn’t) would have changed things more than any of us can know. My younger brother was put on ritalin in his late 20s — my mother hadn’t wanted him to “feel bad about himself” as a kid — it changed his life. When our mom tried to justify herself, Patrick’s reply was “Yeah, because it was so much less damaging to think I was just stupid all those years ….”

  • Anonymous

    Hello Heather,
    Been a longtime reader, but first time I’ve ever commented. I just wanted to say thank you for your honesty and courage to be healthy and happy. For a long time, I thought it was best to try to cope on my own. But your words has helped me recognize that I can have the courage to find another way to be healthy and happy for myself. Thank you again.

  • http://far2serious.com/ Rozie

    I’m going to bookmark this entry. Thank you for saying it.

  • Valerie

    Thanks for sharing this with us. I suffer from anxiety and was on medication for just 2 years. I’m currently able to manage it through other means, but I’m aware of the fact that I will most likely end up back on medication at some point in my life. It took me a long time to be ok with that fact, but now I understand that it’s a medical problem and nothing to be ashamed of.

  • Laura

    Thank you…I am one of those stubborn people who has been refusing to go back on my meds. Reading this made a light go off in my head.

  • pella

    i don’t think you’ll make it this far down in the comments, but i have to say i am so, so happy for you. as someone who has had very bad experiences with prescription drugs, and someone who refuses to put her child on the add meds the want me to, i have to say that, as frustrated as i am with the medical industry trying to generalize us, i am really happy to know that you got the care you needed from someone who took the time to know what you needed. it’s heartening for me to know that some doctors in real hospitals (i live halfway between bumblefuck and you got a purty mouth) actually do what they’re supposed to.

  • http://www.myfamilygossip.blogspot.com Crystal D

    Brilliant post Heather.

  • Anonymous

    Heather,

    You are an amazing success story. I have gone through Straterra and am currently on Lexapro. I think I’m better on Lexapro but the downside is that it has removed any and all sexual feeling / drive. Now I feel like I’m trading one problem (depression) for another (sexual frustration). Of course, the frustration is causing a problem between my husband and I which in turn, is causing more depression. He tries to understand but…he’s a guy. The doctor tells me that I basically need to prioritize. Do I want mental stability or sex drive? I’m not inquiring specifically about your sex life, but have you had this type of experience where one area of your life suffers in order for you to be “well”?

    Just curious…
    ~Jenn

  • Anonymous

    This has been a Public Service Announcement brought to you by Heather Armstrong.
    You rock woman!

  • pella

    double posting, ew, but i forgot to add that you’re so lucky to have a husband who was willing to go thru all this with you. we should all be so lucky. and congrats to you for having the proverbial balls to say something.

  • Rua

    Thank you for this post. I have been on Zoloft off an on for most of my life. It’s not the sort of thing people usually talk about publicly, but I know it has saved me from offing myself more than once. In some strange, awful way (awful in that I hate for anyone to go through it), it helps to hear other people are going through the same thing…that if we try, we’ll get through it together.

  • Tams

    This is the first time I’ve commented. I, like so many others here, am a great fan of your blog. I just wanted to say thank you for everything you wrote today. Today, you’ve made a difference and there aren’t many people who can say that!

  • http://amotherspride.blogspot.com Amy

    Hi Heather,

    I’m de-lurking to say a HUGE thank-you for sharing this little bit of your life, I imagine there are many, many people who take comfort from your words.

    I have a question though – how do you (or any of us) know whether we should or shouldn’t continue with our meds? I have been stable and happy for around 15 months now an my GP is asking if maybe I should start tapering off. problem is I have heard of so many cases where it has been the wrong idea but that it isn’t as simple as just going back on again.

    I’m at a loss because I dread going back to hating my children and my life if it can be avoided!

    Thanks again, you’re such a great example of humanity at it’s very best!

    Amy

  • Kathleen

    Wow — you should be so proud of yourself. I am proud of you and I am certain I am not alone in that thought. Thanks for sharing…. that was SO BRAVE!!!

  • Jessica

    Thank you for sharing this. My family struggles with depression. We lost my uncle to suicide almost 10 yrs ago and I still keep a close eye on my brother and mother for signs of it. Anyone who is brave enough to admit they need help is already on their way to recovery.

  • Anonymous

    amen sistah!!!

  • Susan

    I’m so glad you summed up what I’ve been wondering about you. I’ve been trying to read your ENTIRE blog and have read references that didn’t make sense to me then but do now. Thank you for allowing me into your world. I so enjoy you and your family.

  • http://wvgurl.blogspot.com Aimee

    AMEN!

    While there’s no way I could comb through nearly 1,000 comments, I just wanted you to know that I cannot agree with you more.

    I’ve been in therapy for most of my adult life. I was in for almost the first entire year we were married and went, back and have been going back, ever since my daughter was a year old (she turns 4 this month).

    I belive that we all need to see a therapist at least once in our life, and most of us should see one regularly.

    I have loved both my therapists. One of them defintely saved my life, too, and the other is helping me see things in a healthy way.

    Thank you for having the courage to say this. All of it. Thank you for your truth and transparency.

  • http://www.xanga.com/Bratfink Bratfink

    Heather, frame those hand-painted gift tags!!!!!!

    Zoloft saved my life, too. And the lives of my daughter and hubby, because it kept me from killing them.

    I’m with you!
    .

  • tracey

    Thanks for reminding me to take my pill (Zoloft 100mg) If I don’t I get the spins :o )

  • Theresa

    Thank you, thank you, thank you! Reading that made me smile. It is so good to know I am not alone. Please keep being yourself. Holiday wishes to you and your beautiful family.

  • Laura

    300 and first! Um, just kidding.

    What I really wanted to say was AMEN SISTER. I am also a mental-hospital success story, although I only made it in because I tried, in earnest, to take my own life. No one really knew how bad it was. It was that hard for me to ask for help.

    That was 3 years ago and I’m off meds now and doing well, although I am in therapy and I will remain in therapy for a long time. It helps me in more ways than I can say.

    Keep on talking about this issue, Heather. It is so, so, so important.

  • miguelita

    i am so happy for you heather and so thankful for your wisdom and bravery and open heart.

    as a lifelong sufferer with a family history of anxiety and depression, i am so thankful for chemistry, and therapy, and yoga. :) this is my mix.

    i do have one word, well a plea i guess, and this is likely obvious to most:
    while you are trying to figure out the right combination of meds and levels please, please, please be sure to be well supervised. by your doctors, lovers, husbands, wives, friends…

    my prozac experience wasn’t so rosy as i was one of the few who had a bad reaction to the medication – it came on quickly when my dosage was too high and it made me extremely impulsive and suicidal (depression and impulsivity don’t mix – and i attempted suicide. it sounded like a great idea one afternoon in may 1997).

    luckily i was saved by my boyfriend who came home early with one of those crazy i-just-had-a-feeling-something-was-wrong moments.

    that was 10 years ago. 10 amazing, confusing, lovely, difficult, years of ups and downs that i feel honored to have been able to experience.

    thank you for giving us all a forum!

    LOVE

  • http://wenttoagardenparty.blogspot.com/ Shelley

    What a wonderful post. I’m considering forwarding it to many people I know. Thank you for sharing.

  • Deb

    AMEN Dooce. And thanks once again, for articulating what I can’t. Medication and therapy has saved my life and kept my family together, healthy and happy.

  • ccyn

    Hey, i’ve been reading your blog for as long i as i can remember. I’ve been going in and out of some emotional states for afew months, the repetitive cycle is driving me nuts, but everyone thinks it’s normal and just a phase, i’d like to think of it that way, but it’s withdrawing me from many things – school, people, friends. I started taking it out on afew very good friend of mine. I’m worried that it may get worse, i don’t know if i should seek treatment cus everyone around me is all, “you’ll get over it, i get it all the time, you’re fine” am i..

    All in Thanks for being so brave to share ^-^

  • kidsmom

    Like a diabetic is to insulin, I am to Lexapro.

    Rock on.

  • http://artsycraftybabe.typepad.com beki

    Thank you, Heather. Thank you.

  • coneja

    Heather, thank you for making this entry.

  • http://jebbicarocks.blogspot.com Jebbica

    Regarding your last post: that is precisely why I stopped writing music reviews! I ran out of ways to say something was great or sucked without sounding pretentious.

    Regarding this post: Thank you for writing this. I struggle with depression, but I’ve been too afraid to go see a doctor about it because I always feel like people will ask for things they don’t need, and I don’t want to burden the doctor! I want to be able to get over things my own way, but perhaps that isn’t the right way to be, after all. Thank you, Dr. Dooce! :-)

  • Mrs. Chicken

    Yes! God, yes. Thank you, Heather, for saying so clearly and calmly what anyone who has a better life thanks to drugs and therapy can attest to.

    Yes.

  • stephanie

    horray!! thank you for this! zoloft saved me as well. i was able to get off of it after a couple of years but it did definitely help me part the grey clouds. good for you!

  • Anonymous

    thank you.

    reading this three years ago would have saved me a lot of time and anxiety and sadness.

  • Julia

    there is a history of anxiety in my family. My grandmother was an alcoholic but my mom wised up and takes medication instead. I have taken effexor for years and will never go off it. my sons have both needed a med at different points in their life. it’s fine, nothing bad about it. my sister in law made a stupid comment and it cost us $2200 to have our wills completely redone so she can never be guardian for my kids. I can’t have them potentially raised by someone who “doesn’t believe in that medication crap”. it has saved lives.

  • http://chubbercheekers.com Meghan

    Heather-

    I found your blog about three years ago, sometime between my 1st and 2nd year of med school. Reading your words let me know that I was not alone, that what I was feeling was not only ok, but repairable. I started seeing a therapist at school for anxiety and depression, taking Lexapro and Ativan, and working so hard to make myself better. My symptoms were immediately alleviated, and I was able to function again, at least for a little while.

    After 6 months with that combo things started to slide quickly in the opposite direction, and I ended up leaving school for Thanksgiving break my 2nd year and never going back. I was essentially living on my couch, watching bad OnDemand movies and occasionally getting up to go to class. Obviously this is no way to succeed in med school. My GPA slipped into B average territory, and at this school (#2 in the nation, second only to Harvard. How’s that for pressure?) if you went below an A average you were put on academic probation, which would also make me ineligible for my scholarship. The head of my dept and I decided it would be better to withdraw completely, so I wouldn’t be saddled with the poorer grades from that semester, and if/when I wanted to return I could start fresh as a 2nd year student. It was the best decision I’ve ever made. Yes, I came home and slept on my parent’s couch for the next 3 months, and yes I got a job working as a tech at a health clinic (minimum requirement: HS Diploma or GED, score!), but I was so much happier not having the stress of performing up to everyone else’s expectations. It was only after I removed myself from the situation, started taking Effexor daily, and spent countless hours on the therapy couch that I realized I didn’t even want to be a doctor. I was just doing it because my entire life I’d been “the smart one” and everyone expected me to go to med school.

    There was some fallout with my decision, I have relatives who feel that I made the biggest mistake of my life by leaving “such a wonderful opportunity” and I haven’t quite figured out the polite way to tell them “If I had stayed there one more day I would have killed myself.” My job is just that, a job. It pays the bills. It does not define who I am or who I will bed, but that’s been hard for some people to accept. I now know that the people who were only proud of me because of the path I was on are not worth the anxiety it would take to stay that course.

    That’s also around the time I started to blog myself. I felt some kind of karmic debt to the universe, if you could be strong enough to tell your story, I wanted to be too. My mother was horrified at the sometimes very personal topics I’d write about, but after a few years she has started to come around. Unfortunately I lost all of my archives (Feb 2004-Sept 2007) during a server upgrade. At the time I was upset because of how much I’d lost, but at the same time I was ready to let go of the past. I’ve started fresh, and it’s kind of exciting.

    I know this is a long and rambling comment, but I just wanted to thank you for being brave, thank you for sharing your story and thank you for letting me and countless others know that we are all ok. That there is hope, and life is an awesome, amazing thing.

  • Barstool Babe

    Amen! If you ever doubt the power of your words: a few months after your bout with postpartum depression and inpatient treatment, I too fell into the deepest depression I’ve experienced in my life. Mine was triggered mostly by the hormonal changes brought on by menopause. But there was a small corner of my mind that remained sane and thought that if Dooce can check into the psych ward, so can I. It was the hardest thing I did but it ultimately was the best. Between those three days, switching medications and the three week IOP, I came out the other side much stronger. And I got nothing but support from everybody who knew me. Even my family members are more accepting of reaching out to mental health professionals since my experience with hospitalization since they saw how much it helped me.

    Thank you.

  • http://icelandweatherreport.com Alda

    “I don’t understand why being right is more important that being happy, why someone would go on living with a sick, nauseating swarm of junk in her stomach rather than trying to figure out how to fix it.”

    AMEN!

    I’ve suffered from chronic depression in the past and I never, ever want to go back there. I don’t take medication, but by now I have acquired a set of tools to help me fix things. This includes making an appointment with a professional therapist when the occasion demands it. I’m totally not ashamed of it either and, like you express so well above, cannot comprehend why anyone would resist doing whatever is necessary to stay healthy and sane. And yet, so many people do, and it’s very tragic.

    Thanks for telling your story. It’s important to share.

  • http://www.swampwaterdebutante.com Lissa

    I avoided medication and therapy for years, reasoning I could just work past the heavy burden of depression. Wasn’t till I was on the edge and suicidal last year that I finally realized that depression is just as deadly as any disease with physical symptoms.

    I’m off my medication now, but still in therapy. I feel pretty good, 90 percent of the time (I think 10 percent is an acceptable margin of bumming out). I wish I hadn’t waited so long to get help.

    Thanks for your post.

  • http://tealtown.blogspot.com Samantha

    Heather,

    I have thought about emailing you and thanking you for helping me through a rough time in my life. But then I figured you get a million emails every day and have plenty of things to do beside listen to me.
    I spent last January through March completely unable to cope with anything and didn’t want to do anything but sleep all day. For the most part I stopped eating. I stopped feeling like there was a world around me and I was stuck in some dark hole that I could never get out of.

    If it hadn’t been for my husband, fiance at the time I would never had let myself go to the doctor for this. I could fix it, I did not need any help I just needed will power. After months of Mark having to live with my horrible attitude and constant mood swings and him showing me only love, patient, and support I decided I needed to see a doctor for him. I knew that he didn’t deserve the crap I was putting him through, and this was not the kind of wife I wanted to be.

    After a couple of test to rule other things out my doctor prescribed me anti-depressants. I left her office that day feeling like complete crap. But I thought of your story as I walked to my car. I knew I was doing the right thing. My mother had told me time and again that I didn’t need this, to simply just snap out of it. Which is what she told me again when I let her know what the doctor thought. I said nothing and later that day went to pick up my prescription.

    Mark and I have been married since July and I know that my life has never been better. I still take my medication everyday and that is ok. I know that I need it for me and for the people around me. Whew. Ok after all of that I wanted to let you know that you were a big supporter for me through out that whole process. I have been reading your blog for many years now. Knowing what you had gone through and the strength you had, do have, I knew I had to do the same thing.

    Thank you for sharing your life with us. I am sure that you have helped many with your honesty and your love for your family. I know that you helped me through one of the roughest times of my life, and I know that you have done that for many others as well.

    Thank you.

  • Anonymous

    Hi Heather, long time listener, first time caller.

    First, I love that this (THIS) is the post that gets the most comments since your most recent redesign. Is that a sign of interest in our society, or a vote of confidence for you and your willingness to share your life? Doesn’t matter, I think it’s awesome either way.

    Second, I think you should know that I have specifically referred several of my friends to your blog to read your story(ies). I have no experience with real therapy and/or medications, but have certainly gained an appreciation for such from your blog. Many times I have seen friends struggling with symptoms you’ve described, and sent them to dooce for therapy. Whether they find the humor therapeutic, or read in depth about your own story, I figure it will be helpful either way.

    Thanks for being awesome, and for keeping thousands of closet maniacs amused for years! I just hope your sponsors don’t all tend to be drug companies in the future :)

  • Katherine

    I am cryng right now.

    Why do the insurance companies penalize us when we try to be responsible and deal with our mental illness? One insurance agent called me “stupid” in reference to my suicide attempt. He then explained that my premiums would go up because I was unstable even though, post suicide attempt, I sought psycological help on my own dime trying to understand and prevent another suicide attempt.

    Until insurance companies recognize and cover mental illness as a legitimate illness, many of us will be unable to pay for treatment until it is too late.

  • Candice

    Hi Heather
    Once again, thank you so much for being so honest about your depression & anxiety. I too struggle every day with depression and I thank the stars for people like yourself who are brave enough to talk about it when it seems like no-one else wants to. You are a constant inspiration, thank you.
    Wishing you & your family and happy & healthy festive season and may all your dreams and wishes come true in the new year.

  • ToodleLooMonPoisson

    As much as your silly entries are entertaining, your inspirational ones are poetic.

    This was beautiful. I’ve been looking for someone to talk to about problems I have. But what I would like to know are your opinions on those who refuse to see a therapist, not because of defeat, but because of circumstance. Do you think it is possible that it is not for some people?

  • http://jodireimer.blogspot.com Jodi

    It was good for me to read this. Thank you. My 16 year old son is currently dealing with severe anxiety and depression. We are going through trying out different meds and it hasn’t been easy. What you wrote I needed to read today.