“When I look at this picture, I should feel happiness. I was expecting my first baby, which, while a naturally anxious time for anyone, should also be a time of immense joy. But what this picture does not show, is that inside I am petrified; suffering beyond measure, and fearful for the future of myself and the baby I am going to have.
Eight months before this picture was taken, at the recommendation of my gynecologist, I went off of Zoloft for the first time in almost a decade. I was 26-years-old, and had little knowledge about pregnancy, so I trusted that my OBGYN knew what would be right concerning medication and pregnancy. ‘It’s better if you just get off of it,’ he said to me, without ever asking if I thought that would be the right choice for my personal situation. ‘You don’t want to be on an SSRI while carrying a baby.’ Wanting to start off on the right foot as a mother, I was obedient and followed his instructions without question. What I didn’t know, however, was that there were other options. What I didn’t know, was that this doctor was extremely narrow-minded in his mode of thinking. He obviously had not researched the numerous studies about the use of medication during pregnancy. He did not understand that without medication I would simply become a lifeless vessel who would lose her happiness, comfort, and stability completely.
Going off my medication affected me in a way that I couldn’t sleep, leave the house, or function like a regular adult.
Thankfully, I found an obstetrician who within the first seconds of seeing me said, ‘We don’t tell Epileptics or Diabetics to go off their medication with such ease, so why do we do it with sufferers of mental illness? You will have to make the decision not to breastfeed, but other than that, you can absolutely go back on your medication.’ I ugly-cried upon hearing that. I cried out of anger for the doctor who so carelessly lost sight of the fact that I was a human being who needed a more careful approach to dealing with these issues. I cried for the months of happiness and excitement I had lost and the fact that my first pregnancy had been such a disastrous time for myself, my husband and my family. I cried for the happy memories of carrying this child I would never be able to share with her because they did not exist. I cried out of hope for a better future, and the thought that once again I would be able to do more than just barely exist. My parents and sister nursed me back to health while I slowly eased back onto my meds.
The stigma of medication has to stop. The assumptions about what it means to be a sufferer of mental illness has to stop. The judgments about being on medication, and the thoughts about people who need to take pills needs to end. I still cry for that young pregnant woman who thought that her life and the life of her child would end. Finally, I took medication while I was pregnant. I took Zoloft for the entirety of my second and third pregnancies as well. I have healthy kids. I am a healthy, functioning mother. I chose medication over breastfeeding, and I will not feel guilt or remorse over it.
Please, don’t allow people to suffer. Don’t make assumptions without doing the research. Don’t follow a path simply because it is what someone you respect or with a medical degree tells you. DO WHAT IS RIGHT FOR YOU AND YOUR SITUATION. We all deserve happiness, and if someone does not understand that, it is time to rid this toxic individual from your life.
My name is Danielle and I have OCD, anxiety, and take 100mg of Zoloft everyday. I will take it for the rest of my life. I don’t regret it or feel embarrassment about it for even one second. I am taking care of myself and my family. I believe in taking care of one another, and having acceptance and tolerance for that we do not understand. I hope you will understand my situation and offer me and other sufferers nothing but love and support. Thank you.”