Better living through chemistry

To be medicated, or not to be medicated? That is the question—
Whether ’tis nobler for the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous depression,
Or to throw drugs against that sea of troubles,
And, by medicating, end them?
~ apologies to Hamlet and The Bard

About a million years ago, hubby and I went through a birth class while the eldest was still in my belly. One day, the teacher pointed at me and said, “You. Yes, you Traci. I’m worried that you’re going to be one of those women who refuse meds even when the situation calls for them.”

I’m not sure what gave her that impression, other than maybe my pentacle gave off some kind of, “Down with the system!” kind of vibe. At that time of my life, I looked more like a middle class housewife than Laurie Cabot (okay, I’ve never looked like her, but I aspire to change that some day). I assured her I was perfectly open to the idea of an epidermal, or other medication if necessary.

Flash forward to 2001. After my diagnosis of postpartum depression and general anxiety disorder, I had no hesitation popping pills if it meant the return to my version of normalcy. However, pill after pill failed (my impression of She Hulk while on Paxil was particularly memorable), and I developed more side effects than symptoms (oh, and the sixty-five pound weight gain was less than desirable) I began to think better living through chemistry wasn’t for me.

For years I struggled with feeling less than a hundred percent, but I figured even only operating at eighty percent was preferable to the hell I went through on medication. Even when my family mumbled things about my assessment of eighty percent was a tad on the generous side, I still fought against the idea of getting back on the chemical merry-go-round.

Skipping ahead and over a bunch of stuff in the interest of keeping this a bit shorter than a GRRM novel, finding a combo of medication and supplements that finally worked for me has made me (and my family) happy beyond words. As I became more like myself again, I found myself facing a difficult reality – our youngest, thanks to the wonderful world of teen hormones, was battling anxiety and depression as well.

I will admit that I hesitated at the thought of putting her on medication, even after I finally found something that worked for me. I think because the pendulum has swung so far from, “pull yourself up by your bootstraps” to “they make a pill for that,” it made me leery of maybe doing something akin to putting a cast on a paper cut. But I got over my misgivings, and in a very short period of time, she’s doing so much better, with no ill effects.

Part of me still feels like a failure – I failed to find the right herb, failed to cast the right spell, failed to get her to a doctor before she suffered for even a second. But I’m beginning to come to terms with the fact that it’s all part of the parenting process, and there are no easy answers, because every situation is so unique. So for us, for now, the answer to the question is, “to be.”

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