Hello, my name is Amy Strait and I have been on prescription antidepressants on and off for over eleven years; yes, you read that right, eleven (11) years. Here’s my story: My oldest daughter is nearly 13 years old and I suffered some pretty severe post-partum depression after she was born. I didn’t seek medical help nor take an antidepressant then because I was way too proud to admit that I needed help. In my mind I thought, “Medication is for the weak; I am not weak! I will push through this.” I did push through but I was pretty miserable both to myself and to my husband and new daughter. I got pregnant for my second child when my oldest was just 9 months old and I was an overwhelmed, emotional mess. At every appointment with my OB/GYN, he would ask me if I wanted an antidepressant. I always declined. Finally, near the end of my pregnancy, I just couldn’t deal with my anxiety anymore and decided to see if an antidepressant would work for me. Much to my surprise, I felt like myself again! WOW!! Amazing! I’m not sure how long I took them, but I did eventually wean off of them after my second daughter was born and I was through the post-partum depression stage.
Through my next three pregnancies, I pretty much repeated the pattern: antidepressants during end of pregnancy and through the post-partum depression stage. However, after my fifth child was born (five kids in eight years), I was having a very hard time weaning off of the antidepressants. I tried to quit taking it but I was an angry, emotional mess each time I tried. I was on a relatively low dose but I just couldn’t quit taking them. That really frustrated me! When I got pregnant with my sixth child, I was still taking the antidepressants and have continued straight through until just recently (she is now three years old). I have tried MANY times to cut back of them in an attempt to quit taking them, but I was never successful. What had once helped me was now taking my joy away! I felt like a slave to those pills. I knew that I wouldn’t be a nice, happy mom and wife if I didn’t take my pill at night. I didn’t like it at all!!
Recently some things changed in my life that have made me more equipped to quit taking antidepressants. First, I started feeling the need to get healthier. Through 13 years of being pregnant and/or nursing nearly the entire time, I was a tired, sleep-deprived mom and I had given in to soda/pop to help keep up my energy… and I drank a lot of it. I was also a carb/sugar addict, so I also consumed a lot of sugary, processed foods in an attempt to feed myself quickly while taking care of many little ones. Over the course of 10 years, I put on nearly 50 lbs. It was time to take charge of my health again. I turned 44 this year and it seems like an epiphany year for me. I have come to realize and understand so many things about myself this year. Getting healthier and taking control of things in my life just seem the right thing to do…
The second thing that changed was that we started using Young living essential oils. We have been trying to make some healthier changes such as eliminating many processed foods from out diet, cutting way back on fast food, and eliminating chemical cleaners from our home. We knew that we wanted to keeping going along that path and changing out our over-the-counter medications and some of our general health and beauty products with more natural ones (including essential oils) just seemed the right thing to do. I knew that the essential oils could help with my occasional bouts of depression, I just had to figure out how.
Fast forward to today, Sunday, July 27th. I am pleased to announce that I have successfully weaned myself off of antidepressants and have not taken any since Monday, July 7th!! Here is what I attribute this success to (I can’t say if all of these things were necessary but I have to believe that they have all worked together):
1. I dramatically decreased the amount of sugar and carbs that I eat. I once considered myself a carb-a-holic. However, I started cutting back when I realized that foods high in sugar and carbs were also really high in calories and I was trying to keep my calories down. Then I realized how much better I felt when I wasn’t eating those foods. (There is a lot of research that shows how excess sugar and carbs in one’s diet can contribute to depression; obviously there is truth to it, at least in my case it is.)
2. I am exercising! I am amazed at how much better I feel (energized even) after I have exercised. Those endorphins that are created when you exercise are amazing!! Gotta love those happy hormones!! WOOHOO!!
3. I don’t drink pop anymore (I guess that goes with cutting back on sugar), but this was a big deal for me! I haven’t had any pop in nearly 9 weeks (not that I’m counting) and I no longer crave it!!
4. When all else seems to not be working and I find that mean/edgy mom/wife start to creep in on me, I lean on my essential oils to get me through. I can take a drop each of the Joy and Peace & Calming essential oil blends and put it on my wrists and over my heart; I would also inhale each from the bottle just to give the essential oils a jump start into my system. If I am feeling angry, I also use a little Purification essential oil blend.
I am glad that I am no longer taking the antidepressants because I am glad to be off medications! One positive side effect to not taking the meds anymore is that I feel like I have my emotions back. While taking the antidepressants, I felt emotionally “flat”. Now, I cry when a friend sends me a sweet, encouraging note on Facebook or when I see a tear-jerker movie or video clip; and I feel more able to sympathize with a sick or injured kiddo. I am just generally happier and seem to laugh more as well. It also seems like other people are friendlier as well (LOL!). I feel like a person again and not a “mom zombie.”
I have no negative feelings towards antidepressants or people who need to take them. I think they are a good tool to help people who are in a difficult place in life. I just want to encourage anyone who feels like they are stuck taking them because they have been unable to just “wean” themselves off, that there are things you can do to reduce or eliminate your dependence upon them. I hope that my story can give someone else the hope they need on their journey with antidepressants!
** Added note to those that may wonder, I did NOT stop taking my antidepressants “cold turkey” (that is dangerous, don’t do it!). I slowly weaned myself. I was taking a daily dose of 50mg, then went to 50mg on odd days and 25mg (half of a 50mg pill) on the even days and did this for a couple weeks, then I went to 25mg (half of a 50mg pill) every day and did this for a couple weeks, then I went to 25 mg (half of a 50mg pill) every other day for a little while, and finally I just quit.
*** What I shared here is not meant to be medical advise to anyone, it is merely my story. You should consult your own physician or medical professional to help you make decisions that are appropriate for your situation.