“You have really been through a lot. I think antidepressants can help you. You are going to be ok.”
This was the last thing my psychiatrist said to me as I walked out of her office after our first appointment. She sent two prescriptions for antidepressants to my pharmacy which I was to pick up on my way home.
I ended up in her office after I had found myself hiding from my daughters in the back corner of my dining room while talking to my best friend on the phone. I did not want them to see what a mess I was.
My husband had died three years earlier and I had done everything I could to just get through each day and take care of my girls. The problem was that I did not take care of me. All of the sadness and stress had piled up and I was falling apart.
My friend on the phone suggested I see a psychiatrist about antidepressants.
Medication? I had never considered that before. Of course I was sad – my husband died. That didn’t mean I was depressed. I was always a glass-half-full, easygoing kind of girl. I was not someone who took meds.
But sitting on my dining room floor, I realized that maybe this was something I should look into.
I got a recommendation for a psychiatrist and called her immediately. She was booked for weeks but when she heard the panic in my voice, she was kind enough to squeeze me in.
I walked into her office knowing I was way too skinny and pale. I began to cry as soon as I sat down. After tearfully telling her my story, her first question was, “Do you sleep?”
I did not remember what sleep was. I had not slept well in years.
My routine was this: I was so exhausted at the end of the day that I would fall asleep before my head hit the pillow but within a few hours I was wide awake for the rest of the night. Because I barely slept I was constantly exhausted, closing my eyes multiple times during the day.
She explained to me that sleep is essential, and I would never feel better if I did not get into a good sleep routine.
My new psychiatrist prescribed me Trazadone, which is not a traditional sleeping pill, but helps with sleep. She also prescribed a low dose of the antidepressant Zoloft to improve my mood and lift me out of the depressive funk I was in.
I left her office that day feeling hopeful for the first time in years. I prayed this would help.
It did. Within a few weeks, I began to feel like my old self. The fog I had been living in was lifting. I was also sleeping through the night. My doctor was correct. Not only were the antidepressants doing their job, but a good night’s rest made a huge difference. I was now alert and present during the day.
That was four years ago. I am still on the same prescriptions I started that day. Since then, I have become a better mom to my girls, I am successful at my day job, I became a writer and created “The Widow Wears Pink” and co-founded “Living the Second Act.” I am in a wonderful relationship and a much better version of the self I was in the early years after my husband’s death.
Antidepressants have a stigma. Although it may not be the dirty word it was years ago, it is still sometimes spoken about in hushed voices. We are still embarrassed by it, not wanting the world to know that there is “something wrong” with us.
There is a better way to look at it. I am happy for the world to know I am on medication. I was in an awful place and did what I needed to do to pull myself out. While I will always be sad about my husband’s death, I am no longer depressed about it. There is a huge difference between the two.
I have no idea where I would be without my antidepressants, but I am glad I never found out. My meds helped got me to the place where I am now and I do not want to go back.Read Next: Get Calm and Get To Sleep
Stacy was a stay-at-home mom/part-time preschool teacher whose life was turned upside down in 2011 when her husband passed away suddenly of a heart attack. She is raising her two fabulous daughters, now ages 18 and 20, who are turning into wonderful young women. In 2016, she started a blog about her experience as a young widow, The Widow Wears Pink. This led her to write for other publications including Huffington Post, Today.com, Scary Mommy, Grown & Flown, Kveller, Modern Loss, Thought Catalog, and many more. In 2018 she started Living the Second Act with fellow writer Mimi Golub. Today, Stacy and her daughters are happily living their “new normal” while always keeping her husband’s spirit alive.