Living with the Blues. Part 1

I've got the blues. 

Why the blues? Well, blue is my favorite color. It's the name of our new collection. Also, I’ve wrestled with depression and anxiety my whole life. It’s a part of me and it’s a part of whatever I do. And I think it’s important to talk about it. Over the next few weeks I'll be sharing different perspectives from a handful of women about their experiences with depression and anxiety. 

I’m going to start with ME! 

I don’t remember exactly when my anxiety started but I really felt it manifest in college and when I was first living in Chicago. I often felt panicky and distracted and unable to deal with my surroundings. So I started therapy and meds (Prozac). Xanax also helped nip any panic attacks in the bud. Prozac and therapy took the edge off while still allowing my anxious self to continue pushing forward. I’ve always been a driven person and I think to some extent my anxiety has been woven into that. Fast forward to my late twenties, to meeting my husband, to getting married. With my doctor’s help, I weaned myself off of prozac because I didn’t need it anymore. The blues were still there, but I could manage them. 

When I got pregnant with my first child, everything shifted. It was a surprise. I didn’t want to be pregnant. We were planning on having children but just not yet and my baby was messing up my plans. There was a wave of emotions for me to detangle and my hormones were also all over the place and I felt like a dragon lady. Breathing fire. Angry. Scaly. So my doctor had me start with a tiny dose of Zoloft and it helped. I still had the ups and downs of pregnancy and my normal anxiety but it felt manageable. 

And then postpartum hit me like a ton of bricks. It manifested in panic attacks -- scary ones where I thought I was dying. The panic combined with breastfeeding issues and the regular hormonal roller coaster that is postpartum and I was a mess. Our family doctor prescribed Xanax. I had phone calls with my therapist. I cried and cried. 

So I stayed on the Zoloft with a side of Xanax (that I rarely took, but had just in case). This carried me through my second pregnancy until my medical team advised me to reduce my Zoloft dosage before birth to reduce side effects with my baby. So I did. And the panic returned. And a massive panic attack hit. It was a thought-I was-going-to die-and-couldn’t-breathe-and-my-skin-was-too-tight-and-oh-my-god-the-world-is-ending panic attack. So as soon as that baby was born I upped my dosage again. And took a Xanax in a pinch.  

I’m still on Zoloft. Honestly I’m scared of the panic attacks. I’m scared that everything will be too much if I’m not on meds. I have two kids and I don’t always get sleep and there’s so much to do and I’m not in control of everything and it’s hard and it’s chemical and I do what I can. And some days are not great and most days are good. 

What helps me on the bad days? Getting outside. The sun. Xanax. Watching trash tv. Hugs from my kids and my husband. Making art. Creating. Crosswords puzzles. The color blue. 

On the good days I can get work done. I can be present with my family. I can feel good about myself. It doesn't feel hard. 

And so I feel a connection with blue. Blue for melancholy. For tears. And for bleakness. But also for calm. For peace. For the the color of water and the feel of waves rolling over my feet. And while I will always wrestle with the blues, I also know it to be a place of respite.

To honor my connection with the blues we’ll be donating 25% of the purchase price from all sales in March to NAMI. NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness, is the nation’s largest grassroots mental health organization dedicated to building better lives for the millions of Americans affected by mental illness.

Website: www.nami.org 

NAMI HelpLine: www.nami.org/helpline or 800-950-NAMI (6264)

Twitter/Instagram: @NAMICommunicate

Facebook: www.facebook.com/nami

NAMI educates, advocates, listens, and leads in the field of mental health. 

This is my goal in starting this conversation with you this month. Because the world is scary. And uncertain. But we can build each other up by educating and advocating and listening. 

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