Changing My Mind

Why I Changed My Mind and Took the Pills

Robin Williams and the Pills By Elizabeth HowardWhen I got to the point where I really truly thought “hey yeah… maybe I should take pills for depression,” I felt a lot of things.


Yep. I failed. I just could not “get over” my excess “emotionalness.” Here, there and everywhere I went, feeling anxious and deeply blue.

And now, because I was “Mom,” I was expected to keep it together and be Super-Adulty.

The result? Instead of venting with tears as I once had, or having time to take care of myself with trips to the coffeeshop or the movies, or just singing out loud or dancing like a wild woman (you know, acting a little “crazy”) I just shoved it all down. No time for any of that.

Guess what? You won’t be surprised to hear that it CAME OUT ANYWAY!

Yep… in the form of great, loud, harrowing blasts…


Yes… anger. The stress of being a new parent was a tsunami. It seemed to wash away every bit of the life I’d known. My identity as an individual person faded. I felt like a human vending machine.

I started over cultivating friendships with people who have kids… the kind of friendships in which conversations are constantly interrupted. Just the idea of organizing playdates for the four kids of different ages and stages of recovery from neglect, separation anxiety, and fear of being abandoned raised my stress level to an average of 9.7. I was in constant fear that my kids would disintegrate when out of my sight from their own stress, and it would mean we would be separated.

So needless to say, I was not giving it my “all” to the many of the friendships I formed through playdates. They were awesome women and men, but if they didn’t get me, it might be because i wasn’t exact me.

And I’m sure I didn’t have the space to really get them either. I got exhausted maintaining relationships that were very surface level.I got exhausted putting my shoes on.


It was years of feeling like a tumbleweed blowing through my own life. I’d always struggled with depression, but it now felt like the core of my existence, with the firecrackers of frustration going off like pop-up thunderstorms.

Stress, anxiety and the enormous amount of input from the kids impacted my memory. I started getting hyper-organized (and getting pissed when things fell outside of that organizational strategy). The structure meant the kids and Colin and I did the same things week in and week out, and often stayed pretty close to each other and home.

I felt late for everything — something I never was before. I had to hire babysitters to be here so I could go places without all of the kids. I had “friends” who were offended that I had not asked them for help. But I felt it was too far outside the realm of control. How could I be sure?

And then…

Over the years with the kids, life got easier. The kids got older, more settled. The adoption went through. But still I did not feel like the waves were subsiding. My reactions were still too intense for the experiences. It was impacting everyday life for me: If I got angry (particularly with a child), I would fall into depression and self-loathing. Counseling. Yoga. Meditation. Running. Girls’ night out. But I injured my knee and toe and then my ankle over the course of a year and a half and got woefully out of shape. And more depressed.

And, then, Mom died. With that event, I felt a change.


Suddenly I could see the depression. It was like a great tortoise tumor, squatting on my life. I felt like it hadn’t grown or gotten any smaller, or moved or even knew I existed. All the efforts I’d made since puberty to eradicate it or “just deal” and it just stayed, oblivious to want I wanted.

So I asked the doctor… I should try to pill.

Would it move the tortoise? Would it disintegrate it?

Was I the tortoise?

The only answer I had was: how could I not try?

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