Depressed? Or just an irritable, impatient mom?

Some mornings I wake up and I just really, really want to take a pill.

This morning was one of those mornings.

My eyes opened and I knew, I just knew, I was going to have a bad day.

And on mornings like this morning I wonder why I stopped taking antidepressants in the first place. But I also wonder if I’m just an irritable bitch who needs to get a grip.

Here’s the backstory…

Early in the summer, my depression seemed to lightening. I really wanted to see what JD sans meds was like. So under my doctor’s guidance, I gradually stopped taking antidepressants just over two months ago.

The first weeks completely off the SSRIs were really good. I felt so clear-headed and happy and normal.

But I’ve noticed since then that the lightness that I first felt when going off the antidepressants has been hard to attain again.

Anger, frustration, anxiety, and irritability started creeping back in pretty quickly. It’s been subtle, but it’s been there. I seem not as able to manage run-of-the-mill annoyances and frustrations. I get too irritated, too fast. Worse, some terrible, awful bad days have been occurring here and there, and these days are just truly dreadful.

So as a result I’ve been wondering: Do I still need antidepressants? Would I be better off?

But I’ve also been wondering: Am I looking for the easy way out? Had I actually been on antidepressants for so long that I no longer know how to cope with negative emotions?

I don’t know the answer. Honestly. I’m baffled.

What I do know is that my “bad days” aren’t an average person’s bad day. My bad days mean I am unreasonably irritable. Snapping at the kids. Being a mean person. Super anxious. Unable to concentrate. Not myself.

Those are the days when I want to take a pill. Reach over to my untouched stash of Lexapro and Ativan and take something to make everything better.

I have been fighting that urge. And it’s not because I am anti-SSRIs. Believe me, I am a big fan of antidepressants. Being able to take Zoloft when I had postpartum depression was an amazing thing. It made me feel normal again. It saved me.

But this urge to take a pill to make everything better doesn’t seem good. It doesn’t sit right with me. So I don’t.

Then there’s the underlying anxiety and irritability. I feel it almost all the time. But it’s mild. And honestly, I wonder if I feel that way simply because I’m an impatient, irritable person who needs to learn some coping mechanisms.

That doesn’t sound like me, though. At least, that doesn’t sound like me pre-PPD. Maybe my brain got rewired and that’s who I am now. Oh, that thought makes me shudder.

Because I hate the thought that that bastard, depression, may have changed the core of who I am. Is that possible? God, I hope not.

So here’s what I’m wondering…

If I kept having bad days over and over, that would tell me I might need meds again. But what’s really odd to me is that my bad days aren’t a consistent thing. Not even once a week. So is a bad day once every 10 days or so a reason to get back on the meds?

What about not being able to manage everyday annoyances and irritations? Is that a reason to take antidepressants?

I sure did handle life better on SSRIs. But the idea that maybe I just don’t know how to deal with negative emotions after being medicated for so long … well, that haunts me.

What’s the answer?

I don’t know.

Do you?

photo credit: Martina Rathgens via photopin cc









Linking up with Shell’s Things I Can’t Say. Welcome, new readers!

Facebook comments

comments so far - you can comment using your Facebook account (or scroll down past comments for other options)

36 Replies to “Depressed? Or just an irritable, impatient mom?”

  1. I don't exactly know where you are coming from, but I agree that it might take some time to "reprogram" yourself. I am just now realizing that I have probably been dealing with a mild case of PPD these last 7 weeks……I definitely didnt feel this way after my 1st son was born. But luckily I feel like I'm getting better…..

  2. I’d say it’s time to sit down with a therapist a couple times a month. I can’t remember if you have one, but I haven’t seen you refer to one recently. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy in particular helps you find coping skills.

    It’s hard to strike a balance, isn’t it? For now I’m holding on to my meds. But I know the day isn’t too far off where I’ll be making a plan to wean myself off them and then figure out what to do next. Good luck, friend.

  3. I feel for you. I have struggled with these exact thoughts my whole life, and the conclusion I have finally come to is this: I am a better person on meds. It doesn’t mean I am weak as a person, it means I have a disease and the medication “cures it”. Just as medication cures people with diabetes, thyroid problems, cancers, etc, medication can also cure the disease of depression. After I got back on Zoloft after my daughter was born I realized that I will probably be on anti-depressants my whole life and came to peace with that. And this decision is because I realized I am a much much better version of myself on it, and I almost always like that person. The person sans-meds? Not so much.
    As I told you recently, I chose to stop taking meds while I am pregnant and have been seriously questioning this decision lately. Two weeks or less until I can take them again and I am counting the days (both to meet this little one and to start feeling like myself again!).
    Hang in there, do what feels right for you, and make sure to take some time for yourself and take care of yourself! (Happy Halloween…you know chocolate and wine are natural anti-depressants right? Haha!)

  4. I wonder this same thing ALL THE TIME.

    But you know what I always go back to? Who the fuck cares if its the easy way out? You have one life to live. You can be uber happy, easy breezy, with the help of a pill. Or you can struggle, even if just a little bit, without one.

    When i stop breast feeding, I will go back on Prozac. I’m not depressed, but I’m also not on cloud nine. I want cloud nine back.

  5. I’ve never been on meds, (but I’m sure there are days my family wishes I was) so I can’t really say if you should go back on them or not. I can tell you that I I felt overwhelmed and irritable so much in August that I finally had to take a step back and look at what was going on in my life. I realized that I was spread entirely too thin. I had taken on too many projects and I wasn’t enjoying them or doing my best on them, nor was I doing my best at home. I took a lot of things off my plate – personal and professional – and got back into my comfort zone. It’s helped tremendously. You might look around and see if you’ve got too much going on and if you can reduce some of that workload.

  6. Wow. I wish I knew. I feel like I have some bad days and am super cranky and mean. My 4 y/o will say, “Sometimes you are mean to us, mom.” I don’t hurt them, but I might snap at them. It makes me sad that he says that. He is very sensisitive. I don’t want to be cranky, mean mom. I never even thought about taking a pill or something like that. I think if you have them once every 10 days or so, that you probably are okay without the pill. I am no doctor, though. I wish I had all the answers! Thanks for your transparency! It helps us all.

  7. I second the Cognitive Behavorial Therapy. Acupuncture has helped me in a big, big way. It lowers the anxiety and stress overall, and it just makes me feel more happy and upbeat. Good luck, lady!

  8. I have been very snappish and sensitive lately too. I also would like to go on meds, but have a bit of anxiety about that as well. And I agree with PIWTPITT that I am taking on way, way too much, enjoying things little and feeling overwhelmed and lost. And I feel like my kids know they can rile me up pretty quick, and since I might not spend enough attention on them just hanging out, they get to me by being naughty. Ialso know my problem is that I don’t sleep enough. I seriously cannot get off the computer. I joke about it but it’s a problem. Thanks for sharing and making me realize that meds are worth exploring if they can get me back to being the normally snappy, instead of super irrational, person I have become.

  9. Ok, wow. It was like I was meant to read this post. I’m in the exact same place. I’ve been cutting back my dosage for the past couple of months and stopped completely about 2 weeks ago. I have the same thoughts and fears. I don’t want to be this naggy, horrid mom all the time but I also don’t want to take the ‘easy’ way out. Let me know if you figure it out!

  10. Great post. I struggle with this too. I am so irritable that I can’t help but feel like something is medically wrong with me. Then I wonder if that’s just an easy way out. Maybe I’m actually just a mean bitch? It’s possible isn’t it?

  11. Wow, thanks so much for sharing this. I honestly think the exact same thing every day. I hate how life feels sometimes and just wish it wasn’t so heavy and anxiety-ridden. I obviously have no answers, but will be keeping you in my prayers. Always hoping it feels easier/better/lighter soon…

  12. I understand these feelings. I have had similar problems. I have been off for 4 years and I have learned how to be sad, then happy. I do lots of self talk and exercise to keep happy. It can be tough. Do what works for you. Take care, you are not alone.

  13. Can you try recording when you have the bad days and see if there’s a pattern related to your, uh, womanly cycle? I had great days and then really bad ones and then great ones but I said it couldn’t be hormonal because it happened ALL THE TIME. Turns out I am the poster child for PMDD ( and it can(and does) happen for me between ovulation and my period.

    So half of every month, I am angry, scary to my child, in a dark hole moddwise, basically horrible. Yay. But is that me? Isn’t Who I Am the same as What My Moods Make Me? I chose to see this as something that happens to me, and now I’m on Zoloft for them. It really helps. I still feel emotions, but at the level I’m on not the big deep holes or the uncontrollable rages.

    It annoys me thought that it can be dismissed as “PMS on steroids” (thanks asshole BIL) though. Like it’s just me being a pathetic woman.

    Back to you: I don’t know. Maybe there’s a pattern. Maybe there isn’t, and therapy can help, but allt he therapy in the world can’t combat the chemicals in your head all the time. {{hugs}}

    1. Too tired to write a totally coherent post- BUT- Both the original Honest Mom post sounds like me- as does this one with the reference to PMDD. Since I’ve always wanted to avoid psychotropic meds- i found Women to Women- and an herbal vitamin has done wonders for me over the past 2 years… i just went “off” it 2 weeks ago…. just to see what’s up with me and the irritability, anger, monthly pain, joint pain, etc…. we shall see… but i do recommend this female physician owned company as a place to start with alternatives to Rx meds: Further, they have a wellness coach component – which i do love and call them to talk every now again to check in. I appreciate that feature! good luck ladies!

  14. Oh, JD, I wish I knew. I’m awesome…awesome…awesome…snappy and bitchy. I don’t know why I can’t chill. I don’t know why I snap. I hate that my kids have to worry about when I’ll be fin and when I’ll be a grouch.

    Let us know what you decide. I want to hear what you, your readers, and your therapist decide.

  15. There is nothing wrong with taking the meds. After 2 years of therapy and meds, I finally feel back to normal. I never want to go back so I don’t mind being on them for the rest of my life if I that’s what I have to do.

  16. It’s hard for me to say, since I’ve never been on meds before. But I will say this, if it helps you feel happy and normal after you’re tried everything else, then it’s probably what’s best for you. The ultimate goal is to be happy and functional, and if that’s what you need then go for it. But I do agree with what Jen said, and this is true for myself, whenever I’m feeling depressed, I have to step back and figure out what’s making me miserable. Usually, it is spreading myself too thin and not taking the time I need to re-charge my batteries, or being afraid to ask for that time and then getting overwhelmed. Usually, if I can figure out what’s bothering me, that makes all the difference. But everyone’s different, and no judgment here when you do what you gotta do. I appreciate this most so much.

  17. I’ve been thinking what to say for a couple of days. And while thinking, I have noticed the same thing. Some days I just wake up crabby. Does that mean I need a pill or need to up the dose? I’m not sure. I do think a lot of it for us women has to do with hormones, lack of adequate sleep, a poor diet, lack of time to exercise or do things for ourselves. And stress, of course stress.

    The past few days I have been feeling great, but I woke up this morning feeling terrible emotionally, screaming at my boys and having no patience whatsoever. Is it because of all the crap I ate yesterday and the poor sleep I got last night? I do think there’s a correlation, for me anyway.

    That said, I do think there’s a mental component as well. Having been depressed and sad for a lot of my life, I think it’s just something of which I’ll have to be aware forever, especially because of these other factors right now. I’m continuing on a low dose of the Lexapro (as low as I can get) and working on adopting healthier habits.

    As always, hugs to you on your journey, JD!

  18. I hear ya. I’ve skipped a few days of my Lexapro and I’m irritable. Though, I don’t see medication as an easy way out. I think it takes a strong person to admit they need help. And admitting you need help is NOT easy – nothing about that is easy. I, too, have tried to go off my meds. But I found every time that I really needed them.

  19. I’m bipolar and I don’t take meds at the moment. I’m a huge advocate of doing what’s right for you. I think every person handles things differently. I’m not anti-meds or therapy or anything like that. But I also think it’s very important people learn coping mechanisms as well. I think a lot of people today think “I’ll take a pill and it’ll be all better I’ll be cured”. Not just with mental illness but evne things like weight loss. I admire your courage for learning new ways to cope. It’s a long hard road. It took me nearly three years to figure out what my “normal” was. I still have bad days and good days and in between days, but it’s important you find what works for you. If that’s meds daily or every once in a while then it doesn’t matter as long as it makes your life fulfilled.

    Best wishes

  20. I know it may take awhile to know what works for you but at the end of the day honesty and being true to yourself so you can at least live a peaceful is all that matters.

  21. St Johns Wort has worked relatively well for me. It took a few months for me to really notice a difference though. Also look up "real food" or check out the blog 100 Days of Real Food for tips on getting chemicals and processed foods out of your life. It doesn't seem connected, but it really has had a huge impact on my emotions.

  22. I am so glad I found this article. My child is only 18 mos, but her attitude and energy is the equivalent of caring for a 3 yr old and its twin. Her going night night issues have truly tested my patience and grace. Grace, i just want to be a graceful mother. I feel estranged from my body as i make a huge sigh in her direction. “this is my first born baby, love of my life,what is my problem”. I really want to exude some sense of balance to her. I dont want my moodiness to influence her personality. So do I get back on my meds and show her a happy mom, or continue on, reacting to the world around me in my true way. which ones better for baby? who knows what will affect her better. its too much. I just want her to be balanced. something ive never felt.”

  23. Great post! I keep wondering where the "old me" went – or should I say the prior to kids me. Then I wonder if I am just becoming senile at a young age. LOL

  24. This is EXACTLY how I feel! Did you ever figure it out? Any suggestions on ways to help? I hate being the snappy moody irritated mom over such small things. I try to remember how I used to be so relaxed and I just cant figure it out. Im starting to withdrawal from my kids school activities because im sitting in my bed crying,… Doing everything i know to restrain myself from screaming or throwing things in front of my prechool age child. I dont want my kids to see me like this but I feel so lost on what to do. I just sit here going neither up nor down. .. Just feeling Stuck!
    Please help.

  25. What works for me is exercise, “just not allowing myself to go to that bad place” and 5-HTP, which is like SSRI, minus the RI. You can get 5-HTP from most health shops, it basically boosts the serotonin in your system. Vitamin B supplements and Omega 3’s also help.

  26. I enjoy reading that I am not alone, for years have been and angry irritable monster to my children and my closest friends. I tried Zoloft and it gave me a headache along with the nausea and I just didnt feel like myself. I stopped taking it after a 6 week try and I snapped instantly. I was shocked to know I do see the ugly irritating scary mom. I dont want to depend on medication to be happy, but my children are afraid of me most of the time. I’m going to try therapy and see how that goes. I am not depressed I am just angry, irritable and a bit@# sometimes more than less. Before I settle for meds for the rest of my life, I think I will try ways to control my irritability. You ladies are so right your not alone.
    God bless each and every one of you struggling through these hormonal issues, stay strong.


  27. Great post. I am just coming of Sertrailne (Zoloft) and find myself so easily angered. I hate myself for it because it isn't who i am – or at least i didnt think it was. I love my baby so much and don't want her to have to go through this, her mummy being so irritable all the time.

  28. Thank you SO much for at least writing this, even though you don’t have the answer right now. I found this by simply searching Google for help for mom’s with irritability. EVERYTHING you said is spot on to me. I’ve not been the same person since I had kids and that’s the person I keep remembering so I’ve had some denial. Like you said, I feel like my mind might have been rewired after having them and that’s so scary! I did awesome on Lexipro and want the quick fix at times too. However, I don’t think it’s the answer either. Thanks to all the moms who commented also. It always helps to know we are not alone.

  29. Wow, I thought I was the only one!! I have been on Lexapro 10mg for 5 years… trying to get off due to weight gain. I got on it due to depression(long list of family tragedies, brother dies, mom had brain injury) that exhibited itself in anger, etc. No patience, rage at times. I have weaned from 10 down to 2.5 every 2 days… just tried to go off completely and feels like I am losing it! My poor son said today, I don’t like this new mommy! Oh my gosh.. heart breaking. I so want off of these meds! I am gonna keep weaning, so I took 2.5 again tonight…. Just sad for all of us but Wow, I am really not alone! Thanks, KIM

Comments! Yes! Please!