My 2-word New Year’s Resolution may sound simplistic. But it’s not.

why am i not happy
I’m usually not one for New Year’s resolutions. But this year I’m making one.

It’s going to sound really simple. Kind of odd to some people. But for me, it’s a complex goal that isn’t going to be easy to reach.

I’m going to have to work at it. More than other people. Maybe more than you.

My New Year’s resolution is this: Be Happy.

Being happy used to be so simple years ago. I just simply was happy. Sure, there were bad times, but in general, life was good and I was happy.

Well, in general my life is still good. But am I happy?

I’m not sure that I am. And the fact that I need to think about it isn’t a good sign.

It’s not because anything is wrong. I have a great life. My kids, high-maintenance though they are, are good kids. Hubs is awesome. I have friends and family and all that great stuff. My family is not financially wanting and we have all the material things we need.

So what is it? What’s wrong with me? Why am I not … happy?

For a while now, despite following my own tips for managing depression during the holidays, I’ve been having a hard time getting out of bed in the morning. My kids have been annoying me. I have been irritable and sad and wanting to be left alone.

I just haven’t been feeling like myself.

So one particularly bad morning last month, I popped half an antidepressant. For most people, SSRIs take a while to kick in. Sometimes weeks. For me, not so much. I feel better within hours.

And as expected, after taking that pill I felt better. I felt like me.

Since then, a few times a week I’ve been taking half a pill. And the days I do, I feel – well, happier. Less negative. More able to enjoy life.

I worked for so long to wean myself off SSRIs. And then I was off them for three months.

But maybe that time is over. Maybe I need them again to feel like me. To be happy.

And if that’s the case, so be it.

Because I want to enjoy my kids. Not be annoyed by them.

I want to feel accomplished when I knock off to-dos from my list. Not feel defeated over what I didn’t get done.

I want to appreciate all that I have. Not worry about what I can’t control.

As far as I know, this life is the one chance I get. I don’t want to spend it feeling down, negative, and sad.

I’ll keep working at this being happy thing. I’ll exercise and eat right and do all the things I’ve been doing to try to feel good.

And if my brain needs a little help in the form of antidepressants, I’m not going to beat myself up over it.

My resolution is to be happy. And I’ll take all the help I can get.

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Are you happy? If not, what are you going to do about it?

Do you have any resolutions for the new year?

 

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!

5 Small Steps I’m Taking to Make Everyday Life Less Stressful

Two months ago I stopped taking antidepressants for my depression and anxiety (which started with postpartum depression almost four years ago). It’s been an interesting few weeks, but all in all I’ve been feeling pretty good being off the SSRIs.

But something I’ve had a hard time managing is my anxiety over the insanity of everyday life. Dealing with the craziness of my family’s schedule has always been difficult for me, even when I was on SSRIs. But since I’ve been off them, it’s been even harder.

And I think – no, I know – that in order for me be off meds and keep feeling good, I need to make some changes – ASAP.

Honestly? Ever since I had kids, I’ve found it a real challenge to achieve a balanced, healthy life. And from my blog reading and seeing what people post on Facebook and Twitter, I can tell a lot of you do, too.

Kids. Spouse. Work. Sports and activities. Volunteering. Laundry. Dishes. House projects. Birthday parties and other events. Cooking. Cleaning.

It’s an awful lot for any mama, and it’s no wonder we’re all so stressed out.

Sure, a major change could slow life down significantly. Moving to, oh, I don’t know, a small town in Montana and living a simpler, slower life sounds pretty appealing at times. But it isn’t practical.

So instead, I’m trying to make small changes to make my life more manageable and less stressful. For some of you healthy moms out there, these things may sound basic. But for me and other wickedly stressed, out-of-whack mamas, these small steps may help a lot.

Here are five ways I am trying to reduce stress in my life

Get more sleep. The last week has been pure insanity and I haven’t slept much. And not only am I exhausted, I have a headache that won’t go away. And I’m grumpy. Very grumpy. Not getting enough sleep = JD on her way to a bad place.

Goal #1: Get 7.5 hours of solid sleep every single night. I think that alone will help me tremendously.

Exercise. Exercising always falls to last on my list. I generally don’t like it. But I have to do it. I have 10 extra pounds hanging around my middle that aren’t pretty or healthy.

Goal #2: Start with weight-training and running on the treadmill once a week. Walk around the block with the kids once or twice. Start small and see what happens.

Get some me-time. Ah, the mythical “me-time.” Such a lovely thing that never seems to happen. But it has to. And for me, it has to be me-time that’s away from the computer. I love social media, but I need to unplug to relax.

Goal #3: Start reading a new book. And when I sit down to read, read far away from anything with a screen!

Make couple-time a priority. So there’s this guy. I share a house with him. We have kids together. And I really like hanging out with him. I did marry him for a reason, after all. But in the chaos of kids, work, and life, it’s easy to forget to spend time together. And that’s something that needs to change.

Goal #4: Two weeknights a week (not including the occasional date night), put the computer away, turn off the TV, and hang out together. Schedule it in our calendars if need be!

Just say no. I just started doing this lately and man, does it feel good. Say it with me, mamas: “No, I can’t start a new monthly school newsletter this year.” “No, I can’t bake three dozen cookies for tomorrow.” “No, I can’t be in charge of the spring school fundraiser.” Doesn’t that sound great?

Goal #5: Don’t lead, coordinate, or be in charge of any major projects this school year. Volunteer here and there when I can – but don’t let myself be guilted into running the show.

Do you feel overwhelmed by day-to-day life? Do my goals sound like goals that could help you, too? Or are you really good at making yourself a priority – and if so, how do you do it?

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I’ve partnered with Harvard Pilgrim on this sponsored post and am being compensated for writing it, but as always, the thoughts and opinions expressed are my own. You can find more ways to be well at HarvardPilgrim.org/CountUsIn. And if you’d like, you can read my full disclosure policy here.

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