Why I’m in Vogue magazine this month – and hoping no one in my family reads it

JD Bailey Honest Mom VogueCould it be? Has Vogue magazine recognized the trend of “mommy chic”? Have regular, everyday moms finally graced the pages of the biggest fashion publication in the world?

Because really, that’s the only reason I could have seen me appearing in Vogue.

But there I am. In the July 2013 issue. However, as you may have guessed, it’s not for my impeccable sense of style. Yoga pants, LOFT t-shirts, and postpartum bellies have not been deemed as highly fashionable by Those Who Know Style.

The reason I’m in Vogue is much more important than fall fashion, in my humble, unstylish opinion.

Last year, the fabulous journalist and author Elizabeth Weil interviewed me for a story called “Tough Love” that she was writing about women, depression and … wait for it … the effects of antidepressants on libido.

Yes, I’m quoted in an article in Vogue about s-e-x.

You can see why I’m not exactly spreading the word to my in-laws.

But I’m telling you because Liz’s article is good and important and one you should read, especially if you take antidepressants. It talks about an uncomfortable issue we should be discussing more – because if we did, maybe the medical community would put more of a priority on solving this problem that’s invading the bedrooms of America.

How’d this all happen?
Liz found Honest Mom while doing research for her story, and we had a long chat about how SSRIs affect me and my desire. I was happy to vent about it, as the issue had been weighing on my mind for a while.

After the interview, I found the courage to write a candid blog post (one that Liz references in “Tough Love”). My post was called Motherhood + Antidepressants = Zero Libido. Sound Familiar? With lots of trepidation, I published it.

And BOOM. The comments started flying.

That post got the most comments of any post I’ve written. Partly because a guy jumped into the conversation and started a comment war. Mostly because this is something women really want to talk about with other women, and were so relieved to be able to vent about it on my blog.

However, I took the post down a few months back because even though Hubs was initially okay with me writing it, my frankness in the piece eventually made him uncomfortable. I don’t blame Hubs for feeling that way. Once my mom knew about my blog, I didn’t want her to read the post, either. I was embarrassed.

And of course, therein lies the problem.

This problem is WAY more common than you think
The zapping of desire is one of the worst side effects of antidepressants, and more common than first thought. According to Liz’s article, more than 1/3 of people on antidepressants suffer sexual dysfunction. And in 2011, a well-publicized study found that one in four American women are on mental-health medications.

From my research, I found there are roughly 158 million women in the US. And that means that 39.5 million are on mental-health meds. Which in turn means about 13 million women in the United States are dealing with sexual side effects from antidepressants.

13 MILLION women. But we’re too embarrassed to talk about it. And therefore? We’re suffering in silence.

So let’s get talking, ladies.
I get it that not everyone’s comfortable talking about this stuff. I mean, come on – I took down my posts about it. The thought of certain people knowing about this part of my life made me squeamish. And out of respect for my husband, I’m not going to delve into the nitty gritty details of this issue on my blog. Suffice it to say: I GET IT.

If you’re comfortable talking about it, let loose in the comments! So many women are in the same boat and it’s so nice to hear we are not alone in this. Use a fake name if that makes you more comfortable. Whatever works.

Either way, if you are on SSRIs and are dealing with a total lack of libido, talk to your doctor. You’re already talked about depression with her. This is almost certainly related, so don’t be afraid to bring it up. Some women find that adding Wellbutrin to their antidepressant can help, so that is something you could ask about. Ask about natural solutions, herbs, exercise, whatever. Just ASK.

In her article, Liz talks about what women are and aren’t doing to deal with their nonexistent libidos – and since Vogue isn’t putting the article online, be sure to grab a copy of the July issue the next time you’re at Target.

Yeah, you’ll get some great tips on fall fashion – but better yet, you’ll get some great tips for dealing with this VERY important problem. And until there is a true women’s Viagra out there, we need all the tips we can get, right?

Fess up: Do your mental-health medications affect your libido? What are you doing about it?

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The obsessive part of depression really annoys me.

one signI’ve been feeling pretty good lately. After a slow start, spring got into full swing around here. Which means that my annual blog neglect began as I got gloriously dirty in my garden (and that’s not a euphemism).

Gardening is therapeutic for me, and my girls love it too. So we’ve been spending lots of time outside: digging, planting, watering, weeding. It’s been wonderful.

But even when I feel good and things are generally humming along, that haunting feeling is still there in the background. I’m always wondering something, in a place deep inside me that I’d like to ignore but can’t:

When is the depression going to hit me again?

It will. It always comes back. It’s just a matter of time.

And I hate knowing it’s coming. It’s either going to sneak up on me, slowly and insidiously wiggling its way in, almost unnoticed because of its gradual seeping into my consciousness.

Or BAM – it’ll hit me with a force that overwhelms me and makes my mind and soul ache from its blunt force trauma.

I never know how depression is going to show its face to me again.

But I kind of have a feeling it’s oozing its way back into my life now.

I’ve been waking up sad in the morning. My temper has been shorter. And there’s that one nagging symptom of depression that never really goes away for me – and then ramps up when depression comes creeping around again.

It’s the obsessive side of depression.

Not everyone has it, just like not everyone deals with rage. But similar to rage, it’s one of those symptoms people don’t always think about.

In my first bout of depression in college, I was sad and anxious and down – and I also had terrible OCD. I wasn’t a germ-phobe; I was a list maker and a checker.

I couldn’t get through tests because I couldn’t stop checking my work. I was always late because I was checking the lights were off, the stove was off, I had my keys. Over and over and over. I felt like something awful would happen to me or someone I cared about if I didn’t check just one last time.

Today, I understand I was doing this to try to create a sense of control in my life – because my depression was making me feel so out of control.

I’ve haven’t been in that bad of a place with OCD since then. “Checking” is always a part of my life, but in a very average way that lots of harried moms can identify with.

However, the need to check escalates when I’m not feeling good. It’s a warning sign. Lately I can feel the checking obsession coming back. And holy crap, is it annoying me.

I’m checking my lists and my calendar over and over and over, convinced I’m forgetting to do something or that I’m supposed to be somewhere.

I’m easily distracted and have a tough time focusing. I often find myself in a situation where I’m doing too many things at once and none of them are getting done. I’m feeling ramped-up and overwhelmed. And so I keep “checking” to try to get some control over it all.

But unlike when I was in college, I am recognizing what’s going on and taking steps to ease my anxiousness.

It’s hard at this time of year, with so many end-of-school events and activities winding up. But I’m trying to clear my calendar a bit so I’m not rushing from place to place.

I’m saying no to most requests for my time and yes to a very few.

I’m really trying to prioritize my list of to-dos and say to myself, what will *really* happen if I don’t get this done?

I’m trying to get more sleep (with varying degrees of success).

And yes, I’m gardening and doing more yard work because it makes me happy and clears my head.

Will these steps stave off a serious bout of depression? I don’t know. Maybe it’ll only help the annoying checking issue. But at least I’m trying to go at it with a positive mindset.

And whenever that bastard depression makes its presence known, hopefully I’ll be a little more ready than last time.

If you deal with depression, does it come and go for you? Do you try to arm yourself for the next battle in advance, or do you find that really difficult?

photo credit: alles-schlumpf via photopin cc

My Secret to Calming Myself When I’m About to Lose It. Like *Really* Lose It.

My Secret to Calming Myself When I'm About to Lose It

 

 

 

 

 

Thump Thonk. Thump Thonk. Thump Thonk.

That’s the sound of my clothes dryer.

It’s also the sound that soothes my mind and prevents me from losing my shit on my kids.

Thump Thonk. Thump Thonk. Thump Thonk.

A somewhat less-known aspect of dealing with depression is irritability. A lot of people think depression means being sad and down all the time. That’s part of it for me.

But the irritability is the worst.

When I am in a time where I am really battling against depression, I have no patience for my kids. Like, none. Zero.

Everyday annoyances like disagreements over clothing, or whining from being tired and grumpy, make me snap and yell.

And when Annie has a temper tantrum, it sends me over the edge.

Like really over the edge.

Her scream-cry is like nails on a chalkboard. It gets inside my head and triggers something in there. I feel anger. Annoyance. Rage.

It’s the rage that scares me.

I have stood in Annie’s room, staring at her when she’s tantruming, balling my fists up at my side from the tension electrifying my body.

At that moment, I hate everything.

I hate myself for not being able to hug my daughter and make her feel better.

I hate my mind for the depression and what it is doing to me at that moment.

And sometimes, sometimes … sometimes I even think I might hate my daughter.

It’s a horrific feeling.

So I flee.

I turn my back on my tantruming daughter and I take care of my own tantruming brain.

Because sometimes Mama has to come first. And this is one of those times.

I have tried many things to calm myself when this brain freakout happens: listening to loud music. Going outside. Running up and down the basement stairs.

But what really works is my clothes dryer.

One night when Annie was wigging out I was looking for a place to calm down and found myself in the laundry room. The dryer was going.

Thump Thonk. Thump Thonk. Thump Thonk.

I sunk down in defeat next to the dryer and felt its warmness against my back.

I listened to the rhythmic sound of the towels circling over and over.

And gradually, a sense of peace washed over me.

Just like a little baby, I was calmed by white noise and soothing warmth.

I sat there with my eyes closed, breathing deeply and enjoying the heat on my back for about five minutes.

I thought of nothing. I just listened to the Thump Thonk of the dryer. My brain refocused. Reset.

And then I stood up, my mind cleared. I felt like I could handle life now. I felt … normal again.

I went back upstairs to Annie, who had calmed down a little. And I gave her a big hug like I wished I could just 10 minutes before.

So there it is. My clothes dryer is my secret to calming my brain when it’s completely freaking out. It’s a little weird. But it works.

And it’s a whole lot better than losing it on my kid.

What coping mechanisms do you use when you’re about to lose it?

*****
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