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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Unravelling … And Reassembling

I knew it was coming.

The warning signs were there weeks ago.

I was getting edgier. More tense. Grumpier. More sad.

But I made excuses. I’m not sleeping enough. I’m not exercising enough. Work is stressful. My IBS is acting up.

All true. But not reasons to ignore the signs.

I have been weaning off antidepressants for a few months. I really wanted to see if I was ready to be off SSRIs.

I was sick of the side effects – trouble sleeping, weight retention, swelling, zero libido, trouble concentrating, and so on. And besides, life was good. Things weren’t stressful. It seemed like a good time to try.

The weaning had been going well. I was about to go to a half-pill every other day – the last step – when suddenly, I started to feel bad again.

For about five weeks, I slowly spiraled downward. And I could see what was happening. After I ran out of excuses, I faced facts: It was probably the meds. Or lack thereof.

I met with my doctor this past Thursday, and she said I should switch to Lexapro. Her assessment was that I’m not ready to be off antidepressants, but Prozac wasn’t working anymore and the side effects were too troublesome. So time for SSRI number five. Yippie.

I wasn’t psyched about the prospect of going on Lexapro. I wasn’t convinced I needed different antidepressants. Honestly, I was starting to wonder: Could it be the antidepressants that are making me feel bad? Am I putting something in me that I no longer need? Could the Prozac actually be having an adverse effect on me? But I didn’t voice these thoughts to my doctor. I had brought the idea up before, and her opinion (and that of other medical professionals) was that it was very unlikely.

Anyway, the Lexapro needed special approval from my insurance and my family and I were going away for a long weekend, so nothing was changing right away. Status quo until Tuesday. I figured I’d be ok until then. Just take the meds and keep it together until next week.

And then on Friday night, I had a horrible freakout. It was building up all day. That morning I had taken a full Prozac because I was so stressed out. I thought it would calm me down as it had in the past.

Instead, it seemed to have the opposite effect. And by Friday night, I was a simmering ball of anger, sadness, and tension. When Annie threw a temper tantrum and wouldn’t go to sleep, I lost it. Lost it.

It was a bit of an out-of-body experience. If you have dealt with this sort of depression, you know what I mean. I knew I was acting crazy and mean and horrible. But I was powerless to stop it. I could hear myself saying awful things and acting like a lunatic. But couldn’t control it. It was as if I were hovering above myself, helplessly observing my unravelling.

And when it was over, I broke down. I sobbed out of shame, grief, and anger. I felt broken and unloveable. I cried myself to sleep. Alone. And deeply lonely.

The next morning I felt bizarrely fine. I called the doctor’s office. They told me to stop the Prozac and gave me a prescription for Adivan in case I had another meltdown. They told me to call my doc on Monday when I am back and to get the Lexapro right when I got home.

But I’m not so sure I want that Lexapro.

This is day two of taking no antidepressants. And bizarrely, I’m doing really well.

I am not sure what’s going on. Why did 20mg of Prozac make me wig out, and with no Prozac I feel great?

Is this just the calm before the next storm? I just don’t know.

So, yes, I’ll go pick up the Lexapro. And I have the Adivan, just in case. But maybe drug-free really is the right thing for me now. I guess only time will tell.

And while I’m waiting to find out, I’ll continue to be thankful for the support network I have, both in real life and online. I tweeted on Friday night that I was having a tough time, and got a barrage of tweets and DMs voicing concern and support.

Thank you. Each and every one of you. I’m so very grateful.

I don’t know, maybe I had to unravell completely on Friday night. Maybe I had to hit rock bottom to be able to put myself back together. It was horrible. But maybe it marked the start of a new, better phase for me.

That’s what I’m hoping. Waiting on eggshells – and hoping.

Things I’m Afraid to Tell You: Link Up Your Posts

Michele at ODNT clued me into this little blog meme/linkup/phenomenon called “Things I’m Afraid to Tell You.” And I thought – oh yeah, here’s a good meme for Honest Mom!

I’m not afraid of telling you all much, obviously. My blog name says it all. But I have only been writing at this blog for six months, so there is still plenty to tell!

And like Michele, not all my confessions are heavy.  Some are kind of funny or odd.  But one or two are a bit bombshell-like. So here we go…

1. I am a closet science fiction fan. I am a bit of a geek deep down. In fact, one of my top 5 movies is the 2009 Star Trek movie. My dad was a computer science guy and my mom was a math teacher. There was no way to escape it.

2. I pick at the edges of my fingers and the heels of my feet. Gross, I know. I think it’s part of my anxiety issues.

3. I grew up a pretty devout Catholic but I am so pissed at the church – and have been since the pedophile scandal broke – that I can’t bring myself to go. And I feel a big hole in my life because of it.

But I can’t belong to an institution that is so broken that it put a greater priority on protecting pedophiles than protecting children. And the fact that women are second-class citizens, gay people aren’t truly accepted, priests can’t be married … all this drove me away.

I am really struggling with the fact that Anne will be in 1st grade next year and she should start Catholic religious education and make her first communion in 2nd grade. I don’t know what to do about this.

4. Sometimes I wonder if I drink too much wine. And I worry a little. But not enough to stop having a glass almost every night.

5. I’ve never been a big Seinfeld fan. Some episodes are great but most of the time I am watching an episode, I sit there, detesting the characters as I watch and thinking how, in real life, I’d avoid them at all costs.

6. I almost always have dirt under my fingernails because I am a gardener and can’t keep my hands out of the dirt.

7. I don’t know how to do a cartwheel.

8. When I wash my hair, a lot of my hair falls out and I wipe it onto the shower wall. I almost always remember to throw it away when I am done showering. Almost.

9. I have a half-sister who I found out about the day after my dad died. I don’t know who she is or where she is. And I don’t think I’ll ever find out.

10. I grew up in a house filled with yelling and fighting. My father was an alcoholic. I once heard him tell my mom if she left him, he’d “get” me to get back at her. I used to sleep covered up by my stuffed animals so I could hide. My father humiliated me at my 8th grade graduation and at my wedding rehearsal because he was drunk. Despite all this, my relationship with my dad improved after I got married and had kids. He suddenly died in 2010 and it makes me so mad that most of my life I struggled with hating him, and just as he was mellowing out, he died.

11. One of my girls has ears that stick out and I live in dread of the day she gets teased about it. I am afraid I will cry in front of her on the day she comes home and tells me it happened.

12. No one has ever hurt me as horribly as the guy I dated for almost two years in college. I did not truly get over the pain of our breakup until about a year before I met my husband.

13. I like being the center of attention.

14. My house will never be truly clean and organized, and even though this is most people’s plight, I HATE IT that I have an “office” that is just a room filled with crap and I even if I do ever get around to cleaning it that means the basement or garage or shed or playroom or whatever is still a mess and I find this completely OVERWHELMING. I have a really hard time enjoying the little accomplishments and always end up thinking about what I haven’t done rather than what I have accomplished.

15. The first live concert I went to was New Kids on the Block. Not REM. Even though I tell everyone it was REM.

I could go on and on …. but I’ll stop now…

7/4/2012 : I found the source of this meme and wanted to give credit where credit is due! Jess Constable at Make Under My Life started it. Her friend EZ at Creature Comforts and a bunch of her tweeps ran with it. And the meme was born…

I think we may officially be round 5 of this linkup? Who knows, but it’s cool to be part of the movement.  🙂

*****

New to Honest Mom? Get the backstory on why I write naked.

I blog about my high-maintenance kids, write about dealing with depressionI do the memoir thing, and sometimes, I can be kinda funny.

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