4 Tips for Improving Life on an SSRI

January 25, 2017 at 3:48 am

Taking an SSRI for depression and anxiety can be life-saving, but anti-depressants aren’t always as helpful as we would hope. Some people don’t find any relief at all, or try multiple types of drugs before finding one that works for them. Science Daily recently reported:

More than half of the 41 million Americans who take antidepressants do not fully respond. Add-on therapies are often prescribed to enhance the effects of the drugs in these patients, but they typically offer limited additional benefits and come with side effects (Source).

I first began taking the anti-depressant Sertraline (Zoloft) in August of 2012. My journey managing life with this drug over the past few years has taught me a thing or two. One of my favorite things to do is to write about and share the things I learn. My hope is always that reading one of my posts will change someone’s life for the better. Here are four tips for improving life on an SSRI.

**As always, none of this should be considered medical advice. These are things that have helped me, but none of them should replace the advice or care of a qualified mental health professional.**

4 tips SSRI post graphic

Monday Miscellany

May 2, 2016 at 6:14 am

I have so much I want to write about, so I guess I’ll call this one “Monday Miscellany” since I don’t have time to devote a whole blogpost to each item. Here’s some stuff I’ve been thinking about.

Monday Miscellany(1)

Keeping Up

February 15, 2016 at 5:21 am

One year ago today I started yoga teacher training! It seems sort of surreal… did that really happen? I was a totally different person then. And a new person again by the time I graduated. And then I birthed yet another version of myself when I brought my fifth baby earthside on Christmas day. I wonder who I will be next Valentine’s Day?

As I reminisced about my first weekend of yoga teacher training, looking over my notes and recalling so many beautiful epiphanies and experiences, I thought… gosh I miss this. It has been several months since I had a daily yoga/meditation practice (a casualty of the third trimester, I suppose). Given a choice between doing yoga or relaxing/sleeping/taking a bath, well… yoga lost just about every time.

I think maybe I need this beautiful watercolor painting created by one of my yogi friends Siri Kirti Kaur. Yogi Bhajan always urged his yoga students: “Keep up and you will be kept up.”

keepup

Six Things for Sunday: Postpartum Edition

January 18, 2016 at 1:11 am

Copy of six things for sunday

We’re now over 3 weeks post-birth, and it’s been a simultaneously intense and relaxing time. All I’ve really done since Christmas is eat, sleep, nurse, and cuddle my baby. Here are six things that have been on my mind as I have stared at that cute new little face in my family…

Hope’s Birth: The Right People

January 9, 2016 at 8:15 am

[Part one of Hope’s birth is HERE, and part two is HERE.]

My midwife partners and I at the The Farm learned by observation and experience that the presence of even one person who is not exquisitely attuned to the mother’s feelings can stop some women’s labors. All women are sensitive. Some women are extraordinarily so. -Ina May Gaskin

Apparently, reading Ina May Gaskin is a great way to boost oxytocin levels. My contractions had fizzled out when I curled up in bed to read, but within twenty minutes or so they were back. I kept reading for a while, but eventually I turned off my lamp and slept through the waves. As I slept, I noticed the contractions, but they were never strong enough to wake me completely.

Sometime around 4:00 a.m. my husband got up with an earache. I decided to get up too and start timing my contractions again. It was not the ideal time for him to be sick (ha, is it ever?), but I did my best to make him more comfortable with all the various natural remedies up my sleeve. It was looking highly likely that we would be having a Christmas baby, so he promised he would focus on supporting me despite his aching ear.

I really didn’t want to call my midwives. It was Christmas morning! And I especially didn’t want to bother them if it was just a false alarm. I waited until contractions were coming between 5 and 10 minutes apart and lasting a minute. And finally I bit the bullet and paged them. Amy was the one who called back (she was on-call until 7:00 a.m.). I told her I felt like maybe I was holding my labor back because I wasn’t yet at my birth location, so I felt like I should probably come in. She said that was fine and that she would meet us at the birth center.

Light Exposure in Pregnancy

November 7, 2015 at 4:48 am

I don’t have a lot of tasks in my morning routine. Get up. Use the bathroom. Drink water. Go into the backyard. Sit in the sunlight. The rest of the morning varies from day to day, but these first five items happen almost without fail.

Some time in the last few weeks, as I basked in the mercifully-cooler-November morning AZ sunshine, with my shirt pulled up above my belly as usual to maximize the skin exposure for vitamin d, I started thinking about how easily light travels through the skin. This is a fact most children given a flashlight are delighted to discover. Earlier today, one of my kids shouted, “Look, Mom, my finger is red,” holding a light behind her fingertip. I’ve noticed that the baby in my womb, if she hadn’t been “awake” yet, usually wakes up and starts wiggling and kicking once I’m outside with my belly in the sun. So I’ve been wondering… what, if any, effect does my daily sun routine have on my baby?

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Five Things for Friday: Ch-ch-ch-changes Edition

October 2, 2015 at 7:45 am

My friend Heather used to write a “Five Things for Friday” post on her blog every week. I always loved those posts. Anyway… I felt like writing one of my own this week since I have lots of stuff I want to tell you beautiful people but not enough time to devote a whole blogpost to each subject. I don’t know that I will do this every week like Heather did, but maybe every few weeks or so? Here goes…

5thingsonfriday

I Don’t Like to Share My Babies

July 13, 2015 at 3:59 am

As she looked upon Joey it was as if time would slow down just for the two of them— and now for me as well. His gaze with his mother never broke. It was as if he knew the power of his soulful eyes. He knew one look would melt the heart and remind the spirit of that sacred thread of unity and love. -Buffy Owens, “Not One, Not Two: The Mother-Infant Dyad

Grandmothers will probably hate me for this one. Sigh. Grandmothers are awesome. I love grandmothers. My apologies for what I’m about to say.

I was attending a mixed-age women’s meeting today, and one of the attendees had brought her newborn infant. Upon request, she stood and showed the roomful of women her new baby. Oooohing and ahhhhing commenced. Then this new mom declared her baby’s name, followed by, “And I love to share if anyone wants to hold him,” to the delight of many eager empty-nester arms in the room. Their eagerness was no surprise. It’s a rare woman who can resist a newborn baby. Apparently that newborn smell lights up the same reward centers of women’s brains as chocolate would (see here). I’ll admit… I even really wanted to hold him, and I’ve never met the mother in my life. But I leaned to my stepmom and whispered, “I don’t like to share.” She smiled and said, “I know.”

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The Space Between

May 12, 2014 at 10:37 pm


 
 

Late Friday night, a friend was helping me through a mini crisis. Just before we said good-bye, she told me something I didn’t want to believe.

I have known for a long time that a sort of “Anxiety Girl” was in my brain, sending me frequent fear-filled text messages. But my friend suggested that I also have a “Bliss Girl” on the other end of the spectrum, and that swinging between the two wasn’t good for me. I was confused in that moment how Bliss Girl could possibly be a problem… what could be bad about bliss? But we said our good-byes, and I went to bed.

Power Poses for Childbirth?

January 26, 2014 at 8:15 pm

About a week ago, I saw a TED Talk video that I haven’t been able to stop thinking about. In this 20-minute video, Amy Cuddy shares a “free, no-tech life hack.” Her research on body language demonstrates that we can infuse ourselves with greater confidence and serenity in the face of a challenging situation simply by changing body positions. She calls them “power poses.” Here’s the video, if you’re interested. Totally worth your time.

Lightbulb Moment

August 19, 2013 at 12:00 am

A week or two ago I had a little epiphany. Ever since, I’ve had that song stuck in my head… “I wear my sunglasses at night…” I’m a child of the 80’s. Actually, that’s the only line of the song I really know, so I’ve just had that one line repeating over and over in my head. Ha. What is that song even about?

Seriously though, if we’re going to wear sunglasses, we really should be wearing them at night (unless we’re driving, of course). And because of all of this pondering about light and sunglasses, I’m becoming convinced that every woman transferring in labor to a hospital should wear amber (blue-light blocking) eyeglasses. At least until she gets situated and comfortable and labor is continuing to progress.

Let me explain…

It might help if you read these posts first:

Sound Body, Sound Birth

August 4, 2013 at 12:31 am

Before my most recent birth, I made a list of “Hopes for next time.” I outlined the ways I hoped to make my fourth birth even better than the previous three. (Most of the items on my list didn’t happen. Oh well.) My first pregnancy was the beginning of my childbirth obsession, but I had no idea back then just how deep the things-to-learn-about-birthing “rabbit hole” was going to go. Now ten years down the road, it goes deeper still.

If I were to write another “Hopes for next time” post, I have another item I’d now be putting at the top of my list: singing.

Shaving, Showering, and Slathering

June 25, 2013 at 1:24 pm

My husband gets to have the same conversations with me over and over (or, rather, he gets to listen to me ramble over and over about the same bizarre stuff that rolls around my brain). For example, the conversation about how we all shower and shave too much. I really do talk about this excessively. Sorry, husband. I’ve been contemplating writing this blogpost for a long time. I nickname it “the pubic hair post.” Ha ha. But really it’s about so much more than pubic hair. Hear me out…

So here’s my premise:

Body hair is surface area for oils, pheromones, and other unseen natural chemical messengers we probably haven’t yet discovered.

And:

These unseen chemical messengers give us valuable information about each other, facilitating some relationships and preventing others (for good reason).

I’ve written about this concept before (see my “Mate Selection” post HERE). And a 2008 Psychology Today article, sums it up well: “As we act out the complex rituals of courtship, many of them inscribed deep in our brain, scent-based cues help us zero in on optimal partners—the ones most likely to stay faithful to us and to create healthy children with us.”

As I was rambling about this topic to my husband (again) yesterday, I mentioned that it’s unfortunate that the phase of life when it’s most important for our body’s natural oils and scents to be broadcast to the public (during the mate-selection process), most “first-world” people are daily shaving, showering, and slathering themselves in artificial fragrances (I know I did). As a society, in general, we are routinely stripping away and masking our authentic scents in an effort to appear/smell “attractive” to potential mates when, in reality, the way we’re most likely to find an ideal reproductive match would be to shave, shower, and slather ourselves less.

Natural Solutions for PMS

June 10, 2013 at 5:02 am

“Every month, not just once or twice a year, [the moon] retreats into darkness before returning to the her fullest brilliance. As a woman, I need a similar reprieve every month to access the most brilliant parts of myself, spiritually, physically and mentally.”  -Monna (Organic Mama Cafe)

962944104391438_a-4a2a3642_uDAZUw_pmFor several decades of a woman’s life, a magnificent monthly hormonal symphony occurs within her body. Each cycle demonstrates her body’s deep investment in the continuation of life. Sometimes that investment continues for nine months. Sometimes that potential for life passes away, and her body cradles that fallen egg in a brief embrace before letting it go to make way for new life again.

The aches and pains associated with menstrual cycles vary from woman to woman and over time. For me, the hardest part of my cycle is typically the few days before my period begins. If I’m going to have PMS, this is when it strikes. And there have been times in my life when it has struck with a vengeance. Over the years, I’ve found some natural remedies that seem to help. Based on my experience and research (this is not medical advice), here are my PMS tips:

Supplemental Support

May 26, 2013 at 10:08 pm

I was talking on the phone with a friend last night. She’s been experiencing some depression lately. One of the things we pinpointed that could have been contributing to her mood swings was nutrient deficiencies. She had left her stash of vitamins and supplements at a family member’s home while on a trip, so she hasn’t been taking them.

During my first three pregnancies I was pretty lax about taking prenatal vitamins. But after seven straight years of being pregnant and breastfeeding, my body was seriously depleted. I suffered from some depression during my fourth pregnancy, but once I began taking a whole-food prenatal vitamin, my depression disappeared. When my baby was about a year old, after getting lax again with taking vitamins, I began suffering from anxiety and depression. It wasn’t until I began taking my whole-food prenatals again (among other positive changes) that I felt my mind-body-spirit regaining balance.

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