Tuesday, July 08, 2014


I have another blog post loaded and ready to publish with all kinds of pictures and peppy talk and whatnot. Tomorrow.

Tonight is a night for journal-posting, and fair warning, this is a real downer.

I’m in the middle of switching to a new antidepressant right now. I was on Zoloft and it was working really well to control my moods, but there were some side effects that I was tired of dealing with, and so I’m switching over to Wellbutrin. I knew going into it that it would be rough, and Neil knew it would be rough, and I tried to give the kids a warning…but man oh man, I forgot just how hard it would be.  At 2 PM today I had to call Neil and ask him to come home from work because I was so far from myself that I didn't feel like I should be alone with the children.

When I got off the phone with Neil I had collapsed into a heap on the floor and was crying when I felt Isaac’s little hands patting my head and saying, “Oh Mommy, I am so sorry this day is hard. Things will be better soon.” And then he picked out some of my favorite kids’ books and asked me to read stories to him—we’d just had a conversation yesterday about how reading to the kids is my very favorite thing to do as a mother. Sweet, sweet boy.

I know that a lot of what I am feeling right now is induced by the drug cocktail that is making its way through my body, and that I’m both going through withdrawal from the Zoloft and adjustment to the Wellbutrin, to say nothing of all the regular hormones! But it is just hard right now.  I can’t sleep without taking a sleep aid, I’m jittery and anxious and none of my usual methods work to calm me down—I went for a short (3.5 mile) run yesterday and ended up having to walk the last half-mile home because my body was shaking so much and I was so nauseated—I barely made it to the bathroom in time. I honestly cannot remember the last time I had to walk during a run.

Today I ripped through my kitchen and dragged out the hutch that Neil bought me for my birthday the first summer we were married. It’s been with us for almost 12 years and I’ve always loved it, but today I couldn’t stand to look at it for one more minute.

I wish I knew how much of my anxiety and depression stems from physical factors, and how much of it is situational. I can’t even tell you how stressed I am right now about Neil’s graduate program—if you’re keeping track, we are starting our ninth year of graduate school. 


Even typing that makes me start to hyperventilate.  Abigail will be in 4th grade this year. We’ve outgrown our house and we have long since outgrown the student stipend Neil gets as a research assistant (hah, who am I kidding, it’s enough for a single student and that’s it!).

 I am so tired of working and I know I should be grateful that my job has enabled us to stay free from student loans or car loans, but all I can think about is the retirement accounts and 401(k) accounts and the kids’ college and things like that that we aren’t actively saving for aside from our general savings.

 I’m so tired of having my husband gone until 2 am every night. I worry about how his stress and exhaustion are impacting his relationship with our kids. 

I’m heartsick after saying goodbye to dear friend after friend as they have graduated and moved on—I can’t even count the number of friends I have lost. I miss them so much but at the same time it’s exhausting to think of investing similar energy into new friendships that will inevitably end in another year or two.

One of the things that is most frustrating to me right now is how out of control I feel in so many aspects of my life. I don’t  know when we will graduate. I can’t do anything to help that timeline move more quickly. I don’t have a good rock-solid system for getting my kids to help around the house and that is an endless source of stress for me (an ongoing war between worrying that I’m nagging too much and the thought that they may grow up without a good work ethic if I don’t teach them now).  I’m not as organized and on top of things as I usually am; I feel like I’m really letting things slide this summer with the kids academically. It’s incredibly hard for me to get enough sleep and instead of being up at 5:30 AM like I used to, I’m lucky to be awake by 9. I used to love cooking and deciding what exciting meals I would make, but it’s become the thing I dread most due to the children’s responses to anything I make. And let's not forget that five kids is a lot of work--hard, exhausting, not-at-all-glamorous work. Last but not least, I am so, so, so unhappy with my self-image right now; the anti-depressants I’ve been on have made it really hard for me to maintain my normal weight, even with marathon training. I look in the mirror and feel so unattractive—over the last month I’ve dyed my hair once and cut it three times. Each time I was happy for about a minute and then I felt worse. I got together with some friends this morning and all I could think about was that I was the most dowdy, out-of-shape, and unattractive woman there.

So. There it is. I’m praying that this gets better soon. Right now I feel so full of despair and I don’t know how it will get better, but I’m retaining enough clear-sightedness to know that it will even if it seems impossible now. 


Tim Mair said...

This made me cry. For you. For all the millions of times I have felt the same for so long. For all of the times someone has told how great of a job I'm doing and I think, "I guess I'll take your word but I think you are wrong." You are I'm sure an amazing mom. You made a fantasy map of all of these great books. I look at all the amaxjng things you post and think, "I wish I could be as good of a homemaker and Dad as Rachel is a mom and she works and I don't." So even if you have to take everyone else's word for it right now it's ok. If the mundane is driving you crazy, it's ok. Beginning any new medication that involves neurotransmitters it's almost expected to experience anxiety. If it's overwhelming it's not a failure to go to your Dr. and ask if there's something that he can give you temporarily to help with the panic and anxiety. And it's ok if you need to be a heap on the floor when it's too much. My place is on the floor of a dark closet if that makes you feel any better. We all love you and your family so much. I hope you can get through this. Thanks for your blog. starting back at work. I needed to read it. You're amazing.

I tried to post this as a Facebook comment but it wouldn't let me. If for some reason it shows up there feel free to delete it as I tried several times.

Ruth said...

I'm so sorry you are feeling like this. I admire you so much. There are so many people who look up to you.

Love you.

Kristyn said...

Sooo I feel like I dole out advice to you, and you may very well not want it/need it. But here's my two cents anyway. Lol. When I get like that I've learned to give myself full permission to revel in the sadness. Because I've learned that feeling guilty about it only exacerbates the depression. I make junky mac and cheese for the kids (and that, quite literally, takes all of my energy for several hours, not kidding) and let them eat whatever else they can find in the house. I don't go anywhere or do anything. I go into full on survival mode. Like, least functioning mode possible. Then I journal the heck out of my feelings, cry a LOT, read my scriptures and pray the best I can, and basically hibernate. I find my favorite feel good movie and watch it a lot. And I focus on feeling better rather than on the guilt from what I'm not doing.

I fully realize that I'm admitting what a horrible mother I am sometimes, but sometimes knowing someone else goes through something kinda similar helps me. And sometimes it's the opposite! Lol. So disregard this if that's true for you.

You're awesome. Wish I could take your kids for you and let you hibernate. :(

Anonymous said...

I am so sorry you are feeling so badly. We don't know each other, but I stumbled across your blog a few months ago, and I keep returning because your posts always inspire me to try to be a better, more present and more imaginative mother. I have two little kids -- I can only imagine how tired you must be with five, and I am always amazed by what you do with them. (And, honestly, I am jealous that you have five! I think my husband and I started too late to hit that number.)

I also read because you are a terrific writer.

I am also commenting because I have a phd and wanted to share that honestly, the last year or two of that were really hard (the only harder part of my life was when I had postpartum depression) -- for all the reasons you articulate and more: close grad school friends moving on, complete uncertainty about when I would finish, where my family would live & I would work and what that job would be like (and what my husband's job would be like), what kind of lifestyle we would be able to afford (even if you are not motivated by money itself, it is so disorienting to not know what you will be able to afford in the near future). I can't imagine how much harder it would be to be the spouse of the student, and have even less control or ability to affect the process.

I hope you are feeling better soon.

Melissa said...

While I was sitting there chatting with you I was thinking "Wow, Rachael is so good at being interested and connecting with people." You didn't just answer questions people asked, but you made us feel like our lives were more interesting. I love hearing your opinions on things. I think you are a superwoman. I really look up to you. I hope that you start feeling better soon. You're in my prayers!

Amanda said...

We don't know each other, but I have been reading your blog for a long time and wanted to let you know how much I admire you, especially your work ethic. You clearly love your family like nothing else, and in the end, that is all that should matter. You and I have very different life situations, but the feelings - oh man - the feelings are so similar. Depression is just a hard, hard place to be. I agree with Kristyn; guilt only compounds the problem. Be kind to yourself. I would recommend reading Rumi's poem "The Guest House"; I find it very comforting when I am struggling with depression and maybe you will too.

My-Happy-Nest.Blogspot.com said...

As others have said, I don't know you but have followed your running posts as another running mom. I could have written this post six months ago, subbing your jobs/school with ours. At that time, I also switched from Zoloft to wellbutrin which was tough at the time. However, once I adjusted, I began to realize how bad I really had felt. With the wellbutrin, I felt like a fog was lifted. I stopped napping and found excitement in the things that used to make me happy again. And, I could lose weight again. (I gained 8 pounds while training for my first marathon the previous fall on Zoloft.) I hope this offers you some hope. And, thank you for sharing. I was never brave enough to do so. :)

Bryce Moore said...

Hang in there, Rachael. Thoughts and prayers to you and your family.

Jamie, Amanda, and Kids said...

Thank you for sharing your journey to inspire and help yourself and others. I appreciate being able to connect with someone else's struggles. I recently started going to counseling for many of the same overwhelming, all-consuming feelings you describe. While the counseling helps, I know I'm in for a long journey. I'm sorry that you feel so lost in yourself and so broken down. Prayers for you and your family as you work through this time of your life. Hugs!! Amanda

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