Gifts for Dad ➔

I tried to wean off of Zoloft and couldn’t.

And that’s OK.

I had never really been aware of the world of antidepressants. My life has been relatively uneventful—with the normal ups and downs that most of us go through. I knew people on medication for depression but never understood.

How can you be THAT sad that you can’t just be positive and make the best of your circumstances? How can someone be THAT unhappy ALL the time to need medication?

I didn’t get it.

I felt bad for people going through it.

Then my 2-year-old was diagnosed with Stage 4 aggressive Lymphoblastic Lymphoma and my little uneventful world blew up.

For six months I was positive and focused on one thing-getting her through this. I could handle anything cancer threw at me if it meant I’d have my baby whole and healed eventually. Even when a massive relapse and chemo-induced brain damage took her independence . . . I still had a purpose. Caregiver and advocate 24/7. I was willing to be a therapy mom for as long as it took, years if necessary . . . we just had to beat the cancer first.

Then we got stuck in limbo. At a rehab facility trying to get her strong enough to survive her only option, a stem cell transplant. But her cancer was so aggressive, waiting ran the risk of a second relapse and if that happened, we were done because her poor little body couldn’t handle more strong chemo. I was stuck in uncertainty with no plan. No end in sight. Nothing but my fragile baby fighting every single day.

It was then that I understood depression.

I was completely overwhelmed. I cried approximately four times a day. I was getting frustrated with my daughter who couldn’t help or control anything she was doing or what was happening to her. I was having to FORCE myself out of bed when I stayed at Ronald McDonald House. I felt crazy.

I realized that I was absolutely no help to my daughter or to anyone else if I was falling apart. This wasn’t about me. It was about her. So I called my doctor, made an appointment, and the next time I was at home a 24-hour break from the hospital, I went and got my Zoloft prescription. I’m sure it was a placebo effect but I felt better just knowing that I was taking control of my mental health.

And then, one month later, we found out she had relapsed again and her body was done. Thirteen days later, she was gone and I fully credit Jesus and my medication for getting me through that. I was able to spend those precious days clear headed and focused on her. I was able to wake up and even in my sorrow, be there for my baby.

Now, almost nine months later, I still credit the medication and the unending grace poured on my by the Lord for helping me get out of bed each morning and be productive on most days. But recently I was curious to see if I still needed it. Since I have never been on any type of antidepressant, I honestly just wanted to know when/if it was time to wean off. I’m not by any means against staying on it but, I figured if my body no longer needs it, then great.

So I consulted my nurse practitioner and she gave me a schedule to wean off of it but after the first week I was back in full blown depression and I couldn’t do it. The way I was feeling was the confirmation I needed that my body does in fact still need it. And that’s OK—I’ll stay on it as long as I need it.

I get it now.

If I only need it a few more months? That’s OK.

If I need it for a long time? That’s OK.

If I try to wean again and can’t again? That’s OK.

If I need it forever? That’s OK.

Whatever I need . . . is OK.

It’s time to get rid of the stigma that people who need medication for their mental health long term are broken, crazy, or less than. Because for me, the medication keeps me from being completely broken. It keeps my head above water.

I am 1 in 5.

And it’s OK.

Originally published on Sophie The Brave

Shelby Skiles

Shelby Skiles is a wife, teacher, and mom to her two-year-old angel, Sophie. Sophie passed away in January 2018 from Lymphoma. Shelby chronicled Sophie’s entire battle through her blog Sophie The Brave and hopes that transparently sharing her journey through, motherhood, cancer, and now grief will inspire others to look passed their circumstances and see that God is bigger than all of it. She’s deeply committed to honoring Sophie’s memory by sharing her story and I spring others to ‘Do More’ and make a difference. 

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