I was two weeks into weaning off of the antidepressant Zoloft, when it hit me like a ton of bricks: I am living with anxiety. Like, that’s my disease. My condition. My thang. You would think just being ON an antidepressant would make me realize that, hey, guess what, you have an anxiety disorder, but it didn’t, not really. A month ago, I would have said “I take Zoloft to help me deal with my anxiety,” but I wouldn’t have said “I take Zoloft because I am living with anxiety.” Semantics? Maybe. But having this realization is an important part of learning to deal with my anxiety without drugs.
Accepting that this is part of who I am and who I’ve always been, I am taking a very close look at myself and how anxiety affects my life now, as a wife and mother. I haven’t been unmedicated (aside for a 4-month window before conceiving my first child) in almost a decade, and to say that I’m scared shitless about parenting without a safety net is an understatement. But I also know that as far as anxiety goes, I could have it way WAY worse. So I’m confident I can cope without meds, but am being hyper-vigilant about my reactions to things life throws my way.
So if Zoloft works so well and I have been living with anxiety my whole life, why stop? Pretty simple. Sex. Or actually, lack of sex. Well, to be REALLY technical, lack of sex DRIVE. I began to realize that my complete and utter lack of sex drive could no longer be blamed on babies (my youngest is 3) or nursing or being “touched out.” I couldn’t blame it on stress because I’m not stressed most of the time. I couldn’t blame it on health because I’m the healthiest I’ve been in 20 years. I couldn’t blame it on poor self-image because I kind of basically think I am awesome. I sure as hell couldn’t blame it on my husband, because he’s as awesome (OK WAY MORE) as I am and is somehow still attracted to me after 10 years together. There is no external reason I could think of for the fact that over the past few years, I just don’t have an ounce of drive. Except Zoloft.
No sex drive is an issue if you plan to stay happily married, FYI. Don’t get me wrong, my husband NEVER complains. NEVER. Not when we are only doing it once a week at best, and once a month at worst. Not when he’s really trying to get me in the mood and I’m just Meh. Not even when I would say “I know it’s been a week, but I’m just not feeling it right now. Maybe tomorrow?” I mean, how hot is that, right? There was no pressure AT ALL from him; I want to make that clear. But I know that his patience can’t be infinite, and I also know that I’d like to remain happily married. And sex is part of a happy marriage, as uncomfortable as it can be to discuss it. So for the sake of my marriage, I decided to take a chance.
And going off this medicine is taking a HUGE chance. First of all, what if it doesn’t make a difference? What if I’m still totally lukewarm about sex? Or, even worse, what if my sex drive bounces but my crazy goes through the roof? I can’t be “crazy” now, I’m a mother. And I’ve never been unmedicated as a mother. And that scares me. But it also scares me to not be the best wife I can be to my husband, so I’m giving this a shot. And the good thing? I’ve still got a nearly full bottle in the bathroom that I can open at any time if shit gets just TOO MUCH. And I have no shame about that. Because I’m finally accepting that I’m LIVING with anxiety, that means also accepting that treating that anxiety may be something I always have to deal with, just like if I had any other disease. I never have carried any shame about having anxiety and I would never have shame about taking medicine. But if I can learn to LIVE SUCCESSFULLY with anxiety, my marriage has the potential to be even better than it is now, so I’m giving it a shot.