Thursday, June 23, 2011

Medication- No Thanks.

(this post is not meant to take the place of medical care. It is simply my experience and my choices as I've journeyed through grief. I don't think there is a right or wrong answer to medication- this is simply a post about my journey and my choices.)

As I'm sure you already know, our struggle with Joshua began over a year ago. It started with a hemorrhage while I was pregnant with him. We were waiting for him to die while still inside.

Then came the heart diagnosis. We began grieving all over again and once again began preparing for the worst but hoping for the best.

Then he was born and we lived a 51 day sprint trying to get him well enough to come home. All the while we struggled financially and our family was separated by 150 miles while Shane worked and took care of Caleb and Hannah .

I lived at the NICU for those 51 days, watching babies everywhere fighting for their lives. We watched our child's heart beating inside his chest for 5 days, I found him blue and almost lifeless the first time he crashed. I felt deep down inside (although I didn't consciously know what for) that something was not right and instinctively fought to be closer to him the last week he was alive. (I became an evil crazy mother who would not leave the poor social worker and nurses alone and probably made their lives hell that week.)

All through those struggles, I consciously chose to do it without any sort of medication for depression or anxiety.

Now hear me out, I'm not against medication- not at all. I was open to it if I truly felt like I needed it. But during that time, and into the present, I have not felt like I have needed it.

Every doctors appointment that I went to, every interaction with doctors, my parents, and even close friends of mine really encouraged me to get on some sort of medication for anxiety and depression. All I had to say was "I need it" and it was at my disposal.

After Joshua died, things got really dark. I literally laid on the couch for the month of October. The pain was so great that I couldn't function. My darkest days came when I started having flashbacks. I believe I suffered, and still do, from a mild form of PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder) from the trauma of Joshua's situation. But the flashbacks were the worst. (there are still triggers that I have to stay away from- that's a topic for a whole other post)

When I experienced flashbacks, I was literally back in the NICU the morning Joshua died. (warning- clicking on that link takes you to a post that may be difficult for some to read) During a flashback, I had no idea that Joshua was going to die. It was just a normal day for me. And then it would come. The monitors, the panic, his tiny last breath. I relived it all.

I experienced his death 3 times- not including the actual time he died. I relived that experience 3 times without knowing it was going to happen.

The flashbacks were enough to make me seriously consider medication, but I chose, once again, to say no and try to work it out on my own.

Let me explain my decision to not take medication. I want to be very clear that I don't have a problem with medication and I do believe that sometimes it is necessary to continue living a normal life. Depression runs in our family, and I have seen family members quality of life greatly improved because of anti depression and anxiety medication. I believe that the decision to take medication is a personal one to be made between the individual and their doctor.

I chose not to take medication because I felt strongly that I needed to allow myself to feel whatever feelings came along with the grief. I didn't want to numb or take the edge off of my feelings- no matter how dark they became (as long as I was not putting myself or my children or husband at physical risk).

My biggest fear was that I wouldn't allow myself to feel what I needed to feel and I wouldn't deal with those feelings in a healthy way. I felt that if I took the edge off of those feelings, that they were eventually going to come and when they did, it would be worse than if I had just dealt with it to begin with. I also felt that I had enough perspective on my feelings that I could truly tell if and when I started going to a dark place that I just couldn't get myself out of.

Taking this journey without medication has been one of the most difficult processes that I have ever experienced. I've had to convince myself and others that my experiences and emotions are normal for what I have been through and have yet to deal with. I've had many moments when I have felt like I've completely lost my dang mind, and it's been in those moments that God has reached down and brought comfort and healing in ways that only He can. Going through this experience without any sort of medication has forced me to turn to God in ways that I never have had to do before.

There are still days that I feel like I've completely lost my mind. There are still days that I have to convince myself that what I'm experiencing is normal and healthy. Yet there are other days that I am so thankful that I have said "No Thanks" to medication.


Lis said...

yeeesh another post on ptsd...cringe....okay, yes, and forgive my light hearted ways...its truly how i survive - absolutely no disrespect intended...i too chose a no medication route..i don't tolerate meds well, not even beta blockers for my own heart issues..for me, herbs,nutrition,and writing have worked thus far..i was just commenting in another post about ptsd about how certain things trigger me bk to my daughter's nearly being still born..but even more so than that is a guilt ridden envy around babies and baby showers for my other 2, especially my last angel (no offense at all)..its just hard...with my own health deteriorating, i'll never hold another baby...seems so unfair...i can't deal with the baby isle at stores and i've only held 2 babies in the past 6yrs, both boys, both i had to give back very quickly and leave the area..i know i have ptsd but i also believe that losing dalton was directly linked to my own medications that my doctor swore were safe if i were to get pg..i don't want to say anymore because i truly don't want to say something stupid...just that i agree with you on not wanting to numb..tho i did turn bk to cutting as a numbing method...i've been over 300 days clean now...long painful journey, but we'll get there...God Bless you and your family with pure joy and abundant blessings....amen and please forgive me if i comment less and less...times are tough

Jill said...

I post to avoid going crazy. actually, I caught myself last week posting too many times. I wouldn't be surprised if I lost some followers, LOL... I ended up deleting these posts.

I packed up my son and we went to my moms for 4 days to escape the drama. I wasn't taking a chance on his well-being. our "stress" (i.e., inlaws) was turning into something very dangerous.

I don't have the heartache you do...but i've been thinking of taking an herbal supplement or raw herbs to help with my emotional strain.

st johns wart, ginseng, licorice root, lemon balm, and chamomile are all good for sadness and depression i've heard.

since I can't afford to move away from the crazies (yet).... I play a lot of motivational music, read all the romantic fiction to take me away, and I cook. I'm trying to refocus.

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