Monday, June 19, 2006

High Anxiety

So, about two weeks ago I went on Zoloft. I never really got the "baby blues" as such, but a little after Mr. Squab went back to work, I noticed that I was starting to worry excessively about little things. I wasn't sleeping well at all from being so tensed up, and I kept imagining awful (and highly unlikely) "what if" scenarios, like "what if I trip and fall down the stairs while I'm carrying the baby?" or "what if Mr. Squab gets into a car accident and dies?" or "what if the baby's swaddling comes loose and she suffocates?" etc., etc. I couldn't stop thinking about stuff like that.

Anxiety and depression run in my family, and I've certainly always been a "worrier." Some of that is just standard oldest-child stuff: feeling responsible for the younger siblings, wanting to maintain order and carry on family traditions, wanting to "fix" things. But as I've gotten older I've noticed my worrying getting more intense, and sometimes veering into an unhealthy place. And of course extreme fatigue and the stress of a new baby don't exactly do anything to alleviate nerves. When I was growing up, there was much less awareness of clinical depression and anxiety: my parents, who now take meds for those maladies, didn't start them until well after I was out of the house. The drugs made a real difference for them, just in terms of keeping on an even keel, and I wonder sometimes how my childhood would have been different if drugs like Prozac and Celexa and Zoloft had been available back in the '70s. Don't get me wrong - it's not like I had a bad upbringing or anything. Quite the contrary. But I think my good childhood was despite my parents' struggles with depression and anxiety, a testament both to their abilities to overcome those things and to my ability to be blissfully unaware of them.

At any rate, I noticed that it was getting kind of bad, so I talked to Mr. Squab about it and he'd noticed it, too. I think anxiety can be worse than depression in some ways for the people living with the afflicted person. Anxiety can put so many demands on the entire family, making everyone overly cautious so as not to cause an outbreak. I don't want Mr. Squab or the Hatchling to have to walk on eggshells just because I'm unreasonably nervous. There's a teensy, irrational part of me that feels weak about this, a tiny little puritanical devil on my shoulder whispering "suck it up and just get over it already!" in my ear. But really, I know better than that: the weaker choice would be not to do anything about it. So Zoloft it is, for as long as I need it. And thank goodness, once again, that we're among the insured, 'cause baby, those are some expensive pills.