I took my first antidepressant yesterday.
I also marked the lintel of our front doorframe with the letters C, M, and B, the traditional initials of the Magi who journeyed from far-off lands to worship the Christ Child.
It seems fitting, I suppose, that those two things happened on the same day, on Epiphany. Like the Magi, I’m looking for Jesus, too: once again, it’s been dark inside my head, and I am longing for the Light.
On Monday, my husband insisted I email our doctor and tell her what’s going on. I knew that if I did, she’d prescribe medication. I have resisted the medication option because I am breastfeeding my boys. When I talked to my doctor, she said only about 5% of the medicine (and it’s a tiny dose to begin with) ends up in the breastmilk. I said I just don’t want these boys to have to take Zoloft their entire lives because I started them on it early. She laughed and said it doesn’t work that way.
But we really don’t know if it works that way or not because no one has done longitudinal studies on kids whose moms took antidepressant meds while nursing them.
There have been studies on kids whose moms were depressed, though, and those are sobering. I already see changes in Jack. He’s always been a protector, fiercely loyal, especially to me. I see him taking on more than he should, to help and protect me. He apologizes when Jane makes me cry. He apologizes when the babies make me cry. Or he gets mad and calls them bad babies or socks his sister.
I have to get myself together so that he doesn’t grow up thinking my well-being rests on his shoulders or that it’s his responsibility to make sure his siblings don’t upset me. That’s my job. Only I haven’t been doing it so well lately. It’s dark in here and every time I think I’m returning to the light, the darkness closes in again.
I need help.
And though I’ve been praying like mad for deliverance and healing, God has not waved the divine hand and poofed away my fear. My friend Tiffany gently reminded me, “Sometimes God uses medicine to heal us.” She should know. Her daughter has leukemia and is undergoing intensive chemotherapy.
So I humbled myself and went to the pharmacy and picked up my prescription. Thirty tiny blue pills. It’s hard to believe that something so small might actually lift some of these fears that are kicking me in the gut and darkening my mind.
In fact, I don’t believe it.
I bet the Magi didn’t believe this poor Jewish kid was their long-awaited King, either. I imagine they looked at one another and raised their eyebrows and muttered that surely they had the wrong address. But they’d come all that way, and there was the star, shining down on that little peasant hovel. So in an act of faith, they presented their gifts.
My journey isn’t nearly so glamorous. But God seems to have led me here, to this place where the next step toward the light seems to be in the form of a little blue pill. So in an act of faith, I took one with lunch yesterday.
And if by some miracle those tiny blue magic mood pills actually work, I will rise up and call the makers of Zoloft blessed.
On this first Friday of a new year I am grateful for still more of God’s good gifts:
Five sermons in a row that spoke straight to my fearful heart.
Singing Christmas carols with my kids before we eat dinner.
A gorgeous sunrise, Mount Rainier (visible from our living room in winter!) snowy and backlit by the gold-pink sky.
Colorful Christmas lights everywhere I look: on the tree inside and the next-door neighbor’s house outside.
Listening to Jane sing “Away in a Manger” to Ben, who was fussing in her arms. When she got to the line, “The little Lord Jesus lay down his sweet head,” she looked at Ben and said, “Why don’t you lay down your sweet head?”
Meals shared with friends each week.