All I want for Mother’s Day is my prescription refilled.
I’ve been on the antidepressant Celexa for three months now, mostly to help me cope with the stress of being the mother of an 11-year-old.
When a child is careening into teendom, the hormonal, emotional and physical transitions take a toll — not just on them, but also on every other member of the family.
Tweens are all about boundary-pushing — and testing their new behaviors on their parents.
Swearing? Check. Not responding? Check. Saying no all the effin’ time? Check.
Kids need us so much, even as they push us away.
But it’s messing with my head: I don’t react in measured ways. I’m adjusting to my post-menopausal self — which can have its own ties to depression.
On top of that, my mother died in October. But with everything going on with my family, I couldn’t take time or space to grieve.
The stress and anxiety of it all turned me into a no-fun mess. I became irritable, short-tempered, a yeller. I’d have panic attacks after an argument. Whenever a friend asked me how I was, I’d tear up.
I felt ridiculous and confused. This wasn’t me.
With a friend’s support, I decided to ask my psychiatrist about antidepressants. I told her that I fantasized of ludicrous escapes — a nervous breakdown followed by 60 days at a therapeutic resort (is there such a thing?), or a car accident that would have no lasting consequences but require weeks in a hospital to fully recover.
I wouldn’t do these things, and I’m not suicidal — but I was desperate.
She heard me and prescribed antidepressants.
It turns out I’m not alone: A study published in “Developmental Psychology” found mothers have a difficult time dealing around children’s pre-adolescent years — and have even more stress than mothers of infants, and less maternal happiness than mothers of infants and teens.
The Celexa didn’t work immediately, but after a few weeks of adjustment (and nausea), I began to feel more stable again. More rational. No more panic attacks. I still get mad and cry, but not as much.
Mostly, the antidepressants — plus therapy — help me not crumble after every single bump. I feel closer to normal again. And I feel hopeful about getting through the tween and teen years with my husband.
At first, I was embarrassed to tell anyone about taking these meds. I felt like a bit of a failure, not being able to cope on my own. I could see why parents turn to martinis, Xanax or vaping to make it through a day.
Now I’m realizing that I may have needed these pills for years — I probably masked a lot of feelings with booze — but put my own pain last.
In that way, my son’s growing pains almost did me a favor: All this family stress made me realize I had issues and needed to take care of my mental health, for myself, and for them.
As my doctor said, when mama is happy — everyone’s happy.