Thursday, May 12, 2016

Getting Back to Myself

The postpartum roller coaster I've been on over the past 6 months has led me to wonder about increasing the anti-depressant medication (Zoloft) that I have been on for several years.  I thank God for the team of medical professionals that He has given me.  I am truly grateful.  I had appointments with both my therapist and the nurse practitioner at my psychiatrist's office last night and this morning.

The Therapy Appointment

The therapy appointment was difficult but good.  My suffering and mental exhaustion were pretty apparent, I believe.  I had a list of things to talk about, and a medication increase was number one on that list.  I thought he might discourage me from increasing the medication, but instead he helped me figure out what to ask the nurse practitioner.  He suggested other medications that might be helpful, and he encouraged me to write out my "symptom profile" to hand to her (see below).

I've been doing okay with practicing ERP, so we didn't go into much detail with the actual obsessions and compulsions.  Instead, we talked about healthy ways for me to cope.  Coloring was one of those ways; in fact, I put that strategy in to practice this afternoon (see below).  So therapeutic.

Adult Coloring - Do what you love to love what you do

The Psychiatry Appointment

I love the nurse practitioner I have seen the past few years.  She is very personable and really cares about how I'm doing (she hugged me at the end of my appointment this morning).  I'm so thankful that she had a cancellation and could fit me in quickly; I thought she may be scheduled out for several weeks.

I was reminded as we talked that my mental illness has flared after having each of my three children.  It's weird that I tend not to really think about postpartum difficulties too much, but it has definitely been rocky.  Thankfully, with my second baby, I caught it quickly, increased the medication dosage, and avoided a lapse.  With my first and third babies, though, the struggle has been intense.

I shared the symptom profile I had written at the suggestion of my therapist.  The medical assistant that I initially handed it to called it very...organized (which I thought was hilarious!).  The nurse practitioner commented compassionately, "Wow, you've been here before."

Symptom Profile, page 1
Symptom Profile, page 1

symptom profile page 2
Symptom Profile, page 2

She was so encouraging.  She talked about the parts of my brain that are overactive and answered all of my questions about caffeine intake (if it doesn't hurt the way I feel, it's okay), a possible thyroid connection (blood test ordered), and breastfeeding while on medication (take the medicine immediately after breastfeeding to reduce the amount that gets to the baby).

She said that there will be times in my life where I am more vulnerable to this illness, and postpartum is one of those times.  She also mentioned that menopause would most likely be hard for me (yikes).

The Verdict

We decided to increase the dosage of Zoloft because of breastfeeding and because of how well it's worked for me in the past.  If I want to stop breastfeeding (I don't), there are other options that she said would pull me right out of how I've been feeling.  We'll see how this increased dosage works and check in again at my next appointment in about a month.

I can't wait to get back to my real self!