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My Professional Background - Once upon a time, I wanted to be a motivational speaker. Actually, I was a professional motivational speaker for about 5 years.:
Depression, Drugs & a Different Diagnosis

If you hang around this blog for more than a minute, you’re bound to stumble on a post (or 70) about my ongoing struggle with depression. I have remained very transparent about my love-hate relationship with medications because I know that so many of my friends, family and readers have a similar story to tell. Our culture, our physicians, the entire field of psychology, and even the church (!!!) have fully embraced the idea that depression is something that we can—or should—medicate with psychotrophic (mind-altering) drugs.

  • When I was pregnant for the first time and burst into tears in his office, my OB/GYN put me on Zoloft.
  • When I went to a secular psychologist who didn’t know what to do with my anger and resentment toward my husband, he diagnosed me with mild Bi-Polar Disorder and put me on LOTS of Zoloft.
  • When I got pregnant again and had no energy, a different OB/GYN put me on Zoloft.
  • When I was grieving what I believed was the loss of my marriage, a third OB/GYN put me on Zoloft.
  • When I was in the depths of despair last January after losing a baby, my general practitioner put me on Zoloft.
  • And when I went last fall to try to understand why—despite a period of great fulfillment and joy in my life—I was so lethargic, my general practitioner again put me on Zoloft.

I just detailed for you the past four years of my relationship with psychotropic medications (though this love-hate relationship has lasted for more than a decade). Five different doctors in two different countries prescribed a mood-altering drug to help me cope with my anger, my grief, my pregnant hormones, and my lethargy.

Can you say happy pill?

The only trouble is that the side effects were so annoying and troubling that I often wondered if I’d be better off depressed! The dry mouth, the nausea, the mood swings, the—ahem—bedroom-related troubles…

Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaand we just lost my dad. 

Seriously, though, the drugs were almost as horrible as the depression. Yet, I perpetually convinced myself that I owed it to my children to stay on them. After more than 10 years with this nebulous, catch-all diagnosis of “depression,” I was certain I would spend my entire adult life dependent on this drug I so hated…but so thought I needed.

Ironically, the shame and guilt alone was enough to keep me depressed. 

And that’s where you guys found me on December 30 in my “Back and Bedder than Ever” post. I was back on my meds and yet completely unable to function. I couldn’t make sense of it. But here’s where the story gets really interesting (if depression and medications are the types of things that interest you).

[I’m not interested, but I’m already invested in the story. So, go on…]

As I wrote that December 30th post, I had trouble describing just how sluggish I felt. It was more than exhaustion; it was truly like a form of hibernation, which is why I went with the bear analogy. So, in the course of writing that post, I thought I would turn to my most trusted source of information: Google. I typed, “What is the laziest animal in the world?”

[If it brought up a photo of Katy, I will officially declare this an entertaining post.]

Not surprisingly, my search referred me to the 2nd most trusted source of information: Wiki Answers. There, I found something remarkable—though, I’m sure the information is no more reliable than a 6th grade science report. Still, that one search led me to a discovery that, God willing, has forever freed me of my need for Zoloft.

When I opened the Wiki Answers page, I was surprised to find that the laziest animal in the world is actually the koala bear. Sure, I suspected some type of bear; however, it never occurred to me that something so cute and cuddly could be so tragically lazy. As I read more about the laziness of the koalas and how it relates to their diet of eucalyptus leaves, my eyes widened and I gasped aloud.

“Brian! What’s the laziest animal in the world?”

“Wait…what?”

I do this often. Brian and I share a desk at home, and I frequently invade his thoughts with my own.

“What is the laziest animal in the world?”

“I don’t know…a sloth?”

“Is that even a real animal?” I was completely serious.

“Are you serious?”

I got sidetracked for a moment or two as I Googled the word “sloth.” Turns out, it’s not just a Disney character. Huh.

“Brian, I think the reason I’m so sluggish is because I’m not getting enough nutrients from my food!”

It was then I knew what Alexander Fleming felt like when he discovered penicillin. 

[Someone please hand this woman a Nobel Prize.]

I called my doctor the next day and made an appointment. Within the week I was in his office—this same general practitioner who had prescribed the Zoloft to me on two separate occasions. I shared my concerns about the drug and how desperately I wanted to find an alternative. I told him that I wasn’t convinced that depression was even my main issue. Meaning, I believed there was something else under the surface that has affected my sleep and mood for the past decade or more.

He agreed to a series of tests and found that my vitamin D levels were deficient. And can you guess one of the primary symptoms of vitamin D deficiency?

Cha-ching!

Y’all, there has never been a person on earth more excited to have a vitamin deficiency. I’m still not 100% sure what caused that in the first place. Though, 3 1/2 years in England and another 2 years in this ridiculous Kansas weather may have something to do with it.

Within one week I was weaned off the Zoloft and completely freed from the guilt and the side effects that enslaved me for so long. I’m now on a concentrated dose of vitamin D, and I can honestly say that I haven’t felt this good in years. Years.
 
I am grateful for my current doctor who listened to my concerns and acted accordingly, but I can’t help but wonder why no other doctor in my past thought to run simple blood tests before they prescribed these mind-altering drugs. And though I have in the past been 35 pounds underweight, not one of them considered that I may have some sort of nutritional deficiency. I was prescribed Zoloft at every turn without thorough medical testing. I just can’t wrap my brain around that. How is that even possible?

Friends, I know many of you reading this are currently on psychotropic medications, and I want to tell you 2 very important things: First, please don’t read this post as a judgment from me. Remember, I have spent more than a decade wrestling with my own dependence on psychotropic meds. Second, PLEASE do not stop taking any medications as a result of this post. I don’t have any illusions of grandeur here, but I do know that I have often removed myself from medications for a variety of reasons without a doctor’s supervision. That was unwise of me, and I would hate to know that someone else did the same as a result of this post.

I do want to let you all know that I plan to address the “heart” issues that have contributed to much of my depressive mood throughout these past several years. Though it certainly explains so much about my current physical and mental state, a vitamin D deficiency doesn’t explain why I didn’t fully cling to Jesus during my miscarriage or my marital turmoil. A vitamin D deficiency doesn’t cause a woman to sin against her husband out of anger and spite. A vitamin D deficiency doesn’t explain why I stopped praying or studying God’s word. In the weeks and months to come, I plan to share so much more about what God has done in my heart this past year.

It’s about to get all kinds of serious up in here, y’all. 

[I’m out.]
 
Don’t worry, though. I haven’t lost my sense of humor. I find it rather funny that—in a fit of rage—I ripped our wedding photo in half.

[Oh, you sinned in your anger? Hilarious.]

Not what I meant. Keep reading…

I’ve been too preoccupied to replace it, and so we have a giant frame in our living room with some random kid’s face in it. He’s been staring at me every day for over a year.

Hey Mom

I find that hilarious.
 
If you made it to the end of this War and Peace-length blog post, I want to both congratulate and thank you. God has used you all to minister to me in the darkest days of my life. And now that I’m on the other side of those trials, I can’t think of a better way to honor Him than to share with you what your prayer and encouragement has done for me—for us. You can expect to hear more on that in March, God willing. Until then, be prepared for a dozen or more posts about the snow and various toddler illnesses.

[Super. I can hardly wait.]

I can’t quite figure out why Dorothy wanted to go back to Kansas. 

Kidding…sort of.

Okay, your turn to spill. What’s on your mind? The topics up for discussion are: psychotropic drugs, ripped wedding photos, and snow. 

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Comments to "Depression, Drugs & a Different Diagnosis"

  1. Dona

    February 4, 2014

    I have nothing profound to say. Your post was wonderful, as usual. Love your style of writing. But….in regards to the lack of Vitamin D…….I don’t know what causes it either. I live in Arizona, where the only thing we shovel is sunshine…..and my D was low a while back. Go figure, huh? I’m on generic Zoloft, but I don’t feel any side effects. Go figure again, huh? Love you, girl! Dona

    • Katy in a Corner

      February 4, 2014

      Dona, you’re such an encouragement to me! That is all. 🙂

  2. PappyJack

    February 4, 2014

    Energy. Yes, that is what this near 50 year old has. I’m sure it’s because of the Shakeology I drink. Hope you don’t mind the commercial but this stuff is great! With all the sickness going around the last couple of years, Terri and I have avoided it, somehow. I think this is how – Shakeology everyday! See me (well, that might be tough) – get in touch with me some way to feel great – naturally. So glad you are feeling better. I guess I really didn’t know it had been so bad for you. Great news!!

  3. Tara

    February 4, 2014

    Love this post. I agree with you that those drugs can be amazing and are truly life savers for some. But it makes me so sad/mad that so many doctors just seem to use them as a band aid for many symptoms. I recently started zoloft as well, and I was honestly a bit shocked at how easily the prescription came. I hadn’t been talking to my doctor for more than three minutes before she prescribed it. No follow up questions, or other plans to look deeper into any issues. Luckily I have not had to deal with any of the side effects thus far, and have found it to be very helpful. I’ve got some Postpartum anxiety going on, so I’m hoping I will not need the drugs for too long.

    I’m so glad the vitamin D is working out for you!

    • Katy in a Corner

      February 4, 2014

      Tara, I’m right there with you. Most of my prescriptions came with little more than a 5 minute “exam.” In fairness, though, many of my doctors were wonderful and helped in so many other ways. But, I think the system is broken when a patient can come through the door and have a prescription for a mind-altering drug in hand within 5 minutes. I’m sorry to hear about your postpartum, and I do hope you’ve had some relief from that.

  4. Sarah

    February 4, 2014

    I’m so glad you are feeling good! I have wandered in and out of depression for a long time (mostly seasonal, but I have a few other triggers as well). It frustrates me, though, when doctors don’t take time to look for what else may be wrong. I was seriously ill while pregnant with my first. My doctor told me I should see a therapist for “anxiety.” It turns out I had HELLP, and by the time they caught it while I was in labor, my organ systems were shutting down.
    Sarah recently posted…Crazy Mommy Fitness ChallengeMy Profile

    • Katy in a Corner

      February 4, 2014

      I’m so sorry to hear that, Sarah! That’s scary stuff indeed. Glad to hear you’re okay now. And thank you for your consistent encouragement!

  5. Monica

    February 4, 2014

    First of all, I love your honesty. I think there’s nothing more cathartic. Also want to tell you what my OB said when my kids were the ages of yours – “Take it easy on yourself. There’s no harder job than parenting toddlers. Take time for yourself. It will make you a better mom.” He then went on to encourage me to take vitamin D. My kids are now in what is sometimes called “the sweet spot” of parenting. Still need me, but are mostly independent. Let me tell you, it gets easier! They carry on real converstations with me and help with the dishes and laundry and get themselves ready for school. I will pray that you will feel the arms of our Lord carrying you through the dark days so you can let His light shine through you.

    • Katy in a Corner

      February 5, 2014

      That’s a very wise OB you have, Monica! And his advice is so true. It’s interesting that you made the point about hitting the parenting “sweet spot,” because we have just started to catch a glimpse of what it will look like when the kids are able to do things for themselves. As they become more independent, I certainly do feel that stress level reduce exponentially. It’s a delicate balance between cherishing these toddler moments and getting excited about the years to come. Thank you so much for your encouragement!!!

  6. dan a

    February 5, 2014

    Katy,
    Really appreciate your openness and honesty, refreshing glimpses into the lives we are all living whether we are brave enough to share or not. Go bless.

    • Katy in a Corner

      February 5, 2014

      Dan, you’re absolutely right. We’re all struggling in some way. I consider it my calling to be transparent about what God has brought us through so that we can be an encouragement to others. It’s our way of trying to live out 2 Corinthians 1:3-4. Thank you for reading and for YOUR encouragement to us. Your participation on the blog and social media doesn’t go unnoticed by me or Brian. You’re a blessing.

  7. Samantha

    February 5, 2014

    Katy,

    I love reading your posts! They are enjoyable and certainly offer a humorous outlook on many aspects of life! I also enjoy your vulnerability. I am a huge fan of vulnerability. I appreciate what you said here. I have also struggled with depression, however, so far me and the GP have yet to find something to help that won’t cause other debilitating side effects like migraines! It is so frustrating but reading your post is encouraging. This is not forever! Just one day at a time! I appreciate what you said!

    • Katy in a Corner

      February 5, 2014

      Samantha, I so appreciate your kind words and your own story. THAT’S what this blog is all about to me. Thank you for reading and sharing your experiences with me (and others)!

  8. Katrina

    February 5, 2014

    I’m so glad you found something that makes you feel good and still feel like YOU! I started taking concentrated vitamin D when I was nursing my son on his peds recommendation (to get more of it into the milk), and 3 years later I still think it is some of the best stuff ever! Not only is my energy better, but I also get sick less often than I did before.

    I truly hope that you continue to find increasing happiness and satisfaction over the year to come!

    • Katy in a Corner

      February 5, 2014

      Thanks so much for the encouragement, Katrina! I don’t know why it never occurred to me (or my doctors) to try this sooner, but I’m grateful to have the relief now. I hadn’t thought of continuing the Vitamin D after the recommended 12 weeks, but I’ll certainly talk to my doc about it at my next visit. Thanks for your comments!

  9. Jaimie

    February 6, 2014

    Hi Katy… I wonder why your doctors kept pushing Zoloft instead of trying another drug? I had side effects with Celexa, but have had wonderful results with Lexapro. In combination with seeing a therapist, I really feel the best that I’ve felt in years. I admire your opinions and desire not to use drugs, but please know that for a temporary amount of time, perhaps you would respond well to the right drug. Just a thought!

    Love your sense of humor, and always enjoy reading your blog!

    XOXO

    Jaimie

    • Katy in a Corner

      February 6, 2014

      Good thoughts, Jaimie. I actually tried several different medications throughout the course of 10+ years on psychotropic drugs. Zoloft just happened to be the one with the FEWEST side-effects for me. Thankfully, I’ve responded extremely well to the Vitamin D, and I pray I’m done with these meds for good! Thanks so much for your kind words and for reading the blog.

  10. Pingback: My Sunshine | (Nobody Puts) Katy in a Corner

  11. Becky

    February 19, 2014

    My dear friend Katy….your posts both make me laugh and cry! I love that and appreciate your honesty!! I wold love to know more about the vitamin d. What dose,liquid or pill form…is it prescription or where do you get it? Geeeezzz you like how I’m all up in your business?! I love you! (This is Becky from school and Class Act btw)

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