I’ve written before about my challenges with my mental health following my second child, while entering the perimenopausal hormone landscape. To be honest with myself, I have struggled with intermittent depression and anxiety since I was a kid. It’s taken me years to fully recognize and admit that. My family is riddled with mental health challenges, from your garden variety anxiety and depression to full blown schizophrenia, and that’s just on one side of the family. It’d be crazy if I DIDN’T have a mental health issue, and I appreciate that now as a wiser adult. However, as a younger adult it pained me to think I was struggling with the same issues my family members were—how could it be so? I was not like them at all. I was just “sensitive” and “irritable” and “shy”. I had been using various supplements for years and years to manage these symptoms, but was I treating depression? No way. Anxiety? Nope. Not me. I was just fine, thank you.
I am still sensitive, irritable and shy sometimes, by the way, but it got to the point after my second child, Max, that I found myself constantly looking for ways to avoid my family. And if I was in the same room, I would be intensely irritated and overwhelmed at their behavior or the noise or the state of (un)cleanliness that comes with living with 3 males.
I wanted to run away.
I realized that all of the supplements I had been taking were not working as well as I needed them to. I owed it to my family to step it up a bit. And so, I talked to my doctor about antidepressants. I got a prescription and sat with it for a while (2 months, I think) and then I did it. I started medication for my depression and I was SO SCARED—What was going to happen? What if I went crazy? What if I had horrible side effects? What if it didn’t work?
Do you know what happened?
I felt amazing (but not too amazing, which can be a problem). I felt like my best self. I was present with my kids, I wanted to be around them. They weren’t (quite) so annoying any more. I wanted to be with my husband. He wasn’t (quite) so frustrating any more. Did you hear that? I FEEL LIKE MY BEST SELF.
I am ashamed to be on these, though. I am a naturopath, for God’s sake. I use alternative therapies and avoid medications when possible. I am sweating bullets as I write this because I’m afraid of what you’ll think of me! I had been trying for years, for decades, with natural therapies and for the most part they did me very well. I got to a place, though, that for me and my family was not okay and so I tried them and they worked and they continue to do so.
I am grateful for this tool. I am grateful that I started it when I did as my life quickly took some stressful turns as I lost my father, went through a lawsuit with my husband and his company and then recently lost my mother. I did not feel numb through these experiences. I felt very deep & raw feelings & emotions and was able to cope beautifully (I’m patting my own back right now).
I do NOT think antidepressants are the right answer for every woman.
I DO think they are one of the many tools that Naturopaths can use for treating anxiety and depression.
I DO think they work sometimes and are worth considering in specific situations, like mine.
I DO think they can be a game changer for women who’ve tried lots of things but are still struggling.
I do NOT receive any kick-backs from antidepressant pharmaceutical manufacturers.
I want you to know that these may be helpful to consider and I’m SO happy to talk to you about ALL of your options for managing your mental health. I want you here! I don’t want you to run away.
Thanks for listening and supporting me through this wonderful and challenging life.
5 thoughts on “’Tis the Season to Be…Sad and Irritated? Mood & Perimenopause, Part 2”
THANK YOU for putting your thoughts in writing and sharing with us. They touched me and I welled up as I read. I relate to what you shared and take strength from your words. Thank you!
Thank you for your bravery and honesty in sharing, Dr. McCarty. It is to the benefit of many. And yay for best selves!
I was gratefully surprised when I read this. I feel very alone and useless in this state of depression and anxiety. I have met you and had no idea that someone so professional could feel the way I do. Don’t get me wrong, I think you are understanding and empathetic. It’s just that you are a Doctor who has a real job where you help people! I am unemployed and feel like no one wants to hire an aging woman with ever changing moods and health issues! Your sincerity gives me a different perspective. Thank you
Thank you Dr. McCarty for your thoughts! I’ve always felt guilty admitting that I take a synthetic anti-anxiety/depressant. I know it’s right for me – it definitely allows me access to my best self! – but I somehow felt a failure that I had to rely on something “non-natural”. I appreciate your openness and personal story! Thank you for helping us all find our own path!
Since I started seeing you as a physician, I’ve always appreciated your thoughtfulness in choosing treatment – whether that be naturopathic or more traditional “Western” medicine. Thank you for sharing your story on what can be a taboo topic for the average person – let alone someone in your profession. Glad to hear you found a treatment that works and makes you feel great 🙂