30 Days of Thanks #17-Books (and a tangent)

By Molly Bice-Jackson - 6:59 PM

I know it sounds dramatical, but my life is probably 38% better when I am involved in a great book. I just finished "Sister of My Heart" which I highly recommend. I'm half way through "A Hundred Secret Senses" right now and am really enjoying it. 

As a tangent to what I'm thankful for, can I just say how much I'm still struggling? I'm doing better than I was at the beginning of my pregnancy. I'm not NEARLY as nauseous and I have my appetite back. I can't remember if I told you part of the reason I was going so crazy in the beginning was because I went cold turkey off of my Ambien. But that didn't last. The panic attacks and insomnia were too severe and I got permission to go back on it. I feel more addicted to it now than ever and it is scaring me. 

Addiction amongst Post Traumatic Stress/Tragedy survivors is very high. The interesting thing is, people assume I started Ambien after Lucy died. It was actually after she was born. The way a newborn throws your sleep patterns off is no joke. I developed what they call "self induced insomnia" where my brain was unable to relax, knowing Lucy would wake up crying soon anyway. At that point, Ambien really saved my life. I don't remember exactly, but I must have started it when she was a few months old and starting to wake only once a night or so. 

And I weaned myself 3 weeks before she passed away. I was so proud. Then she died. I went back on it. But within weeks I was pregnant and was able to wean myself again. Then Peter was born...and the cycle started all over again. And the anxiety. And the grief. And here I am 2 1/2 years later (5 years counting Lucy's birth, minus the few breaks in between) and I feel at a loss. 

I've also started Zoloft, which seems to be really helping. Or so I thought. Now I'm seeing some side-effects (make believe? or real?). I just want to feel 'normal' and healthy. I have no extra energy for anything. My house is a mess. I don't workout (who am I?). Peter is super needy and I'm constantly worried I'm going to have a heart attack, panic attack, stroke, faint, or go into a coma (from lack of sleep or too many drugs). 

I'd love to go to a detox center of some sort (they say three months is the most effective). But who will take care of Peter? This isn't the most serious situation, but serious enough. I only take it at night, but it's been years! And I'm the mother of young children. And I can't nap without it. Which means I don't nap. EVER. It is pure torture. 

So I guess that's why I'm so thankful for books. They get me out of my own head. They send me into another world where I don't have to think about cleaning my house, chasing after Peter, that my daughter died, or how healthy my baby is going to be and how I'll take care of it. 

So what do I do?


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  1. I've heard Zoloft is not ok to take when you're pregnant, you may want to ask your Dr. about that. I took Zoloft for post pardum depression, and I noticed some side effects like dizzness. I'm sorry you can't sleep, good books are so wonderful, I just finished Scarlet Pimpernell... I LOVED it!!

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  2. The honest answer is that none of us have the answer. I have some ideas for how you can get the answer though.

    1. Spend a day with Peter. No housework, no errands, no computer/phone/bills. Nothing adult. Just a day with Peter. When he naps lay down and read.
    2. Then have dinner as a family. Something nutritious and satisfying. Something with a nice side of comfort.
    3. Get yourself dolled up and go to the temple. By yourself. Do initiatories over and over and over again. Then go to the Celestial room and sit. Do not worry about who might be watching you or what they think of you. Let yourself cry if you want to and let your mind run free. Stay as long as you need to.
    4. Go home and kiss Vic. Then go into Peter's room and watch him sleep. Kneel by his bed and say a prayer for him. And for Vic. And then for yourself.
    5. Take a hot bath (take your book!) and then go to bed.

    I can't guarantee that this will work but I truly think it will. As you fall asleep, or perhaps when you wake up the next day I think you will know. None of us has any way to know exactly what is best for you and your family. The Lord knows you and loves you. Hang in there Molly.

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  3. You have so much on your emotional plate right now. Thinking back on my pregnancy...I can't even begin to imagine what it would be like to be a PTSD sufferer/Tragedy survivor on top of that 9 months of emotional and physical insanity. "Pure torture" seems an accurate phrase. I'm SO sorry you're struggling.

    I have no answers for you. Except that I would donate to a Get Molly Maid Service And Her Own Library fund. And that I don't think you should worry about a single thing except taking of yourself in whatever way you need to.

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  4. I struggled with PPD after my 2nd child. I remember some of the very same feelings as you described. I hate those feelings. How does one overcome them? I think it's different for everyone.

    Sarah has some wonderful ideas above!

    I do a LOT of self talk. "You can make it thru the next moment" type of stuff but always make it positive. Yes, it's hard when those negative thoughts are there.

    I read a book about 1 year ago "change your brain, change your life" by Dr. Amen. It's an amazing book to read! It explains about our brains and how things work for or against us and treatments for them. It has a LOT of tips to de-stress. It talks about the differences in meds. Depression meds for "anxiety" depression and some for anger meds. I found it really interesting.

    Good luck. Don't forget that you are a daughter of our Heavenly Father and he LOVES you and has faith in you.

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  5. I told you this before but Seroquel has been my WONDER drug. I wouldn't sleep at all without it and I wouldn't be sane without my sleep. It is also a mood stabilizer and is effective for post traumatic stress. I don't think it is an addictive risk drug.

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  6. Wow, you are so courageous to share so much personal stuff with us. It is comforting to know that I'm not the only one whose been on anti-depressants. I hate the stigma associated with mental health--these isseus are as real as anything. I think you are a phonemenal woman. I want you to know that I know we have a loving Heavenly Father who knows you by name and that these challenges you and I experience are like stepping stones to get us closer to him. Things will get better.

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  7. I don't have an answer for you, but keep bugging your doctor till you find something that works. Here are some suggestions, though, from someone who struggles with anxiety and sleeping.

    I think you have answered this before, but are you seeing a counselor? Not just a support group for loss, but a one-on-one counselor? Mine has, literally, saved my life.

    As far as drugs go, I take citalopram for anxiety, and it is amazing. It is an older drug (the newer version is Celexa), but it has less side affects than others. Or, it did for me. Everyone's body is different, and I know there is something right for you.

    I take Xanax to sleep occasionally. Instead of taking a drug to put me to sleep, I take a drug that helps me calm down. That, in turn, helps me sleep.

    (Okay, I am really going back and forth over whether I should write this next thing or send it as a private message cause I don't want to offend you or say the wrong thing and please know this is absolutely just a suggestion and should only happen if you are comfortable with it and with doctor's permission and with prayer...)

    In the grand sceme of things would you ever consider adding a small glass of wine to your routine? Putting aside the religious concerns for a moment (which is really based just on what you feel comfortable with and is between you and god), research has shown that a small amount of wine is fine for a baby (definitely safer than caffeine and maybe safer than the ambien?).

    It is just an idea and probably a bad one at that, but I wanted to throw it our there because, to be honest, it might be a real choice for you.

    At the end of the day just keep asking for advice, keep working with your doctor, and know that things will get better. You don't have to do everyone at once. All you need to do it make it through tomorrow.

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  8. There is a line in one of Hilary Weeks' songs that applies to many of us.... "Some days the only thing that keeps me standing is getting on my knees".

    Be patient with yourself. There are many of us who follow your blog who pray for you. I know I do. PTSD is very real, but so is the power of our Heavenly Father. Call on Him - you know His number.

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  9. I took Zoloft all through my 2nd pregnancy. I started it after my 1 st baby was born. It helped so much and my baby was born very healthy. I hope it helps you! I wish you all the happiness. Love your blog!

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  10. Molly dear one, you don't have a addiction issue you have a GRIEF post traumatic stress issue. And who could blame you. Your Lucy died in an unimaginably horrific way. I am so sorry for your pain. It is a vicious cycle. Nothing makes sense and everything hurts more because you are exhausted. To sleep you have to take a pill. When you sleep you risk the nightmares and reliving that awful moment, hearing her choke, living it all over again. It is a hell of a duality Molly. Having Peter and this precious baby does not erase the pain. Feeling the pain and grieving does not diminish the joy of two healthy children. A hell of a duality to be sure. I am so sorry Molly.

    In all of the confusion and pain and sleep deprivation be sure of this one thing. You are loved! Most especially by Lucy. You are loved. And one last thought, dear sweet Molly. We are in the season of miracles. Jjust as your babes remind you of all life has to offer, another babe has come to remind you of the life ever after. The life where your precious Lucy awaits you. God bless you Molly!

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  11. Just commenting to say I hadn't realized all this and it sounds rough, in a way that I'm not fully appreciating and to be completely honest, I'm sure I'm glad I can't appreciate all you've been through. Prayers for you and your family.

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  12. Zoloft is actually the one antidepressant that is considered safe to take during pregnancy. I'm sure your doctor would not have prescribed it if it wasn't. Do not feel guilty about it! If you don't like the side effects, that is one thing, but you need to be a healthy, happy mommy and if it helps, then it is worth it. Having suffered from pretty severe Post-Pardum after my second child, I learned that taking care of yourself comes first and foremost. I worried about the side effects of meds because I was nursing, but as my wise doc pointed out, a non-functioning mother is far more damaging to an infant. You do what you have to. The irrational thoughts that you are having about your health are something I can totally relate to. Talk to someone. You can email me anytime. There is no reason to suffer. In most cases Post-Pardum Depression starts during pregnancy, not after. If you feel like you need a break, take it. I know it is easy to say, but you have to take care of YOU. I am praying for you this week. There are many of us who are. You are beautiful, and believe it or not, once upon a time your blog helped me through a very difficult time. It told me a story of survival and love that I didn't know was possible. The trials don't stop coming, but you CAN keep fighting. Love you!

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  13. I am in awe of you, as I tell you so often. Your courage gives me courage and makes me a better person, and a much more self accepting person. The world would tell you different, but I think you are completely normal in your struggles. I can empathize though my struggles are different. Accept that you are doing the best you can at the moment, and when you can do better, you will. Period! Sending prayers and love to you and Vic and Peter and little whats-her-name!

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  15. Molly,
    First of all, I am so sorry you are struggling. Through all of this, grief, pregnancy, caring for a toddler I think anyone under the circumstances would be struggling....it is SO much on your plate! I know you don't feel it but you are strong, so incredibly strong, to be moving, simply moving through each day and you do it with more grace than I think you realize!

    Strength isn't always standing tall, fighting off the pain, it is knowing when it is time to fall to your knees and the strength comes in getting back up!! Fall when you need, ask for help, TAKE help, and when you can get back up just take one more step-that is strength!

    The only thing you need to worry about is YOU right now. Yes, of course you will worry about Peter and Vic but they will be fine if you are, they will get through adn even if Peter sat and watched movies most days (which lots of kids do when their moms are pregnant and dealing with sickness, nevermind grief on top of it!), he'll forget that and the love you shower him with and the love he will gain from a new sibling will be worth it!!

    I think you are doing everything right and to be honest I would say to try not worry about the meds right now. you take what you need to get you through. Sleep is SO important for your physical, emotional, and mental health so if that is what you need to get it, by all means continue without guilt!! I know, easier said than done but I am sure you would be giving the same advice if you were "on the outside looking in".

    Take care of you, I know Lucy is sending you love and hugs and strength when you need it most! My thoughts and prayers are with you always, Em

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  16. I don't know you-but I have read your blog for a long time now. This one really had me thinking about you. I read Patrick and Ashley Sullengers blog too, they lost their little girl in a accident as well. I feel so bad for you both. I was reading her blog this morning, and she said that this has given her what she needed to hear, I hope this helps.
    tofw.com/story/379-make-everyday-a-payday
    I hope you feel better soon. You are such a inspiration to me, and others.
    Jessica Palmer

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  17. You also don't know me, but I have been following your blog for about a year. You are an inspiration to me. I have never lost a child, but I try my best to empathize with you as much as I can. I also have an almost 3 year old and I know how much a handful they can be. I also just have birth to a little boy and know that they take a totally different kind of toll on you.

    I think you are doing the best you can do and that is all that matters. But if you feel like you want to get off medication, I would maybe suggest looking into Essential Oils. I have been doing a lot of research on them and they seem to have some amazing effects. And the great thing is that they are all natural. They can help with all sorts of things, like anxiety, colds, sore throats, sleeping, and many more things. I have been using a lavender oil to help my newborn sleep and I have noticed it does help me and him both relax. There is also a essential oil company called DoTerra that has some great things as well.

    I wish you the best and take one day at a time. One second at a time if you need to. :) I know sometimes easier said than done.

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  18. I have been thinking of you ever since I read this post a couple of days ago. I thought I would share with you something that worked for me. My trial was different, of course, but I found a positive way to sort through it.

    After the traumatizing birth of my first child, I suffered both from postpartum depression and post traumatic stress. It was just a hint of what other people are experiencing, but man, was it hard!

    When I was expecting my second child, I knew I needed to do something to heal from the scars of my first childbirth/postpartum experience. A friend of mine suggested hypnosis (specifically Hypnobabies). I was totally skeptical, but at that point I was willing to try anything that was safe for both me and my baby. The hypnosis sessions were so completely calming and positive. It was the best therapy I could have asked for! It really helped me to heal and retrained my brain to view my experiences in a different light.

    Again, I know my trials are not of the same magnitude as losing a precious child, but I do believe in the healing powers of hypnosis. If you are rolling your eyes thinking I am crazy, believe me, I used to think the same thing!

    There are hypnosis CDs out there for grief and for sleeping. Hypnobabies had a CD for sleep specifically for expectant moms. Even if you go to their website, you can download a free session. I am not trying to endorse Hypnobabies, it is just the only hypnosis I am familiar with and have actually used in my life.

    Hang in there. Lucy is a very blessed little girl to have you for a mom. Undoubtedly, she is anxiously awaiting to be reunited with you. I am grateful for the gospel and for the knowledge that you will be united forever.

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  19. Hi Molly,
    I have been following your blog for the last few months. My baby Maxie stopped breathing at daycare on July 19, 2011 and died in the hospital on the 21st. He was 9.5 months old. The light of my life. I have bad PTSD too. It is a slideshow of horror that plays in my mind constantly. What I want to say (and it is so much easier for me to say to you than it is to say to myself for some reason) is to give yourself a break. You will get yourself off the medications when the time is right. Why add the extra agony to your plate of so much hard stuff. You are dealing with so much more than anyone has to deal with in a lifetime. I know it, because I am dealing with it too. You can't expect to live your life the way others do and frankly, I am floored every time I read about a trip you take to New York or LA and the way you manage to appreciate and celebrate life in the midst of all of the grief. Sometimes I say to myself, if I can get to where Molly is eventually, I can live again. And, as someone who also is blogging about my experience, I know that I only see a small window into your life. But, there you are, looking so pretty and put together, with your beautiful family. Doing the best you can, which is probably 1000 times better than most people who haven't been through even a small bit of what you have had to go through. From someone who is just starting out on this terrible journey, please know, you are inspiring to me.

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  20. Molly... I truly love your honesty and I know it must be so helpful to write these feeling down. I am praying for you. I wish I could help you in some way~ can you email me your address? I would like to send Peter a cd full of fun songs he will love to sing from my Music in Motion class I teach! My email is Dianalin@aol.com Maybe I can help keep Peter entertained a bit!! Love to you~

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  21. Read this book! Or listen to it which I think is better. Here is a link:
    http://www.amazon.com/Spark-Revolutionary-Science-Exercise-Brain/dp/0316113506.
    It is called Spark. It is what exercise does to the brain and it is truly amazing! I am pregnant too and it has helped me so much. I got it on audible for $7 so I could listen to it in my car. Seriously it is a life changer.

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  22. Being pregnant is freaking hard sometimes.

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  23. Molly, I love you and I love your blog. I don't know you, but I am always touched every time I read your posts. Thank you for your honesty and for sharing your very personal struggles.

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  24. Molly, what can we do to help? We would love to take Peter for 3 months. Would Vic be able to breath with out you both? (you in rehab, Peter in AZ?) Our prayers are with you. Jenny

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  25. Girl, when you figure it out, let me know. I am AFRAID not to take Ambien. I get extremely anxious when I think about not being able to go to sleep...

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  26. I know I'm totally late on this, and I see from a more recent post that the Zoloft is now helping, which I'm so happy to hear. I finally ended up on Zoloft (after a couple of other medications) when my son was almost 3 and I'd been struggling with postpartum depression for way too long. It was a horrible transition, but it finally did the trick.

    In any case, I just wanted to reiterate what another commenter said - it's not an addiction issue. It's a real health issue and it's so common for new moms. So, so common. What you describe sounds like postpartum depression/anxiety and you're so not alone.

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