Learn From My Mistakes

Forgive me if I repeat anything I’ve talked about before in this story but I just went through a rough experience and I want to be honest about it.

When I was in the hospital, due to the serious ppd I suffered with my first daughter, my OB wanted me to start back on Zoloft while before I even went home. Although I had my doubts because of the breast milk etc. I, in the end, decided that she was probably right. Before I was pregnant, I was on a fairly low dose of Zoloft and took Clonopin almost daily (again small dose) and it seemed to really keep my anxiety under control and let me live and write like a normal person.

My shrink whom I used to check in with once in awhile left my insurance group before I had my babies But before he left, when I first was pregnant, he said, naturally, NO CLONOPIN and no Zoloft while pregnant so I stopped everything immediately with no ill side effects. I had not a drink or drug through my whole pregnancy and felt mentally fine. But once I had both babies in the NICU and was sent home, I realized I would need something else for anxiety if I was ever to sleep again but I had no shrink anymore. So, with much research I found one who accepts Pacificare but he can’t see me until Feb 5th (in a few days). To tide me over, my OB prescribed Xanax and I took it in the same dose I took Clonnie. But I am a major procrastinator and pretty soon I ran out but hadn’t called for a refill. I felt okay, considering the circumstances, I wasn’t ready to do anything drastic like jump off a cliff or, you know, go to the gym. I figured that I didn’t really need the Xanax and could just wait until my shrink appointment and see if he thought I could just take Zoloft and still be fine as cherry wine.

A couple of days after no Xanax, mama found herself feeling wired for sound. Speedy, racing thoughts, all muscles feeling tense. I just chalked it up to being alone with three kids (which will do that with or without the help of a horse tranquilizer) and went on with my evening of juggling. But after E went to bed and babies were sleeping for an hour I realized I was getting even speedier.

If you read Sippy Cups you may remember that I went completely manic from taking ONE Lexapro so I’m very sensitive to medications. I figured maybe the Zoloft was causing this because I wasn’t taking any Xanax and decided I should probably stop taking it. I didn’t sleep at all that night. By the next morning, Jon sent me to bed and forbid me from watching TV or doing anything besides sleeping. Nice idea but I couldn’t sleep. In fact, the anxiety I was feeling got worse and worse. My phone was ringing incessantly but I couldn’t answer it. I couldn’t check my email. The thought of leaving the house started seeming like an impossibility. What was happening? Was this PPD kicking my ass like never before? I called my OB and left a message. “No, it’s not an emergency” I said, gritting my teeth and holding back the tears. After all, I didn’t want them to think I was “crazy.”

Over the next couple of hours it only got worse. I started crying for no reason. Which isn’t so unusual but my thoughts were dark. That’s when I decided that my babies don’t like me. “They never make eye contact with me,” I sobbed to my husband. “I think I may be a bad mom to Elby. I may overindulge her. I’ve been watching Wife Swap on our TiVo and the lax moms always seem to have precocious, bratty kids. Maybe I’m spoiling her! Oh and by the way, I think I’m starting to lose it” I threw in.

Jon, who has seen me this way before on something as mild as Sudafed told me that I definitely wasn’t seeing reality but that I was sleep deprived and delirious and maybe feeling the Zoloft since I hadn’t been taking any Xanax. It made sense in my head but I didn’t feel better. In fact, I started slowly feeling even worse.

I was still in my bathrobe sobbing off and on at noon. I tried not to make eye contact with my nanny who sweetly pretended like nothing was happening. Finally, I just took to my bed and watched continuous episodes of The Janice Dickenson Modeling Agency (which, by the way is genius – seriously, I’m grateful that in my fucked up state I found this little pot of gold. Janice is crazy and doesn’t care who she fights with. Did you see the episode where she calls the bikini designer a “fucking parrot”? Good good stuff). I must say that no matter how out of control you may feel, Janice D will make you seem like a Buddist Monk in comparison.

I called my OB back and this time cried on the phone that she needed to call me back right away because my post partum was horrendous. Then I thought about what my family would do if I needed to check into a psych hospital for a few days. I hoped if I was committed it would be to the same one Britney Spears was in so we could totally hang out, commiserate about bad we’re doing with our mothering and not wear underwear together.

My OB called me back right away and after hearing my situation for ten seconds said “you are having Xanax withdrawl, sweetie.” “That’s not possible” I said defensively. I’ve been on and off of clonopin for years and never felt a moment’s discomfort. I’m not a drug addict. I take a dose in the morning and one before bed and only what’s prescribed. “Xanax is a much more addictive drug for some people than Clonopin and these are classic withdrawl symptoms. You should never ever quit a drug cold turkey.”

But I’d felt ashamed to need Xanax in the first place and once I felt better I wanted to believe I didn’t need it. So this was not a good time to be dependant on a drug but an even worse time to be feeling like a lunatic with twins and a three-year-old who wants to play Chutes and Ladders over and over.

My OB told me to take some Xanax and then if I want to stop taking it to go off of it slowly. This is embarrassing. Even though I don’t get high or even feel particularly mellow from Xanax, apparently I’m ADDICTED. So there you go. Lesson learned and I am tapering off. This is not to say that I’m against abusing drugs. Vicidon is awesome and were the percocets I got in the hospital. But those actually make you feel all druggy and mellow like you could cold call an ex-boyfriend from years ago to demand closure or write a screenplay over a long weekend. My Xanax gives me no such fun.

So wish me luck with my tapering although I’m in no big rush. I’m not a martyr and I don’t wish to feel like I want to crash my car into a wall. But soon I’m sure the only think I will be dependant on is Janice Dickenson’s Modeling Agency…and methampetamines. After all, I have fucking twins!

Posted by Stefanie Wilder Taylor on February 1, 2008 6:25 pmUncategorized21 comments  


  1. Erica said,

    Just try not to beat yourself up too much, ok? Be gentle with yourself, those of us in bloggie world who can’t physically be with you desperately wish we could be gentle on you. Do us a favour if not yourself 🙂

    | February 1, 2008 @ 9:07 pm

  2. Sarcastic journalist said,


    Don’t take any of those without reading this first– check for side effects and withdrawal symptoms.

    | February 1, 2008 @ 9:08 pm

  3. Catwoman said,

    If you’re looking for TV exposure, we could totally get you on the A&E show Intervention and tell the show that you’re robbing banks while attached to the breast pump to get money for more Xanax.

    It could be really great PR for the new book, no?

    In all seriousness, I’m glad that the OB figured out what was wrong right away and that now you know that even though you feel fine, stopping a pill can upset the apple cart. you’ve got all the time in the world to wean yourself off, no one is judging you, particularly two newborns who don’t even realize yet that they have feet they can stick in their mouths.

    | February 1, 2008 @ 9:14 pm

  4. Suebob said,

    Yeah, it’s not you, it’s the drugs. From everything I have heard, Xanax is horribly addictive.

    | February 1, 2008 @ 10:48 pm

  5. Laural Dawn said,

    I’m glad you sorted it out. Meds like that are weird.
    But, it would have been fun if you’d gotten to hang out with Britney for awhile. Perez just couldn’t cover it as well as you could have.
    (I’m kidding. I’m glad you’re not hospitalized).
    PS I love Janice Dickinson too

    | February 1, 2008 @ 11:33 pm

  6. Kate said,

    I love you. I absolutely love you. Thank you for being so honest. I am having all the same sort of feelings right now after the birth of my daughter 6 weeks ago. Not sleeping and feeling miserable. I’m not sure what to do. I have Klonopin but haven’t taken it due to breast feeding but I’m feeling like I need to do something because I’m feeling so down and not sleeping or eating. I wasn’t expecting this at all.

    | February 1, 2008 @ 11:51 pm

  7. Diana said,

    If you’re tapering off, an I have your leftovers?

    Love ya! xxo

    | February 2, 2008 @ 12:08 am

  8. sarah said,

    Thank you so much for being so honest. I have thought “next time I’ll totally kick PPD’s ass right away; it can’t get me again!” I appreciate reading your story b/c it reminds me that I am not immune, but I can get on top of it faster and make sure it doesn’t drag me under again.

    You’re a great mom; it’s so clear in the way you talk about your girls. Keep taking care of yourself.

    | February 2, 2008 @ 4:08 am

  9. Kyddryn said,

    Good goddess, woman, I am glad you got part of it sorted out before it bit you any harder in the ass!

    We’re here in spirit – we can’t do your laundry or make you some soup, but we can think huggish sorts of thoughts and continually cheer you on.

    And if it makes you even a teensy bit happy, I ordered your books. I now have Sippy Cups and am waiting for Naptime, so that’s two more sold! Come to think of it, even if it doesn’t make you happy, I ordered your books. You pick how you want to feel about that, I’m off to read.

    Oh, and if you WANT soup, I can overight you some, but you can keep the laundry to yourself.

    | February 2, 2008 @ 4:41 am

  10. A Mom Two Boys said,

    Wow…Tom Cruise would SO NOT approve. But, I say (and I’m so much cooler than him anyway) whatever works! Yay for Xanax!
    Feb. 5th is just around the corner!

    | February 2, 2008 @ 4:43 pm

  11. Tracy said,

    UHG! First time reading this blog (but I did read your book Sippy Cups and it was such a hit with another mom that she stole it and hasn’t given it back, that bitch) Anyway, during my own pregnancy I was awesome and on top of the world but post-baby the same old anxiety crept in slowly, and my doctor put me on Zoloft but until that kicked in gave me a little bottle of Xanax.

    Evil evil drug that it is, it made me feel like a crackwhore when I didn’t take any (see: sitting on the couch sobbing to my husband about how I didn’t want to make banana bread and normally my lard ass can’t wait to bake, and I can’t even look at the baby I just want to sleep forever so could you please take her somewhere preferably the moon?) Anyway, I flushed them.

    Such a horrible feeling

    | February 2, 2008 @ 7:21 pm

  12. Petunia Face said,

    Thanks for being so honest! I have been there–different anxiety drugs but same thing and a few weeks after giving birth. Hang in there!

    | February 3, 2008 @ 1:26 am

  13. MereCat said,

    Remember that when you are feeling so bad, that it’s not you that makes you feel so bad, it’s the chemicals. I’m so sorry you are going through this. Sounds to me like you desperately need some sleep. Do whatever you can to get some. Things will be easier to deal with if you can.

    Big Big BIG hugs to you!

    | February 3, 2008 @ 12:35 pm

  14. Becky said,

    It sucks, and even as a nurse, I had no idea about the Xanex withdrawal. Good luck tapering off.

    I think I need to check out this Janice Dickenson show. I could so use a distraction.

    | February 4, 2008 @ 2:23 am

  15. ro2b51 said,

    I’m so sorry you’re going through this! I admire your ability to continue to write and place some humor in it…even though I know it’s far, far from funny. I’m glad to hear that you followed your instincts and trusted that you know your own body. FYI…I just finished Sippy Cups and can’t wait to share it with all my friends. Thank you for that little bit of sunshine in my day.

    | February 4, 2008 @ 3:34 am

  16. Molly said,

    Holy crap, no wonder I feel so awful half the time. I have a standing prescription for Xanax for leg and foot cramps. It seems to be the only thing that helps them when I have them, which is not frequently anymore, now that my general health is better overall. But if I have to take one, it’s always in the middle of the night, and I feel so bad for the next two days (speedy thoughts, anxiety, crying, depression) that it’s really become not worth it for me.

    Thanks for giving this heads-up. I am really frustrated that my doctor, who is normally pretty responsible, didn’t explain this effect to me, and I’m grateful that you have the wherewithall to do it.

    Take it easy. Really.

    | February 4, 2008 @ 1:08 pm

  17. gmcountrymama said,

    I hope by now you are feeling better. That sounds like a very scary thing to go through. I usually do okay when going off/on meds, but I recently had a real hard time withdrawing from Effexor. I had to go off of it because of strange side-effects, and those effects just got worse when I stopped takeing it. Now I am on a low dose Prozac and I am having trouble sleeping, even with a sleeping pill!
    You’re not alone. Thinking of you.

    | February 4, 2008 @ 4:07 pm

  18. Dawn said,

    Your OB is right, but no need to beat yourself up over this. Xanax withdrawal is very serious. I had to take it for severe Postpartum anxiety, and when I finally got off it, I had to taper off for a couple of weeks. Even that was hard, so I can only imagine how you are feeling! And don’t worry about anyone judging…you had a legitimate need for the medication!

    | February 4, 2008 @ 6:31 pm

  19. Rabbadingy said,

    Thanks for sharing your story. I think that a lot of new moms experience similar feelings/craziness from all of the changes in hormones- I know I did!! I think it definitely adds pressure/guilt to consider the effects of medications on breastmilk and may limit your options. Just remember that a healthy mom raises healthy kids- if you need to take something to help improve YOU, then do it. There is always formula and last time I checked, it was not poison. 🙂

    | February 4, 2008 @ 9:26 pm

  20. Stefanie said,

    Isn’t it nice that a lot of us have felt the same thing? I feel much better know that all of you are either rooting for me or have been there or are just judging me and planning an intervention. Shit, the baby’s crying AGAIN.

    | February 5, 2008 @ 1:44 am

  21. Mama Loves Baby said,

    zoloft made me feel dizzy and really light headed when i stopped taking it

    | February 7, 2008 @ 3:30 am

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