Mothers on Meds Don't Need Your Judgment


pillsThis is news? That was my first reaction to a "news" report about how more and more moms are popping pills to help them deal with stress. "Many moms are turning to medications such as anti-depressants and sleeping aids."

You don't say! And then??

Motherhood is, hands-down, one of the most high-stress jobs in existence. As a result, moms have been self-medicating since the dawn of time. During the Victorian era, laudanum (an alcoholic tincture of opium) served as a tranquilizer, sleeping pill, and menstrual cramp remedy. Opium was used in ancient Greece to "chase away sorrow" while women in ancient Egypt smeared poppy juice on their nipples to "quiet" crying children.     

Many moms are turning to medication to deal with stress, yeah. Um, where have YOU been?

It was 1966 when The Rolling Stones released "Mother's Little Helper," an ode to Valium. (Well, what did you think they were singing about??) The lyrics are pretty straightforward, not to mention as relevant today as they were in the '60s:

"Kids are different today"
I hear ev'ry mother say
Mother needs something today to calm her down
And though she's not really ill
There's a little yellow pill
She goes running for the shelter of a mother's little helper
And it helps her on her way, gets her through her busy day

Doctor please, some more of these
Outside the door, she took four more
What a drag it is getting old

"Men just aren't the same today"
I hear ev'ry mother say
They just don't appreciate that you get tired
They're so hard to satisfy, You can tranquilize your mind
So go running for the shelter of a mother's little helper
And four help you through the night, help to minimize your plight

Things haven't changed much, have they?

The challenges of motherhood aren't limited to modern times or class or culture or whether a mom works or stays at home. Nor are the challenges of being human. Yes, circumstances can affect our stress levels -- a lot. But the truth is, being a mom is painful at times. Pain sucks. When we're in pain, we do what we can to relieve it.

Why everyone deals differently with pain, I don't know. But judging a mom because she needs a Xanax to get through a bad day is ignorant and arrogant. What's the difference between a Tylenol PM and a couple of glasses of wine? Better to take an antidepressant than drown your sorrows in fast food. And I mean that literally: The adverse effects of an SSRI are negligible compared to the adverse effects of an extra 30 pounds.

It really, really bothers me that people STILL feel the need to call mothers out simply because they need help. As if that was a symptom -- or cause -- of a failing society.

If that's the case, we've been going down since ancient Greece. Seems like one hell of a slow descent, so no need to panic.

Do you feel judged as a mom for using antidepressants or anti-anxiety meds?


Image via Lucario(F)/Flickr

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nonmember avatar SuzyHomemaker

I feel like I'm lying to people. I had a very stressful delivery in February (PTL for 6 weeks, emergency c-section, NICU) and my husband noticed I was kinda falling apart. Now with medication, people always wonder how I keep it together with 3 kids under 3 and a fourth surprise baby on the way. Its like lying to my friends who have their first baby and are tearing their hair out, but at the same time, I don't want to expose myself to the stigma in my EXTREMELY conservative, small-town of being on medication.

nonmember avatar fng

I don't tell anybody but those I'm closest to. I've struggled with depression my whole life. I recently went back on antidepressants because I realized I was unhappy most of the time, yelling at my kids for stupid reasons and unable to control it. I knew what I was doing was wrong and irrational and my kids deserve so much better. Now I don't get angry all the time over stupid things, I'm playing with them more, doing more things for myself and family. I've made a safe agreement with my husband, I'll ask him how I'm doing and he's free to answer honestly. I think drugs are a last resort, but they can be a life saver when needed.

nonmember avatar Shannon

I realized I had PPD when my son was 3 months old and immediately went on Zoloft. My mother didn't like it and thought I could get by without it, but I really think I would've been a danger to myself or my baby if I didn't take it. I no longer need it, but I would take it again if needed. I never felt comfortable telling anyone except a few very close friends what was going on until after I'd recovered. I wish there were less of a stigma.

Caera Caera

This is so ridiculous.

My mother never "self-medicated" because she had the strength and fortitude to deal with raising three children by herself after taking her alcoholic husband to court and proving he was a danger to himself and others, forcing him into rehab while she was left to deal with being kicked out of a home foreclosed on because husband had been lying to her.

With three kids all under the age of ten, no college degree (because she quit school to work to put husband through college), and no house, she didn't buckle.


My mother pulled herself and three of us up, said, "Okay, this is bad, but we can handle it." She found us a place to live, talked her way into a job she didn't have a background for, learned an industry, moved us out of a really crappy drug infested neighborhood, dealt with a severe heart issue that resulted in a heart attack at 32, and taught us that life is as good as we want to make it, and that we could do anything we put our minds to.

My mother is my hero, and every mother I meet is weighed by her standard.

What are these mothers, who need a Xanax to get through their day, teaching their kids?

Honestly, this article does A LOT to explain the kids I see in and out of my classrooms every year.

jpfsmom jpfsmom

Caera, get over yourself. You are doing your mom a disservice by acting like you are so angry and pissy and sanctimonius. Sounds like you could benefit from a chill pill.

nonmember avatar Chrissy

Caera- maybe if your mom wouldn't have been so stressed and took something to help, she wouldn't have died so young. That's really not normal for a woman to die that young from a heart attack. She needed help.

Caera Caera

jpfsmom, it has nothing to do with ME. My mother is awesome. No chill pill needed, but can I offer you a net for that green-eyed monster running around your house?

Panda... Panda2778

I am on an antidepressant.  I openly admit it.  That little green pill every night helps me to be a better mom.

Without the meds, I was having a very hard time coping with life.  You have to understand everything that went on before I started the anti-depressant:  my husband lost his job, we lost our house, my mother had a major stroke, I had a miscarriage, I found out I was pregnant again after the miscarriage, then I was told I had cancer.  This all happened within a year!  Most people would suffer drepression while dealing with just 2 or 3 of these things.  I had to deal with it all, all at once.

That tiny green pill saved my sanity.  Without it I don't think I could have managed through all of that.  I plan on trying to wean myself off the pills, one my thyroid hormones are regulated again after the cancer treatment.

One thing that I would like to point out- everyone deals with stress differently.  And moms aren't the only ones who seek out anti-depressants.  Overall, I feel that a medication, given under doctor's supervision is much safer than many of the alternative self-medicating habits out there.

Storm... Stormy6669

No, not at all.

LissD LissD

A happy mom is better then a sick, depressed, anxious, irritable, miserable, insomniac.

In other words:

A happy mom is better then no mom.

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