Hello! My name is Meghan Burley. I went to college with Caitlin. We are in the same sorority and reconnected recently at one of our sister’s baby showers. We had such a great long talk about all things work, mother, and mental health-related. She so sweetly asked me to guest blog this month to talk about my experiences.
In August 2020, I found out I was pregnant. My husband and I were thrilled! And then we were kind of panicked. We lived in a one-bedroom loft apartment in downtown Cleveland and were barely making our rent every month. We decided we should look for houses to accommodate our growing family.
I think a lot of people had the same idea because we couldn’t find ANYTHING in our price range and ended up deciding to move in with my parents while we built a house back in my hometown. We were so excited to have found a plot of land in a lovely little neighborhood just a few miles away from where I grew up. My baby was due in May and my dad thought the house would be done by July.
Although I was so thankful for the money we would be saving during my pregnancy, and the house my dad was helping us build, I knew moving in with my parents would be very stressful and anxiety-inducing for me. I love my parents but we have our differences that make being around each other 24/7 a bit too much.
I decided I would start therapy for the first time. I knew that being in the same house as my mom all day every day, I would need tools to keep the peace. I also knew that I had a lot of triggers and reframing to do to be a better mom to my baby.
Therapy was wonderful for me! I was able to vent to a third party, gain coping skills, and was able to address a lot of my inner childhood trauma I was really downplaying. During this time, My therapist uncovered I was suffering from anxiety, depression, and suspected I had undiagnosed ADHD.
After I had my daughter, she sent me to the psychiatrist within the practice and she confirmed all three. I was pretty aware of the anxiety and depression. The world felt like it was burning around me and I was bringing a child into it on purpose. That was giving me a lot of emotions and guilt. But the ADHD was something that kind of clicked by seeing a LOT of TikTok videos on the subject and continuously saying “Oh my God, that is me.”
As thankful as I was for my diagnosis, I was kind of angry. I had lived 30 years with this neurological disorder when my whole life I thought it was me. I was lazy, and a procrastinator and all of the things my parents would get on me about weren’t really me, it was my ADHD. I had framed so much of myself based on the negative things I had been hearing my whole life when in reality, my brain chemistry was just different. I was replaying my whole life. Maybe if I knew sooner I could have been a better student in college and high school. I could have probably sat still in class with medication and not constantly forgotten to do my homework or bring in a glove for my second-grade class (that one really stuck with me I guess). I may have had a different relationship with food and had relationships with boys and different friends. I could have an actual career! Who knows the path my life would have taken if I knew this information sooner!
My daughter was about 9 months old when I saw the psychiatrist for the first time. She asked me if I was breastfeeding and I was. She urged me to stop so that we could test out some different medications. My heart fell into my stomach. Breastfeeding was a really important part of my motherhood journey. I loved being able to feed Blake from my own body and not having to pay for formula was a plus. But the medication she wanted to start me on was not okay to take while breastfeeding. I asked her what my options were, and she said I could try to meditate and use a happy light (which is a UV lamp that gives you vitamin d and tricks you into thinking it's summer). I did those things for a few months but didn’t see a significant change in any of my conditions.
I hated having to choose between what I thought was best for my baby and what I knew I needed for my mental health. It seems like there weren’t any options for me. With my husband, we decided to switch Blake to formula two months before she turned one. I came to terms with the fact we would be stopping and I was eager to see results in my mental health. I knew I would be a better mom if I had my ADHD, anxiety, and depression under control. I wasn’t failing her by choosing this for myself. She was fed and healthy.
She started me on Wellbutrin and Lexapro. Both help with anxiety and depression and have been known to aid with ADHD. I felt the meds working about two weeks after I started taking them.
One of my questions to my doctor was what would happen if I decide to get pregnant again. My husband and I wanted more children and I was scared of losing the progress I had made while being on the medications. She said I would have to stop taking them while I was pregnant and then could just not breastfeed my next child to get back on track.
Again, how could this be my only option? Do I not grow my family so I can feel like myself again? Do I give up myself so I can have the children I’ve always dreamt of raising? Why do I have to make this choice? Why are there no doctors doing trials on these meds on pregnant women? So many women get pregnant and have the same conditions I do, who is looking into this?! Who is helping us? Why do I have to choose?
My husband and I decided we would put off trying for more children for a few years so I could get my dosage right and then reevaluate our options when the time comes. I am now taking Adderall for my ADHD. There is not a single medication for ADHD approved by the FDA. There are a few anxiety and depression meds I can take but they don’t work for me very well and there are still risks.
I’m still not sure what I will do in the future. If I will choose the life I currently have or the life I dream of growing. But I do know, I wish I had more options. And that the happiness of growing my family wasn’t fogged over with the dread of losing myself.