(59) Why I Take My Pill with Meredith

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Join us as my guest, Meredith of “Perfection Pending,” and I de-stigmatize mental illness, anxiety, depression, and taking medication for relief. We both share our very personal stories and also discuss the surprising ways anxiety shows up for each of us (which I didn’t even know until I was on the other side of things), along with the most successful ways we’ve gotten help. Meredith opens up about how her anxiety directly affected her mothering, and I offer my newfound mid-life hack that’s a game changer.  

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Brandy: Hello Adult Conversation Podcast listeners. In this episode, my guest, Meredith, and I are de-stigmatizing mental illness, anxiety, and taking medication for relief. We both share our very personal stories, including the moment each of us knew it was time to get help. We also discussed the surprising ways anxiety shows up for each of us (which I didn’t even know until I was on the other side of things), along with the most successful ways we’ve gotten help. Meredith opens up about how her anxiety directly affected her mothering, and I offer my newfound mid-life hack that’s a game changer. Onto the show.

Brandy: Today on the podcast, I’m talking with Meredith Ethington, who is the author of the book Mom Life: Perfection Pending, the blog Perfection Pending, and is co-owner and editor at Filter Free Parents along with Meredith Masony – two Meredith’s! We could probably fill hours with any of the various topics motherhood gives us because we both love real talk and dark humor, but today we’re discussing maternal mental health, including anxiety, and really the various ways we both have identified it, and battled it. So welcome to the podcast, Meredith.

Meredith: Thank you. Thanks so much for having me.

Brandy: Of course. As we’ll get into, this topic has been top-of-mind for me recently, and I knew I wanted to do an episode all about it, because as you’ll see, I have so much to say, and it’s really kind of changed my life. But you were my first choice as a guest. You frequently and openly write about your mental health experiences. And by doing so, you destigmatize mental health struggles for moms. So first off, thank you for doing that.

Meredith: For sure.

Brandy: We have so much to talk about, and I don’t want to say I feel vulnerable, but I’m going to be an open book about things that people may not be an open book about, which nobody who listens to the podcast will be surprised about at all. But I felt like it was very important because I had some real misconceptions about anxiety and mental health. And I know that you have a background in that as well. So we have much to talk about. But before we get there, what do you feel like the listeners need to know about you?

Meredith: So, I have recently realized that my top core value in life is authenticity. And I think that really affects my writing, and it affects what I put out to the world because I don’t ever want to be perceived as something that I’m not.

Brandy: Yeah, that resonates. {Laughs}

Meredith: {Laughs}

Brandy: I’m almost to the point where it’s like, I don’t want to say a paranoia, but I would rather have somebody know a very embarrassing truth about me, then believe something that’s false about me.

Meredith: Same. Same! {Laughs}

Brandy: It’s a weird thing because it’s part of that open book nature, and I don’t know where that stems from. But I would rather tell you all my secrets than have you have a misconception or not totally understand something. It’s strange.

Meredith: Yeah, I feel the exact same way. It’s really important for me to be just honest and open, and maybe on borderline oversharer. {Laughs}

Brandy: Yes! {Laughs} Have you always been like that? Or is this something that happened after you had kids, or before?

Meredith: I think I’ve always been like that, but I think when I became a mother, I craved that from other people. And I had a hard time finding people like that. And so it made me want to be that type of person, you know, more open, honest and just you get what you get with me. You know?

Brandy: Yeah, and I think too, sometimes when we’ve felt that from other people, like I know when I’ve witnessed other people’s vulnerability and openbook-ness really affecting my life and making me feel validated or seen, it’s such a big, important thing that I think somewhere in my mind, I’m like, “I want to always be that for other people.”

Meredith: Exactly. And how much more connection do you have with those types of people if they can be vulnerable like that?

Brandy: Yeah, absolutely. Okay, well, you’re gonna fit in perfectly here! {Laughs}

Meredith: {Laughs} Good.

Brandy: Okay, so the topic of mental health is really big, and there are so many different facets and diagnoses that go with it. And so, will you tell us about your journey? Were you diagnosed with anything? How were you diagnosed? Did you struggle with mental health before you had kids, was it after? Give us your story.

Meredith: I think that I’ve always struggled with it, even as a child. I definitely had some OCD tendencies and anxiety. I was kind of seen as a kid in my family as the worrier, and the whiner because I think that my anxiety manifested as just tears. And I think that generation, you know, our parents’ generation didn’t have quite an awareness about mental health that we have today–

Brandy: That’s the nice way to put it.

Meredith: Right. So it was more of a “suck it up” mentality that they had rather than “maybe there’s something off here that we need to help her with.” So, I think I’ve always had it. In college, I had a couple of panic attacks, probably just from the pressures of college life, and again, never sought help, never went to get on medication or anything. But I also come from a long line of mental illness on my mother’s side of the family. So I knew that was in my family history. And it was kind of always in the back of my mind. But I think motherhood for sure is what exacerbated it. So, I had postpartum depression with my daughter, my oldest. And it wasn’t until she was four or five months old and I realized, “Oh, I think I was depressed. I was crying every day. What was that?” But, coupled with postpartum depression, I think I had postpartum anxiety, big time, because I was constantly paranoid about – and I think every mother is this way to some extent – but constantly paranoid about, “Is she breathing??” and unable to get sleep myself because I was just on heightened status all the time.

Brandy: Yes.

Meredith: And, it was probably around when she was a toddler, when I finally decided to go in and and talk to my doctor and say, “I think I need to be on something.”

Brandy: Real fast – how did you know, because this is always my question – how do you know the difference between, “Okay, that’s just motherhood anxiety–” like, to me, motherhood and anxiety are, they’re like the same.

Meredith: Right.

Brandy: They’re like the same sort of thing. So how do you know which is which? So my question for you is, how did you know it was time to go get help? Like, what was that moment? Or did you have one that you can remember where you are like, “This is something different and I need to seek help?”

Meredith: Yeah, I think for me, mostly, it was, like you said, I think every mother is anxious. Especially when it’s your first kid, you’re just wanting to be perfect. You’re wanting to do everything right. And so I think you’re naturally going to worry a lot about this other being that you’re suddenly in charge of. But for me, it was just impacting my day-to-day life and impacting my parenting in a negative way that I did not like about myself. So for me, that was the big kind of – and I don’t know if I can pinpoint it to one specific moment – but I realized that I was often out of control. There was a disconnect between the kind of parent I wanted to be, and the kind of parent I was, and it was like I was almost out of body in some of my reactions, that usually my anxiety manifested as anger or loss of temper, or whatever, with my kids, and I didn’t want to be that kind of Mom. I didn’t want to be the mom that yelled and screamed at her kids. I knew that and I knew that I wasn’t able to control it. And so for me, I think that’s that’s the big clincher is if you feel like it’s impacting your day to day life in a negative way that you don’t have control over, then that’s a sign that you need to get help.

Brandy: That’s so important. And also, it reminds me of the motherhood anxiety thing, which is also when we become mothers, the way that you wanted to do it and the way that you do do it are usually two different things. There’s a letting go of, “I thought it would look like this. I thought I would be this kind of mom, turns out I’m not.” So again, we come up against these very fine lines of what is something that needs help, that needs to be tended to, and what is something that is just a natural part of becoming a mother? And I think being in that middleground, that gray area, is a really hard spot for people. And it makes me wonder, because you had a background with mental health struggles before, if because of that you were primed to even know to seek out help and to notice those things where somebody who doesn’t have a history of that and all of a sudden finds themselves feeling these things, they may not be primed to even know to do that.

Meredith: Absolutely. I think there’s such a stigma around mental health too, even for myself with my background, knowing where I came from knowing my family history, even I had the stigma of, “Oh, I don’t want to get on medication, because then that says that there’s something wrong with me or that I’m mentally ill.” So that was a hard hump for me to get over, making that first appointment. And I think that obviously, there are big signs, like, if you’re thinking of harming yourself or your child, you know, that’s a huge sign. But sometimes it’s more subtle than that. Sometimes it’s just simply an inability to control your emotions in a way that’s healthy, or be able to reset, or calm yourself down. Like, sometimes it is a harder thing to recognize when it’s not those big obvious signs, like someone with severe depression or anxiety might manifest.

Brandy: Right. And also, what you’re talking about with the idea of, “I don’t want to be on meds,” I think this is a thing that a lot of people get scared of, and so they don’t get help at all. But I think it’s important to notice and acknowledge that meds are– it’s consensual, right? So you can be like, “I think there’s something going on, this isn’t how I want it to feel, I noticed that I feel out of control,” and then you can go see somebody, and even if they diagnose you with something that they can prescribe meds for, you can also just say, “I don’t want to go towards meds right now,” or, “It’s something I’m going to keep my mind open to in the future, but right now, what are the other tools that we could use?” Because maybe that’s enough. But I think that the stigma around medication scares people off from even getting like layer one of help, which is just such a shame.

Meredith: Yeah. And for me, I had a really great experience with the doctor that I went and saw initially, because I went in there in tears, just saying, “I don’t want to be on medication. But this is how I’m feeling.” And I think a good doctor, and not all doctors are, especially when it comes to the mental health stuff, but I think a good doctor will talk it through with you and really ask a lot of probing questions and also reassure you. The doctor that I saw, the first time I sought out help was so great in just saying, “You know, this doesn’t have to be a permanent thing. Maybe you’re just really having a hard time right now. You can take some meds for a little while, see if it helps. You can stop them. This isn’t, you know, a life sentence.” And that was really comforting to me in the moment to help me take that step. And I actually, back to your original question, which was what my diagnosis was, I felt like after that time period I was on medication for a while, it did help. But then I got pregnant again and so I didn’t want to take any medication while I was pregnant. So I stopped my meds. And it wasn’t until after my third was born, and where I started to have some of those realizations that this isn’t going away, this isn’t just a postpartum thing anymore, and managing three kids at that point, and just regular life stressors, I needed to get help again. And rather than go straight to medication, I decided I’m going to try therapy because I’d never done that before.

Brandy: Okay.

Meredith: And so I went into a therapist. I will also say the first therapist I had I did not jive with. So I hope everybody knows that there are also therapists that you just are not going to mesh with, and the personality won’t mix or whatever. And it’s okay to walk away from that if it’s not your thing. So that was my first experience. And then I found another woman after that, and it just clicked. And I went to her for about a year. And I felt like we had kind of hit a wall. And she realized and I realized that all the work and all the talk we were doing was helping but it wasn’t going to fix the problems, and that with my family history, she and I both came to the conclusion that meds were probably necessary again. And at that point, it had been so many years and so much work and so much inner turmoil that I was ready to accept that fact. And she diagnosed me with generalized anxiety disorder and OCD. And so those are my diagnoses. But I can’t say enough about seeking help when you feel like something is off, you know?

Brandy: Yes. And the thing that you said that I think is so important for people to know is the idea of that wonderful doctor who was able to say to you, “Sometimes this is situational.” Because I think that again, an especially those of us who tend to fall on the anxiety side, then we’re anxious about getting help. It’s almost comical, that of course the people who need the help are too scared to get the help because they need the help. You know? It’s like this whole this circle that keeps spiraling, but I’ve always wondered this too with depression and anxiety, is sometimes life throws things at you that are situational. And so anytime somebody would have depression or anxiety around something like that, it makes sense. It’s not like we’re broken. I mean, I don’t even think that there’s this idea of being broken, but if that’s what our anxious mind or a judgmental mind is saying is, “So I’m just broken, I’m just a depressed person?” And it’s like, no, you don’t necessarily have to make the story like a stamp, like you just stamped yourself with this thing.

Meredith: Right.

Brandy: It can be that there are certain parts of your life that require certain coping mechanisms that other parts of your life don’t. And I think that’s helpful for people to know. And also, like you said about meds, you can be on meds for a certain amount of time, and then be off of them. And that’s a whole other conversation and story about how that goes, but I think people think that they are just like signing up for a life of something if they just go get help, but you’re basically just starting the conversation.

Meredith: Right, and the label doesn’t have to be permanent. If you’re struggling with anxiety or depression, you don’t have to be telling yourself that, “I am a depressed person,” or “I’m depressed.” You can just say, “This is the stage of life I’m in right now, and this is how I’m going to deal with it.”

Brandy: Yes, exactly. I haven’t really talked about this at all, even on any of my Facebook pages or anywhere, but I guess my entry point to this conversation and anxiety is it’s something I’ve always thought about. And I’ve always thought that I probably have anxiety. And to go back, anybody who’s listened to the podcast for a long enough time knows that I had intestinal surgery when I was 16. And I lost certain parts of my anatomy. So there’s certain parts of my intestines that I’m missing. And that has affected my life since then. And so I’m really quite functional, but there’s no other way to put it, but living for 20 years with the possibility of urgently needing a bathroom.

Meredith: Oh, gosh, that’s got to be anxiety-inducing right there.

Brandy: Yes, that does something to a person. And obviously, when I was younger, and it was happening like in college, I just, I didn’t really care too much. And yeah, it sucked, but then as I got older, and it just kept wearing and wearing on me, it really affected and changed my life. And I didn’t really know. I mean, I knew because my friends would ask me to go do things and I had all these rules, like I couldn’t leave the house before 10am to make sure my stomach was solid. And then if we were going to go somewhere and have something to eat, I was always a little bit like, “Oh, what’s it going to do to my stomach? And then people would say, “Oh, but stress causes that.” So it was like this big thing where I was constantly, for 20 years, trying to figure out – is it the food I’m eating? Is it stress? Is it my lack of anatomy? All of these different things. Okay, so that’s the backdrop of this. But so then, through the pandemic, I felt like I was doing pretty decently but then right around the holidays, December flattens me every year–

Meredith: Same.

Brandy: Yeah, I feel like this happens to all of us, even though I try my hardest to not let it, like it just does. And then we were looking at doing a kitchen remodel.

Meredith: Oh, boy. {Laughs}

Brandy: Yeah. And actually, this is where I’m so glad this happened, but I just felt so embarrassed at the time. But right before that was about to start, it was like right around Christmas, I felt so fragile. And I started saying things like, “I don’t know if I’m gonna make it through this kitchen remodel,” and, “I’m scared that I’m going to get to the end of my rope and there’s going to be no more rope.” And I started thinking what I’m really saying is that I’m out of bandwidth. Like, I have none. And it started to kind of scare me. So then I felt embarrassed because I thought I’m really not gonna make it through a fucking remodel?? Like, what kind of privileged bitch am I that I’m getting a kitchen (which we waited forever to do ) but you know, there are people suffering out there.

Meredith: Right.

Brandy: But then I also knew that my environment and my world affected me and if that affected me, that affected me, embarrassment or not. So, because I don’t have a primary care doctor since I always have specialists, anytime I need things, I go to urgent care. So I basically showed up to urgent care and was like, “Can you write me a prescription for Lexapro like in 10 minutes?”

Meredith: Right. {Laughs} right?

Brandy: Cuz I just need to get on this because I knew I’d be waiting like a month and I’m the kind of person if I’m going to do this thing, I want to do it right now, and I don’t want time to go by.

Meredith: Yes. And just to make you feel slightly better, we remodeled our house last year, and it was the biggest joke ever, so very anxiety inducing. Yes, there are bigger problems in the world, but I can really empathize with that. It’s a big deal.

Brandy: Thank you. Well, and I knew on a bigger scale– it’s the pandemic, we’re all stuck in our houses, and there’s the survival mode. But then now we’re all stuck upstairs. So we’ve got four people, three rooms, and our only appliance is a toaster oven. And then I was thinking, why would anyone do this to themselves?

Meredith: Right. {Laughs}

Brandy: But anyway, I was thinking, “Why did we do this? We shouldn’t have done this.” And so anyway, I got on Lexapro. And I want to talk about that experience in a second because it’s wild to me how you feel worse before you feel better.

Meredith: Oh, for sure.

Brandy: It’s like the cruelest joke in the world. Okay, anyway, that’s a whole other thing. But I was so shocked that immediately– I felt it day one, but I definitely felt it after day 10, it was like there was a layer of constant feverish, working towards something that just got pulled away. And it was the most amazing thing ever. I almost don’t even have words to describe what it was. But my whole point in telling this story is that I thought anxiety was worry. I didn’t realize– so I guess I never really was like, “Oh, I have like an actual diagnosable anxiety.” And by the way, I did get diagnosed with mild, generalized anxiety. But I thought that it was worry. And I thought it was somebody who was nervous, and I didn’t feel like it fit me. But then when I went on these meds, and it took away a layer that I didn’t even know was anxiety. So for me, anxiety showed up as overwhelm, irritation, perfectionism, and having no bandwidth.

Meredith: Absolutely same for me.

Brandy: Okay. That’s why I wanted to have this conversation, because I don’t think we talk about those things enough. And I realize that all the mom stuff that we believe about how exhausting it is and overwhelming and all of that – and this is my eternal question, which is, what if that is part of the package? But then what part of it is, there is help for this, somebody might need a medication to give them more serotonin to deal with this? Because it is a life changer for me. And I’m on a tiny dose, it’s the most minor thing and so I just felt like I wanted to tell everybody that because I think that sometimes we mis-label what anxiety shows up as.

Meredith: Oh, for sure. For me, I’ve never been the wringing my hands type. I’m the yelling at my family type when I’m stressed. And that’s the exact opposite of who I want to be. And it’s just so obvious to me now that when I’m just snippier, I’m irritated, cutting remarks, things come out of my mouth, that I don’t really mean. And that’s a shameful thing for a mom to feel, especially when it’s directed at the people that she loves most in the world, you know?

Brandy: Totally.

Meredith: And I think so often, we don’t talk about that. And we don’t make that connection, that that is actually anxiety manifesting itself because we are so overwhelmed with our life circumstances that we just can’t deal.

Brandy: Exactly. That lack of bandwidth for me, that’s the whole reason I even went this route is because I was worried and the remodel hadn’t even started. Once it starts, I’m going to have no bandwidth, and then what do I do? Like what does that mean for me? And the other pieces, I hadn’t really noticed how much my medical and digestive anxiety was a part of every single thing in my life, because now that I’ve been on it for about two and a half months, I do so many things differently. Like I had these built-in, subconscious strategies that used to make life doable. And it was like immediately, that digestive anxiety was just gone.

Meredith: That’s amazing.

Brandy: It’s amazing, and I know not everybody gets it like this. So I feel almost like guilty that it works so well, but I also know that I’ve struggled for so long, so I’m so happy to have it. But everybody in my life that’s close to me knows that I don’t do anything in the mornings, ever. And I just today went and took my son to get his braces on at an eight o’clock appointment. That means we had to leave at 7:30 and that means that I had to make sure my digestion was good and fine at 7:30 and it’s the first time I’ve done that in probably like 15 years with having– I had zero anxiety about it, I had zero question of like, “But what if we’re on the road and all of a sudden I feel the rumble?” I feel like I’m living like a normal person, and it’s just wild to me. And I think, what if I never got pushed to this limit? Like, what if we never did the remodel, and I never knew? Because I feel like especially those of us with a more mild anxiety, we are functional.

Meredith: Of course, yeah, and the outside world sees you as doing just fine. Even though internally, you’re in turmoil. And I think that’s what makes it so difficult. But people don’t understand that you can have all this anxiety, and you can have mental illness, and you can be a highly functioning person. You can be driven, you can be successful, you can be accomplishing tasks, and it’s not just laying in your bed all day, which is what I think people typically think of when they think of somebody that’s got anxiety and has depression, you know?

Brandy: Yes, that’s so true. And I think sometimes the people who are more productive or “successful,” actually sometimes struggle with this even more, because the other piece that like I said, I just, I don’t even know how to put words to it. But I was sharing it with a friend the other day, who’s similar to me, and she said, “Oh, my God, that’s exactly how I feel.” And the first week that I was on this, I felt drunk and high for like a good seven days. I didn’t drive. And again, I was on a small dose but what was amazing is I immediately felt the anxiety was like, just gone. And like my doctor had said, when the medicine works, right, nothing else about you changes, it just takes out that layer.

Meredith: Right, I’ve heard so many people say, “I’m worried it’s gonna make me a zombie,”or “I’m not going to be the same person.” And that hasn’t been my experience, either. My experience has been more like yours, where it just takes the edge off of the things that I worry about. And “take the edge off” kind of has a connotation there like it you’re feeling high sort of thing. And that’s not how I feel at all.

Brandy: No, it just gives you bandwidth.

Meredith: Yes, the things that you used to obsess over and worry about just seem smaller. They just seems smaller.

Brandy: Yes. A friend of mine used to always say to me, “Well, you just have narrow margins.” I don’t know, it’s not like things would affect me deeper, but I just had less bandwidth because of my health stuff. So it’s like I bought margins. There’s a buffer now. I start the day and I don’t feel already at empty, like, I start the day, and I’m like, “I have bandwidth!” And it’s not to say that it’s perfect. I mean, there’s times where I’m still frustrated, or I run out of steam. But what’s even interesting about that is after I was on it for the first while, one of the other changes that I noticed was that when I needed time for myself, I no longer was in a spiral about like, “Well, I’ve seen the kids for two hours today, but if I go take my time, then have I seen them enough?” It was like all of that bullshit spiral, “Am I doing a good enough job? Am I showing up?” I was just like, “Hey guys, I’m going upstairs and I’m gonna go play Spider Solitaire on my phone.” And I didn’t have a story about it. So even just that I’m like, this is amazing. This is how I self-care. This is how I get more more energy for myself. And then how that seeped into every part of my life, then made it so that I’m one of these assholes now that has an Apple Watch–

Meredith: {Laughs}

Brandy: And tracks my fucking steps, and has friends on there that we’re all linked up. I’m now the asshole that my husband was who’s talking about heart rates. And I seriously– I never did this before because of my digestion. But now, I go for like two mile walks every day. Who am I?!

Meredith: That’s amazing. I almost wish we could market– you know, not that we’re out to market drugs ,but I think we could let people know that it’s not about changing who you are, it’s about making you your best self.

Brandy: Yes.

Meredith: And I really think that we all have that potential there to not be weighed down by the things going on in our minds. And I had this post that I share quite often, the one about whatever, if meditation works for you, that’s great, if yoga works for you that great. If essential oils works for you, that’s great. I’m not saying medication is the only answer. I think a lot of things can help you to feel better when it comes to your mental health. I mean, 100% exercise helps me, 100% self-care things where I take time for myself, those help me. Does it get rid of it, though? No. And so I think it’s also just doing a little bit of self-reflection and going, “Am I trying to meet all my needs and I’m still not quite getting there?” Because then that might be the point where you go, “Okay, maybe I just need a little extra help with the medication.”

Brandy: Yes. And that’s such a good point that you make because I come from a mindset of always trying the natural thing first.

Meredith: Of course. Me too.

Brandy: Yeah. There are so many different reasons why we get to this place, but– {Laughs} I mean, I’m laughing because I always thought, especially in the times that feel really tough or had felt really tough, I thought to myself, “I just wish there was a way to make this feel easier.” And by “this,” I mean life.

Brandy: Just even just a little bit easier. And of course, my mind would be like, “Oh, yeah, like that just exists.” And it turns out, it fucking does. But the thing is, I’ve spent the last 20 years of my life trying yoga, meditation, acupuncture – I mean, all sorts of shit to try – and therapy. And those things are lovely.

Meredith: But have you tried, praying, right? {Laughs}

Brandy: {Laughs} Oh yeah. Actually, that’s the thing I didn’t. And your diet and all of these things and what I realized of course after I went on this, I’m like, “Oh, my gosh, I have spent 20 years trying to do the ‘right’ thing, and it actually takes– okay, so if we’re looking at it mathematically, the energy that it takes up, the bandwidth it uses for me to try to get more bandwidth actually uses more bandwidth to get that bandwidth!

Meredith: Exactly. {Laughs}

Brandy: But here I have something that just gives it to me, and I don’t have to fight for it?

Meredith: Yesssss.

Brandy: I’m like, this is amazing. So I know you said like, “I don’t want to be like peddling medication here,” but I’m fully like, “If there was multi-level marketing for Lexapro–

Brandy: Yeah, I would be Gold Diamond, fuckin’ Sparkling whatever. Because it’s been a game changer for me. And I’m clearly very thrilled about that because I literally thought it was never ever going to be possible for me. I’ve told friends this before, there’s days where I’m like, “Okay, if I feel this way at 44, there’s no way I’m still here at like, 65, because this should only gets worse.” So for me to feel like there’s something that makes this– it’s not perfect, it’s not that it’s even easy, it’s just I have adequate bandwidth. And I can’t stress the importance of that enough.

Meredith: {Laughs} You’d be like top–

Meredith: Yeah, exactly. I agree with you, 110%. For me, it’s also been life changing. I would just add that sometimes it’s not simple to get there. Because for me, I am currently in that realm of trying to figure out what meds I need to be on again. I was on Lexapro, as well, for three years. And then I got depressed. And I had never really experienced depression before. Mine has always been the anxiety, I’ve always had the anxiety aspect of things. And all of a sudden, I had zero drive, I was in my bed, like, I get my kids out the door to go to school, and all I wanted to do is go crawl back in bed. Now, I didn’t always do that, because I have responsibilities. And I also am a very responsible person, so I’m not just gonna let things go. But the Lexapro wasn’t working for me anymore. And it was devastating to me because it was working so well for me for years. And so I would just add that caveat that like, sometimes the med– I’ve talked with so many people about this, and like, “I tried my meds once I just didn’t like the way it made me feel.” And I get that because A, it can take a few weeks or even months before you start to feel good. Then B, sometimes the medication is just not the right fit.

Brandy: Right.

Meredith: I mean, we’re all different. We all have different chemical makeup in our brain. And it’s a lot of work. It feels like a lot of work to figure it out. You’re like, “Oh, I have to make another doctor’s appointment, and I have to go talk about this again, and I’m having side effects?” Because there are side effects that aren’t fun that you have to deal with. I’ve had it myself.

Brandy: Same.

Meredith: So, I would just want to emphasize so much that don’t give up if you don’t find the right medication right off the bat. Because it’s hard. It’s hard. I actually just yesterday, went and saw a psychiatrist for the first time. And it was totally exactly how I imagined seeing a psychiatrist. {Laughs}

Brandy: {Laughs}

Meredith: It was not like seeing my general practitioner at all, no warm fuzzies, but also, I really needed somebody that specialized in meds that can help me figure out because I switched to Zoloft and then I added in Wellbutrin for a while and I just haven’t quite found what’s gonna work for both my anxiety and my depression. So now that I’m dealing with both at the same time, finding the right medication is more complicated than when I was just dealing with anxiety. So that would be what I would say to people out there listening that, just keep trying, don’t give up, don’t give up after the first time. And it is a lot of freaking work to try to find the right thing that will work for you.

Brandy: I know, we can put a man on the moon, but we can’t figure out anxiety meds that don’t give you more anxiety at the start? That seems like a cruel joke, because most people who decide to get on meds are desperate, right? A lot of them are at their last, like, “I don’t know how I’m going to get through this next week,” or whatever. And honestly, the side effects, I was lucky enough that I went on them over the holidays, so my husband was home. So basically I was like, I’m just going to tend to myself for the next week or so. I mean, like I said, there were days where I just wanted to eat crackers in my bed, and it was the best.

Meredith: {Laughs} That sounds familiar, actually.

Brandy: I was so happy. And I really had this conversation with my husband about like, I’ve lost my motivation, and I know people are gonna be like, “Ooh, this sounds not great.” But it was just a temporary thing. But all of a sudden, everything that I was motivated by and working towards, I suddenly didn’t care about, but I was happy. And I had patience. And so I said to my husband– it seemed like I was gonna have to pick between one or the other, like I was either gonna pick eating crackers in bed feeling high, but happy. Or I was gonna pick being motivated doing all this stuff, but inside I’m struggling. And so I said to him, I’m like, “This gets at the core of who I am. And I think I would choose the crackers in bed, happy. Even though that person doesn’t like do much with her life, that person is happy.” But then after, like I said a week to 10 days, it was like everything evened out, and I got that happiness, the lack of anxiety, and I was suddenly motivated about the things I was motivated about before. But what I had mentioned earlier is there was always this like hamster wheel that I felt like I was on and I couldn’t tell you where I was trying to go with it. It was like I had this goal in my head. And I I can’t even tell you the tangible what I was trying to get to. But it was like this thing where every day, I would be doing things to get toward that goal, whether it was like writing things, or even the podcast, which really is a labor of love and isn’t totally connected. But it was like this productivity cycle that I was on, and that has gone away. And so it’s interesting to me how I still am passionate about the same things I’m passionate about, but now I feel like I can do those things to a healthy level. Whereas before, I would just keep doing them. And now I’m like, you know what, maybe I take a break from whatever thing. And before I wouldn’t even entertain that idea. So having that taken away and replaced with happiness, I’m so grateful for it. And on the other hand, like you said, I’m kind of terrified that Lexapro is going to stop working as good for me. But I know now that there’s hope with certain meds, and if I have to tweak around like what you’re saying, to find exactly which one will work, I will because it literally is a game changer.

Meredith: For sure. And it’s it’s not a perfect science by any means. And even meds that I’ve been on, there’s really negative side effects like sexual side effects, there’s negative weight gain, things like that, that I think also make people hesitant to try them. But I think it is about knowing yourself and knowing what is making you your best self. Yeah, maybe your best self is happy, but a little bit pudgier. And that’s okay. You know what I mean?

Brandy: Exactly. That’s why I was saying I would trade whatever success I was trying to get on my hamster wheel, I would trade it for happiness, like I really would. And I didn’t want to have to choose between those two, but having that layer taken away of anxiety was just so much more humane.

Meredith: Right.

Brandy: And also, I know that one of the side effects people talk about a lot– I’m on one of these Facebook support groups about it, and everybody mentions the sexual side effects of having your libido lowered.

Meredith: Yep.

Brandy: And luckily, I’ve been one of the people who that hasn’t affected and almost in the other way, because–

Meredith: Oh, great!

Brandy: And again, who knows if that will change. But it turns out that if you aren’t on a hamster wheel to some success ring that doesn’t actually exist, you’re not like insane–

Meredith: Yeah, you’re not too tired for sex, right? {Laughs}

Brandy: Yes. Turns out that if you have some bandwidth and some goodwill and joy towards the people that you’re stuck with all the time, that maybe you are a little bit more open to sex, if you’re in that sort of a mindset. But I know that it’s not just about mindset, it’s also about how the chemicals affect everybody’s body. And again, I was pleasantly surprised. But even that, I remember thinking, if I have to give up my sex drive in order to find happiness in this way, for however much time, maybe it’s just till the end of the pandemic, maybe it’s just for a couple months, I don’t know. But I’m willing to trade that, because I think I deserve to be happy. And hopefully the things that make me happy and healthy will then trickle down. But I just feel like I’m just so lucky that it didn’t affect me, because then that also creates a whole host of problems with relationship stuff.

Meredith: Yeah, it’s complicated. Especially when you’re talking about how your mental health, especially as the mother of the family can really affect the entire family. It really impacts your relationship with your spouse, but also with your children. And I think that that was a big driver for me was just being the best mom I could be. And being the kind of mom I knew I had the potential to be, but just couldn’t quite get there on my own.

Brandy: Yes. And that’s what I wonder, too, with my situation, with losing some of my anatomy and learning about serotonin and its receptors and all of those things is, part of me wonders, do I just not make quite enough, because I’m missing the parts where it’s made, or the receptors.

Meredith: Yeah, who knows?

Brandy: And ultimately, my mom shared with me a little piece of our family mental health history, kind of around this time that I was feeling like, “I don’t know what’s going to happen here,” which spurred me to go this route as well. And so I think that that’s important to know, kind of like what you were saying at the beginning, what is your family history like? And do you lean towards this, in terms of trying to figure out that gray area that I know so many moms are in with, which is, is this just motherhood, especially during a pandemic, or is this something that I need help with? I just think that is such a hard place to be, and so many of the moms that I’ve talked to about my experience look at me like, “Oh, my God, I think maybe I need this,” or “I think maybe I’m experiencing that.” And not to say that they do, but just to say that it’s very gray, there’s an overlap.

Meredith: Yeah. That’s what I’ve seen in writing about it publicly and people private messaging me and saying, “You know what, I had never thought that my anger was being anxious. I’ve never made that connection of my life. But it makes so much sense now.” And that’s why I wish we’d have more of these conversations. Because it’s so easy to just go, “Well, I guess this is how motherhood is. And it really sucks. And I don’t like it.” {Laughs}

Brandy: I know!

Meredith: But it doesn’t have to be that way. You know? Am I a perfect mom now that I’m on meds? Hell no. But I do feel like it helps me reach my full potential in a way that I couldn’t do on my own.

Brandy: Yeah, absolutely. And, I’m sure listeners are like, “Yeah, but how do we tell? How do we tell if we’re that person–“

Meredith: It doesn’t hurt to ask. It just doesn’t hurt to ask. That would be the biggest thing that I say is, there is no shame in just going and telling someone, “I feel angry all the time,” or “I don’t want to get out of bed in the mornings,” or “I’m taking five-hour naps in the middle of the day, is that normal?” or whatever it is manifesting in you. It is not a shameful thing to just go ask, go ask a professional that knows better, or start with a therapist. You know, that’s what I did. The second time before I got on meds, I thought I’m gonna give therapy a good year before I go the route of getting back on medication. And that was also a good indicator to me that, yes, I’m making progress, but it’s still not quite getting there, to where I need it to be. And my therapist agreed. So I think that if you are hesitant, it doesn’t hurt to just make an appointment with a therapist, and just say, “Look, this is what’s going on. And I don’t know if this is normal motherhood or what,” because they’ll be able to tell you, and they’ll be able to ask the right questions to guide you and help you figure it out.

Brandy: Exactly. And I think too, for people who are on the fence about trying meds, for me, I’m not giving this as advice, but I’m so glad I tried it because to live without the anxiety tells you that you have it. So that was very, very clear to me. And that was something that couldn’t just be–

Meredith: You don’t know until you know. You know what I mean?

Brandy: Yes, exactly. So I don’t know, I feel like that that piece– and that’s why I’m struggling to talk about it is because you can’t really know until you feel that feeling, and then you go, “Oh, that’s the piece.” Like I said, I’d lived with this digestive anxiety, which I’m only calling it really this now, and clearly knowing what it was because it’s gone, and now I can put a finger and a label on it. But had you asked me, I don’t know that I really would have said that I lived with it to this degree. So again, I feel like it’s one of these things that if you try meds, it doesn’t mean you have to be on it forever. It’s something you can try and see. And I felt the benefit immediately, but it took me 10 days to 14 days to really feel like okay, this is going to work for me, and it’s livable. And I know for other people, it can take even a month or two. So I’m not saying it’s an easy thing. I’m not saying everybody should do it, or even anybody should do it. I’m just saying exactly what you said, Meredith, is that anxiety looks different than maybe what we thought it did.

Meredith: Exactly. And you go through life, and you don’t really know any different, because that’s your reality. And that’s what you live every day. So, if you have to take three-hour naps to get through -nand I’m not I’m not knocking on naps, because I love naps.

Brandy: Same.

Meredith: But, if you feel like maybe this isn’t what everybody does, then you might be right. And it might be time to talk to somebody about it and find out. And I think that’s why these conversations are so valuable, because it’s just giving people an idea of a way to reflect and look inside themselves and go, “Is this really normal? Is this really what everyone else is doing? Is this really how everyone else lives?” Because once you’re on the other side of it, like it sounds like you are and, I feel like I’m kind of in the middle of it again. But once you do get that help, and you do see those positive changes, it’s like a whole new world has been opened up to you.

Brandy: Yes. And there’s a part of me that thinks too, why are we in this position where so many of us are feeling this in modern motherhood? And that’s a conversation, you know, that’s a like a seminar.

Meredith: Right, exactly. I’ve wondered that myself, too.

Brandy: Yeah, and that’s something that I feel like every podcast episode I do touches on that, and some of them more than others, of this overwhelm that we just all shoulder. And so you know, there’s a part of me that’s like, how fucked up is this, yhat so many moms need to be on meds? Snd the reality like, yeah, I would love for us to change that. And also, I don’t see it changing, like overnight. And so if we are in the era we’re in, and we are in the modern culture that we’re in, and this is the way it is, would I rather make that liveable and pleasant and healthier for everybody around me and myself? Or would I rather for some principle of the thing, not do that? And so for me, I think that definitely wins out. And I wanted to mention too, about how you were talking about being a parent that yells or is angry. I wasn’t a yeller. But I held it all inside.

Meredith: Which can be just as damaging.

Brandy: Yes, exactly. So, just for anybody out there who’s also feeling like, “Well, I don’t really yell,” it’s like, but do you feel that feeling rise up of what you want to say and what you do say are maybe two different things, but that feeling is still there? And so I just know, living with that for a long time, that’s not pleasant either.

Meredith: Exactly. And I think it can cause physical manifestations too, when you’re keeping everything in and not expressing things. Then you get things like GI issues and headaches or whatever it is that might manifest in a physical way. I just can’t emphasize enough how important it is to talk about it and have these conversations because it gives everyone permission to take a step back, to look at what’s going on in their own life and look at if they’re really happy, if they really are. And to me, it’s not even always about happiness, because I’m on this big kick right now about anti-toxic positivity.

Brandy: Ugh, toxic positivity? Yes.

Meredith: Yes! {Laughs} I know that’s kind of a hot topic right now. But I really don’t want to paint it as like, “You get on drugs and everything is all rosy.” But to me, it’s just about knowing yourself and knowing if you’re reaching that full potential that you know you can be.

Brandy: Yeah, I’m with you on that. So there was an article, I think it was different than the one that you mentioned. There was one that you wrote that you posted recently, but it was an older one that really resonated with moms. Can you tell us about it? I think it was like–

Meredith: Oh gosh, you’re gonna have to tell me what it was kind of about because I write a lot about mental health.

Brandy: I know, I was looking for it today, but I think it’s from further back. I think it was your first one that you had written and you said that you still have women contact you about today.

Meredith: Yeah, that was probably the one about “My Anxiety Makes Me an Angry Mom.”

Brandy: Yes. So will you tell us a little bit about the article, and then will you tell us what people messaged you and how often, and the response to that?

Meredith: Yeah, it’s interesting. At the time, I was a staff writer for Scary Mommy. And I think that was right after I had decided to get back on medication. But I think it was when I really made the connection in my brain that this was the manifestation of my anxiety – anger. And I think there’s an example in there where I’m trying to open a bar of soap or something and getting so frustrated that I’m– and I try not to swear in front of my kids – and I’m just so frustrated and thinking of every bad word in my head. And I took a step back, and was like, “This is a freaking bar of soap. And I’m just seething over the bar of soap.” And that was part of the example of what it was like for me on a daily basis. And just so many women’s saying, kind of like what I said before, “I had never thought of it this way. I’m like that too,” or, “I yell too, and I don’t want to,”or “I find myself angry all the time, and I don’t know what to do.” And you know what, honestly, writing about these things is cathartic to me too–

Brandy: Yes.

Meredith: Because I like to know I’m not alone. I’d like to say it’s all to help other people, which it is, but also so much of it comes back to me in validation, but also comfort to know that I’m not the only one out there struggling with this either. And women feel so much shame around anger in general. Where you think of an angry man, and that’s maybe kind of fine and normal, society sees it as fine and normal. But when it’s an angry woman, think of all the bad words that we can call an angry woman?

Meredith: Right. It’s just seen so negatively, that you’re damaging your kids, and you’re not a good mom if you do X, Y, or Z or if you’re mad, or if you’re angry. There’s just a lot of shame around that. And I think that article resonated with so many people, because it de-stigmatized that shame around anger. Anger is a good emotion. Meaning like, I’ve done a lot of therapy – I’ve done marriage therapy, I’ve done individual therapy, I got my degree in psychology. So anger is a good thing. I hesitate to use the word good, but–

Brandy: Especially an angry mom.

Brandy: No, I know what you mean. It can be productive.

Meredith: It’s valid. And it can be productive. And I think it’s okay to be angry. When you’re angry all the time, or you’re angry, getting open a bar so that your can’t get the package open, then maybe it’s time to check yourself, or maybe it’s time to do some self-care. Or, for me, it was time to make a change and go seek help because I realized it was out of control. I literally could not control words coming out of my mouth. That’s how it felt to me.

Brandy: Yeah. And again, I think that’s that gray area, which is like being an adult, being married, having kids, all of those things have moments of frustration or sad don’t mean somebody needs meds. But then, like you said, if you’re noticing that little things have you on the edge all the time, or even feeling out of control of part of what’s coming out of your mouth, I think that is a great signal to at least to talk to somebody about that, because that doesn’t feel good for you, as well.

Meredith: Oh, yeah. And so, you know, we all have guilt as mothers. But let me tell you the guilt over some of the things, you know, I feel like I’m painting myself as like this horrible, abusive mother, I promise. We won’t get it. I think that some of the things, you know, just seeing the face expressions on my kids reflected back at me when I’m yelling about a mass or whatever. It just, I don’t know, it just isn’t what I want in my relationship with my kids. And I have just been able to handle things so much better with therapy and medication and motherhood is demanding and it’s stressful. And we’re all going to lose our ship from time to time over our kids doing stupid things because kids do stupid things. And they test our patients in ways that we never realized they could before we became parents. So I don’t know. I just felt like the crux for me was just it wouldn’t go away. It wouldn’t go away. It wasn’t it wasn’t a one time thing. You know what I mean?

Brandy: Yes, exactly. And even though it’s situational, like if it’s chronically situational?

Meredith: Right – that’s the that’s the word I was looking for.

Brandy: Well, so how have you noticed the pandemic affecting things for you, and even for other women who reached out to you – the people who were already struggling with anxiety or depression – and then there’s the people like me, who are new, for whom the pandemic brought about the fact that we’re on medication (which makes so much sense to me). What are you noticing? What did you notice in yourself with the pandemic pushing you to an edge or not, and other people?

Meredith: Well initially, when everything shut down last March, I think we all were like, “Oh, this is kind of fun.” And then after two weeks of it, realizing, “Oh, they’re not going back. This is my new reality.” I think we all just kind of went, “What?”

Brandy: Yes.

Meredith: And I kid you not, there was someone in my house crying every single day, those first few weeks.

Brandy: I believe you. {Laughs}

Meredith: And many times, it was me. {Laughs} Anger often manifests as crying too, not just yelling. And oh, it was so hard. I work from home and my kids are older, my kids are 14, 12, and nine, so they’re all in school all day. And then to have them all at home all day while I was trying to balance work, which is the story for so many women right now, which just felt impossible some days. It just felt impossible. My husband is in healthcare. So he wasn’t able to stay home from work. And so it was just me all day at home with the kids, you know?

Brandy: Did you have to up your dose at all? Or did you notice that you wanted to tweak it? Or were you not on anything? You were not on anything, right?

Meredith: So I would say the past year I’ve been kind of switching around trying to figure out what– because ever since that depression episode hit, I haven’t found the right combo yet. And so I’ve been on something consecutively since then. But I actually switched to Zoloft, which helped tremendously with the depression, but I felt my anxiety creeping back in. And that’s right when all the pandemic stuff was happening. And so I found myself angry again, and snippy, and just like, not able to cope. I would say now it’s better. I feel so much for mothers whose kids are still out of school. There are mothers in this country and worldwide and their kids are haven’t been back in a classroom since last March.

Brandy: That’s me.

Meredith: Is it? Oh, my gosh, I I feel for you guys so hard because I just can’t even imagine that. I was in tears every day when they were home. And it’s not, “We don’t want our kids around us.”

Brandy: No.

Meredith: But it’s honestly the stress of managing my work, my household duties, also, my kids’ schoolwork. I remember one of my kids, they wanted them to do a science experiment every day. For eight days.

Brandy: Oh, no. No. no.

Meredith: I had to email the teacher and be like, “We cannot mentally cannot handle this.” Plus, it was requiring me to buy things I didn’t have around the house, you know, like a balloon or whatever that I needed for some science experiment. And I just said, “You know what, I can’t do this.” And thankfully, the teacher was understanding, but I just remember how stressful that was, just those eight little science experiments.

Brandy: The amount of micromanagement that we have to do with our kids’ schoolwork.

Meredith: Yessssss.

Brandy: I don’t even think the teachers maybe– I mean, they probably do – micromanage it this much, because it’s like one on one with your kid on every single thing. It’s just so much.

Meredith: It’s exhausting.

Brandy: It’s exhausting. Part of me feels like this is hugely beneficial to my younger daughter, because I’m doing one-on-one stuff with her. But then also, how does this help her to do things by herself, because now she has a person with her all the time? It’s a win and not a win at the same time, you know?

Meredith: Right. And I have three kids in three different schools. So I have a high schooler, a junior high and elementary.

Brandy: Oh my god.

Meredith: Thankfully, my high school kid is very self-sufficient and driven. And so I’ve had to micromanage her very little. But my boys man, they were just so hard. So hard. And then you give an eight-year-old a Chromebook, and of course they’re gonna get on Minecraft and try to play Minecraft when they’re supposed to be doing their work, you know? {Laughs}

Brandy: Here’s the thing too that I think is one of the harder aspects of this is when you’re trying to work but you have kids that have to be home right now, and visually in your space, you’re seeing a non-ideal situation. So whether that’s they’re playing Roblox and it’s hour two or whatever your thing is, but you can’t get away from it. So all the screen time that they’re having that you normally maybe wouldn’t allow or whatever, or even being on school on Zoom or whatever, now you have to witness it. You’re sitting there seeing it. So it’s not even like, “Well, this isn’t ideal, but at least I can take my mind off of it for a little bit.” It’s in your space. And also, if you’re trying to work, there’s nothing you can do about it because you also have to work. So I feel like it’s doubly painful because you can’t change it. But also you have to witness it while you can’t change it. And I think that part is like putting people over the edge.

Meredith: Of course, and I think it’s affected every mother out there, and fathers too. We don’t want to leave them out. But I do think that the women of this world have had to take an extra burden on their shoulders that has been so hard to watch. And I think, going back to the mental health aspect, I just think that helping women understand that they’re living through a super unique time right now, this is not normal. Nothing about this is normal. No one knows how to do this. None of us. And it’s okay to throw your hands up in the air and be like, “I cannot freaking do this, I need help.” And if that helps comes in the form of a pill? So be it for a little while.

Brandy: Exactly, because so many moms were already at the edge and at the end of their rope, so to speak, before the pandemic started. So this is the thing that I want moms to know, too, about the shame or any of that is like, if you need help, whatever that is, whether it’s therapy, yoga, meditation, this Lexapro that I would like to sell you for my trench coat, whatever it is, there’s no shame. I mean, there’s no shame ever. But also, we’re in a pandemic, where the burden of this pandemic has been put on our shoulders specifically, and nobody’s doing anything about it. Like nobody’s doing anything about the load that we’re and you’re carrying. So if you are like, “Hey, you know what, I would like to have some more bandwidth, please,” that doesn’t make you broken. It doesn’t make you a failure. It doesn’t make you anything. And I think sometimes people have to rethink their own agreements about mental health about other people in order to let themselves be able to get help, because if you’re somebody who’s listening, and you’re like, “I think this would be really beneficial for me, but I can’t get past the stigma of it.” You need to ask yourself, “What agreement do I have about people who need medicine for mental health,” or insert anything – “therapy for mental health,” “meditation for mental health,” whatever the thing is, what do you believe to be true about those people? And it’s like, you really gotta check that.

Meredith: Yeah. And I would say too, something I always do to check myself on things like that is if this was my child going through this, I would do everything in my power to make sure my child’s mental health was okay. If you would do that for your child, do it for yourself, because you deserve to feel good. You deserve to have the bandwidth that you need. And you deserve just as much care as your children deserve.

Brandy: Exactly.

Meredith: And so that’s how I often check myself is, if my kid were suffering from this, or if my kid were going through this, what advice would I give to my child? I would tell them, “You need to see somebody because you’re not handling this well.” Do the same for yourself. Put yourself in your kid’s shoes if you have to.

Brandy: Yes. Well, and I feel like I’m in a golden age right now. And I don’t know how long it’s gonna last because I do know that sometimes med stop working or whatnot, but I’m in a golden age. And I feel like I have found the hack for middle age.

Meredith: And you know what, it may be that way for you. And that’s awesome if it is.

Brandy: Who knows? But right now, I’ll just take any day that I can get it is a good day, but right now my trifecta of– my midlife hack is anxiety meds, a Mirena IUD – strictly because I don’t have periods and it’s for five years–

Meredith: {Laughs} Yesssssss.

Brandy:And I did that because my periods were ruining my life on top of all of this. And then if you have a husband, getting a vasectomy. These three things.

Meredith: {Laughs} Amen.

Brandy: You know how they have mommy makeovers, this is a different type of thing, and I feel like it’s a game changer because my period used to basically put me down for the count and then it would take weeks to come back and then it would happen again. But then on top of my lack of bandwidth, I was like, “I can never get my head above water” and now I just feel almost impenetrable.

Meredith: {Laughs} Superpowers.

Brandy: Yes, except for the fact that I still get migraines. But it’s like, you know what, having one thing versus like 10 things is totally manageable. Turns out, that’s a better thing. So Meredith, where can people find you and your writing?

Meredith: So my blog is www.perfectionpending.net. And I have tons of articles on mental health over there, if that’s what you’re interested in.

Brandy: So many good ones. She’s an amazing writer.

Meredith: Thank you. I’m actually working on a book about motherhood and mental health.

Brandy: I think that I saw that go by.

Meredith: It’s my passion project, for sure. I just feel so strongly that conversations like what you and I just had need to be out in the world for moms to recognize that it’s okay. It’s okay, if you are struggling, and there is hope, and there’s help out there. So that’s to come in the future. But I am on social media everywhere, with Perfection Pending or Perfect Pending in some places.

Brandy: And is there anything that you want to add to this, any other misconceptions about mental health or things that you think need to be part of the conversation? I mean, I know that there are so many things.

Meredith: I know, I feel like I could talk about mental health and motherhood all day long. But I just hope women can not feel ashamed. That’s my biggest hope with all of this. And find someone that you can confide in, even if it’s a friend, or a family member, or a doctor – find somebody that you can confide in, and let them know how you feel. That’s the first step. And honestly, like you’ve reiterated over and over, and so have I (hopefully,) that it can just change your life, it really can, and make things so much more manageable, and, gosh, be the best mom to your kids.

Brandy: When I think about it, too, I think about how this is our life. This is your life. And I think about all those years that I spent trying to find the thing that would fix my digestive issues or the anxiety that I didn’t totally know that I had around them. And I’m so grateful that I finally was like, “You know what, I’m going to do the thing that I didn’t want to do.” And now, being on the other side of getting the benefits from it, I’m like, “I cannot imagine going back to living that other way.” And so it’s like, you deserve to feel better, we deserve to live our life. And even though we’re in a time in the world, where shit’s outta control, shit’s bananas right now, and we have the burden of things and the emotional load and all this really unfair shit that we’re working towards, it doesn’t mean that you have to that we have to suffer and just take that. What if having a little bit of help actually helps us fight that, to make it so that other women don’t need to? Like it’s all connected, it feels like.

Meredith: Absolutely. And I would just add, don’t let those people– because there’s so many people that are negative about all of this, about medication, about therapy, about whether or not you’re depressed – everyone has an opinion. Everyone has an opinion about what you should do. I could list 100 things that people have sent me in private messages about, “You should try this.” And those things help, but do they solve the problem when you are suffering from mental illness? Not usually? And so try to ignore those, try to focus on your own intuition, your own gut and your own feelings, and do something for you.

Brandy: Yes. Oh, Meredith, thank you so much for being such an open book here today.

Meredith: For sure, I loved it.

Brandy: And your sharing, as always, helps others who are afraid to talk about this stuff, who are ashamed, or who are just embarking on their journey of trying to feel better, and they deserve to, so thank you for always being a voice for that.

Meredith: Absolutely. Thanks so much for having me.

Brandy: So I want to make sure that you know, this episode isn’t a commercial for Lexapro. I mean, maybe some of you could benefit from it like I did. But the main message here is to de-stigmatize needing mental health help, no matter what that includes. And I also don’t want to knock the instinct to try natural remedies. First, I think this comes from a sort of “do no harm” mentality that is logical, and a great first line of defense. But it’s when it becomes a limiting belief, like, “I can only use natural products, even if I’m suffering.” And that belief lasts for say, 20 years, then it’s beyond the point of “do no harm” and it’s full on self-judgment, and the belief itself is doing harm.

Brandy: Also, I’ve spent the last 20 years trying to figure out what is causing my digestive issues. Is there a food I’m reacting to? Is it my missing anatomy? Is it stress? All the things, and funny enough, since I’ve been on Lexapro, I haven’t had digestive issues. So it might be that my anxiety was the source of a lot of my digestive distress. And I just think back to all the doctors I’ve seen, most of them natural-minded, and no one even suggested exploring the anxiety route, much less the anxiety medication route. My therapist was the first one to even mention it might be a thing.

Brandy: If anyone wants to talk about this episode further or how anxiety shows up in their lives, I have a podcast discussion group on Facebook. Join us there by searching for Adult Conversation Podcast Discussion on Facebook. Or you can go to www.adultconversationpodcast.com, and you’ll find a link to the group in this episode’s transcript.

Brandy: A quick plug for my book (which as an indie author I gotta do). If you’re enjoying this podcast, you will likely enjoy my book, Adult Conversation: A Novel. It’s a darkly comedic story about a frazzled modern mother and her therapist who go on a Thelma-and-Louise-style road trip to Vegas, looking for pieces of themselves that motherhood and marriage swallowed up while they are also tested and tempted to make life-altering choices. Yes, there are strippers, there’s weed, it’s Vegas. One reviewer said, “I cannot even tell you how thoroughly validating and therapeutic your book is. It feels so incredibly personal. I cringed and rejoiced and yelled and cried a true anthem to people like us and I hope you know that what you have written is the voice of the exhausted and weary and they are the words we have been searching for in novel form.”

Brandy: As always, thanks for listening.

** As always, thank you to Scott Weigel and his band, Seahorse Moon, for providing me with that jaunty intro and outro music. You guy are awesome. Check ’em out on iTunes.