Heavy Alphabet Soup

Two weeks ago I had an episode that made me terrified my PPD was back in an ugly horrible way.

One week ago I admitted it here.

Wednesday I saw the psychiatrist that my therapist referred me to for re-evaluation.

Dr. D.

I was a nervous wreck going in.  I had no idea what to expect and that drives me all sorts of crazy.  No pun intended.  Ok, maybe a little intended.

Dr. D is a man.  My therapist is a woman. I have never ever had issues with having a man as my doctor for anything until I started therapy four years ago with a man whose name I no longer remember, but refer to as Dave Thomas when I talk about him with Cort.  Because that is who he looked like.  A total grandpa in a cardigan.

How in the heck to you talk about major anxiety and anger or woman stuff with Grandpa Dave?

You don’t.

So you quit therapy because you figure you can manage your Generalized Anxiety Disorder with all coping techniques you’ve learned.  And you would be right…until you have a baby.

Ok…enough with the second person…I was doing great managing my anxiety for about a year and a half…until Eddie was born.

Nine months after Eddie was born, I was diagnosed by my General Practitioner with Postpartum Depression (I’ve written about those horrible 9 months).  I was put on Celexa.  A few months later, I was also given Ambien to deal with my lack of sleeping due to Postpartum Anxiety.

Everyone in my life noticed a positive change once I grabbed my diagnosis and attacked the plan to make myself healthy.

And then I got knocked up with Charlie.

My OB really wanted to see me give up the Celexa while I was pregnant.  My therapist and my GP didn’t think it was a good idea.

For some reason Because I put Charlie before myself, I tried to go off the meds.

I failed horribly.

But instead of being down about it, I looked at it as proof that the Celexa was still doing something, and I agreed with my therapist and GP that a healthy momma would be a MUCH better momma.

Then I started my rounds of Progesterone to help sustain the pregnancy.

Then I started barfing my face off on the daily and needed to take Zofran.

Then I went through a super ugly bout of Antenatal Depression that thankfully dissipated during the second trimester.

And then other than being uncomfortably pregnant and worrying about a placenta previa, things went smoothly.  Charlie was born via a wonderful planned C-section, we bonded immediately and fiercely, and I experienced a joy I only read about on other people’s blogs.

I have raved that this time has been better.  And it has.  Hands down.

Charlie is an “easier” baby than Eddie was which means my anxiety hasn’t had a chance to sky-rocket.  The times it has all centered around things not going my way or as it was planned.  I did have a few anger issues with Eddie (never violent and I always removed myself when I could feel it building) and twitchy eye moments with stuff not being EXACTLY how I wanted it.  But I was managing.

My therapist has mentioned that she thought I might have a bit of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder still lingering from Eddie’s emergency C-section since it was as much as an emergency with my health as with his. And possibly even from my miscarriages. But I didn’t think too much about it.  I mean, it had been three years ago.  Surely that had worked it’s way out or you know, whatever.

Anyway, that brings us to the episode in which I couldnotavoid it happening (although the thing I almost did, I didn’t do, but it was terrifying nonetheless).

So here we are. In Dr. D’s office.

He was nice, I guess.  I mean, he didn’t try to get to know me since it was just an evaluation. He didn’t laugh at my lame attempts at jokes, so I sort of rung my hands the whole time, but he wasn’t a jerk or anything.

It was all just very clinical.  He asked me questions about symptoms that I assume he was pulling up from his computer because he was staring at it and typing every time I would answer (or he was on twitter talking about me to his followers. “this lady is CRAY, yo!” whatever). And I would answer as best as I could.

It was sort of like the checklist of stuff you fill out with a new therapist, but instead of just checking the box, I got to explain it.

His office was also very cold and boring. I am not sure why I feel like I need to say that, but it was painted this stupid blue color which I am assuming is supposed to be calming, but there was NOTHING on the wall or on his desk to prove that he wasn’t a machine.  It was…odd.  But the furniture?  WAY more comfy than in my therapist’s office.  Which is also strange to me.

And yes, he had a couch.  But no, I didn’t get to lay on it.

So at the end he looked at me and he told me this:

“So I would say that you have Generalized Anxiety, Postpartum Depression and Anxiety, a bit of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, what we will call “regular” Depression that is somewhat in remission at the moment, and you show significant signs of having Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.”

This is what I saw fly out of his mouth:


Alphabet soup.  Heavy Alphabet soup as a twitter follower pointed out.

Then he talked about doubling my Celexa dose and giving me “on a need basis” anti-anxiety med that I am a little bit terrified of, if I am being completely honest.  I am terrified of the drug and I am terrified of what could cause the need for me to take the drug (another episode like two weeks ago), and I’m terrified that he thinks it might happen again so it’s best if I have the drug.

I’m even a bit scared of this doubling my Celexa.  Is this permanent?  Why does it need to go up?  Will it ever go back down?  How will we know?

I am sort of looking forward to talking with my therapist about all this in a couple weeks.

I am proud of myself for stopping when the episode happened and reaching out immediately to Cort to let him know something happened. I know that getting help is what is best for me and my family.  I know from experience I can’t just handle this on my own.

I just very much struggle with what I KNOW and what I feel.

I still feel very angry that I have to deal with this at all.  I don’t want it.  Any of it.  I don’t want to be on meds, not because I don’t want to be better, but because I don’t want to have all these letters.

I know they don’t define me.  But they are part of who I am. They are part of my biological make up.  They are chemical imbalances in my brain.

Just like I hate that my best friend is diabetic and will be on insulin her whole life, I hate that I am a jumble of mental illnesses and I will be on medsmywhole life.

It’s not fair.

And that is what I am struggling with right now.

About Katie

Just a small town girl...wait no. That is a Journey song. Katie Sluiter is a small town girl, but she is far from living in a lonely world. She is a middle school English teacher, writer, mother, and wife. Life has thrown her a fair share of challenges, but her belief is that writing through them makes her stronger.


  1. Like you, I am upset that I have to deal w/mental illness at all. It’s not fair. There, I said it.

    Thanks for your honesty. I sooo appreciate you being as open as you have w/this phase.


  2. I’m not going to throw a bunch of words and empty sentences at you. So I’ll just give you big ass virtual hugs, and know I’m here for you. xoxo

  3. I love when folks share like you just did. Lay it all out there! So, thank you for sharing. Who knows how many people you just helped.
    And I’m sure, somewhere along the lines, I’ve mentioned that crazy girls make the best FagHags. I diagnosed you way before Dr. D. did. ha! Speaking of Dr. D., his Tweets were hilarious! I had no idea he was goin’ on about you.
    Love, m.

  4. Welcome to my worlddddddd.. truth, at some point there is hope it can be controlled without meds. Another truth diet and exercise can play a HUGE HUGE role in controlling and helping in depression, anxiety, and PTSD. Another truth there is NO SHAME in needing meds. The shame is not feeling safe enough to admit that you have something going on, or people who love you not loving you enough to go hey let’s meet this head on and beat the hell out of it cause you are a winner like that. That is the only shame. You got this momma, trust me they make us unique. Like a someecard I posted once. It says You know those filter things that people have that keep them from saying stuff. Yeah those. I don’t have one. BWHAHAHAHAH..

  5. It’s just a whole lot of alphabet & it doesn’t define you & it’s not who you are forever. Just for now. And that is ok. I would much prefer the letters than the numbness, the muteness, the pretending, the masking, the torture of not being diagnosed at all. Yeah, that might not be helping so strike that.
    You write beautifully & you’re honesty & rawness is so very very brave. Just keep telling yourself, they’re just letters. Some people study for years & years to get letters after their names. We just go a little CRAY. (And how funny to think of your therapist being on Twitter – like he was probably reaching out to other shrinks to get his alphabet soup cooking!)

  6. Acceptance comes with time and with realizing that what we were doing wasn’t working and what we are doing does work. Ive seen people come off meds with all sorts of alphabet soup so it doesn’t mean more than this is what you need NOW. If I can be helpful at all, please let me know. {hugs}

  7. You and me? Twinsies. I have stigma with being on drugs. part of my hang up is the pharmaceutical companies but that is a whole other story. It’s tough but you KNOW it is helping you. I think that is the silver lining here. Like with your attempt to drop Celexa, you saw that it was doing what it was supposed to. No shame.

    And overall thank you for writing this. I hope someone stumbles upon this in a late night google search for answers. You make it all so real and accessible. Just superb work, my dear.

  8. I describe it as being fragile – and yes, I hate it, too. I hate that I have to do carefully manage my meds and diet and sleep and that change affects me more than “normal” people. I accept it and deal with it – but I resent it, too, and wish it wasn’t there.

    I get it, is what I’m saying. xo

  9. Oh, Katie! That must have been so hard to hear. But please know this does not mean you will need to be on meds your entire life. I had all the same diagnoses and for me they always reared their ugly heads at about the 5 month pp time. Rest assured that the medication will see you through until you need it too.

    Lots of love honey. It does get easier. xoxo

  10. Been there. Had my meds doubled. Had the same fears. Had the same anger (why do I need meds at all?!?). I remember thinking that I truly must be mentally ill if they are so willing to double my meds. Then I think the doctor didn’t know what to do with the crying snotty mess of me in her office and when she said more meds? I must have brightened for she not only doubled my antidepressent she prescribed another! But you know what…it got me through. And you know what else? Today I still take antidepressants, but only one and it’s not doubled. Here’s hoping you can, one day, write the same thing.

  11. I love you. That’s all.

  12. Just wanted to say I totally understand- I hate being the way I am– often.

    Also, I take sertraline (zoloft) for anxiety and it really helps and it is not a scary med- just a normal one. Mine is social anxiety, I don’t know if that’s different.

    I’m also cutting back on meds because of pregnancy right now- it’s going okay but it’s difficult to be reminded of old days with a lot more anxiety in them. I hope your new diagnoses and meds help you to feel like yourself again.

    Rae (journey mama.)

  13. Thank you for this post. I read it wanting to hug you for for being so open and honest, but also because I know how many others you have just helped by talking about it. Depression & anxiety issues are so often a punch line and the reality is that oh so many of us are punching through the illness every day. So thank you. Seriously.

  14. I am really proud of you for approaching it immediately. I have read some research that says the best length of time to try an anti-depressant is a minimum of 5 years for those who suffer more than situational depression. You are exactly right to compare it to diabetes, though. It’s real, it’s an illness and you shouldn’t feel bad about needing to treat it.

  15. Mamaintheburbs says

    I know its hard when a dr increases your meds. It’s scarey, uncomfortable and you are right to question it. Perhaps you are on a small dose to begin with. I just went through the same thing do I totally understand. I also uses to suffer from GA and panic attacks. I took a drug called buspar many years ago and it totally helped me with all the what ifs. I’m now off that med and taking something else for my bad bout of depression. I think it was very courageous of you to post this and to discuss such intimate details about your mental health. I will say reading it makes me feel like I’m not alone. And I thank you got that. I do hope all the med changes help. I’m sure you will be writing about it and I look forward to reading your blog. Sending you a big hug!!!!

  16. I’m trying to figure out where this post from 2 weeks ago is because you didn’t link it?

    You’re going to be okay. I’m over 3 years postpartum from my third child, who is the only child I had PPD with. Now? I’m Bipolar. PPD triggered it. What you’re dealing with right now is fixable. Minute to minute is much easier than day to day. The smaller the time gaps the easier it will be. It’s okay to walk away for a while and breathe. Your kids and your husband will be okay when/if you do that.

    I know what it’s like to have the alphabet following you around. It plain sucks.

  17. I love you. Whatever alphabet soup is part of you and whatever meds you take. Letters are letters and numbers are numbers. You are you.

  18. First of all, you are so brave. And good for you for reaching out for the help you need. But I also want to say that I’m sorry. I’m sorry that you have alphabet soup and that you’re feeling unsure of the changes this doctor wants to make. (A situation I think would be more difficult having never met this doctor before and not feeling the most comfortable in his office. I see a female psychiatrist and while she’s not the same as my therapist I feel more comfortable with her than I would a man. But that’s just how I am.)

    I started seeing a psychiatrist this spring after six years with my therapist simply because my regular doctor and I could not find an antidepressant that worked for me. Every one would cause my depression to be better but my anxiety to be worse. (Something I find quite ironic considering they are also prescribed for anxiety.) Anyway, it is a long and frustrating path and is not over yet, but I try to remind myself that it will get better. And that’s what my doctor is trying to help me with.

    I know that it’s scary and frustrating and not fair. I am SO with you there. Just know that there are so many people out here who can relate in some way, who are rooting for you, who really care.

    (And now that my comment is way to long, I’m done.) Hugs to you, my dear.

  19. Katie, first of all sending you a big {hug}, secondly, as much as it sucks that you have to go through this you are one step ahead by admitting you need help and getting it. A lot of people look at all this alphabet soup and say it’s hog wash… but you know it isn’t. Reading your blog and others like it really has opened my eyes to these struggles and helped me better help my best friend deal with her issues. So again, yay for blogging and people like you who are honest and share their struggles. I wish you the best and hope things will get better!

  20. THIS is what makes what you’re doing: being a mother AND managing your health, so HEROIC.

    People, how I wish people, would say just how DAMN HARD it is to do anything that the “average” person does, when you have mental health issues involved.

    Some days, just waking up and making yourself smile and and get dressed, showered, make lunch: is the same as climbing Mt Everest.

    Because it is every bit as hard as climbing Mt Everest. TO US, it is.

    Keep on fighting for yourself, your life, your family, Katie: we know what it’s like, and It IS WORK.

    We love you.

  21. Oh sweetie. I am so sorry. I am so glad you have a strong support system of people who know these illnesses, who have them, who have conqored them. I completely understand the bafflement at new diagnoses and the helplessness. I sometimes wonder if I will ever be ‘normal’ and hve huge jealousy towards those ‘normal’ people and how easy it is for them to be carefree and happy. My latest round of Meds have change my life and I have a feeling we are on something similar. If you want to chat, I am always here for you. Hugs mama

  22. First of all, we are all so proud of you for tackling this problem head on. You are doing a fabulous job and Charlie and Eddie are lucky to have you for a mother!!!

    All of those letters, they suck. They do. But, they are truly treatable.

    My letters are PTSD (first and loudest), PPA and PPOCD (last and smallest). The first one? As weird as it is to say, it’s so treatable with good therapy. My therapist has made a WORLD of difference. I had a very awful c/s that I felt, and I also never wanted a c/s and still hate that I had one. She has totally shifted the way I remember it. Look into some EMDR therapy, or suggest it to your therapist. It really really helps.

    The thing about PPA and PPOCD is they are often fueled by PTSD. Your body is on overdrive, trying to protect you at every turn, thinking everything is a threat. That causes you to overreact to small stimuli, create overwhelming anxieties and try to control whatever you can. For me at least, once we started dealing with the PTSD, everything else came down a notch. We still had to deal with it, but it was much more managable, and I have been able to avoid meds so far.

    Please let me know if you want any information about my therapy for PTSD. I do not have PPD, but I know you are a freaking rock star and will deal with all of this and come out on top.

    You’re doing great, Katie. And you should be proud of how hard you are working to be the best mother/wife/person you can be. ANd you’re already pretty great, so I’d say you’re hitting a homerun 🙂 (A Miguel Cabrera walk-off homerun. The best kind.)

  23. You’re right, it’s not fair.
    Now is not forever, though. Try your best (I often forget) to hate the illness and love yourself.

  24. Totally not fair. But I’m so proud of you for reaching out. You are such a good momma.

  25. I missed that original post because I was on an impromptu break/vacation – so now I’ll say what I would have said then and still mean now:

    You are brave.
    I am here.

    That is all.

  26. I am devastated that you have to go through this, but I am happy that you are open and honest about it. I struggle with the exact same issues, and for so long, mental health issues carried a huge stigma. The more we communicate with each other about our struggles, the better we can help one another.

    I recently posted about GAD and the “big D” as I call it. http://murraysmomma.blogspot.com/2012/07/while-walking-duncan-guest-post-sort-of.html

    Feel better, and thanks for writing about this painful topic.

  27. That alphabet soup is part of you but it does not define you. You are amazing. Sending you much love.

  28. Your description of your doctor totally made me think about my daughter’s. She refused to see him without me because he was so awkward. (I’m sure he thought I was a total helicopter, overbearing mom). He would say the strangest, most unhelpful things. Daughter: I know it sounds paranoid, but when I see a group of kids talking at school I immediately think they must be talking about me. Dr. Dorkhead: Well, maybe they are.

    I think his point was, if they are, she needs to learn to cope — but he always worded things so badly. Luckily, she has an amazing therapist, and we’ve managed to find a new “medicine manager” (though it’s practically impossible with teens).

    Anyway, as you have already said — this doesn’t define you. You are your own kind of wonderful. This whole thing makes you special — which may not always feel positive to you — but you’re able to relate to the world differently. This is probably why you’re not an accountant. But a writer. And an amazing one at that. And you’re someone who your students can relate to much more so than that boring Nordic science teacher who walks through a boring life without emotions or useful turmoil.

    Needing medications sucks. *ANY* kind of medication. But people take medications for all kinds of shit and it doesn’t make them any less “whole”.

    Stay strong, Sister. 🙂

  29. Katie,

    You are damn strong and awesome that I don’t even think that you know it. You are making yourself a better mother and person. You are dealing with trials with grace and helping other’s while you do it.

    Those only mean that you are sick and you are doing things to get better… and you will get better.

  30. I can only tell you I am proud of you and offer my support in any way I can. And I will give you two more letters, but hopefully they will not be a load to carry. xo

  31. doubling your anti-depressant doesn’t mean that you will need to be at that dose forever and being on an anti-depressant doesn’t mean you will have to take it forever. they are there when we need them, some of us need them forever (me) and others only need them sometimes. don’t be scared of the anti-anxiety meds, they are no big whoop, they won’t make you feel comatose or anything, but if you are feeling some anxiety coming on, you can take one and it will most likely take the edge off. you can turn your diagnosis into alphabet soup, but the fact of the matter is, it’s really not alphabet soup, they have names and we just use the letters to shorten them up a bit. whatever you do, don’t be scared, it’s going to be ok, you’ve been there before and you’ve totally got this. the most important thing is being able to recognize that you need help and once you figure that out, which you’ve done, you can move onward and upward. i believe it was howard jones who once said “things can only get better.” keep fighting the good fight, stay strong and remember, you WILL get through this.

  32. It isn’t fair. But I have to say…I’m impressed at how head-on you are tackling this. And how honest you’re being. thank you for sharing…it’s helped me, as I currently deal with some things going on in my head.

  33. But alphabet soup is delicious! Thank you for sharing your struggle. It isn’t fair, but I bet more people than you realize are on medication. I suffer from anxiety/depression and doubled my meds in February after having my father, FIL and grandmother-in-law die in a little over 12 months. I used to hate that psychiatry had reduced what made us human to the firing or mis-firing of certain chemicals and synapses but honestly, I’m so relieved there are medications to take. Stay strong; we’re here for you.

  34. Reading this, I’m reminded that I need to get my ass back to a regular therapist.


    I love that you’re keeping on top of being healthy — but, yeah, alphabet soup is absolutely no fun to have thrown at you (literally or through medical means). I can’t tell you the number of therapists that I’ve passed over because I felt “too clinical” in talking to them . . . yeah, I got to explain things, but I felt that there was always a push to say “this person has x y and z wrong with them and that’s best fixed with drugs a b and c,” where I’m just hoping to find someone to help me see what the fuck is wrong with me (and then help fix it, but I need to understand my diagnosis before I’ll even consider a drug).

    So, if I had a therapist who was just looking at & typing into a computer the whole time, I’d start searching twitter for “pervert, low sense of self, depression, seriously, perverted” on twitter.

    That would work well.

  35. Oh, wow. I’m so very glad I stumbled in here today. You honestly have no idea.

    I have been on Celexa for the past 6 months or so. About a year ago, I had my very first panic attack at a Phish concert and my mind has been playing tricks on me ever since. Going to concerts (Phish shows in particular) takes me to a happy place and the fact that I had an attack there has made it extremely difficult to go out in social situations: movies, parties, weddings, you name it (sometimes even just the elevator in the building or the subway to work in the morning)~they all left me feeling incredibly anxious.

    I don’t know anyone else who has been on Celexa personally.

    It’s difficult to hear you need a bump in the dosage. Because you start to internalize and think there’s something wrong with you, when in fact, you are not in the minority, here. There are so many others who suffer in silence: YOU are being proactive and YOU are seeking help. As all of your visitors here have pointed out, there is no shame in admitting we can’t tackle it all on at once. Get the help you need first, and I’m sure eventually the anxiety will subside and you’ll be able to live your life with some semblance of peace.

    I am always available to chat if you’d like to continue offline. XOXO

  36. I can sorta relate to the whole Dr. D thing. Before I started visiting Dr. Hotze (who diagnosed me with Perimenopause), I was always running around trying to explain to doctors that I felt absolutely horrible, and they kept telling me it was all in my head. It’s really important that you seek out a good diagnosis and ways to help yourself- I’m happy you took the initiative! It can only get better.

  37. I hear ya! I was talking with J about how frustrated and annoyed I was about all the health stuff I have to worry about before I can even try to get pregnant. Annoying and unfair! AGREED!

  38. Oh sweets, I know how much labels suck. You are you. like everyone has been saying: you are an awesome mom that Charlie and Eddie are lucky to have. Especially with you getting the help you know you need. Those letters? mean nothing. They do not define you, they do not make you the wonderful woman you are. I have OCD, GAD, ADHD and Bipolar2. All started by PPD. We will not let this crap define us, we cant. Like my husband says, concentrate on the good: Jesus, the kids and him (my hubby). All the rest will fall into place.

  39. I can relate in many ways. It has been over 3 years since I went through intrusive thoughts with my daughter & I still feel some anger about that & think about why/how this all happened. Just a year ago, I finally reached out for help & was diagnosed with the Anxiety & OCD & then a few months ago was told I have some PTSD in there with it. I still refer the OCD to “Postpartum OCD” because I am still learning how to come to terms with being diagnosed with this. Thanks for being so open & honest.

  40. I Love YOU (the alphabet and all)!!


  41. I love you. You are amazing and brave and bealutiful and strong. We WILL get there. We WILL be better for our famlies. I’m proud of you for seeing yourself slipping and getting it taken care of quickly. You’re a true inspiration and I’m so very happy to know you. Thank you for sharing this with everyone. There’s not a whole lot of light in the lives of women suffering from PPD and PPA; but at 4am when the tension won’t release and we turn to the internet for support…your post will be there for them to read. Then they will know they aren’t alone.

  42. Three…okay, four things:

    I love you.

    You’re not alone.

    You know where to find me.

    I puffy heart love you for this post.

  43. You are an awesome person, not only for sharing this story but for being you.

  44. This has been on my mind lately. I wondered if anyone who went through PPA/D the first time ever admitted to going through it again? And you have – so beautifully.

    My thoughts and prayers are with you. Thanks for always being so open and honest.

  45. Do you ever wonder what chinese alphabet soup would look like?
    I do.
    It makes me giggle.
    Anyrandomness, labels suck but at least they tell us what to expect and how to work with it.
    Does it lesson the blow and make it suck less?
    They don’t make you who you are deep down inside. You’re Katie. You’re not PPD A Q Z Motha Fuckin to the S….you’re Katie.
    Don’t forget that.
    And that we are all here for you.
    You’re not alone.
    You’re brave for reaching out to all of us.
    Unlike myself who ran as fast as I could over the hills and under a rock…without a blanket…or chinese alphabet soup.

  46. No, all those letters do not define who you are and i think that is really important to remember. Each and every day as you work with them to find the clarity and calm. As always, I’m sending you hugs and strength. xoxo


  1. […] also want to thank Kate from Sluiter Nation for sharing her story about PPD and PPA.  She blogged about a recent episode and immediately sought treatment.  After dealing with it with her first son she knew the signs well this go around and has been […]