Then ; Now

If you or someone you know is struggling with thoughts of self-harm or suicide, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or text CONNECT to 741741 in the United States.

I no longer recognize that version of myself. 

The version from the hospital, from the bathroom floor, and from long before the bathroom floor. The version who was sloooooowly being crushed under the weight of her anxiety, the one who walked around with a pained, twisted smile pretending to enjoy a conversation or activity but who was more than likely too preoccupied with arguing with some corner of her brain hissing thoughts like run, panic, window, glass, goodbye

The version who wanted to stay home, to stay in bed. For whom Jason would cautiously lock up all the Tylenol and Advil before leaving her alone. 

That particular safeguard started happening just over a year ago; we didn't get there overnight. The descent is slow and sneaky. 

I blamed my work stress, household stress, the election, that fucking garbage-haired racist buffoon, my period. There was always something I could point at and blame for why I was feeling so unsettled and unbearably anxious.

(The depression, on the other hand, was harder to justify. But that's the hallmark trap it sets: You have no reason or right to feel this way. Now shut up and listen while I describe, in detail, what a miserable useless piece of shit you are.)

Plus, I've always been an anxious person. My whole life, since I was a child! I mean, the panic attacks aren't great. Okay, fine. I'll sack up and get a prescription and go back into therapy. But it's not like I'm ever going to wake up one day and just NOT be an anxious person, right? 

But then...I did. And I wasn't. 

I mentioned how great it was to be at the beach with other children vs. babies and toddlers, but I actually spent our week there marveling at how great it is to be at the beach when you're not anxious and depressed anymore.

Last year I woke up on our water park day and told Jason that I couldn't, I just can't, and stayed in bed all day staring at a single frayed thread in the carpet.

This year, I woke up and took my kids to the goddamn water park. 

(Sure, I chickened out at the top of a water slide line because I got spooked by the metal-hoop-and-netting structure over the top of it, but that's mostly because I am old and have read entirely too much information on literally everything that can go wrong literally everywhere, but the POINT IS: I just said, "On second thought...nah." and went back to the wave pool instead of having an embarrassing panicked breakdown in front of a teenage lifeguard.)

There are still things that are a Little Hard, but I've recognized those things and am able to find ways to make them Less Hard. (If you haven't seen the Twitter thread about depression and The Impossible Task, please abandon Ye Old Blog Ramblings at once and read that instead.) I leave my phone charger downstairs so I have to get up in the morning. I turned off all my news alerts and limit news consumption to 30 minutes a day. When I find myself procrastinating on completing a work task or returning and email or whatever I'm slowly allowing to become Impossible, I take a deep breath and count backwards from five. When I'm avoiding making a phone call (which is always, and all of them), Jason dials the phone for me and hands it over. 

Small coping mechanisms aside, the medication I'm on deserves most of the credit. Buspar is an older anti-anxiety drug that fell out of prescribing fashion because it doesn't work as for as many people as say, Xanax or Ativan. But those didn't work for me either. I stopped taking the benzos because they made me ridiculously tired and even more depressed. And while they could stave off a panic attack, I didn't feel like they did anything for my particular flavor of non-stop, free-floating generalized anxiety.

(I kept picking up my refills, though, thus building up the dangerously tempting stash I took all at once. PLEASE DON'T DO THAT.)

And so, for me (I repeat FOR ME, AND MY OWN BRAIN), Buspar has been a revelation. I don't feel drugged or tired or altered in any way...just...balanced. Normal. Like the kind of person who can wake up and go to a waterpark or just to the desk in her office. Who can go to Vegas without obsessively counting the exits and mapping out a mass shooter/earthquake/hotel fire plan. Who can go to Vegas and laugh, and smile, and do things. 

And who can come home and laugh, and smile, and do things. 

(And all for a $10 co-pay a month. Ten dollars! Every time I pick it up at the pharmacy I stare at that number for awhile, like, wow.)

I know sometimes things work for awhile and then they don't, for whatever reason. I know that I can never just like, *dust hands* and put this whole unpleasant business behind me without a second thought. I will always nee to be vigilant against the Sneaky Spiral and the traps it sets. 

But there's a clearer distinction between then and now. I'm good, I'm happy. Now. 









this is so wonderful to read. I hope you keep well


I'm so glad you're in a better place. One of the reasons I'm taking my 8 year old with social and generalized to therapy for the first time in a few weeks is that I've suffered with both my entire life and my husband never has. I was trying to explain to him that she needs to start treatment now so that she can develop the tools she needs for the rest of her life. I'm hoping the head start will help prevent years of needless suffering. He won't hear of her starting meds yet, and I'm okay with that for now. Buspar didn't help me, but Paxil has saved my life. Long live psychiatry!


You're an inspiring, eloquent, MF badass, and I'm so very glad you're here (now) and feeling good. And, on the selfish side, I'm also so very glad someone else is on Buspar (I do Lexapro, too) and that I can recognize my own experience.


Cheering for you!!

Jessie C.

I talked to my doctor after you first posted about Buspirone and it has changed my life. My GAD is virtually gone. I can fall asleep in minutes instead of hours and hours. I wake up feeling better and my 3 year old no longer spends the first half of her day on an ipad because Momma can't get out of bed. Thank you. From the bottom of my heart, thank you. You have changed my life.


Amy, I am so, so, so glad to hear this. So glad you found what works for you. It really is night and day, isn't it!?! I resisted medication for a long time because I felt like I had to "do it myself" but my haywire system doesn't fully allow that and the quality of life I get from taking citalopram is just priceless.

Susan, I'm so happy to hear that you're giving your daughter the tools so early!! I've often wondered how my life might have been different if I had had constructive help with my anxiety earlier on. It can feel so overwhelming and terrible and to have someone there explaining why it feels terrible and how it's OKAY that it feels terrible would have prevented or lessened a couple of vicious spirals that led to the need for medication, I think. I wish you and your daughter lots of luck!

Heather Laura Clarke

I love all of this, and it makes me very, very, very glad for you. xo


So very happy to read this, and loving your punctuation.


Yay, yay, yay, yay, and yay! I am so glad!!! Thanks for the update!


So glad you're doing better now! I wish I could give you a big bear hug and tell you how awesome you really are! (I have had ups and downs with meds, too. My magic balancing cocktail is Zoloft and Buspar!)

Elizabeth Miller

So happy you're in a better space, and that the medication you're taking is working.XOXOXOXO


So very happy for you...cheering and rooting for you all the way :)

Lorrian Ippoliti


Lisa Salim

There's no words to express how glad I am for your semi-colon.

Sue W.

So glad you are in a good place and still here with us. You are amazing!


Congratulations on getting to this place! It's so nice to hear how you are experiencing happy times with your family!

Righteous Rage (@chisherman)

<3 <3 <3


Thank you for all of your writing. I am a stranger, but have been reading your blog for years and there has been so much comfort and advice that helped me with my children, pregnancy fears, breastfeeding, everything. I feel you've been always been there for me, in a sense, that is not supposed to be creepy. You are a good writer, your blog and honesty has a positive impact on my life. I am happy you are in a better place, and yourself. I also struggle with anxiety and depression and will definitely be more careful. I always feel I am not 'depressed enough' to need help. Finding full time employment in my dream job after years of giving up hope has helped, but I will take care of myself if I become too anxious/depressed/hopeless again.


So glad to get an update on your recovery. I think about often and it freaks me out to think how things could have gone. I wish emotional stability wasn't something we have to work so hard at!


So, so glad to hear this. Kudos to you and Jason and your care team.


The most impressive part of this post is the part where you said "yeah, I'll pass" on the water slide and walked away. I LOVE THAT SHIT. My past anxiety would have caused me to meltdown, too, so when those water slide moments come up in my life and I just shrug and do something else, it feels like freeeeeeedom! IDGAF! Best ever. So happy that you are doing well! <3


Your post! <3 These comments! <3 Thank you a million times for your openness.

Someone far away

I had to read your suicide posts a couple of times. I wondered why that wasn't me. While I didn't take handfuls of medication, I first took 1360mg of instant release morphine in 4 days. Then I took 3600mg of slow release morphine, in a little under a week. But somehow, I was still here. Your post was my wake-up call. It's a much better wake-up call than any of my 4 kids finding me dead, especially the twin toddlers. It's better than anything that could have happened. I've told no one, except here, and my anonymous mental help support group. I woke in my chair one day, the arm of it covered in blood that I somehow drooled all over it. My daughter said it just came out of my mouth. Everyone just thought I was too tired. And I was. But my problem was I wanted to sleep forever. I hate my life. The only thing that makes my life worth living is my kids. I have no friends. My husband is scum. I'm so alone. I used to think I wanted to be alone, until I found out what alone was. Alone is no friends, for coming on 3 friends. No one to sit with. No one to have coffee with. No one to cry out, help, to. Loneliness is killing me. I don't kill myself, because I never want my kids to wonder why they aren't enough. But I want to. I'm tired of this life.

Someone far away

I meant Ive been friendless three years. Hate that I can't edit my posts


I’m so thrilled to read this.


There is nothing better than this post.


@Someone Far Away I am so sorry things are so hard for you. I hope typing all that out was somewhat therapeutic but if not...if you are not seeing a doctor or therapist or both...PLEASE call or text the numbers at the top of this post. No platitudes from me about kids or life worth living or any of that...you sound close to crisis and I want you to get through this.


This makes me happier than I can say.


@someone far away - please, please, please get help. from one stranger to another, i love you. please remember your brain is lying to you right now and tell it to shut up long enough to put yourself in the hands of someone who can take the reigns for a while so that you can get better. you are so very worth it.


I’m so glad to read your post. @someonefaraway, please do what Amy says. We are all rooting for you, too.

Janna C Reeves

Your writing reaches many corners. I have been lurking around since I stumbled upon you in 2004 because I was looking for shampoo advice. Both our lives have changed so much since then, but I feel like you are a pen pal. I totally look forward to your pictures & ramblings and have enjoyed your kids' adventures & discoveries. I would never dare to tell someone how to feel or what to think (I mean, I'm bossy & full of opinions, but...) but PLEASE know that you are valued & appreciated by kabillions of people. <3 Thank you for your vulnerability, honesty, & strength.

lisa keegan



Big lovehearts to you, Amy. You rock, with style and grace and eloquence.

Laura in Michigan

Wow, this makes me a little uncomfortable. Why, you ask? Because you are describing me for much of my life. I thought it was normal to feel that way. I started taking an antidepressant for PMS, because, you know... it wasn't depression. I wasn't "bad" enough to need medication for depression. But over the years, I realized it was ok to admit that I had depression. But I realize I need to check in with my doc to make sure my meds are right because I am identifying with a lot of what you wrote. And maybe I need a change. And now that I am over the hump of PMS and well into menopause, I can't blame it on PMS anymore.

Sassy Apple

SO SO SO happy to read about your victories. SO SO SO realizing that while I'm better than I was, I'm still not better. Thanks for your transparency that helps SOOOOOOO many people you're not even aware of.


So glad that you are well and seeing life in a good light. I've been reading your work for years and you've been a bright patch for me so very often. I am glad you are better and vigilant. Three cheers for getting to the other side!


I'm so happy to read this update but also so grateful that you shared the entire journey. It was brave of you and it has helped so much. You're doing a great job.


You're so amazing.


Thank you for being exactly yourself. I saw that semicolon in the title and wondered, and was so happy to have my suspicions confirmed in the last photo. So glad you are here.

The comments to this entry are closed.