Disclaimer: I am not a medical professional by any means. The following is not intended to be used as medical advice. These are simply my personal experiences with Prozac. My personal position is that medications are helpful and effective in the treatment of Depression and Anxiety. To figure out which medication is right for you, please contact your physician.
I have a love/hate relationship with depression medication. There’s something repellent to me about putting a foreign, opaque capsule in your body without actually knowing what it contains and what the contents actually do. But try as I might to be free from the clutches of Big Pharma, I just can’t seem to stay away.
I’ve broken up with the little pill on several occasions. The first time was when I was 14 after I was convinced that I was “cured” (ha, ha). Since then, I’ve experienced a never-ending loop one might expect from an abusive relationship: I’m fed up with my medication, and after a few months of quitting, I would beg for it back. Try as I might, I always came crawling, on hands and knees, back to medicine.
In the years since this hellish cycle, I’ve finally learned something vital: I’m much better on medication than off of it. You can preach to me all day about how antidepressants don’t work, how no one actually knows how they work, or how they are just a scam. I’ve heard the horrifying studies that suggest that antidepressants *may*eventually lead to dementia or cognitive decline. As utterly unappealing as the possibility of fudging up my brain forever sounds, it in no way compares to having to live with full-fledged depression. As sad as the reality of chemical dependence and all of the risks are, it doesn’t change the fact that I need it. (If you have any doubts about this, just ask my mom. She has had hundreds of texts and crying calls from me to prove it). (You can also see this post for proof).
So I’m back on medicine once again. The doctor prescribed 40 mgs of Prozac this time. Here’s the rundown on how well it’s worked out for me*: (Spoiler alert: it’s hard, but dang. I’d rather be on it than off of it).
The good: I’m happy
CAN I GET A HALLELUJAH AMEN???!! Yes, my friends, I feel good. Really good. I feel like myself again, honestly.
The (sort of) bad: I’m too happy…(?) Don’t get me wrong, I’m grateful beyond words that I’m no longer depressed, but there are moments where my happiness feels… a bit off. It’s as though I’m artificially ecstatic about things that would make absolutely no one happy. Like I have a weird, overly-enthusiastic obsession with cheese now?
Another odd thing it that sometimes it seems as though I’m content with things that normally would emotionally steamroll me. For instance, my sister recently left the country for 18 months, and I was for sure sad, but I wasn’t that sad. As in, I wasn’t Alison sad, who would normally be wrecked. Maybe this seems normal to most people, but I was more excited for her than depressed over her leaving. It’s weird, but I think it’s a good thing.
The good: My mind is freed up to focus
This is a biggie. When I’m in a bad place and on an anxiety spiral, which is weirdly often, working feels impossible. I have to address my feelings right then and there, which makes it pretty dang hard to do things like get work done.
So yeah, this is huge. Not worrying about weird things has suddenly made me realize, “so this is how people actually have time to have interests and professions–and you know, lives.”
The bad: I don’t have any energy to do anything
yeah, my mind is free, but it’s also tired. I should add that I’ve been sick, so this could very well contribute greatly to my fatigue. But now that I’m back on Prozac on an even higher dose, I clearly remember what it was like when I was on it before. So that was what was wrong with me back then. To be honest, I sort of just assumed I was dying. During my first round of Prozac, my then-boyfriend would constantly tease me because I could never make it through a movie without falling asleep. He’d also become frustrated when I’d fall asleep at the wheel for a few moments. Yes, you heard me right. Late nights and a semi-long distance dude were a life-threatening combination for me when I was on Prozac.
I know you’re probably wondering why I’d go on a medicine that would almost kill me. Trust me, I talked to my doc about it, and he said that if I eased into it, I might have less severe side-effects. Yeah, no. At 40 mgs, what used to be a quirky and sometimes extremely hazardous side-effect is now nearly debilitating. The grogginess has, interestingly enough, doubled when I doubled my dose. This is not only annoying, but it’s troubling for me. See, for me, being on Prozac means that you don’t get to decide when you fall asleep. Remember Inside Out? Well imagine a guy in my brain holding a button to control sleep, but he’s pressing the buzzer like he’s Ken Jennings on Jeopardy.
Let me be clear that I don’t have narcolepsy (it’s not as though I’m falling asleep standing on the sidewalk while people quietly steal grocery bags out of my hands). But the Ken in my brain is not only an early-to-bed kinda guy, but he’s also a late-riser. Did I mention he likes naps? Because he LOVES naps. Old Kenny could nap the whole day away.
But hey, at least I’m not depressed, right??
- I’m more money-savvy. Or at least I’m more motivated to take control of areas of my life that I’d neglected before. I also realized I’m
sort ofa slob, so I’m working on that now, too.
- I have no fear in social situations, which is both FANTASTIC and potentially embarrassing.
- Sometimes people will talk to me and I realize when they’re done speaking that I zoned out everything they just said. Whoops.
- My dreams are weird. Not just kind of weird, but really dang weird. In the space of a week, I’ve already dreamt about plane crashes, Nazis, corpses, ghosts, having a baby, public urination, living inside an Altoids box, and dating Donald Glover. I’m not really upset about that last dream, to be honest.
The bottom line is that I believe that even with all of the side effects, it’s helping me, and I’m not going to give up medication. (FYI: I’m going to get my medicine adjusted ASAP. There’s a chance that he could find me some sort of an upper to help with the drowsiness–or put me on a new prescription altogether).
*This is just my experience with it. Keep in mind that this isn’t some laboratory situation where all factors are controlled–there could be a million reasons why these things are happening that have nothing to do with the meds. Let me also be clear that what’s happening to me very likely may not happen to you. Everyone’s reactions to medications are vastly different and are dependent on a TON of factors. I would hate for my post to dissuade anyone from seeking treatment because they’re worried about side effects. If I’ve realized anything over the last few years is that if at first you don’t succeed, try try again. This goes for medications as well. Just because one medicine doesn’t jive with you doesn’t mean they’re all bad. Depression makes you believe that nothing’s going to help you, but I can tell you that medication does help some people. If you do experience unpleasant side effects from medication, make sure that you call your doctor right away.
The key here is that you do not have to settle on living a crappy life.