10/20/13

Life After Prozac - My Confessional

Following the collapse of the World Trade Towers on September 11, 2001, I fell into a very deep depression. As I watched the deaths of my fellow Americans live on television, fear and dread seeped into my heart. The helplessness and hopelessness enveloped every part of my soul. My mood swings got worse and I found myself struggling to control my emotions. I was angry. I was sad. I began to withdraw into myself.

After spending weeks grieving, I finally sought out the advice of my physician, who recommended taking an anti-depressant. We tried several that had horrible side effects on me, from constant itching to hateful outbursts. Prozac finally gave me the relief I needed. Honestly, I was embarrassed to be taking Prozac. I thought it meant I was somehow crazy. Few people knew I was on medication, but it truly made a difference in my life. One little pill every day helped monitor my mood swings, keep me upbeat, and even lessened the pre-menopausal symptoms that were creeping in as I aged. Prozac changed the chemical balance of my body, which was what I needed at the time.

I bounced back and began to love my life again. I loved my job, working with preschoolers, and everyone knows you need to be positive and cheerful in a job of that importance. Still, I wondered if the parents would leave their children in my care if they knew I was on Prozac. Although I never had any negative side effects other than some weight gain, horror stories often hit the news about people going "off their rocker" while taking it, so I kept my secret hidden. Months turned into years, and I kept finding reasons NOT to stop taking it. As my own kids turned into teenagers and began to do those annoying things that teenagers do, Prozac helped me to keep my calm in the face of teen attitudes. Basically, it helped me not care as much.

As I dropped off my two youngest children at college this fall, I vowed that it was time to stop taking Prozac. Knowing that quitting Prozac "cold turkey" has caused some people to do some crazy things, I set myself up on a schedule to wean off slowly. Since it was a daily medication, I began to take one every other day, for about a week. The next week, I changed it to every third day, and the final week was every four days, until I was staring at the last Prozac I would allow myself to ingest. As I swallowed the last pill, I felt a sense of relief, coupled with a sense of quiet fear.

Could I do this? After ten full years of allowing a synthetic medication to moderate my emotions, I was afraid that I would become someone I didn't like. Worse, I was afraid that I would become someone my husband didn't like. After all, he is the only person living with me now, so if I "lost it" he would probably be around at the time.

It's now been over a month since that last pill. I've discovered that I CAN do this. Has it been easy? Not all the time. Now that I am actually FEELING emotions again, I feel much more deeply. Hearing something inspirational now gets me all choked up to the point I can't talk. Singing God's praises in my church now brings me to real tears. When I find myself missing my children (who are now grown up and living their own lives), I experience a deep, aching longing to see them again.

There have been a few close calls where anger is concerned, but all those years of teaching preschoolers how to redirect their angry emotions has come in handy. I can feel the devil standing next to me, knowing that I'm weaker without the crutch of medication, and waiting to tempt me towards an angry outburst when I am feeling stressed, overwhelmed, or incapable.

Overall, I am winning. I am happy to be free and I'm learning to better cope with having freer, deeper emotions. The best part is that now I can LOVE more deeply, feel JOY more richly, and experience my faith and my life with more HOPE. One of the best side effects of freeing myself from synthetic medication is that I've already lost 14 pounds in the last month! I also think my husband is enjoying my deeper passion!

So...YES! There IS life after Prozac! Just don't piss me off. {kidding! mostly.}

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18 comments:

  1. Congratulations and my you continue to be successful and experience the joys of life with God by your side.

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    1. Thank you. With God all things are possible!

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  2. I too say Congratulations-- I know that sinking and sad feeling -- it was very,very overwhelming-- I lost two of my friend from church that day, and I will never ever for get it-- I was numb for a long time.But it is not a sign of weakness,or shame when a person needs a little help, we all do at sometime in our stressful lives. It really is to bad that other people who do need help don't see it an help themself.

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    1. Thank you. I hope my writing of this post helps someone!

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  3. thank you for sharing its not often easy to talk about things that have a stigma attached to them.... congrats may you have many more days of joy

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    1. I agree that it isn't easy to talk about. I've been mulling over the wording of this post for a few weeks. Then, right before publishing it, I hesitated for a second. Thank you!

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  4. That is a very courageous thing that you did--weaning yourself off a powerful mood modifier. 911 affected us all one way or another-I still shiver whenever I see an airplane flying low in the sky-that will probably never leave me. I live just outside NYC as I'm sure you know by now. I thought about taking something back then, but, medications work opposite on me. I am so glad you are now yourself again--moods and all!!

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    1. Low-flying planes do the same to me. We saw a small plane yesterday flying low, directly at us, over the highway yesterday as we were returning from the Fort Worth/Dallas events. It definitely startled us and my husband wondered if it was going to make an emergency landing, but it veered away from the road.

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  5. Good for you! I wish you nothing but continued success.

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  6. Congratulations! My daughter has depression and I know it's not an easy thing to deal with.

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  7. Praying for your continued success. Our God is able.

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  8. Happy, ecstatic and truly blessed to have you any way I can. Wife, best friend and the sexiest thing I've ever seen in a pair of boots (or out of them). #divineintervention

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