Prozac Poster Girl

I switched around some of my psych meds today, as the previous combo had lost a bit of its normal "oomph." And they messed with my sleep habits (however un-habitual they are), so I decided it was time for a change.

I'm starting back on Prozac. My psychiatrist presented me with several options, and part of me initially shied away from Prozac because it seemed so cliche. Girl gets sad. Girl takes Prozac.

Except, of course, sadness ain't depression. Not by a long shot.

I don't want to have to take meds and know that I will likely need to keep taking them for the rest of my life. I don't do well without psych meds. That being said, diabetics don't do well without insulin and while it might be a pain to stick yourself with a needle several times a day, the alternative sucks. Same here. For me, it's more of the idea of being dependent on some little pill, a little organic molecule, just to get out of bed in the morning.

And this got me thinking: I'm lucky enough to have treatment providers and family and friends who understand that my depression, anxiety, and anorexia are biologically based mental illnesses. Granted, it took some of them quite a long time to understand this and even longer for some of them to get beyond the "you can just snap out of this" mentality as well. I'm also lucky enough to be able to understand and access some of the latest research.

If I'm having this difficulty accepting my illnesses and the need for medication, what must it be like for other people?

Maybe Prozac is cliche. Maybe it is overprescribed- I don't know. But that doesn't mean it's not necessary for me and for others like me. I am trying to be grateful that effective treatments for depression and anxiety and anorexia exist, period, however cliche it may be and however much I may resent needing the treatment.

Really, it's just a pill. It's not a judgment of me or my ability to cope. Nor is depression a reflection of my character. It's the hand of cards I got, the genetic luck of the draw, and sometimes you just have to suck it up and start playing the hand you've got.

15 comments:

Sarah said...

Carrie, I took my first dose (of this round) of Prozac yesterday. I'm going to write an entire post about how OKAY I am with being back on my medications. I'll probably link back to this because you've been able to eloquently write out the feelings I'm experiencing. Your last paragraph really touched me and it'll probably be something I quote!
Thanks for sharing!
Sarah

Carrie Arnold said...

I'm working on being okay with my meds- mostly I do accept it. It also helps that I'm practically non-functional without them, as the cost vs. benefits are much easier to understand.

I think people tend to see illnesses from the neck down as much more "real" than those that exist within the brain. Even though I get that psychiatric illnesses are very much real, all of that cultural learning still trips me up from time to time.

Reagan said...

This is me EXACTLY!! My therapist has to remind me that people who need help with their eyesight (which is pretty essential, I think we'd all agree) wear glasses to correct it, and my medication is just like that. Thanks for posting this!

Carrie Arnold said...

Oooh- I really like the eyesight analogy. Thanks for sharing!

elizabeth said...

yes, to all this. I feel like I am constantly defending my need for medication. It is frusterating.

Sarah said...

I'm lucky enough to have treatment providers and family and friends who understand that my depression, anxiety, and anorexia are biologically based mental illnesses. Granted, it took some of them quite a long time to understand this and even longer for some of them to get beyond the "you can just snap out of this" mentality as well. I'm also lucky enough to be able to understand and access some of the latest research.boy, do I relate to this, Carrie, both as a person with depression/anxiety and as an addict. also this:

Nor is depression a reflection of my character. It's the hand of cards I got, the genetic luck of the draw, and sometimes you just have to suck it up and start playing the hand you've got.There are lots of days when I just think, I don't want to have all this s--- wrong with me. I don't want to be the one who is sick. I don't want to be the one who is seen differently, who has an illness(es) that many people don't understand and see as a moral failing or character flaw.

But it's what I have and I need to treat it. Every day.

Another fantastic post.

Laura Collins said...

Wonderful post. Wonderful.

anon mom said...

It always helps me to reference our son, who is on the PDD spectrum, when I think about medication. He could be in any kind of managment or developemental or therapeutic treatment for 100 years, and it would never accomplish what a little bit of Abilify allows him to do.

Because he seemed so "fine" and OK and without symptoms/obsessionality/fears ... and because it was causing high blood-sugar, we tried taking him off. All of the above "came back."

It was astonishing to see such a black-and-white, graphic illustration of brain-based issues. We started him back on it, and he again blends in seemlessly with his peers; exhibits none of the marked behaviors; and is *happy* and high-funcitioning.

It's all about being able to live life.

Just Eat It! said...

It took a serious depressive episode when I didn't have my meds to accept that I did need them. It's harder for me to accept that I will likely have to take them for the rest of my life. Sometimes I feel like a psychiatric guinea pig because of all the meds I've been through.

I've been on every single cliche depression medication before: Prozac, Abilify, Zoloft, etc. You know, the ones where they have the obnoxious commercials for during the news. I hate the stigma that comes with taking very brand-name medications like that.

Carrie Arnold said...

Thank you for all of your feedback- really, it means a lot.

I do a lot better with understanding my need to take psych meds than my acceptance that I do in fact need to take them. But I guess the important thing is that I'm taking them and that they do help. The acceptance--the FULL acceptance--isn't crucial at this point. Being open and honest about the fact that I take meds and I will likely always take meds and that's okay really helps in this manner.

Holly said...

I know exactly what you mean about being "cliched" taking Prozac, I struggle with this too. Thanks for posting :)

marcella said...

Brilliant post. Meds are something that I struggle with and which have caused conflict within our family. I'm much more chilled out about them now - perhaps it's my Citalopram!

Susie said...

Do you ever worry that when/if the meds work everyone will assume you are cured and ok?

now the Lofepramine seems to be working i'm scared of what people will expect of me.... move out of home? get a full time job? get a social life?

Carrie Arnold said...

Susie,

Yes and no. Even when my meds "work," I still have low levels of depression and anxiety, although I can use coping skills to deal with it. Getting good meds is just the start of healing and recovery. I believe in therapy alongside medication, but when I'm super-depressed and anxious, it's hard for therapy to take hold.

Susie said...

i feel the same can be said for my mood despite the meds having made improvements yet today my GP's phrase was "dare to be normal"

Do meds allow you to be normal? is that why we take them?

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I'm a science writer, a jewelry design artist, a bookworm, a complete geek, and mom to a wonderful kitty. I am also recovering from a decade-plus battle with anorexia nervosa. I believe that complete recovery is possible, and that the first step along that path is full nutrition.

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