Pocket Full of Prozac

| May 4, 2017 | 0 Comments

I arrive at the scene. Prescription: filled. Memory: gone. Depression: out.

I am forcibly removed from a healthy state of mental wellness. 

They don’t tell you that finding the right medication to treat your mental illness is a game of trial and error akin to Russian Roulette. Find the right match, and you’re in balanced-chemistry bliss. But the wrong pill can make you feel even worse than you did before and for much longer too.

Shuffling from medication to medication, dosage to dosage, felt a little bit like being in purgatory. Like Dante, I shambled forward, looking for any signs of Paradise.

My first attempt at medicating with something stronger than meditation and Good Vibes ✌™ left me with unchanging symptoms and an intensified sense of an already-severe emetophobia that I have been stuck with ever since. I bounced around for a while. Raising dosages, consulting doctors across state lines, and wondering if it was just “all in my head.” (Note: when talking about mental illness, I don’t know where else one would expect it to be.)

The second phase (the second circle of my personal medical Hell, so to speak) was far more dynamic. And by dynamic, I mean truly one of the worst experiences of my life. If I thought that my moods were volatile when I wasn’t relying on medications, Prozac, like some kind of Depression Master Roshi, showed me my full potential.

“Look at you,” it said kindly, watching as I struggled to grapple with both executive dysfunction and sleeping for two hours a night. “You are like a little baby. Watch this.”

Apathy. Insomnia. Stagnation.

I didn’t sleep. I didn’t care. I just existed, a motionless heap of pajamas and anxiety buried under blankets. When I did go out, I was a zombie. Staggering up and down Comm Ave without a care in the world. A pedestrian with a death wish who crossed streets and T tracks without caring what was coming. A ghost in the lecture hall who was less present in-class than if I had stayed home in the first place. The only time I felt anything was when I was crying or lashing out at those around me, and even those episodes came in short, volatile bursts before I regressed into my trance once more. It was no way to live, and pretty soon I was wishing that I wasn’t.

Salvation came to me in the form of a begrudging visit to the doctor and a newly issued prescription.

Beatrice. Paradise. Generic brand Zoloft.

It didn’t happen over night (these things rarely do), but I found myself thinking with clarity for the first time in years. One day, over a course of gradual awakenings, I sat up and managed to see past the slimy coating of my own internal struggles. I started small: changing my sheets, clearing the trash off of my windowsill, preparing to make the trek home after finals. Slowly but surely, I graduated to cleaning — from organizing  my desk to sweeping out my apartment. I opened my windows, trying to absorb as much natural light as possible in a basement-level apartment facing an alleyway.

But the climb is slow.

I change tenses not because of lazy proofreading, but because my renaissance is far from being done. There are some days that I wake up and I am not completely convinced that the change has even started. Healing is a process, as expansive as the Heavens above our heads and the earth beneath our feet. I don’t know if I’ll ever cross recovery off my to-do list. I don’t think any of us have the capacity to truly heal ourselves without a few slips along those familiar darkened pathways.

Medication wasn’t the Paradise I was looking for. It didn’t help me achieve nirvana. It didn’t magic my mental illness away.

But it gave me a place to start, and that’s all I’m really asking for.

Featured photo credit: topastrodfogna Overeat – Gameover via photopin (license)

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Category: featured, Poetry, Prose and Comedy, Reflections

Vicki Saeed

About the Author ()

The brash speaking voice of a sea-hardened sailor and the softness of a velvet child. Two types of Brown and constantly talking about it. Catch me knitting in the sun and talking about social injustice/horror movie plot holes.

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