I had written a post recently about my son’s experience in taking Prozac entitled, “I’m an Aardvark and I’m Happy.” Based on his good experience with this anti-depressant I was ready to take the plunge myself. I had resisted the idea of using medication for my depression for several decades. The only other prescribed anti-depressant I had used was Pamelor back in my twenties. I had just had a miscarriage and was seriously depressed. My therapist demanded that I try medication after I found myself weeping uncontrollably at my work place. I don’t really recall much about that time except that I was in an emotional daze. The medication simply dulled the pain until I was a bit more functional. I wanted to try having another baby so my time with Pamelor was short lived.
So what made me want to try Prozac after all these years? I liked what it did for my son and I was weary of the constant battle with my depression. I was finally ready to receive some help in the form of a little blue pill. I discussed my choice with my neurologist who was treating me for my Multiple Sclerosis. She told me that usually if one family member does well on an anti-depressant that another family member should do as well. It makes sense; after all, we have a similar biological make-up.
With great hopes I got my prescription filled and got my bottle of Prozac. The following morning I sat staring at the little blue pill with trepidation. I actually wrote a Prozac diary and here was my entry for day one:
"So here I am… a medication virgin…staring at a pill on a paper plate. I ate my breakfast and sat and contemplated this blue (generic form) entity before me. I sat there for about twenty minutes…carrying the pill to my mouth and then placing it back upon the plate. _It seems a defeat to me in some ways. And I know this is the wrong way to look at things…and realize I am only talking about me…and what this personally feels like for me…nobody else. I just…hate this. I hate needing help. But I will state here today that yes I do need help.
So I took the damn pill."_
During the first week I did begin to notice subtle changes. Mainly I felt jittery in the mornings and then lethargic by late afternoon. I began to sleep more and eat less. Then there were some moments where I began to experience some very good feelings. I wrote in my journal the following:
“Mood wise…there was a brief (several hours) by the end of that first week where I felt spectacular. I felt GREAT as in Tony the Tiger G-G-GREAT As a matter of fact…I was feeling so darn chipper that I telephoned friends to tell them the news. One friend who has been on many different anti-depressants was a bit worried that I was turning manic. She also told me this feeling probably wouldn’t last…I would calm down and just feel normal good…whatever that means. She was right…this initial “euphoria” didn’t last and was replaced by…more of a mental sluggishness. I remember trying to sit down and do my bills and having to stop in the middle as I literally could not think any more. I have never had this happen, even with my MS.”
By week two, however, there was more than mood changes to think about. The Prozac would have a very interesting effect upon my body. I began to have trouble with urination. I would go to the bathroom but I found that I could not release all of my urine. By the middle of week two on Prozac, I was in serious discomfort. I went to see my gynecologist to see if this were a urinary tract infection. It was not. It was like having a full bladder all the time and the feeling of an elephant sitting on it with no relief. I could not sleep from the pain and discomfort. I went back the next day to my gynecologist demanding to know what was causing this and how to stop it. When he could not give me any answers I went to my general practitioner. He asked if I was taking any new medications. The bells began to go off. New symptoms and a new medication, the Prozac! I called my neurologist to ask if Prozac could have this effect. Of course she never answered my phone messages except to say days later to stop taking the Prozac. I tapered myself off of it and miraculously the urinary problems ceased.
Nobody told me that this could happen. I suppose that with any medication there are always side effects we never can foresee. This particular side effect was one that I never had anticipated but was severe enough to make me stop taking Prozac completely. But for my son, he had experienced no such bad side effects thank goodness.
It just goes to show you that everyone has a different chemical make up regardless if you are biologically connected or not. For some people, Prozac works wonderfully well. And for others, it does not.
I had taken the Prozac for less than three weeks total, not enough time for me to have made any judgments about it’s effectiveness on my mood. However I did continue to write in my diary about the changes taking place for as long as I was taking it.
Here is another excerpt from my Prozac diary:
"The sluggishness ended and I seemed to hit an even plateau where I said to myself… _“Hey…I am not sad.” but then thought as well…“I am not happy either.” I just was in this straight line state of…okayness. It seemed everything was equal in my mind. “Wanna go for ice-cream?” might bring the logical response of “Sounds good to me.” But likewise…“Wanna watch endless re-runs of Scooby Doo?” might produce the same response. All possibilities for activity sounded equally as viable. Not only was I becoming lethargic but rather apathetic as well.
I found my sensitivities dulled in that things that would normally irk me would produce a Spock like conclusion of “I should be upset by that but I don’t feel so upset.” Likewise a compliment or good happening would elicit the logic of “Yes this is good and a happy thing” but I wouldn’t be feeling the corresponding feelings. It was as though the emotional exclamation points which had been so prevalent before were mostly omitted.
And then I noticed the biggest change of all. My mind was…quiet. Eerily so. It seemed like the TV station of my brain was on the static white noise channel. I felt good as nothingness goes. I noticed that when I woke up, my thoughts were not banging against the gate waiting to be released. I merely…woke up…my eyes open to this new leveled terrain with no hills or horizon._
I do often wonder how things would be on an anti-depressant. I realize there are many more to choose from. For now I will continue my battle without prescriptions. Even my neurologist was afraid to prescribe anything else based upon my reaction to the Prozac. She recommended I try other methods to help myself such as therapy and I agreed. I am also using natural ways to combat my depression which will be a good topic for future posts.
I am very curious to hear how others have responded to Prozac or other popular anti-depressants. What has helped the most for you by way of prescribed medications? Are the side effects worth it? What does the experience feel like on these meds? Please do share with us. Your words may help someone else.