A few weeks ago, the link for a post I put up a little over a year ago popped up in my memories section on Facebook. It’s titled, “A Month on Prozac,” and I was slightly surprised to see it come up in my feed. Not because I was embarrassed that I had posted something so vulnerable on the Internet, but surprised that it’s been so long since I was processing through this new habit in my life. In honor of the year (plus a few weeks) anniversary of this post, I’ve decided to do a Revisit. Words that are in italics are the text from my original post, and words in bold are from 2020 me. Enjoy!
On December 14th, 2018 I started taking Prozac. For those of you who don’t know, Prozac is a synthetic compound which inhibits the uptake of serotonin in the brain and is taken to treat depression. Confession: totally Googled that to look cool. Don’t ask me to tell you this fact off the top of my head; I cannot do it. In other words, it’s an antidepressant. Two years ago, I almost began taking a medication to help my mental state, but for a number of reasons, I decided against actually getting the prescription filled. I always wonder what would have happened if I had started the medicine when I was in high school. If I could only pass along one piece of advice about medication it would be this: do not let anyone make you feel like a bad person for taking a prescription from a doctor that you trust. Fast forward to the end of this past semester, I’m crying in the doctor’s office, my pride finally broken down and hesitantly agreeing to spend my four weeks off of school getting used to this new tool in my life. Ah, 2019 Abby, I am so proud of you for calling your meds what they are: a tool.
The first few days, I was mad. Still get mad every now and then. I didn’t want to be medicated. I felt defeated. Why couldn’t I have taken care of myself before now, doing the things that would make me feel better (E.I., exercising consistently, taking water, staying away from people who are toxic for me and not compromising my personality to be liked, you know, healthy habits) without the help of these new chemicals being added to my system? I have had people in my life express that they didn’t believe medication did more good than they do harm. While no one ever told me to my face that they would be disappointed, there was always a little voice in the back of my head that worried my closest friends would judge me for having to use medicine to be a happier person.
Most of the time, the first few weeks of a medication are a little rough, and I can attest that this is true. Just because it’s tough though doesn’t mean you should give up on medicine. I hosted a Christmas party five days after I began the meds and let me tell you, I felt super nauseous in the middle of the get-together after taking it. PRO TIP: If you are taking a medicine that can make you feel icky so you take it at night to avoid wanting to throw up, it’s okay to adjust the time that you usually take your meds. For example, if you usually take your meds at 10pm but there are people in your house for a Christmas party, you can wait until they leave your house to take it so you don’t feel like you’re going to throw up on your friends. (Shout out to Avery for being my emotional rock during that party.) Then, for about eight days, I lost my appetite. While I still made myself eat something throughout the day, I ended up losing five pounds. Now, I’m trying to lose five pounds. It’s funny: when you’re happier, you’re more likely to eat food that makes you happy. I also began dealing with dryness in my throat, which, as a singer, scared me to death (Biotene is a life saver).
However, after all of this, my follow-up appointment with our family doctor was much different than the first (the only tears that happened were when I had to get blood work). BLOOD WORK IS THE WORST. After regaining my appetite and beginning to have motivation to actually take care of myself physically, emotionally and spiritually, life was becoming so much more bearable. In fact, it was so much more than bearable. It was full of joy and expectancy towards the future. It was awesome and it only got better! I wasn’t scared about going back to school. I was having a much easier time communicating to the people I love. For example, when I’m irritated and snap at Sweet Ben, I am usually able to quickly identify why I am so grumpy. 99% of the time, it had nothing to do with him. God bless him for dealing with my moods. Little things that used to really bug me were becoming less bothersome. I still like the way I walk through Blum better, Ben.
My classes started back up on January 14th, one month after beginning the medication. A month before, any thought of school, work, or the shows I’m working on would make me feel panicky and want to hide away from the world. I spent a lot of time in bed over that winter break. Beyond any expectation I could have had for myself, that first Monday back at school was marvelous. It was by no means perfect. Several instances popped up that threw off my uncommonly good mood. Mondays, am I right? This time however, there was so much more clarity for how to deal with these annoying happenstances. The next morning, I fully processed how miraculous it truly was how I handled the curve balls that were thrown at me.
So, it’s been a month. And frankly, I feel great right now. And still do, praise the Lord. I am more at ease with daily troubles that arise. I am able to recognize when I need to take time for myself to recharge. I am now much more aware just how truly blessed and loved I am by the people God has put into my life. I am fully aware that things will get tough again, possibly very soon, but I am abundantly grateful for this past month of rest, recovery, and rediscovery of myself. Amen, sister.
I write this to the person who is being stubborn about getting help, to the one who is scared of what others will say, and to the one who doesn’t think it’s worth the trouble: getting help does not make you weak. PREACH. You are a valuable human being and modern medicine is an incredible thing. God blessed people with amazing wisdom to create things that help us. While I don’t believe that all problems can be solved with medication, I am now a firm believer that they can do major good. A dear friend of mine once explained it to me this way: you wouldn’t tell a diabetic to pray harder for their illness to go away. While there are good foods that can help a diabetic and exercise can do wonders for anyone, but you wouldn’t tell a diabetic not to take their medication. The same applies to mental illnesses. There’s natural ways to treat depression and anxiety, but sometimes, your brain needs some extra help to function fully.
And to the Christian who is on the fence on starting a medication, I have one last nugget for you: God wants you to feel better, and He’s not gonna be mad at you for not praying more to Him to take your depression away. We live in a world of brokenness and unrest, but praise the Lord for His gift of knowledge that He has given to modern physicians. Use your resources, and know that you are not alone in your struggle. If you want, I’ll let you use some of my washi tape to wrap up your orange bottle.
It’s been 425 days since I started taking Prozac. I recently got new headshots taken and when I sent a few to my mom, she commented that I look so much happier, specifically in my eyes. She thought she might be over analyzing it, but after looking through my camera roll, I thoroughly agree with her. I am a happier lady! It’s awesome! I love not dreading getting out of bed. I love having the motivation to speak my mind. I love not being terrified that every single person hates me. I feel lighter; a huge weight has been lifted for me over the past year.
November 2018 vs February 2020
Do I still have issues? Oh my word, yes. Fighting off depressive episodes can be the worst. However, I now have the knowledge to deal with them. On top of that, I have amazing people in my life who are a fantastic support system. A year ago, I was hoping that maybe I would stop taking the meds. It’s 2020, and I’m still taking Prozac every evening around 11pm. The main difference is that I do not dread it every evening. I have accepted the fact that I could very well need to keep using this tool for the rest of my life. Over this past year, I have been reminded that I am incredibly blessed. While some days are hard, life is so worth the living. I am grateful to be here and am eagerly looking forward to the future.
Until Next Time,