Praise Prozac

I resisted medication for years before finally joining the Prozac Nation. Years, I tell you. I wasn’t going to be a weakling and rely on drugs to function as something resembling a human being! No, sheer bloody-mindedness was going to accomplish that.

And no, I don’t think people who need to take medication to work are weak. But I did, back then. And I didn’t really need it, because I held myself to a different standard than the rest of the world. I just had to get my act together and tough it out.

Yeah, I was stupid. I probably wasted some years of my life sabotaging myself.

But I caved. And am I ever glad that I did.

I’m not going to lie: The first two weeks of being on Prozac were hell. While my body was coming around to this new thing I was feeding it, I was suicidal and short-tempered and unstable. My mood swings were of epic proportions and completely exhausting. I honestly thought that this wasn’t going to help.

But it got better. A whole lot better. I’ve been on them for four years and I will sometimes catch myself reacting to a situation in a completely different way than I used to. Things that go wrong don’t ruin my whole day any more. I’m a lot better at handling sudden changes, even though I will never like them. My pathological need to be in control has become milder. Don’t get me wrong – I’m still a high-strung control freak, and that will never change. But I’m less obsessive about it than I used to be. Don’t believe me? Let me tell you a story. Gather around.

I used to have to know exactly what was going to happen when. And when I, sometime last year, was going to see Deadpool with Scout, I felt he was cutting in really close to the bone time-wise. (I want to be everywhere half an hour early.) Yeah, I got a bit of a pulse, but I didn’t break down crying or start yelling at him. I might have wanted to, but the point is that I didn’t. I was able to see that he knew where we were going and how long it would take us to get there. And guess what? We made it. Easy.

Now, this isn’t just Prozac. Part of it is me learning that the world isn’t going to end just because I don’t decide everything and know everything and control everything. But I’m convinced that if it hadn’t been for medication, I would never have got to the point of being able to learn any of that. I would have been so caught up in my own thought patterns that I would have been unable to take a metaphorical step back and look at the situation, take a deep breath, and be rational about it. Because so what if I’m late to something sometimes? It happens to the best of us.

I don’t regret not being medicated before. I’ve learnt the hard way that I can’t just clench my teeth and get through things, toughen it out, and that I was just being lazy, or making up excuses. But I’m so, so glad medication is an option.

You wouldn’t begrudge someone with a broken leg the use of a crutch. I had to realise that what I’m doing is the same thing.

So thank you, Prozac. I know I don’t say it enough.

And for anyone reading: don’t hesitate trying medication if your health care professional suggests it. It doesn’t make you weak. It doesn’t make you less. You might even discover you like the person you are on meds a lot better than the person you are off them.

I did.

“I’m going to the bathroom to read.”
– Elvis’ last words.

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New year, new me

But not really.

2016 was one hell of a roller coaster ride, and I’m not just talking about the slew of celebrity deaths. (Alan Rickman and Carrie Fisher though…sigh.) But me and the Terrible Twosome both made it through – a little battered, but whole and generally pretty healthy.

At the beginning of 2016, I decided that it was going to be a selfish year. My focus was going to be on me, on my health and on what I needed. It was a steep learning curve, with plenty of (completely baseless) guilt to go around, but it was good for me. So I’m going to continue in the same vein this year. Sunshine summed it up really well for me:

“Do no harm. Take no shit.”

Another way of putting it would be as follows:
Self-respect is putting what you need before what others want.
Selfishness is putting what you want before what others need.
It’s a paraphrase from something I found online. This does mean that I have to learn how to distinguish between other people’s  “want” from their “need” though. I automatically assume that everything they utter is something they need, and that I don’t really need anything but want a whole lot. I’m a work in progress, people.

The main hurdle is that I’m afraid of upsetting or hurting others. I don’t deal well with other people being angry with me, because I’m dead certain it means they’re leaving me. I’m very much aware of my moderate to severe abandonment issues, thank you very much. I even know which very specific event triggered them. So to anyone who thinks that all you need to do to get over such things is to pinpoint what started it all: HAH! Ahem. Anyway.

One major win of last year was that I ended a toxic relationship with a friend. It was rough, and I still feel bad for it sometimes, but I also feel relieved. I had started feeling responsible for her in a way I don’t want to feel responsible for anyone, and it just didn’t work any more. Gold star for me.

Resolutions, even deceptively simple ones like mine, are hard without a support network of some kind. And being the geek that I after all am – enter the apps! Well, app. I’ve used Habitica for a while now. As the name kind of suggests, it’s a habit-tracking app. But it’s also a game! Level up, collect all the things, join a party and battle nasties. The app on my phone is really buggy though, but that can be my phone. That thing has a Personality. Good thing the web page works just as well.

Under my dailies,  I have made a list of habits that help me function somewhat like a human being. Have I eaten enough? Drink enough water? Taken care of my skin morning and evening? Brushed my teeth? Taken my medication?
I’ve also added things that focus on routine – getting up at a reasonable hour (that’s before 10am), making the bed, practising my Italian and Dutch in Duolingo.
Most of the things on there are very basic things for many, but they are things that I will forget when I’m focused on other things or depression rears its ugly head.
And it helps! Both as reminders, and as encouragement as I don’t want to lose my streak or let the boss hurt my party members. I just need to make sure I don’t bite over more than I can chew – there are so many challenges I want to participate in. Aaah!

Speaking of not biting over more than I can chew: I’m going back to school this semester. I signed up for two courses, because how hard can it be, right?
The next day I cancelled one of them. Baby steps, baby steps. I have my work at KIA and the Norwegian cancer society to keep up with as well, after all. And my book. And from July – December, being the NaNoWriMo Municipal Liaison for my region. So one course for now, see how it goes, and maybe another one next semester.

I think 2017 has some great potential, but it will be what we make of it.

“Go on, get out! Last words are for fools who haven’t said enough!”
– Karl Marx to his housekeeper, after she asked if he had any last words. They did become his.