Life without Prozac
Learning to Feel Again
My relationship with Prozac started in 1993 in Paris when I was 28. My life looked like a dream to many, living in a small apartment near the famous “Champs Elysees”, a job I enjoyed and although I wasn’t in a relationship at the time, I had plenty of friends and support. But I felt completely alone, and numbing my emotions through an eating disorder that had plagued my life for many years. In the 90’s, eating disorders were not part of an open conversation, it was hidden, misunderstood, and mostly mistreated. I had tried to talk to doctors, therapists, and family members, but I would get little to no support from anyone. I was told to just eat when I was hungry, and stop when I was full. It sounds simple enough, unfortunately an eating disorder, or ED, as referred to sometimes, doesn’t respond to an analytical mind. ED’s masters are emotions, triggers and the only answer is to either eat or starve, or a combination of both in my case. It is a lonely place to be. I don’t like to call it a sickness, or a disorder, it is simply a cry for help from the emotional body.
Back in April 1993, my life seemed normal, but ED had taken over so much of my time and energy that one Friday evening, after a long week at work, all I was looking forward to was to sleep. I proceeded to take many over-the-counter sleeping pills that evening as well as the following day. As a result, I wasn’t able to wake up to work on Monday morning and dragged myself to the phone to call a doctor. It wasn’t suicide, I truly just wanted to sleep, long enough that I didn’t have to FEEL anymore and could go on to just pretend that all was well. I was referred to a therapist who after listening to me for about 10 minutes casually prescribed me “Prozac” and I was on my way! At the time, I had very little knowledge of the danger of anti depressants and took it without questioning. The affects were quick, and within a week I had endless energy, a positive attitude and made important changes in my life such as moving back to San Francisco. My plan was to just take the “pills” until I ran out which was about five months. At the time, it seemed like a miracle pill, ED was in remission, I was back in the city I loved, so as my box of pills ended I didn’t feel the need to get more, I was done. Or so I thought.
Moving forward to 2010, my life once more seemed to be falling apart. I was dealing with a loss of the job, the end of a marriage and now in my 40s, questioning my entire life plan. The emotions that I had carefully buried were resurfacing, causing a lot of chaos. I was only able to sleep a couple of hours a night, consumed by anxiety and fearful of seeing ED pick its “ugly face” again. Even my seven years of regular yoga practice didn’t seem to help anymore, I was drowning. Depression is an easy label and then a simple solution comes with it, medications. I won’t blame doctors or a therapist, this time, I was the one who requested Prozac. It had worked before, so all I needed was just a few months on it and then all would be fine again. This time, it wouldn’t be. Instead, it took me on a wild ride that lasted over seven years, cost me the loss of important relationships, a business, friendships and took me to the edge of a cliff in 2017, wondering, as I look down into the ocean, if that was the end of the "road" for me.