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I have been prescribed the anti depressant Fluoxetine - or Prozac, as it is generically known, for over twenty five years. I was told it was the ‘Sunshine Pill’ and I would be on it for six months at the most.
My latest attempt to come off this drug has lasted almost a year. I have tried so hard, but I am finally admitting defeat. It feels like this little capsule that twenty years ago was my saviour has now become my captor. It is with feeling of utter failure and slight despair that I have decided to revisit this drug. I feel I have no choice. The worst thing is, I don't understand why I feel the way I do and hate it so much.
The last attempt to come off Prozac was one of many attempts over the years. During those twenty five years, I was never comfortable taking it. I was grateful for how it worked, how it changed my life, but for some reason that I could never shake off, I didn't like the idea of having to be on medication every day just to feel mentally normal. I hated being dependent on this little green and cream capsule simply to have the kind of life everyone else seemed to have.
I suffered from post natal depression. When I swallowed that first pill, I thought that I would be cured of my crippling depression, suicidal thoughts and anxiety, and go back to the happy person I used to be. Then when I was cured, I would simply stop taking it. I was told it was not 'addictive', and it WAS only for the short term. But every time I felt better and stopped the medication, I not only immediately suffered the most awful symptoms, I also felt a hundred times worse than I did when I first asked for help. It is like Prozac has changed my brain, so I am dependent on it simply to have any quality of life.
With Prozac, I am relatively content, I enjoy socialising, I can do my job, run a household and look after my family and my ageing parents. I am calm and efficient and happy. Quite simply, I just get on with my life, which is a good one.
Without Prozac, I am anxious and irritable all of the time. My brain just seems to slow down and be a jumble of disjointed thoughts that I can’t untangle or prioritise. I panic at the thought of having to do anything. I can't even cope with trivial or simple things like organising meals, or making lists. It all seems too overwhelming so I just don't do it. I overthink everything, and get completely worked up about nothing. I fly into rages and feel awful afterwards. I wake in the morning with a nervous tummy and terrible anxiety about the day. I can lie for an hour in bed in the morning feeling sick with nerves, and cannot find a 'place' to go in my head that is pleasant. It is always doom and gloom, and anger and sadness....and recently I have been contemplating all sorts of ways of leaving it all behind me.
I don’t really understand why I view Prozac as the Enemy, and not as my Friend. It gives me a good quality of life, but I feel it is at a cost. I am resentful that I am totally dependent on it, it’s part of my life and I have no choice in the matter. I feel defeated and overpowered, even though continuing to take it is to my mental health benefit. What if they find out it causes tumours, or my doctor just decides to stop prescribing it down the line. I feel trapped, no matter how I look at it.
I would tell anyone thinking of going onto this drug that it is like being in a glass bowl. Once you are in, you are in it forever no matter how much you try to scramble up the sides. It is not just a case of take it till you get well - then thank it, and move on. Prozac has you in its grip forever.
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