I take Prozac.
There. I said it out loud.
And it’s ridiculous, no, EGREGIOUS, that I’ve been afraid to say so for years. That I’ve felt forced to keep quiet because the subject makes people feel uncomfortable or might make me look unstable.
My little secret is a closely guarded, highly protected personal journey. Hubby, of course, knows. My BFF knows. And I’ve chosen to reveal myself to close friends who have come to me struggling with their own issues with depression, but always with the caveat that they can never tell on me. Never divulge to anyone that I need chemical help to deal with depression and anxiety. I’ve had whispered conversations with friends in unlikely places, furtively glancing around, worried someone will hear that I’m one of thousands and thousands of Americans who suffer from mental illness.
Afraid of being judged. Worried about being called weak. Scared that my friends will think less of me.
So much so, I’ve used a pharmacy not on the beaten path to get my prescription filled, in hopes of avoiding “getting caught”. For years, I felt ashamed and upset that I couldn’t measure up to what I thought was expected of me as a wife, mother and woman in this modern day world.
Let me say this LOUDER: I have been hiding a piece of me, an authentic part of myself, because our society doesn’t allow us to be open about mental illness.
Just so you know, this post isn’t because Robin Williams died. It isn’t because my News Feed has been filled with articles about understanding depression, recognizing the symptoms and condemnations by talking heads demanding we have “open conversations” about depression and its insidious hold on so many in our society. It’s not in response to hate filled, anger laden blogs arguing that suicide is a choice and that depressed people are selfish. It has nothing to do with the shock and outrage that a man who was so publicly happy could be living in a private hell that no one saw. And, writing this has nothing to do with my own Worst Day Ever where The Voice of my depression almost got the best of me. Almost.
Rather, I’m writing this for the mom who is afraid to face her depression. Afraid to admit she’s falling apart little by little.
I’m writing for the man who is too scared to admit to his wife that he’s falling into a pit so deep he’s afraid he’ll never climb out.
I’m writing this for the reader who is reading these words right now, wondering if they should take those pills and end it tonight.
I am writing this for the mom who sits in her doctor’s office and cries deep, sorrowful tears because she physically can’t love the life that’s in front of her.
I am writing to the man who wants his wife to be the girl he married again, the one who smiled and laughed and was spontaneous and loved sex.
I am writing this for the toddler who sees his mother cry all day long and wonders what on earth he did to make her so sad.
I’m am writing to say This Mom Runs On Prozac and it should okay to say it out loud.
I was the woman in the doctor’s office with deep physical pain over the fact that I couldn’t love my life. I had it all: wonderful hubby, beautiful healthy children, money in the bank, gorgeous home and I couldn’t find my mojo. I’d look at my life and wonder what kind of selfish woman would be upset or indifferent to all I’d been given. And, in a vicious cycle, my depression spiraled further and further until it got to the point where I’d cry most of the day, every day. I’d cry because I was sad, I’d cry because I wanted better for my babies and I cried from the shame of it all.
Interestingly, I went to the doctor not only at Hubby’s insistence but also to prove that I wasn’t depressed. I was convinced it was just my thyroid. Or my gall bladder. Or my uvula. Something. Anything other than the Big D word. I argued with my doctor when he said the D word. I begged him to do lab work to prove that my thyroid had betrayed me because I didn’t want my brain chemistry to be the culprit.
I flat out told him that I refused to be the pill popping, stay at home mom. Re-fused.
But I also knew deep down in my soul that I needed help and that my family needed me to do something. Anything to stop the pain in my heart. I wanted me back.
I made a deal with my doctor: I’d try the Vitamin P for six weeks, no more, no less. Mostly, to prove him wrong. To prove to him, to myself, to the public that I was not a mental case. That I wasn’t a person who needed help in the form of little green pills.
I brought that bottle home and it felt like the end of the world. It was official once I took my first pill: I was crazy. A whack job. Certifiably nuts. My name on the pill bottle proved it.
I dutifully took those pills every day that first week with a chaser of “Pfft, this is such a waste of time” yet with the tiny ember of hope that they might actually work.
Maybe, just maybe…
I took the pills and noticed that by week two, my legs didn’t feel so much like bricks when I lifted them out of bed.
I took the pills and realized at week four that I had actually managed to get housework done without falling apart from the weight of despair.
And, on week six, when, during a random morning breakfast, my oldest said in his little four year old voice, “Mommy, you smile all the time now. You so happy!”, it was THEN that I surrendered to what I’d fought so hard to deny: depression was a part of my life and that through the miracles of modern chemistry, I was, in fact, finding my way back to the land of the living.
People with diabetes take insulin. People with thyroid issues take Synthroid. No stigma, no shame, no repercussions.
I take Prozac because I have bouts of depression. And I wish I could really say it out loud someday.