Itchy’s birthday was a huge success in case you were wondering. By huge success I mean there were no tears, allegations of neglect, and a good time was had by all. He even thanked me for a great day and gave me a hug.
Anytime my love. Anytime.
Moving forward, I am taking stock of my mental health.
It’s not great.
I’ve noticed that I feel alienated and paranoid; I have dark thoughts lurking around the periphery. It changes how I feel about my friends and relationships, like I am seeing people through a distorted lens.
I have been taking Prozac for the last year. I’ve been on it a couple of times to deal with what I told myself were environmental challenges. The first time was when Scratchy was about one and I weaned him. I became deeply depressed and the hallmark of that depression was a retreat into myself and the shattering conviction that everyone was judging me.
It left me paralyzed and afraid to leave the house, even though I managed to.
I went off Prozac once things started getting easier with the kids and I felt fine. Then all the shit with the city happened and I went back on it to help me get through what was one of the hardest times in my life. Again I felt like my issues were environmental and once all that cleared up, I would be okay au naturel.
I chose to go off Prozac because I felt like it was interfering with my sexual function. Not so much desire (because being crushingly depressed isn’t conducive to a satisfying love life), but ability to climax.
Having gone off it, I think I may be right, but I don’t know if the trade-off is worth it.
Would I rather:
- Have more frequent but mediocre sex which still leads to marital happiness, or
- Infrequent (like really infrequent) but normal feeling sex but I’m a horrible person to my family and everyone?
It’s a tough one but all my internet research tells me this is a normal side-effect.
Anyway, after a rather difficult day I took stock of my recent obsessive thoughts and made the connection between having been off Prozac for over a month and this all encompassing feeling like everyone I care about is drifting away from me because I am weird.
I don’t want to be that person on anti-depressants her whole life but when I go off of them I am overwhelmed with negative thinking. I see the connections between those thoughts and the lonely life my mother leads. I hear her voice in my head criticizing everyone around me, convincing me that I don’t belong, that I am different, that I am better off without them.
Mental illness runs deep on my side of the family. I lost one uncle to suicide while hospitalized for schizophrenia, another aunt died in a mental institution, one uncle (still living) is the most traumatized, terrifying and abusive person I’ve ever met, my mother has completely alienated everyone in her life and is now alone (I suspect she has severe narcissistic personality disorder and social anxiety) and my other other aunt refuses to have contact with anyone in her family.
Maybe my fits of depression aren’t environmental after all.
It would be nothing short of a miracle if I didn’t carry some of those imbalances myself. I can’t will them away. I can’t yoga, meditate and supplement them away. Telling myself that I’m fine doesn’t change anything and will only hurt me and my family. I must admit to myself that I may need help for the rest of my life and that’s okay, especially considering the alternative.
I believe in a holistic approach to mental health so here’s my plan:
- Get back on Prozac
- Cut back on alcohol. I have been drinking pretty much every day since I went off Prozac which isn’t good for me. I don’t get wasted or anything but it feels excessive. Yesterday I decided not to drink and I kept finding myself looking longingly at the bottle of bourbon. I don’t believe I’m an alcoholic because in the end I can say no, but I want to reserve drinking for social events and not for when I need to take the edge off which appears to be all the time these days.
- Continue with yoga and walking
- Learn to play the guitar
My dad bought me a guitar years ago on a trip to New York City. Since then it has lived through a fire and spends all its time in a corner gathering dust. The only person who plays it is my brother-in-law when he visits, which is rarely.
I would like my kids to play instruments. Itchy played the viola for the fifth grade orchestra but I couldn’t get him to practice at home. Ever. He says he enjoys it but he doesn’t get the practice thing. What better way to encourage my kids to practice something by doing it myself?
My friend Tiffany once told me that the guitar is wonderful for dealing with depression. You can take all that frustration and channel it into perfecting a chord progression or a song.
Here is today’s lesson, simple C and simple G7 chords. Don’t laugh.
Also on my list is limiting Facebook, alcohol and spending, cooking dinner, going for a walk, having salad for lunch, doing yoga, and doing a handstand every day. I already do most of these things.
Except for the Facebook part, I really need to stay off it. It feeds into my feelings of alienation.
I got as far as what I wrote above when Bina stopped by to say hello. I’m really glad she arrived unannounced because I surely would have made an excuse to not see her. We spent a couple hours in the sunroom talking.
She asked me the most important question after I gave her my mental health rundown.
“Most people don’t like taking anti-depressants because they don’t feel like themselves. How does Prozac make you feel?”
To be honest, I feel more like myself when I’m on Prozac. It’s not that I’m happier in a forced la-dee-dah kind of way, I just don’t worry as much. I have a longer fuse, am less likely to snap at people, I don’t obsess over relationships and am less negative.
Maybe my true nature is to be obsessive, negative and short tempered but I don’t see how being that way makes me a better person or serves my family. If that’s the case, I’d gladly not give in to my “true” self.
After Bina left I refilled my prescription for Prozac and went on a walk while talking to my best friend. She has known me my whole life, knows my family history, and I trust her to give me the best advice without judgement or ulterior motive.
And I bought a bunch of different “fancy” drinks.
Having a drink at 5pm is as much about the ritual of saying the day is over and now I’m going to relax. A glass of water just won’t do that for me. My criteria is that it has to be low in sugar, fizzy, and refreshing.
So far I really like the Dry soda in Blood orange.
Anyway, I’m feeling better already.