I stopped taking Prozac about two months ago. I didn’t taper, I didn’t talk to my doctor, I didn’t do any of the things you’re supposed to do. I didn’t even really do it as Some Kind of Statement. I just didn’t feel like dealing with my insurance bullshit to go to the doctor to get my prescription re-filled, so when it ran out, I stopped taking it. (My insurance company is literally the worst I’ve ever dealt with, but that’s another topic for another day).
I don’t recommend this for anyone, let me say. I’m not holding myself up as any kind of example. I didn’t know what was going to happen once it started to get past its half life, and my happy little cushion went away. I was afraid I’d end up raw, exposed and not quite as in control of my emotions. And pretty much, that’s exactly what’s happened.
The thing is, I’m not so sure I want to go back. While I appreciate being able to suspend myself a little from the muck inside, being down here in it isn’t … so unmanageable. I don’t know if it will always be that way, but for now, I find myself observing. I’m quite weepy at the moment, thanks to hormonal challenges presented by living with a not-quite-regular teenage daughter. I’m having my second period of December, which is annoying and messy and yes, as I mentioned, weepy. Being so weepy makes me really freaking uncomfortable, but I find that for some reason, rather than focusing on the discomfort, I’m curious about why I’m so uncomfortable.
In the midst of this, the other day someone posted this link on a body positive blog I occasionally peruse. The link was to a YouTube video of Brene Brown. I hadn’t heard of her before, but there was something she said (several somethings, actually, but for the sake of this post, I’ll focus on the one) that really struck me. She was talking about the ways we numb out – addiction, basically, whether it’s to food, alcohol, sex, gaming, whatever. And if not addiction, than certainly a sort of mental dampening. In fact, she says, “Before conducting this research I thought numbing and taking the edge off was just about addiction, but I don’t believe that anymore. Now I believe that everyone numbs and takes the edge off and that addiction is about engaging in these behaviors compulsively and chronically.” I’ve been struggling with a few forms of addiction myself and I think that in many ways, Prozac has masked this for me. Since I’m not doing the healthcare shuffle to get more Prozac, and since I don’t really love feeling miserable or hassling to numb out the misery, I guess I’m going to try to get to what lies beneath.
Brown said that we cannot selectively numb our emotions. If we numb the ones we don’t want, we absolutely also numb the ones we do. This has been one of my biggest problems with Prozac. Yes, it takes away the “I’m-gonna-snap-right-fucking-now” feelings, or at least dulls them down, but it also takes away and dulls down other things, like orgasms and crying at sad movies. I kind of missed those things, particularly the former.
Today happens to be a day that I’m okay with observing my sloppy emotional self. It’s not easy or comfortable. I really do feel like a naked little nerve going around, trying to figure out how to be authentic, compassionate and courageous, not just with those around me, but with myself. I am looking forward to a time when I live in a place where there is a therapist who can take me on. In the meantime, I guess I’m going to keep sloshing around in the emotional mud, hoping that maybe between the work I’m doing on myself and just trying to be fully human, I’ll begin to feel more like Monica again. Things have gotten so far away from me in the past five or six years. But it’s 2011 now. And I’m 40. So I’m gonna nail this shit down. And it will be beautiful in the end, but the process might get a little messy.