She must learn again to speak
starting with I
starting with We
starting as the infant does
with her own true hunger
and pleasure
and rage.

-- Marge Piercy

Prozac (and Friends)

Prozac (and Friends)

After my stroke, when I got to inpatient rehab, the first thing the doctor suggested was Prozac. The doctor was young and he said something about Prozac being helpful for physical recovery in the early days after stroke. I didn't believe him. I knew what Prozac was for and I refused his offer.

But, then I relented.

Then I re-refused after the first dose.

And re-relented for the final time for the second dose.

I had played around with anti-depressants off and on over my life. Divorce. Job stress (or lack of the same). Parenting. Life, you know. But, I had not been on them for more than 6 months until I quit. The side effects where not worth it at the time.

Like so many things I learned after the stroke that I didn't know before, he was right about the physical effects of Prozac. The next day I could lift my right arm, which had been immobilized since the stroke a week earlier. The timing is fuzzy for that time, for sure, but ever since I've thought of Prozac as a miracle drug.

When I had the chance to go off it about 3 months post-stroke, when the doctors told me it wouldn't help for physical recovery any longer. Once again, I didn't believe the doctors. (Do you sense a pattern here?) and so, I stayed on it. The stress and devastation of the stroke were unheard of in my life, up to that point. So, I didn't want to change anything I could control. And by then, I was depressed.

Fast forward to now. I've made some changes to the drug I was on, from Prozac, to Lexapro, to Wellbutrin, to now, Effexor. Until my primary care doctor made me see a psychiatrist before we went any further down the hole that anti-depressants are.

I saw the neuro-psychiatrist last week. I told her my story, she did an exam, we discussed options. Including switching anti-depressants, again. And then she'd said something I'd had known, but it was new to me, too. Something I could see as a logic puzzle (the only class I got a 4.0 in college was Logic).

If stroke affects the brain (and it does),
If anti-depressants affect the brain (clearly),
If I have been on anti-depressants since the stroke (I had),
As far as my brain heath, I don't know how the stroke affected me, to this day.

I decided to go off them and see. Exciting, isn't it?

Or not...

I know getting off anti-depressants is a bitch (excuse me, that's the only way I can describe it). But, that's no reason to continue, is it?

Today I start this adventure. I've got people in place, both medical, family and friends (and that includes all of you, now). Practices like prayer, meditation, yoga, exercise, great nutrition, uplifting podcasts and books to help me remember who I am, outside my thoughts, in God.

I'm ever-so-grateful for Prozac (and friends) for their help over these last five years, both physically and mentally, and if I need to return to them, they will be there...anytime. 

But, for now, color me curious.

Loss creates an unbelievable amount of space for life to enter in. What you feel as emptiness is life’s new home, and what you feel as loneliness is the urge to hold life’s hand again.
— Christina Rasmussen (from the book, Second Firsts)





Done With Overwhelm

Done With Overwhelm

Always, I Must Begin Again

Always, I Must Begin Again