Prozac Update 2: Guess Who’s Back?

In honour of World Mental Health Day, I thought I’d write a quick update on my journey with Prozac.

You might remember that around this time last year, I had successfully come off of Prozac. In that post, I mentioned that I’d take it again if I ever needed to. To quote myself (ugh, that totally makes me the worst, doesn’t it?):

If I ever relapse (and honestly, given the statistics, it’s probably a case of when, not if), I’ll gladly start taking it again, in conjunction with talk therapy. It’s actually really comforting to know that option is there if I need it.

So, what happened?

A few factors created kind of a perfect storm for me:

  1. I was feeling really stagnant at work (and kind of life in general, really). I’d been looking for a new job for a while, but hadn’t found anything that was a fit. I was starting to lose hope–but thankfully that was about to change!
  2. My workload a my previous job had become unmanageable. Even after delegating everything I could, I was still working around the clock trying to get even the bare minimum done, which meant that self care was pretty nonexistent. On its own, this probably could have been resolved.
  3. I found a new job (yay!), but I had a lot of complicated feelings about leaving the old one, even though it was the right choice. I loved (and still love!) my team, so it broke my heart to see them stressed and upset about the change. It kind of felt like a breakup where you know it needs to happen, but you still have a ton of love and respect for the person, so you feel like an asshole for not being able to make it work. On their own, these feelings probably would have faded over time (and after talking them through with my therapist).
  4. Near the end of my notice period at my last job, the Toronto Van Attack happened a few blocks away from the office. I was actually supposed to be at that intersection around that same time the day it happened, but thankfully my plans changed. The more I heard about the attack, the assailant, and his likely motivation, the more the situation started to screw with my hard-earned sense of safety. This one was major, and I had even more trouble dealing with it given how worn out I was and all the other complicated feelings I was working through.

By my last day of work, I was a wreck. I had to leave my own celebratory dinner with my friends because I kept feeling panicky. I knew that I had to take action quickly so that I could be in as good a place as possible to start the new job.

Thankfully, I had a week off in between gigs. Initially, I’d envisioned it as a time to relax and do short day trips; instead, I spent the time trying to wrangle my mental health and start getting some Prozac into my system.

I’m on a much lower dose than I used to be, at only a third of my previous dose. It’s just enough to even things out and keep (most of) my panic at bay, without most of the side effects I used to get on the higher dose. As an added bonus, it also seems to prevent my premenstrual mood swings, which had come back with a vengeance after I finished tapering off last year. The upset stomach I had the first couple weeks of taking it was definitely unpleasant and inconvenient (especially given that it continued into my first week at the new job), but honestly it was worth it for how I’m feeling now… which is pretty great.

Am I disappointed that I had to start taking medication again? Eh… not really. Sure, I would have loved to go my whole life without ever having been anxious or depressed again (who wouldn’t?!), but that’s just not realistic. To be honest, I’m pretty proud of how quickly I saw what was happening, got a handle on the situation, and was able to turn things around.

If I’ve learned anything from this experience (and from all my experience with mental illness), it’s that there’s no shame in doing what you need to in order to take care of yourself, whether that’s medication, talk therapy, daily yoga, a strict sleep schedule, or all of the above. The hardest part (at least for me) is learning not to fight against what you need and just embrace it.

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