Why I Believe in Sugar and Prozac
A couple of things:
I am sick of hiding the other issues I deal with on here. Totally fucking sick of it. I’ve been told a bunch of times by a bunch of people that I need to edit what I put on here, but I just don’t think that’s my shtick. I think my shtick is to tell the truth and help people by telling said truth.
In addition to an eating disorder, I have depression. I was diagnosed a long time ago with it. Growing up, I was always a super sensitive kid, and I’m a pretty sensitive adult. I cried a lot, and still cry more than the average adult. Less so, now that I’ve been on a steady dose of Prozac for a few years.
Yes, that’s right, Prozac. I take the drug that is most scorned by the anti-medication movement (Prozac Nation, anyone?) I tried others – Celexa didn’t do anything, and neither did Topamax. Zoloft was close, but Prozac makes me feel…normal. A lot of people have the belief that psychiatric meds will make you a zombie, but that is, in a lot of cases, simply not true. Being on Prozac has allowed me to make a life for myself. It gives me that space between emotion and reaction to think rationally. I still cry because my Dad is sick, and I still yell at John every now and then. But it’s a lot less. Let me explain more about my history so you can understand how this is progress.
I’ve been in therapy for nine years with the same therapist (God bless her), and about a year after we started meeting she recommended that I take an antidepressant. I cried constantly. Seriously, once a day. I told her I believed no one cared if I lived or died, and had suicidal thoughts. But oh, how I fought her on having to take meds. I didn’t want to be that person who had to rely on them to function. I feared what they would do to my liver. I feared I’d have to be on them for the rest of my life. So I would get on meds, get better, and then take myself off, which is totally safe and recommended by all doctors (not). I also was drinking like a fish at the time, which didn’t help matters any. I had no idea what my baseline mood was because I self-medicated constantly. That’s right – taking yourself off of meds when they are recommended by professionals is self-medicating too. Plus that whole alcoholism thing.
Anywho…let’s speed things up, I’m boring myself. I quit drinking four and half years ago. At that time, on a high pink cloud, I thought to myself, “It was just the booze. I can do this without meds, no problem!”
And…after I started having suicidal thoughts in sobriety, I thought twice. I’ve been on Prozac since (except for the nine months Fiona was cooking in my belly, I just wasn’t comfortable) and haven’t looked back.
Which is why it really, truly pisses me off when I hear people get criticized for taking psychiatric medications.
“Oh, you’re just part of our overmedicated nation! Why couldn’t you just do some exercise or something! You know what you should do? Take some vitamins. Vitamins really helped me to get better. Or change your diet. Yeah, you should go gluten-free or Paleo! You should be ashamed of yourself. A mother on medications?”
(A. Hey, asshole, I exercised throughout all of this, and it really didn’t stop me from wanting to jump off the Tobin. And B, I’ve taken the vitamins and changed my diet and all that did was transport me directly to the eating disorder hospital. So I don’t think, for me, little triple diagnosed eating disorder NOS me, that taking something out of my diet is the answer.)
Besides my personal crap – what I don’t understand is this wave of young adults who think they have the right to challenge a trained physician’s opinion when it comes to medications. Or vaccinations for that matter, but that’s a can of worms I definitely don’t want to open. It’s one thing if you have a crazy doc and want a second opinion. But it’s another if you have multiple providers telling you to take something, and you try a gluten-free diet instead as a form of denial. If a health care provider is telling you to take a medication because your life literally depends on it, maybe it’s a good idea to do that.
I don’t regret taking Prozac for a second. Am I worried about the fact I might live a few less years than you because of its possible side effects? Absolutely. But let me tell you what I really truly regret: the years that I refused to take it. I isolated in my apartment for days; I let the telephone ring and ring because I truly believed people hated me; I let people worry about me; and I didn’t have any self-esteem. I didn’t want to be here.
And the years I’ve been on it? The most beautiful of my life. I’ve established relationships in my life that are mutual, not just people-pleasing. I haven’t had to worry my mother in four years. I found out who I was, developed a voice and started speaking my truth. I met an imperfectly perfect man and gave birth to a gorgeous loud daughter who I messily parent every day. I’ve flourished in my career. So no, I don’t regret taking Prozac.
It may be that I may live less time on this earth than some because of what I take…maybe. No one really knows the truth to that yet. Personally, I think genetics runs the show, and there’s nothing I can do about that. But the quality of my life has been so much healthier, and rich, and messy, and full. I fear losing life today, instead of wanting to take it.
And how does sugar tie into this, you ask?
Right now, I feel like our nation is OBSESSED with sugar intake. Obsessed. I recognize that Type 2 Diabetes is a serious and important thing – it is. But sugar-free diets for people who don’t need them? Gross. People, you can’t fix everything by cutting out cake. Happiness is an inside job – literally, for some like me it’s a chemical imbalance – and you’re not going to fix it by what you put in it. If you’re eating nothing but Cadbury Eggs for a month, sure, you’re probably going to feel a little down. But if you have some sugar each day in addition to your delicious oats and blueberries and broccoli and quinoa? You’re probably doing alright.
And for me? Don’t take my chocolate away from me. Just because I eat chocolate doesn’t mean I don’t eat healthy. It took me fourteen long years of starving and bingeing to get that. And if I’m going to live on this planet for the short little blip we all get, I’m going to enjoy it.
Let’s try something revolutionary, people. Let’s take the advice of knowledgable professionals and take the medicine they give us when our life is at stake and eat a balanced diet that includes both antioxidants and white sugar. Let’s do everything in moderation, and not get mad at ourselves when we’re not perfect at that. Let’s treat mental illness like the common disease that it is and stop stigmatizing it.
Because fuck shame.
*Special thanks go to Honest Mom, who was the first person who initially gave me permission to tell the truth.