I have struggled with depression for the better part of my life. I suppose it would be more accurate to say I battled it, because that is what it has felt like. A secret war I have waged against myself.
For approximately twenty years I chalked up my extreme emotions to a case of being crazy. I figured that I was born wrong. That God had made some horrible mistake in sending me here. At times I was convinced that I was possessed by evil. How else could the kind of hatred I had for myself be justified?
I would see my sister, who had been raised in the same world as I was, and I could not find an explanation for our extreme differences. It seemed plausible to assume that there must be something terribly wrong with me. Something dark and terrible that nobody else could see.
Our personalities were night and day. Where she was adventurous, I was afraid of everything. Where she was witty, I was serious. Where she was so easy to get along with, I was difficult to read. At times my intensity must have been downright terrifying.
I am not sure if it was a blessing or a curse, but my sensitivity towards the darkness, meant I was also equally drawn towards the light. While I was easily moved to tears by sadness and anger, so too was I moved by joy and beauty.
I painted, I wrote, I sang. I danced, I read and I took to the stage. I wanted to escape the darkness by creating something beautiful that might erase the depth of my rage.
Of course, I didn’t realize that if I was going to conquer my demons, I would have to finally face them instead of just trying to escape.
Trying to escape finally landed me in a doctor’s office in January of 2012.
It was here, weighing 93 pounds and exhausted from the war that I’d been battling my whole life, that I finally surrendered to the idea that everything I had been doing was just not working for me.
I had seen people before-doctors and psychiatrists who had been quick to prescribe me drugs-and I’d refused their help. I figured if I was going to beat whatever it was that was eating at me, I was going to do it my way.
My Way meant I was not going to accept any fucking help from some concoction of chemicals that was bound to dull my creativity, my emotions, and most likely my sex-drive.
I don’t know what it was about that visit, I may have just been too tired to keep fighting, but I decided to give “treatment” a try.
And I really, really, really don’t like saying this, but I have little doubt that the little pills I took helped to save my life.
And I am the last person I ever though would say that, because even now, I remain pretty anti-anti-depressents. But if I’m going to be honest about my battle with depression and disordered eating, I’ve got to come clean about my use of them.
Using them was not a quick fix kind of decision. Nor was it my first choice. In fact, I even fought with one of the leading specialists on disordered eating in North America as to why I was going to beat my Bulimic behaviours and suicidal tendencies without them.
For years I had hoped that I could kick my mental illness in the face with a little yoga, some deep breathing and a solid dose of therapy. What I had to finally accept, was that given where I was at, I didn’t have the emotional (or the physical) strength to look at what I really needed to in order to finally address what was at the core of my deep shame and anger.
I was terrified to go on medication, but my doctor presented his case with a compassion that I had not seen from any other health professionals. After weighing my options and hearing about the success of Prozac in the treatment of disordered eating and Major Depressive Disorder, I waved my white flag and filled out my prescription.
I have struggled for months about whether to write about my use of prescription drugs- not because of the controversy I know that the topic invites, but because there is a part of me that still feels like I must be really messed up if I needed a drug to save my life.
I am telling you about my year on Prozac, because it is a part of my journey. And now, as I am coming off of my meds and learning how to be in recovery without a little extra help, I am realizing how vital it is that I reconcile the guilt I feel over needing to be on them in the first place.