- Mental Health
The Happy Pills - My Forever Friends.
I love them. I need them. No, really - I need them.
I have been taking The Happy Pills (prozac) for around 12 years now. A good number of people on both sides of my family take them as well. In fact, I think we should own stock in the company. My point is, I've been hit with a chemical inbalance double whammy from both sides. The Happy Pills were a revelation to me - a revelation that I no longer needed to live feeling ragged and empty and frantic all the time. I am more myself on them.
When I first started taking them, my husband made noises about how he hoped that in time I wouldn't need them anymore. I side-eyed him like crazy. Knowing how I felt before and after my revelation, I was pretty sure I didn't want to do anything that would take me back to that before place.
Chris held out hope that I would someday be able to go off of them until after our first daughter was born. Then, in the middle of being a new mom and a full-time student and having a mild case of post-partum depression, I forgot for a good long period of time to refill my prescription. I was, to put it mildly, not a whole lot of laughs those days. When we finally got some more Happy Pills and they kicked in once again, Chris understood. He grabbed me by the shoulders, looked me earnestly in the eyes and made me promise him that I would never ever go off of them.
Now, there are times when life gets busy and I miss a day or two before I'm able to make it to the pharmacy for a refill. Chris can usually tell within hours of me missing a dose that I have done so. This usually involves a stern lecture on his part. Even though I am being lectured (sternly), I still feel pretty smug. Smug because I was right, right, right. The pills are a part of my life now.
Now, let me preface this next part by saying that yes,meds do not work for everyone with mental health issues and choose to deal with their illness another way. And there are some people who only need happy pills for a short period of time, whether to deal with a medical condition or a traumatic incident. To these people, I say more power to you. I'm glad the pills helped, and I'm glad you're back to your old self now.
I do not have this power. I am too afraid to even explore the possibility of having such power. When I think back to a year ago when my panic and anxiety attacks first set it, I honestly can't believe I crawled out the other side. I am absolutely, positively terrified of going back to that place. I started a new job today, and was having pretty normal nerves the past few days about how it would go. They were normal nerves, but my illness had me convinced I was going back in time to a year. The chills and the sweats and the shakes started trying to sneak their way back in. Thank God for Atavan. That's all I'm going to say. But also for the anti-depressent and the anti-anxiety I am on. I heart you. I will never leave you. I don't even want to try. I cannot go back to where I was, remembering how it felt to want to die, but also remembering how that whole period affected my husband and my daughters. I cannot - I willnot - put them through that ever again if I can help it. I owe it to them to do everything in my power stay as healthy as I can, and if this means the drugs are forever friends, than I am good with that.
I know some people think its all in my head and that I just need to not feel that way. Well, phooey to you. You're entitled to your opinion and all, but phooey to you. I know how I felt before and after. Chris knows what it was like to live with me before and after. Not to mention, this is an illness. For reals. The shrinks and doctors I went to said so.
Which brings me - finally - to my point: people - not those who need the happy pills for a short time but those who, like me, have a chronic illness - who start to feel good, and therefore decide its a swell time to go off of their meds. "I'm feeling better. I don't need them anymore!" Um, yes. Yes you do. They're the reason you are feeling better. If you were diabetic and feeling like crap, would you start taking insulin, only to stop once you felt better? I doubt it. If you have a chronic mental illness, its no different. If you took meds and you felt better, keep taking the meds. If you are doing something else that helps, keep doing that. Just because you are feeling better, this does not mean that the illness is gone. It means its under control - because of the meds.
I see too many people doing the meds dance. On and off, on and off. And I just can't understand it. They must have self-awareness. They must have memory. The must know how they feel when they aren't on the meds. Why would they choose to go back to those times? Why would they choose to put their families through that?
I know, I know. Stigma. No one likes to admit they're on anti-depressants. Its like admitting there's a fault. But again, would you feel guilty if you had diabetes? I decided a long time ago that my conditions are not my fault. I have no blame or guilt in having them. I have no embarrassment about having them. I speak openly about the Happy Pills and how much I adore them. It just occured to me that that may sound a bit manic or addictive, but whatever. All I know is that they help me to not feel how I felt. I am pretty danged thrilled about that. I talk about them openly. People are often taken aback by that, but they are taken aback by a lot of things I do, so I am used to that. And I am still amazed by the number of people who think me brave for talking about my illness and my meds and all of the fun that comes with it. And this makes me a little bit sad. Because I don't feel brave, I just feel pragmatic. Its a part of who I am, like it or not. I can't change it, but I can control it. There are so many of us out there. Why are we hiding?
I'm not going to hide. And I'm not going to stop taking my pills. Because life after the revelation is so much less scary and hurty.