The Choice to Medicate

Many people have complemented my newest tattoo since I got it done last February. It is a black and white piece of chrysanthemums (my birth month flower) with a garden snake (I love snakes). What I don't tell other's is that there is a story behind my decision and timing to go, I got this tattoo on Valentine's Day 2016, it was a tumultuous time.

February 13th, 2016 my parents were getting ready to head out on a Valentine's Day trip that would leave me home alone for the weekend. I had been visiting my therapist at the UNF counseling center for nearly four months and had recently gone to a psychiatrist, Jane. Jane had prescribed me Prozac, Fluoxetine, A Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor. I sat in my room fighting back tears while I fidgeted with the bottle, reading the label and the warnings. I was thinking to myself, "how did I get here?"

In high school, I was strongly opposed to drug/ alcohol use. I had never had alcohol, more than a sip in curiosity of what my parents drank at dinner, and certainly never done any form of recreational drug whatsoever. Never even flirted with smoking cigarettes or drinking. I spent my senior year eating a mostly raw vegan diet and abstaining from bad influences. I didn't want anything to distort my reality and my "true" self/personality and I felt very strongly that drug use is a lazy way to temporarily solving an issue. And here I was, a few years later, holding a prescription that could alter my way of thinking, my very mind. Would I be myself?

When it comes to taking antidepressants there are so many issues and thoughts that spring to mind..."Will I face negative side effects?" "Will I lose a part of myself?" "Is it a sign of weakness that I can't handle life without drugs?" "What other ways will this change me and my thinking?" This is my experience, so far, with choosing to take an antidepressant.

Fluoxetine is an SSRI discovered in 1972. Normally when neurons in the brain send out serotonin the excess is absorbed through an uptake pump, however, with an SSRI this uptake is prohibited and so more serotonin remains in the brain. This reaction does not come without side effects of course. The common ones include dry mouth, trouble sleeping, loss of appetite and weird dreams. Beyond this is the risk of increased depression in some, even risk of suicidal behavior, mania, seizures and these are all more common in patients under 25 years old.

"Sweetheart, are you ok?"

It was my mom who had carefully walked over and was standing over me, watching as I stared at the bottle. Then I broke. I sobbed quietly from a mix of emotions; fear, disgust at myself, disappointment at myself and under all that, a tinge of hope. Maybe this would be what I need, just a boost in to recovery. With the encouragement of my mom and my dad who came in also and said "this too shall pass" I made my decision, opened the bottle and took my first dose.

It took a couple weeks before i noticed anything really and even then the change was slight but very effective at reducing my anxieties and cumpulsions. I noticed that I was no longer nervous and uncomfortble around food. I did not feel like meal times dictated my day. Before it seemed almost as if one bite too many would send me into despair and start an exhausting cycle of worry and doubt. With prozac I noticed myself feeling free from this grip and able to spend my day how I liked.

Since starting my medication last year I have had times which my prescription has run out or times I have attempted to no longer take it. Within a week I begin to unravel and I loose my ability to have a social life, sometimes it takes a while to notice the change and get back on my medication. I have had to find peace and patience with myself during this time. It's not easy deciding to begin taking medication but sometimes it is necessary. I hope that one day, with the proper tools, I can eventually go without my SSRI

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