Friday, April 6, 2012

Chapter 8: In which I find Prozac to be more effective than Jesus

“Its positive.”
“What?”
“ITS POSITIVE!”
“WHAT?”

That was how I found out about my impending lack of sleep and free time.
Nine months later, I held my daughter in my arms and thought “Now what?”. Women may be shocked at this lack of paternal attachment. Allow me to explain: on some level, women develop a relationship with an unborn child throughout the pregnancy. Men don’t, because we can’t have a relationship with a swelling. Especially when it’s the first one.

I decided I didn’t want my kids to have a Dad who was anxious all the time. My wife had started seeing a therapist, and suggested that I do the same since it had really helped her. I was resistant. Talking about my problems to a trained professional? Surely this newfangled approach was not in line with what the Bible recommended.

You see, I had accepted that the Bible was the Inerrant Word Of God, and that I should do what it said. And it said nothing about licensed therapists. It did, however, say a lot about praying, which I had been doing. Surely, if I kept doing it the anxiety would go away, right? And if that wasn’t enough, I was attending church, attending bible study, and reading the Bible. Anxiety didn’t stand a chance!

But though it lessened enough for me to hold down a job, it wouldn’t go away. I didn’t want to inflict this on my kids, and I realized that the Bible didn’t say that penicillin was OK either, but I was fine with taking antibiotics.

So, after a suitably long period of procrastination, I started seeing a Christian therapist, who I still see today. Eventually he recommended a psychiatrist. The psychiatrist recommended Prozac (which is used to treat anxiety as well as depression).

There’s an astounding amount of ignorance surrounding anti-depressants both within the Christian community and without. Christians who wouldn’t hesitate at any form of medical treatment for a physical ailment (well, maybe not stem cells)
become staunch Christian Scientists when it comes to any form of mental disorder. The belief is that God should be enough. Just pray and your anxiety/depression/whatever will vanish!

I was tempted to believe this as well. This was until I wound up on Percocet after having back surgery. Having never taken such a strong painkiller before, I was anxious to get off it as quick as possible.

I got off it a little too fast.

The first couple of days weren’t so bad - just a couple of medium strength panic attacks. I knew this was a potential withdrawal side effect, and I was used to anxiety anyway, so I weathered them OK.

Then one night I got depressed. I thought I had been depressed before, but this was a completely different animal. In about the space of an hour so, I went from feeling a little blue to full on, black depression. I was having suicidal thoughts. Not in the sense that I was actively planning to kill myself, but I seriously started to think that life wasn’t worth living any more.

I told my wife, who ordered me to take a Percoset. I hesitated but did it. Within ten minutes, the symptoms evaporated. I now had no doubts that some people needed medication to cope with mental disorders.

I once saw a church sign that said “Jesus Is My Prozac!” Let me tell you - my experience is that Prozac is much more effective. I won’t say I’m no longer anxious, but the medication has defanged the beast.

I can look at situations that would previously have given me knots in my stomach,
and I’m not afraid. I can dismiss casual comments from people which, previously, would have made me think “What did they mean by that? Are they mad at me?”

I’ll just go ahead and say it: I love Prozac. Prozac is my Jesus. I would happily take it every day for the rest of my life.

And its a good thing I started taking it, because shortly after I did, the shit hit the fan.




This post is part of life:unmasked, a blogging project started by Joy Bennett at her blog, Joy In This Journey

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