Sarah Jane Honeywell

Punks On Prozac Army

It’s been nearly 4 weeks now of being on just a 10 mg dose of Prozac. I have never taken this low a dose for such a prolonged period of time in the whole 15 years I’ve been on the drug. It is making me feel pretty confused and lost. I’ve had bouts of dizziness and headaches and I seem to be bruising even more easily than I usually do. Raynauds disease has returned and I’ve lost some weight, not a significant amount but enough for me to notice.

Of course Prozac has been in the media recently, which is a weird coincidence for me as I am writing this blog to confront my own ghosts.

I really felt for Brian Connelly in ‘I’m A Celebrity.’ trying to go, ‘cold turkey’. I was sad for him that everyone decided it was best they take him out of the series…. I was sad because I think that’s what happens when you’re on medication, people make decisions on your behalf. I suppose they feel they have to.

I’ve never really told anyone I’ve worked for I was on Prozac …….well not until now. I remember a medical form I had to fill in for Cbeebies. It asked,

“Are you on anti depressants or have you ever taken illegal drugs?”

The very fact the words, “Are you antidepressants” were in the same sentence as, “Have you ever taken illegal drugs?” told me all I needed to know about how anti depressants were seen by a place like the BBC. I knew I’d probably be fired, so I lied and said, “no.”

I’ll tell you more about the implications of that question in my next blog – but that medical questionnaire was a trigger for one of those times when I tried to go ‘cold turkey’ without any help. I felt so scared they’d find out I was on Prozac and that I’d be judged as being too unstable to entertain pre-school children. So I tried to stop taking it.

Of course stopping any medication without a doctors supervision is not the recommended way, but sometimes it feels like your best option. Once you’ve realised the drug has a hold on you, you desperately want to escape it and prove that you are in control. However, the stark reality is that sadly you are a slave to it, just like you were a slave to mental illness before Prozac….. It’s a painful circle and it’s a world away from the celebrated circle of life!

The few times I have tried to go cold turkey on Prozac I felt dizzy, like I had the flu, like my kidneys might burst out of my back and rather dramatically like I might just curl up and die – (well I am an actress). I never did manage to bare the physical symptoms long enough for the psychological ones to kick in. I would just give in and start back on the medication, with a smile on my face and a heart slowly turning to stone. Deep down the severity of those physical symptoms always troubled me though. What exactly has this drug done to my insides?

Im afraid and pleased to say that this time, there’s no excuse for me to start taking the pills again, because this time my, doctor knows, my therapist knows and now you all know!

Being weaned off is so different to the cold turkey approach; sometimes my kidneys hurt and sometimes I’m dizzy but nothing like before. Being weaned off feels more like a slow mental torture, as my feelings are unleashed on me, like demons being let out of pandoras box.

I don’t think I’ll give in to the magnetic pull Prozac has over me this time though. Mainly because I really do want to do it for myself and not because the people around me think it’s a good idea. I want to find out who I am, and whether there really is a crazy girl in there. A crazy girl who’s been locked away for such a long time. Or has it all just been a mis diagnosis and a case of that old adage, a girl misunderstood.

After my ‘Chocolate Bunny Boiler’ incident (see blog) I was told, I would never come off the drug. I would be on Prozac for the rest of my life. It was suggested to me that, I was probably unable to make seratonin and that just like a diabetic who needed insulin to stay alive, I needed Prozac. Of course my friends and family objected to me taking it, they tried to tell me I was ‘zombie like ‘ on it and that the “look in my eyes had changed and I wasn’t crazy, I just needed to behave myself”…

They didn’t live in my head though, they hadn’t felt the things I had felt. They could have food in their house without fear of binging, they didn’t have the demon bulimia on their shoulder on waking up and they didn’t love the psycho in their bed. …. I needed to survive…. So, I listened to my doctor, and I embraced Prozac….. and for the first time in a very long time, it turned out the lights that showed up those demons, they could just lurk in the dark corners now, I could pretend the monsters had gone away…… Well until now at least.

I really don’t know what will happen when I come off Prozac for good? Maybe nothing will happen and it’s all been a placebo effect. Maybe I’ll see all the mistakes I’ve made because of it and spend some time mourning that, or maybe I’ll loop out and find out the real me, the core of my being is indeed as crazy as the day is long….

I was told recently that my ego and recovery, don’t mix and that this blog will only hinder me… I don’t know if I’m writing this or if my ego is? I know I did it because I’m tired of hiding behind a people pleasing Prozac smile… and somewhere deep down inside me, I really don’t think Prozac is something to be ashamed of. I guess I hoped that if more people started talking about it then we could fight the stigma it’s infested with, like a liberated army of Punks on Prozac…. I really hope this blog isn’t my people pleasing ego looking for attention, I hope I’m more than that. I hope I’m more real than that.

This blog has been really beneficially so far and when I pressed, “publish” two weeks ago I was actually sweating with the fear of how everyone would see the real me, the me that’s been bound up in medication for a long time, the me that even I don’t know or trust. It’s like letting a wild animal out of a cage after years in captivity … I just don’t know what’s going to happen.

One thing is for sure though, I don’t feel so alone. I have had floods of messages, emails, tweets etc from people wishing me well, telling me their stories, wanting me to keep writing, willing me to embrace the change and everyone is more accepting of my shadow self than even I’m ready to be. I’m grateful to every one of your stories, words of encouragement and most importantly your acceptance. The human race is magical after all. You might just be the happy ever after.

I’ll let you know When I publish my next blog on twitter @sjhoneywell – thank you for being there and reading.

SJ x


27 Nov 2012

I have 3 A-Levels in English Lit, Drama & Art