I'm sorry it's been a while since my last blog. I was waiting for The Sunday Times to publish a piece on me and my Prozac addiction.
Since my last blog I have had to go back on Prozac – please see link to attached newspaper article above (SJ).
I was worried about the backlash the piece might have but when it finally came out on Sunday 19th May 2013, I just felt completely naked….
I know what you're probably thinking, I've been semi naked on a plate in Trafalgar Square and I've been writing this blog since Nov 2012, so surely I couldn't feel any more exposed by a newspaper article.
Well, I did and I do. I think it's because my family and friends read the article. My parents said it made them feel sad because they hadn't realised the extent of what I have tackled so far in my life. I never wanted to make anyone feel sorry for me. I just wanted to find out the truth about Prozac and how it has affected my life, both good and bad.
Of course I have been addicted for 16 years to Prozac so in a way my life is no different now I'm back on it. The surge of concern for me from people has been immense and I suppose I feel naked because I can no longer hide, every one knows the truth now, which means I also have to face it.
That truth is: sometimes I just cannot find joy but for some reason I feel like I have to. The sad thing is that I don't know how to let go of the smile. I feel like I have utterly let everyone down because my happiness is synthetic. I'm supposed to save people with my infectious happiness, that's always been my role in life, my purpose. I still want to save people with fun and happiness - but now they know I'm a fraud will they let me?
I'm sorry I am back on Prozac – 2 months ago I couldn't take any more and I'm sad to say I caved and took 3 pills. I am now back on 3 pills a day and a fully-fledged Prozac Zombie again. Which when you think about it means I'm back to the normal, the me you've all known for the last 16 years. Maybe even the real me.
This whole thing was always a human experiment for me ~ using myself as the guinea pig.
I knew it wouldn't be easy, but I didn't think it would be so hard or that my body would break down so dramatically without fluoxetine to sustain me. So, if this was a science experiment and I guess that's all it was, here are my findings.
On stopping taking Prozac my body started to fail me in the following areas:
My heels cracked open.
This has not happened since I first took Prozac. However from the age of 12, when I first became Bulimic, my heels cracked open constantly. It was a shock to me when they started to crack open again.
Now back on Prozac this has immediately stopped happening. So for whatever reason my heels need fluoxetine.
My metabolism slowed down.
Off Prozac I never got hungry. My digestion slowed right down and although I was eating less than 1000 calories a day I put on 5lbs in weight. This of course affected my body dismorphia and the threat of Bulimia returning seemed a real possibility.
Back on the drug my metabolism has speeded up. I immediately lost the 5lbs I had gained and I am now able to eat a normal amount of food and I actually get hungry and no longer obsess about food at all.
My Body Dismorphia returned.
Whilst off the drug I couldn't bare to look in the mirror. I felt like I was the ugliest person in the world. I also convinced myself I must be a size 20 even though my size 6 clothes still fitted me.
After a day of taking the pills again these thoughts disappeared. I was able to look at myself in the mirror and I realised I was still the same size as I have always been.
My Raynuads Disease returned.
Again I've had this since I was 12 years old and it disappeared when I went on Prozac only to return off the drug.
That international drug of mystery Prozac has now cured it again.
My Periods were hateful.
Each period got worse off Prozac. My boobs went up a size to a 28F and I felt dizzy and sick from ovulation through to menstruation.
Back on the drug I have what I consider to be normal periods again, where I can function in day to day life. Happily my bra size is also back to size 28E.
However, my doctor was shocked I even managed to have periods on Prozac, so now I am worried that the drug may affect my fertility and I wish I could find out more about this. I have never been warned of this.
Off Prozac I had constant headaches and I was dizzy a lot. I felt like I had the flu and bloated.
Back on Prozac these symptoms immediately disappeared.
My nails stopped growing.
Off prozac my nails just tore off the whole time and my toenails became bruised really easily.
I'm pleased to say that back on Prozac nails are long again and toenails are recovering.
Restless Leg Syndrome Returned.
To be fair I sometimes get this on Prozac, if I haven't got enough iron in my system, but off it I literally could not sleep -
“The cause of restless legs syndrome remains unknown. However, evidence suggests that there is a problem related to a brain chemical (neurotransmitter) called dopamine. Since restless legs syndrome tends to occur in several generations of a family, scientists suspect that there is some genetic (inherited) risk of the problem. In some people with restless legs syndrome, anemia due to iron deficiency may be a contributing factor, while in others restless legs syndrome has been linked to pregnancy, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, kidney failure, varicose veins or peripheral neuropathy (nerve damage in the hands and feet). High caffeine intake (coffee, tea, cola beverages, chocolate) also may be related to restless legs syndrome.”
I have read that when coming off Prozac the brain tries to compensate for the lack of serotonin and the Dopamine levels end up getting compromised… therefore restless leg syndrome is a common side effect of Fluoxetine withdrawal. I'm pleased to say it has also gone away now I am taking Prozac again.
I was sick a lot when I first came off the drug.
Happily this side effect has also gone away.
I suppose the most significant effect of stopping taking Prozac was that I cried a lot. Back on it I still cry but it takes a lot more to upset me now.
I've said before that when I first starting taking Prozac my head, which always felt like a room full of messy papers, instantly felt like all those papers had been filed away. I could suddenly access them and my own head no longer overwhelmed me.
Off Prozac this chaos also returned and now I am back on the drug, those head papers are all filed neatly again.
I don't know if I'll ever get off Prozac. I am shocked to see that my body relied on it so much. It hasn't cured anything at all in the 16 years or so I've been on the drug but it definitely keeps the wolves from the door and I think it has saved my life
I wish there was a test that could be done to measure once and for all whether I do make serotonin or not. If I knew definitively that I didn't I wouldn't mind being on Prozac forever. Although, if I found out that I did make serotonin, then I would have to face the fact that my mind and is not always sound.
For now at least I am a Zombie again, I'm back to paying premiums on my life insurance because of the drug I take. I'm back to people pretending that they don't judge me, when I know deep down they do and I have to admit to myself that I failed. I'm flimsy; I can't stand on my own two feet Prozac free.
Having been back on it for 2 months I do feel better. Sadly in stopping taking it and facing the reality of who I really am, I seemed to have dimmed the switch of hope that used to shine brightly before I tried to get clean. I suppose while trying to be Prozac free I must have tripped the switch that fooled me I was ok. Or maybe it's just now everyone knows my secret I can't pretend I'm ok.
Like everyone else I'm scarred and I bleed because of the ghosts of my past and I bleed because I am human, immortal and weak.
For the most part I am happier than I was before this experiment and I do now know who I am.
I am a punk who sometimes hates the way she looks.
I am a punk who avoids convention.
I am a punk who has to challenge authority.
I am a punk who thrives on attention.
I am punk who loves animals.
I am a punk who really just wants to have fun.
I am a Punk On Prozac.
I would like to win an Oscar