It's been exactly one year since I started taking Prozac (fluoxetine). It popped up on my Snapchat memories--a picture of my best friend, Tori. I was at her house that day, and I remember how awful my first dose of Prozac made me feel. I was so nauseous, had stomach cramps, and a pounding headache. My first impression of this medication to help with anxiety, was not great.
This is a hard post to write--it's very close to home and not something many people openly share. But I feel like this topic resonates with my original thesis of holistic self-care--the importance of taking care of yourself so that you can better serve others through nursing. It's hard for me to say: Yes, I have anxiety, depression, and thus, IBS.
I started on Prozac last year. It was my sophomore year of college, and everything ramped up when I started taking the real-deal nursing classes. I didn't feel nervous or anxious, but I was having bouts of IBS similarly to the semester before. The IBS-D symptoms were debilitating, because all of my energy was literally going down the toilet.
And in nursing school, you just ain't got time for that. Of course, I'm a huge advocate for self-management and self-care. I do believe the first line of treatment for any mood disorders is exercise, clean eating and self-care. But sometimes, this isn't enough, even for people who seem to take great care of their bodies.
I started on Prozac in November of 2018. I told my doctor that although I didn't feel anxious, I was so stressed out that it was affecting my body as a whole. So then, we started on medication to treat the anxiety associated with nursing school (and life).
To preface, my journey with an anti-depressant was not always smooth sailing. My dose has been changed three times, I've managed annoying side effects, and I went through withdrawal once. At times, I've cursed at the dang prescription because of the hassle it takes.
But looking back, I cannot describe the impact Prozac has had in my life. My symptoms of IBS are GONE--I don't think I've had any issues with it at all since last fall! My last bout of IBS was so long ago, I can't even remember the occasion. And since I'm not having digestive issues, I have more energy to put into nursing school and life in general. I'm sleeping better, can focus on school more, and have a better attitude to my surroundings.
The best analogy I can use to describe how I feel is like a phone screen's brightness. When you're laying in bed, you don't notice how dark it is, and how low your phone's brightness setting is on. But then you go outside and the phone's brightness goes up, and suddenly you can see the screen so much more clearly. You have this AHA moment, 'oh thank goodness, this is so much better!'
And my experience with Prozac is exactly the same. I was at a low point mentally, but I didn't realize how dark it had gotten. This was normal for me. But then as my dosing leveled out and we found what worked for me, I literally felt like someone had turned the brightness up on my vision.
The moment I felt this analogy, I was walking outside to class, and I just noticed how bright and beautiful it was outside. I had this relaxed, optimistic, 'at peace' feeling and I just thanked God for his beauty. I needed someone to turn up the brightness on my screen, and the effects have been life-changing.
So on my one year anniversary with Prozac, I want to express my gratitude. To my family, friends, doctors, and the Lord who pressed it on my heart to try an antidepressant, I am so thankful for the patience and love that has been shared. I cannot express how much better I feel and how thankful I am for this experience.
But of course, (Disclaimer!), Prozac or any other medication is not meant for everyone. It's not going to work for everyone, and your doctor can decide what treatment is best for your scenario and genetics. I vouch for everyone to try self-care activities and holistic living, and for some this means trying medication.
It's not embarrassing, it's not a weakness. It's simply taking care of yourself, that way you can better serve others. Prozac has helped me both mentally and physically, and I feel so much more prepared to be a nurse soon.