Prozac Nation

A few days ago I posted an Instagram photo that got 41 likes and three comments (well, five if you count some hearts from a friend and terrified emoji faces from my mother)—this is a lot for me. And it wasn’t food, or some idyllic Charleston scene, or a dramatic, angled shot of my 120+ pound golden retriever (he’s wont to steal the show). It was my face, an unflattering selfie, the fluorescent lighting doing no favors for my January-level of pale. I was semi-scowling with my eyes ( can one do that, if you can also “smile with your eyes”?), my blue scarf unintentionally matching my mood. My caption read: “#nofiltermonday sitting here about to lose my GD mind (literally!) wondering why it’s easier for me to procure illicit drugs than it is for me to refill my 20mg of Prozac #mentalhealth is #importanttoo.”

The “for me” part, I soon realized, could and should be omitted (except for the illicit drug thing, that could just be a “me” thing). Three kind souls—whilst scrolling through the ‘gram on their lunch break, or during a lull in the workday, or maybe at the gym, or on the sidewalk, or waiting in line at the bank—commented on my photo. The comments read: “currently fighting health insurance battles of my own and this just speaks to me…I had my doctor grill me as to why my 30 day prescription for my anxiety medicine was gone after FIVE MONTHS. I feel your pain…

I FINALLY got my renewed script for Prozac 20mg after rationing pills and skipping days for months.”

I wasn’t shocked by any of this, but damn, I was equal parts surprised and touched. I laud serotonins on nearly a daily basis. I preach acceptance and openness—we (the racing thoughts collective) should not be ashamed, never ever ashamed, to talk about mental health.

And yet. I paused, a big gigantic “are you sure you need to do this?” pause. Because at the end of the day, I can praise self-acceptance and proudly recite to my boyfriend my daily mantra, “I say this to myself all the time, every five minutes, you’re OK, you’re OK. And it helps!” But I still have doubts. Can’t catch my breath sweat through my tee-shirt go lay down in my car for five minutes before I implode doubts. About what? Why? Is it really that big of a deal? Don’t you have more important things to worry about? Worry more about the pile of work in front of you and less about the fatalistic fantasy you’re rapidly concocting in your head. And on and on and on.

So yes, Mary Scott, you did need to do that. And yes, kind commenters, I needed those words. We all need those words. That tiny white pill, a mere 20mg!!, is the difference between panic, self-loathing, insurmountable shame—and quiet relief. That pill, the one I can’t seem to get my hands on without experiencing a Catch-22-like circle of calling the doctor’s office and leaving messages and receiving emails with phone numbers I’ve already tried, that pill doesn’t change me. That pill let’s me exist, with all of my goods and all of my bads, so that I can spend my day working and reading and brainstorming and smiling and revolting and eating and drinking coffee and drinking wine and then drinking more coffee. That pill lets me type these words. And that’s OK. You’re OK.


Mary Scott Hardaway

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