Out of the Fog: My First Time on Antidepressants

A little over two weeks ago, I finally caved and deciding to start taking a daily antidepressant. After many years of talk therapy and a vicious cycle of symptoms that always found a way to latch on, a psychiatrist diagnosed me with major depression and anxiety, advising me to take 10mg of Prozac every morning if/when I was ready. I had my doubts and concerns, but nothing outweighed the pain I was feeling inside. I could feel myself wasting away.

The first morning I took my new medication, I thought maybe I had felt something. A subtle shift. I couldn’t tell if it was just in my head and honestly, I didn’t care. Placebo or not, I felt lighter on my feet that day. The more I adjusted to this new solution, the more I noticed the benefits. I started to feel like I returned to my version of functional again. Things that crippled me with anxiety normally were much easier to overcome, from driving to zoom calls for work and everything in between. I even found myself organizing daily tasks more easily and enjoying the little things like cooking and reading again. Now I’m beginning to notice that my relationships have grown stronger because I’m less irritable and self-focused overall. It’s like there’s a whole new space in my brain and heart to pull from where my depression used to be. I have more to give.

I am in no way a licensed professional or advocate for medication. It’s a personal choice that requires a lot of research and guidance from experts. I just wanted to share my story because I think this could be one of the best things that’s ever happened to me. I can’t remember the last time I felt more like I could come out of all of this okay, like I’m putting in the work to make real change and progress. It’s not like Prozac has eliminated any of my problems or trauma and made me magically happier. All it’s done is lifted the fog so that I can see things more clearly and start tackling my issues head-on. I used to just sleep them away or cave under the weight of it all. It’s like this new combination of talk therapy with a therapist I trust and medication has woken me up, opened my eyes to why I’ve been suffering cyclically for so many years. It hasn’t been easy. I’m unpacking things I’ve repressed and grieving in ways that I needed to. It’s a lot of work.

Everyone’s mental health journey is so unique and complicated. Looking back, I never would have believed how much psychology, healing and self-improvement would play a role in my life and creative work. I was embarrassed initially to share this new part of my life but realized quickly that I’d be doing a disservice to anyone who’s read any of the pieces on my blog about mental health and could see their suffering reflected in mine. I couldn’t just omit this new addition. It’s the truth, and it’s part of the process. Who knows? In a month or two, I could pivot completely and decide it’s not working. For now, I’m just happy to be in a place where I’m seeing possibilities ahead instead of dead ends. It doesn’t feel pointless to keep trying. It feels like hope.

24/7 National Suicide Hotline: 800-273-8255

Bloganuary: Look at the stars…

“…look how they shine for you. And everything you do…”

I’ve always been enamored with the sky. I’ve looked up to the stars and to the moon for answers in moments of crisis and felt held by the infiniteness of our universe more times than I can count. I think of the stars as a reminder of how connected we are to something far greater than us — even if we don’t understand it — there’s visual evidence of that above us. It can be scary to picture the vastness of it all, but oddly comforting too. The mystery keeps the magic alive.

When I look at the stars, I see limitless potential. I see millions of galaxies and planets, the possibility that other intelligent life forms are looking up from their worlds and thinking about us too. I see the perplexing beauty that has inspired the greatest artists for thousands of years, all of the poets who’ve tried to find words to capture our universe. I see how the stars guide my hand when I’m painting and reveal pieces of my subconscious when I need it most, like there’s always something bigger at play showing me the way.

I don’t subscribe to one religion or god, but I believe in the power of the universe and the love that bonds living things together. I feel that love from the stars, from the trees, the ocean, the birds, everything. I know there is something we’re not supposed to know until it’s our time, but I can feel our part in it when I look up at the sky and manifest. I feel it when I see synchronicities or the inexplicable happens, like when I dream something and it appears in front of me in my waking life. When there’s no logical explanation for something, I think of our universe. We don’t have all of the answers, and that’s okay.

. . .

P.S. I’d just like to say how much this #bloganuary challenge has meant to me. I’m genuinely sad that it’s over. I haven’t committed to writing daily in a very long time, and I’ve learned so much from these prompts and everyone’s answers. Thank you to everyone who’s been stopping by, leaving a like and a comment. It’s been such a boost of confidence I didn’t know I needed and I’m so grateful. Wishing you all the best and all of the writing inspo you desire moving forward.

Bloganuary: Simple and Sweet

What is on your music playlist right now?

Instead of writing about what songs I’m listening to at the moment, I feel this prompt pushing me in a different direction. It’s almost 6 pm for me at the moment and I just got home from an ideal Friday afternoon spent mini-golfing and making memories with my boyfriend. I try not to gush often, but today’s simple bliss feels worth it. We had a wonderful time in each other’s company as we often do, listening to our favorite songs together on the way back home. A mix of old and new.

Rich and I are nearly two weeks into a social media and health cleanse that has completely changed our daily routine. Books have replaced YouTube, video games, and bingeing Netflix. No Instagram. No fast food. We’ve filled our calendar with hike dates and new hobbies like roller skating, bowling, etc. I even signed myself up for a dance class tomorrow morning, and I haven’t danced in a class setting in over five years! I’ve been writing every day and letting the silence bring up uncomfortable thoughts when normally I would’ve shut them out with the quickest distraction. At the thought of all of our improvements, we raised a glass at lunch to how far we’d come as individuals and as a unit. It was worth celebrating.

When we got home, I shook my ass to some Top 40s dance hits in my living room. Typical. Rich strummed on the brand new strings of his guitar. Music has always bonded us since the day we met. It brings memories of our collective wins and losses to vibrant life again. I often go back to songs that remind me of when we first met in college or playlists we listened to during our trips together. Maybe I’ll listen to “Rake it Up” by Yo Gotti & Nicki Minaj sometime in the future and remember this simple, easy day too.

#bloganuary #bloganuary2022 #dailyprompt

Bloganuary: What’s not to love?

What is your favorite part about yourself?

I wish we had to ask ourselves this daily. It’s so much easier to pick apart your least favorite features when you’re on the spot, especially since our culture gets off on a little self-deprecation. Comedians are so good at this, it’s like hating yourself is part of their job description. We eat it up.

While I’m all for a good joke at your own expense, it’s refreshing to see people own up to their strengths. I’ve loved reading everyone’s responses to this prompt and seeing how passionate people are about what they’re great at or even just listing off their favorite features. When do we really get the opportunity to do this?

Even as I’m about to answer the prompt for myself, I feel the need to package it in a humble way. I’m still performing.

Let’s give this a real shot…

I love that I can pour sunshine into any room or space I enter. I make people feel heard and loved or like their dreams are possible. I am a chameleon. Regardless of the environment, I adapt and find my courage.

I remember always being able to do this, like it was my superpower. When I was 10 years old and my parents would throw parties at our house, I would shift from climbing trees with my friends to having deep discussions about life with drunk twenty-year-olds. There was no limit to my ability to communicate and connect.

I used to think my chameleon powers were a weakness that made me hyperaware of my surroundings to the point of anxiety. And yes, that is still partly true. But what I’ve come to find is that it’s a gift when I use it well. It means I can go anywhere, find my way, and use that power to my advantage. I can travel to new places and adapt as I go. I can make friends in unlikely places and turn mundane moments into an adventure. I’d say that’s worth being proud of.

#bloganuary #bloganuary2022 #dailyprompt

Bloganuary Prompt: What Makes Me Strong

This is one of those prompts that feels so important that I can’t seem to find the words to respond honestly. At first, I started writing about specific things that give me strength but it felt like a BuzzFeed list. These are tough to narrow down, but I like the challenge.

One of the first moments I felt truly strong was when I was about 13 or 14 years old. I walked into a lawyer’s office and gave them my statement that I no longer wanted my biological dad to have custody or any ties to me. I wanted to be free of him and the suffering our relationship had caused me since I was born.

After years of mandated abusive phone calls, arguments, and the guilt I carried for him, I was able to make a choice for my wellbeing. It was the first time I had ever braved something so immense that affected other lives as well. It was a lesson in doing what is needed for you, sticking up for yourself. Something that would continue to be a challenge for me moving forward.

Any time I’ve been able to accomplish something outside of my comfort zone and see it through to completion is a moment I feel strong. When I started sharing my vulnerabilities with others through my blog or my art. When I started talking about my mental health online or when I started trying to be comfortable in my body. Oh no, I’m starting to list things off. See? It’s hard.

The things that make me strong all have one characteristic in common: self-assurance. When I listen to my inner voice and I trust in my ability to decide what’s right, I always feel stronger for it. As young women, it can feel like everything from the warped beauty standards of the time to toxic male authority figures and countless other setbacks work in tandem to silence that voice. I believe every single time you acknowledge what is right for you and you’re brave enough to take inspired action, that is the true essence of strength.

#bloganuary #bloganuary2022 #dailyprompt

Never Alone: A Bloganuary Poem

You don’t need to have groundbreaking ideas every day, but you should find meaning in every moment. Even when poetry is the last thing I can get myself to write, I see it all around me. I see it in the way the power lines on my street look like crosses and in the scent of new flowers about to bloom. It’s in the shrill echoes of the police sirens and in the voices of people going out for drinks on my block. All of these small everyday details find ways to command attention, which is why for today’s #bloganuary challenge I’m going to try to write a poem when I’m not inspired.

. . .

don’t fear quiet

and wish for filled spaces

your head doesn’t have to be hell

if you use it well

solitude can be solace

emptiness whole

in the presence of everything

you’re never alone

The best-kept secret

Striding toward the sun

linked arm in arm,

we always dive in headfirst.

We’ll make friends with squirrels

and fly with birds

until it’s time to reset.

I’d rather be idle

than on the go

when he looks so happy here.

Because life is simple

at its most grand,

blessed freedom and mother’s rays.

This Is What Happens When You Choose You

If you’ve ever felt like your life’s on autopilot or you can’t remember the last time you asked yourself what you want, this one’s for you.

Life moves fast. We get on the train and go from one stop to the next. We rarely ever stop to ask ourselves where we’re going or if our choices are actually our own.

I can pinpoint the moment this began in my own life to junior year when the pressure to pick the right college and a career path started piling on. Can anyone actually believe they expected 17- and 18-year-olds to know jack shit about their futures? Regardless, you follow the rules. You pick a major, a college and ride the wave. Eventually, it’s your senior year and now it’s time to find that dream job. Maybe you’re about 21 and you find the perfect fit right out of college. Maybe like the vast majority of us, your degree and university don’t help you find a job when you need it most. Meanwhile, your student debt looms over every passing day. By the time you do find a job, you’ve already given up on trying to reach for something that makes you happy or that at the very least challenges you intellectually and creatively — you’re desperate. You take what you can get. This is when you give up.

In my own experience, I bounced from one unfulfilling position to the next. It’s hard to believe you have any other choice as adult expenses and responsibilities accumulate. It’s all too easy to get sucked into the cycle even after you read all of the self-help blogs about traveling abroad and following your passions. Not all of us make enough money to eat, pray, love. Not everyone has the support to make their dreams come true at that time, and it starts to feel like the system is rigged against you.

Eventually, you reach a point where maybe you’re in your mid-twenties and you’re burned out and deeply unfulfilled. You don’t have any real reason for it because, hey, you have a job! You did everything right. You can afford all of the basic comforts of an “easy” life and you’re given the weekends to invest in your hobbies and the things you love. Why are you so depressed?

Let’s consider “The Great Resignation,” a name used to describe the millions of workers quitting their jobs after the COVID pandemic. Think about why this cultural shift is happening now. During the pandemic, all of us were affected differently. What we had in common was a collective introspection that forced us to rethink what actually mattered. When the stakes are this high, people remember what they want to live for. Turns out 40- to 60-hour weeks in an office doing something you’re not passionate about and having two days for yourself didn’t make the cut. It’s no wonder people started craving more.

The good news is that millions of people are using this shift as an opportunity to prioritize themselves for the first time in their lives. Whether it has to do with their relationships, work environment or location, people are shedding what no longer serves them and taking a leap of faith to find what does. For me, this meant saving enough money until I felt like I could take a break. I needed time to reassess what I actually wanted, time I didn’t have before. I asked myself questions I hadn’t been asked since I was a kid. What do I love to do? How do I want to spend my days? What actually matters to me?

It’s not easy to make this jump, and I wouldn’t have been able to do it if I didn’t work my fair share of unfulfilling jobs. While I no longer lean on my family for financial support, I do have a wonderful partner who’s been looking out for me during this shift as well. I fully recognize my privilege and the ways that I’m also putting myself at risk. Now that I’m taking this “work break,” my money is slowly draining. I can’t lie, though, I’m also the happiest I’ve been in a long time. With this new freedom, I started meditating again, working out, reading, writing for myself and prioritizing my artwork. I’ve started selling my paintings again and developed a new business plan for my Etsy shop. I’m working every day, but I’m doing it for myself and for the things I love. I forgot what that felt like. Actually, I’m not sure I’ve ever experienced that feeling in my adult life so far. I’m not sure many of us ever do.

Choosing you in whatever way that manifests in your own life is scary, but it’s incredible too. I wish I could give every single person the same opportunity to stop the clock and make their own choices again, find ways to make that possible because I know how impossible it can feel. If you’re reading this, I hope you’re able to start making a plan that works for you. I hope you’re doing it in small ways every day, and I hope the tugging in your heart that craves more never fades away.