Checking in: 3+ months without Prozac
Continued from ‘Coming off Prozac: 3 ways to get back on the horse after a wobble’.
We’ll start with the good stuff
Since coming off Prozac I made the decision to move to Brighton and would you believe it we are here already, in a rented flat by the sea. Living in Luton had its perks. It was affordable, plus my family and one of my oldest friends lived close by, but I long felt the need for change. I wanted to meet more people that share my interests for example, plus my fella and I both wanted to expand our professional and creative networks.
I knew intuitively that an important step on my journey towards feeling my best was to listen to the whispers of my soul and tackle the fears I had around moving head on, so that I could finally get to enjoy the benefits of being in a place that feels more me. Sometimes we experience anxiety when we know we are living in a way that’s out of alignment with what we truly want — and yet we continue to live in that exact same way. There’s only one solution. Rip off the plaster. And I have.
My first day in Brighton was on the 1st of July. I travelled down alone on the train to pick up keys to our new flat and clean it ready for Ben to bring all our furniture down the following day. It felt surreal walking through my new front door, knowing that this would now be our home. Here’s what I’m most grateful for:
- Interesting cafes, restaurants and shops at every twist and turn — even an award-winning Jazz venue on our doorstep.
- Our bright and sunny flat with its sky filled balcony, just calling out for a pot plant or ten.
- Friendly interactions everywhere I go — taxis, buses, even just passers by.
- Walks along the seafront — the pink and yellow coastal flowers, the neon lights of the Palace Pier and of course the big blue.
I’m less grateful for the seagulls. Especially the one that nicked my sarnie on the beach. Menace. Which brings me to…
The bad and the ugly
Whilst the decision to move was right, it sure as hell has been a lot of work. Tiring and stressful are the two words that come to mind. Here are some of the ways stress took hold during the move and in my first week here in Brighton:
- Seeing everything through a blacker lens than usual (and making damn sure my fella new about it).
- Tearful moments.
- Wanting to hide away and not be around people.
- Thoughts about needing to go back on Prozac.
- All culminating in getting a stinking cold!
With hindsight it’s obvious that a big life change is also going to be a big life challenge. Yet somehow my emotional reaction to the move caught me off guard. This left me feeling a bit stupid, like I should’ve known it was going to be hard and come better equipped with strategies to help me cope. How pointless though, to beat yourself up over what is essentially a blindspot. Cue an affirmation:
- “I do my best and my best is good enough.”
Sure, in an ideal world I would have taken some time to anticipate the triggers that are part and parcel of moving house, and maybe even journaled about them to help me mentally prepare. As this didn’t happen though, I did the next best thing, which was to forgive myself for feeling wobbly (for being ‘human’ says my wise and fabulous coach Rachel) and focus on taking charge from this moment forward.
The main thing I did was to get a handle on nutrition and exercise, because I feel so much better when I’m eating well, getting my daily steps and raising my endorphins with a work-out. As I write this today I’m pleased to share that I’m back into a rhythm that works for me:
- Daily steps — 7000 minimum
- 3-4 workouts a week — 30mins each
And of course I also upped my daily deep breathing, just an extra few minutes. I practice Transformational Breath®, a conscious connected breathwork technique that I am a certifed practitioner of. It has a whole host of proven physical and emotional benefits, and above all it feels so good.
I think I’ve learned an important lesson
In the throes of moving and feeling all the feelings that change brings up, I’ll be honest, I really started to think I needed Prozac again. I started to weave a narrative that went:
- Healing without meds is too slow.
- The lows are too disruptive to my life, relationship, friendships, career goals.
- Modern life is tough. Maybe it was always tough even before it got modern. Prozac might be a Band-Aid, but perhaps a Band-Aid is the most effective way to survive and thrive. Thank God for modern medicine.
But then I realised a few things:
- Healing with meds isn’t healing. Meds help you cope by alleviating symptoms which is different. They don’t act on root causes or help you integrate difficult emotions. I’m not against meds, I hold no black and white views, but my preference is for healing. Bottom-up, inside out healing.
- The lows are disruptive, yes, but each time I recover I’m gaining insight and confidence in a way I never experienced in all my years on meds.
- There is value in the lows. They are feedback from yourself to yourself saying ‘Hey, I don’t like this!’ about whatever it is that’s getting you down. There’s wisdom in listening to exactly what it is your soul is objecting to, so you can clarify what it is you’d like to go towards instead.
“In order for life to expand there must be contrast. How do you know what you want without knowing what you don’t want? Know that you’re not doing something wrong by being in contrast. Instead look at it from the vantage point that it’s not wrong to have a problem, it’s the path to the solution.” — Esther (Abraham) Hicks, 2014
As for Prozac being an effective Band-Aid, a crutch for when you really can’t go on and you have no other forms of support that are working for you…I’ll stand by that one. But now the dust has settled and I’m feeling calm, I no longer need a Band-Aid. Isn’t it interesting though, that the turning point came when I finally allowed myself the emotions I was having, or in the words of Esther Hicks, when I accepted the ‘contrast’ I was experiencing.
We live in a culture that is terrified of big emotions and that prizes steady functioning above all else. But what I’ve learned this week is that big emotions don’t always have to be a big deal. The fact is, the more resistance we have to them, the longer it takes for them to pass. Picture a cloud was on the horizon. You could choose to stand and blow it away, but would you win? It seems to me it’s easier to let it pass. To let the rain come. And when it does, to practice finding something you like about the shower.
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Disclaimer — This piece is not intended to offer medical advice. It’s aim is to inspire and inform. Take what resonates with you.