Friday, January 9, 2015

Laughter is the Best Medicine (After Prozac)

Wow. Who the fuck would make that the title of a blog post? Why me, of course! 

One of the main FAQ's I get about this blog is "aren't you worried that so-and-so will read that?" The answer to that is universally, "no."

I'm actually a lot more worried that so-and-so won't read it. 

Specifically, the so-and-so's whose day might be a tiny bit improved by a small, really-not-that-big-of-a-deal-when-you-think-about-it-for-ten-seconds dose of revelation on the part of yours truly. 

That's sort of my goal with this blog. I may seem totally uncensored, but I'm not. There are plenty of topics I don't venture into here and never will. But I will never shy away from a topic simply because it's embarrassing or socially stigmatized. Really, I think those are the things people most want to know and read about, and need to read about, and can most relate to.

I've come to realize that I have a very cluttered and busy mind. An "unquiet" mind, to borrow the title of Kay Jamison's ground-breaking memoir of life with bipolar disorder. I am not bipolar, but I do have lots of "noisy" and intrusive thoughts, fears, and feelings; and they interfere with my quality of life. 

Prozac helps me close the door on some of that noise. It's like being in a loud room, and feeling relief when you leave and shut the door behind you. Instead of these thoughts sticking in the mud of my mind like rocks, they skip over the surface of the water and allow me to go about my business with a normal level of "noise," and a comfortable range of emotions. I don't feel like a zombie or a different person. I feel like the best and healthiest version of myself.

Medicine like Prozac is stigmatized because it is not "natural," because it is both over and under-prescribed, mis-prescribed, aggressively marketed, and arguably used to treat "feelings." It is controversial and not without good reason. It's either lionized as a miracle magic bullet that everyone should gulp down at the drop of a hat, or it's vilified as an evil corporate zombie pill. 

In my experience, it's neither. It's something I'm grateful to have in my arsenal to help me feel healthy. Is it a substitute for doing the hard work it takes to be healthy? Of course not. It's a silent partner and a small aid in doing that work.

As a kid I remember cracking up hysterically with my friends over nothing--even getting kicked out of class for it. That kind of keeling-over laughing attack happens less frequently as an adult, which makes it all the more special when it does. I had several moments like that when I was visiting old friends on the east coast over Christmas. And I credit (in part) modern medicine for that.

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