Shadows and Light

Nights are the worst. I toss and turn, seeking a blessed relief from consciousness that seems to come only at dawn. Sometimes an intense grief overwhelms me and I want to die. How do other people get through the night?

Daytime brings its own kind of pain. I either drift through the day in numbness, unable to bear the pain, or I succumb to spasms of tears, terrors, or a vast sense of inner chaos. My life is fragmented, so fragile that each tremor of emotion threatens my existence.

Six years ago, I was diagnosed with recurrent major depression. I have been hospitalized twice for suicidal impulses and have been through seven therapists since the age of 12. I have felt depressed for the last 30 years-in fact, I just assumed everyone felt this way and simply handled it better than I did. I was sure that I was fundamentally flawed as a person.

FIVE YEARS AGO, I began using Prozac. It changed my life, and medication continues to change my life-when it works. When it stops working, I'm back to square one.

Prozac opened a door into a life I thought would forever be denied me-normalcy. I could function at work, be more relaxed around others, even picture a future without suicide or insanity as the inevitable destination. It seems hard to believe that a little green and yellow pill (featured on the cover of Time magazine!) could do so much.

For many people, six months or so on medications triggers something in their biology and they can discontinue Prozac-a financial relief, if nothing else, because each pill costs around $1.80. I have watched friend after friend go on Prozac, feel stability return, and then go off. But there are others, like myself, who discover how much of an art it is to prescribe the right combination of anti-depressant medication for a particular individual.

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Sojourners Magazine March-April 1996
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