My job gave me anxiety
When it emerged that Carrie Fisher’s ashes had been laid to rest in a giant Prozac pill urn, the Star Wars actress’ ‘favourite possession’, my supercharged heart was fit to burst. As tribute to Fisher’s searing humour and mental health advocacy it could not have been a more fitting pro-mental health statement. It’s one I’ll always carry close.
For one-and-a-half years I’ve taken a daily dose of Prozac (a.k.a. Fluoxetine). And I can’t see me ever stopping in this lifetime.
This is just me
Two Aprils ago my doctor signed me off with stress, anxiety and depression, triggered by … well, everything. Underpinning it all was the Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD) a psychologist had diagnosed me with a few years before. This crumble of mine was just the latest in a pattern of crumbles I was dealing with which I thought were just how I was, and how I would always feel.
My positive, creative self was stuck in a vice
I felt a deep injustice too that the positive, grateful, creative, bright person I felt at my core, that others saw and who came out in my good peaks, was in a vice-like grip. I’d not known any different since I was very young. I’d never considered there might be something physiologically awry that could be eased up. My GAD was just a fact of me.
“I’d never considered there might be something physiologically awry that could be eased up.”
What does anxiety look like at work?
When GAD goes unchecked, which for me it did for a good decade at least, it does what it says on the tin. It exhausts the day-to-day with a leeching, chilling dread, fearful whirring thoughts and deep blue troughs of feeling that leave me immobilised, teary, hopeless, afraid to open letters, drained and wanting to retreat.
My job gave me anxiety and the stress was getting out of hand
In April 2015 I was working as a press officer, having hit a brick wall with journalism, my childhood passion. I was blue at having to pack in reporting. I was still fairly new in the press office role, and I felt an overbearing weight of responsibility and panic that had nothing to do with my managers. They knew from my record and from seeing me in action that I was capable.
The sleepless nights
Of course what they couldn’t see was the ice chill that swept over me every time we received an enquiry; the panic attacks. The sleepless nights I had worrying about getting statements signed off in time, or the complexities of that interview I’d arranged for the following week. All of which would have me biting my nails down to the bone, on high alert, obsessively checking work emails and wiping off my weekends to this intense, suffocating worry, manifest in crying, fury and doom-laden outpourings. In short, my job gave me anxiety.
“I felt an overbearing weight of responsibility and panic.”
Exercise, meditation and counselling no longer worked
Sweating it out through exercise, mindful activity and being outside had helped in the past, but at that point, two years ago I was too run-down to run, too tired to engage, afraid I’d only make myself worse. So when my doctor prescribed a daily pop of Prozac/Fluoxetine, I went for it. I’d always been open to trying whatever potential remedy was in reach to see if it could help. Counselling had been transformative in the past, so I sought that out too. I’d tried Citalopram for a day, but the effects – speech slurring, nausea, total body heaviness – freaked me out so much I packed it in right away.
My new life, the real ‘me’ & long-awaited relief
I turn 30 this year. Since taking this little-fingernail-sized green-and-white pill as part of my daily routine I’ve been granted mental space from myself, for the first time I can remember. I’ve not carried that intense dread I’ve had with me for more of my life than not. It has brought a calm, control; a novel even-ness. I feel, but I’m not thrown around by polarised, extreme feeling. I can check my work emails without holding my breath. I rarely cry, where two Aprils ago I’d burst into tears daily. I had shied from taking any pill before that threatened to dampen me down, remove my ‘magical’ creative powers and ‘make me feel wonderfully bland’. But that’s not been the case. It’s been a revolution.
“I’ve been granted mental space from myself, for the first time I can remember.”
Carrie Fisher’s giant pill urn is not just an homage to Prozac
That colossus Carrie felt strongly enough about Prozac’s effects to cherish a human face-sized replica, is testament to just how much it means to finally find something that helps you calm the internal trauma and chaos, if like me, you need that extra help.
To me, Fisher’s giant pill urn is far from being an ultimate homage to Prozac. Carrie’s pill is a symbol of the fight it takes to win your version of mental peace, whatever that means. That fight is who we are.
If you would like to chat to me further about my journey, head over to the Iris Lillian Squad. This week is Mental Health Awareness Week in the United Kingdom, a national campaign to help shed stigma around the topic. If you feel you are developing a mental health issue, please seek support using the links below.
Daisy lives in Bristol UK where she writes for themessyrunner.com, runs and hunts live music shows and pizza. She shares a teal 18th century flat with a kitten called Bees and Harry who has Robert Plant hair.
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My job gave me anxiety