The Pros and Cons of Being on Prozac

The Pros and Cons of Being on Prozac

Thinking of Going on Prozac?

I was on anti-depressants for about ten years for generalized anxiety disorder and only went off once for about a 6-8 month period of time. Now I’ve been off of them for about one year. My experiences being on Prozac and now being off of it have shown me some very visible pros and cons about being on this drug.

First of all, I think Prozac is a good drug.

Everyone might react to it a bit differently, but overall, this was one of the anti-depressants that I had the least amount of side effects with and it really did its job: it reduced my anxiety by making it more manageable and definitely reduced depression that I had. My anxiety did not disappear, but I didn’t expect it to. I did have a few mild side effects that got better after a few weeks of taking it.

However, one of the reasons many people quit anti-depressants is because it’s hard to tell exactly how it might be affecting you – how it works in the brain, exactly – and it’s generally not fun or beneficial to be on a drug long-term unless the benefits truly outweigh the negatives. But overall, I’ve had both friends and family members go on Prozac with good results.

The Difference Between Life on Prozac and Life off of it

It wasn’t until I went off of it long enough that I really started to feel the difference between life off of Prozac and life on it. Mind you, I wasn’t even on a high dose. In fact I alternated between the lowest dose (10mg) and 20mg, but even a low dose has a very noticeable effect on the brain. Especially when you learn to recognize the differences of not having it in your system.

Oddly, they say it takes a few weeks or maybe a few months for Prozac to fully get out of your system (in particular after being on it for so many years), but each time I’ve gone off of Prozac, I actually felt exactly the same until at least around six months past that point. Then, suddenly something would be triggered that caused anxiety that maybe normally wouldn’t have, or I started to feel my thoughts becoming more obsessive. This same thing would happen to a best friend of mine that had also been on it long-term and would go off for a number of months at a time.

Stabilizing My Brain

Upon going off of Prozac for good, I thought to myself, “I’m really going to need something to stabilize my brain in this process, as it re-adapts to regulating its own serotonin.” I took a number of natural remedies and vitamins, but it’s difficult to say which helped, if any. The main help was that I was at a truly happy place in my life when I stopped, and had come a long way in developing my own mental tools in dealing with my anxiety after all these years.

Once I had been off the Prozac for a few months, I noticed that the world just seemed so colorful to me. This sounds positive, but it was really not a positive nor a negative thing. I just noticed that everything was more pronounced – my perceptions as well as my emotions. I also temporarily became a lot more aggressive and assertive in my personality. Aggression can be a sign of a lack of serotonin in the brain, which I don’t doubt was the cause after being on a drug that regulated my serotonin for so long.

To top it off, I also have petit mal seizure disorder, and researchers have found that those with a seizure disorder very often also have mental illnesses such as anxiety or depression due to abnormal brain activity. So in general, a tendency towards anxiety and obsessive thoughts was in my nature and not usually circumstantial.

My Brain’s Obsessiveness Kicks Back In

Prozac is approved for obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), which can overlap with anxiety disorders. So, Prozac is particularly good if you have a tendency towards obsessive or intrusive thoughts.

Many months later after going off of Prozac and after the aggression subsided, I felt myself balancing out a bit more chemically. But here is when I noticed a definite difference in my thought patterns. I would now easily obsess over things, and this was something that being on Prozac I didn’t really notice myself doing. I was picking and prying things apart, not letting things go as easily, and investigating things thoroughly anytime I thought something was wrong with ANYthing. I was sometimes blowing certain situations out of proportion that I viewed as threatening, out of fear. I still do this, as I think it’s the natural way of my brain. However luckily I’m much more cognizant of it now and have tools for defusing it.

My memory is also sharper now. I FEEL much sharper. I felt so fuzzy while on Prozac in comparison. My brain was just dulled somehow and I wouldn’t have realized this simply while being on it because it was so subtle. I had to see the comparison after going off for a significant amount of time.

On the upside, I felt a general stability while having the Prozac in my system. It was like I was living within invisible walls and I had a buffer for my emotions and thoughts. However, this turned out to be a double-edged sword.

Prozac Dulled My Creativity

I realized that this very buffer that was keeping my emotions and thoughts stabilized, also stifled my imagination (which is overactive by nature, I might add). I’ve always been a creative person, and this dulled my creativity. It muted what I consider the part of me that I really feel at times makes me different, that comes up with unique ideas; the part of me where a little bit of genius might be able to shine through. It makes sense, though, right? The genius in me can also be my madness if put to use in a way that isn’t productive but rather goes after itself incessantly.

The crazy thing is that all of this was so subtle that it was nearly impossible to see while being on it. That’s why I’m writing this post. It took years of experience of being both on and off of it to really be able to feel and see the difference, and some people may not ever detect the difference if they aren’t listening or watching themselves closely enough.

So…Should You Go on Prozac Despite the Downsides?

If you have been prescribed Prozac or even another anti-depressant and are still unsure about taking it, my short answer would be yes, try the Prozac, IF the following conditions are true for you:

  • You have a chronic, recurring issue with anxiety or depression. You can tell that it’s something that is more of a product of how your brain works, how it’s “wired,” rather than one life event that triggered your only bout of anxiety/depression to date. Chemical versus situational.
  • If you are barely functioning at the moment, OR
  • If you have been steadily miserable for a long time despite trying other things.

On the other hand, if you feel your anxiety or depression is mild, it might be OK to go on it short-term and see how it helps you, but it’s kind of a pain in the butt going on and off meds. My first suggestion would be to try other things. Not just one – a combination. Look into cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) which has proven to be very effective. Or, if you can’t afford therapy (which many can’t), look for some CBT workbooks you can do yourself on Amazon. Make your attitude about learning to master anxiety. Become a student of it. A proactive attitude will win the battle. Fearing it and trying to escape it will never allow you to fully develop the tools that are so essential in keeping it under control.

And if You’re Already on Prozac…Should You Stay on It?

  • If your side effects get to the point where they are changing your personality (even if maybe you can’t tell that they are, but other people are noticing) or consistently hindering your quality of life, then it’ll likely be time to make a change. For example, Prozac muting my emotions to the degree it did became unacceptable because it led to other things, such as reduced ability to feel compassion and empathy, which then led to having a shorter fuse with people and less ability to relate to the world. That’s a big deal.
  • If you barely have any side effects and are just tired of being on an anti-depressant, then I’d talk to your doc. You’re VERY lucky if you take an anti-depressant and it not only works but doesn’t give you many or any side effects. However, it can be impossible to gauge how you will feel off of them and it will depend partly on your personal history with anxiety and depression.

I can’t stress this enough: the downsides/side-effects really will be different for everybody. There are certain listed side-effects of Prozac that will be more likely to happen than others, just based on how the drug works. But there won’t be any solid answer that will tell you what is or isn’t going to happen. It’s such a trial an error process – a jumping into the mystery of the unknown, and having to deal with that in regards to medication pretty much sucks.

Also, many people still do not truly understand anxiety disorders, depression, or anti-depressants. So do not let what other people think of you being on meds sway your decision. It’s not weak, and yes, some people really do need them. Do what you feel is best for you. I at one time in my life was barely functional due to my debilitating anxiety. I could barely sleep or eat for a long time, and I had school and work to plow through. That level of anxiety or depression is where these drugs can be honestly life-saving and totally worth it.

Work on Developing Your Mental Tools!

If you don’t feel you have great mental tools in dealing with the anxiety or depression just yet and tend to on external sources to ease it, you can maybe stay on the Prozac to take the edge off, but work on developing those mental tools. For example when anxiety comes, work on keeping yourself and your mind busy. Exercise more (this is a HUGE one!). Work on eating a healthier diet, and being mindful of your thoughts – it is a constant practice. But these are the things you are going to be able to rely on (and will NEED to rely on) if you don’t want to be on medication forever and if you want to dramatically reduce your anxiety and depression. There is no shortcut or easy way out.

It’s pure hard work and dedication to working on being observant and rising above your thoughts when they do not serve you well.

If you have been on it for a while and aren’t sure if you should go off, you can still try to go off for a period of time and see how you feel. A couple of things to note here though, it’s best to do this when you don’t have a lot of stress or general instability in your life.

If you’re experiencing anxiety, depression, or have any questions for me regarding my journey on and off anti-depressants, shoot me an email at liz@mylifeinbalance.co or leave a comment below. I am here to help and support you!

 

What a Bout of Insomnia Taught Me About Sleeping Better

What a Bout of Insomnia Taught Me About Sleeping Better

Anyone who has experienced insomnia in any form can relate to the fact that it’s one of the most difficult and maddening things you can go through, depending on its severity. It can interfere with EVERYthing in your life.

Last year I went through my first bout of insomnia, which was really bad for a few weeks but overall only lasted a couple months. I already have an anxiety disorder and had more or less felt as though I had mastered having anxiety during the day by just learning to keep myself occupied and not give power to anxious thoughts (easier said than done, I know).

But then, there came a few nights where I just wasn’t sleeping well. I could not get to sleep until about 5 am each night, and I had been off of my anti-depressant meds for a few years. Most people without mental issues might not even think twice about a few sleepless nights and naturally would return back to normal. But for me, it kicked in a vicious anxiety cycle, causing me to start to fret about not sleeping. So of course, I wasn’t able to sleep. At its worst, I went about 2.5 nights without sleep. On top of that, the idea that I couldn’t use my typical anti-anxiety strategies to beat this one made me feel defenseless.

Naturally I started trying to figure out what I needed to do to overcome it. I ordered about 4 books on insomnia, I read about strategies on the internet, I tried to play phone games at night to get me to sleep, taking baths at night, journaling, podcasts, and so on.

Just to go into a little more detail, here are some of the things they recommend doing if you struggle with insomnia (and these are some of the ones I tried):

  • Establish a bedtime routine. Try to get to sleep at the same time every night, and wake up at the same time each morning so your schedule isn’t all over the place.
  • Turn off all electronic devices an hour before you sleep. Staring at a screen can actually disturb your body’s natural production of melatonin and can keep you awake.
  • Try writing a sleep journal before bed, with positive affirmations about sleeping and yourself, to combat any negative thinking.
  • Put off any important subjects your mind wanders to — think of another time during the day you can go over them in your head.
  • Limit consumption of caffeine
  • Try natural sleep aids (melatonin, chamomile tea, etc).
  • Try taking a warm bath before bed as part of a calming night time routine.
  • No naps during the day (can mess up your sleep schedule).

And here’s what actually ended up working for me the best:

  • Not having a fixed bedtime routine designed for getting me primed for sleep. The reason for this is that the more that I tried to ready myself for bed, the more thought and power I put into the idea that I needed to do something special to get to sleep. This isn’t the mindset we want to cultivate if we want to be able to effortlessly fall asleep — as we often did as kids.
  • Not going to bed too late — and try to keep your schedule consistent.
  • No naps.
  • Knowing that if I absolutely can’t sleep, I can take sleeping pills as prescribed by my doctor. However, being able to train yourself to sleep without depending on these if you are able is absolutely essential. But just the idea in itself that I have something as a backup for worst case scenario made a HUGE difference.
  • Listening to the Sleep With Me Podcast to get to sleep. Seriously, I cannot tell you how amazing this guy is at telling these often nonsensical stories that help you sleep. I am forever grateful. I was able to reduce the amount I took sleep meds by a lot because of this podcast.
  • Using slight sleep deprivation to make me tired enough the next night to be able to easily fall asleep.
  • Exercise
  • Working on your attitude (see explanation below).

The Trick with Insomnia

The trick is that insomnia is that it often works like anxiety does — and you can call it a form of anxiety. It makes you feel like you have to do something special to get over the problem, when in reality, you just need to go back to not even thinking it’s a problem.

Just like when you’re having a panic attack, you often don’t want to do what the panic is telling you to do, you want to abandon the thought processes entirely that are causing you emotional pain, and ultimately calm down.

I know this can seem like the hardest thing in the world. But it feels harder than it actually is.

Most of the time insomnia boils down to just fear, and fear that the fear will keep you awake.

So, one of the best things you can do is working on trying not to care if you don’t sleep. Try not to let yourself freak out about the bad things that might happen to you if you don’t sleep. You really have to learn to just accept whatever comes with not sleeping and deal with it, rather than be threatened by it.

HappinessWhat You Tell Yourself Matters!

Try to tell yourself positive things about your sleep that will help to dispel your fear. Here are some things I told myself:

  • “Even if I can’t sleep, I will still get through the next day simply because I will have to. Nothing bad will happen.”
  • “Worst case scenario, I’ll just take a sleeping pill if I have the work the next day.” (I rarely ended up even having to take these. The idea is tricking your brain by reassuring yourself you CAN do it if you have to).
  • “I’ve gotten through sleepless nights before just fine, even if they suck.”

And lastly, I also wouldn’t do what I initially did — buy a bunch of books, try to establish some special night time routine, etc — because this all adds to the idea that you’re no longer “normal,” or that you have a bigger problem than you actually do. This can make it feel like the problem is bigger than it actually is.

Hopefully this was helpful to you, and if you are struggling with insomnia and want someone to chat with, feel free to reach out to me via email at liz@mylifeinbalance.co.

I know it’s tough, but you WILL get through it!

My Life’s Greatest Lesson: Learning How to Let Go

My Life’s Greatest Lesson: Learning How to Let Go

If there is one thing I could say has been the greatest and most difficult goal I have had to continually work towards, it would be letting go: Letting go when things don’t go your way, when people don’t understand you, when you lose someone you love; or of emotions such as anger, jealousy, or just unproductive thoughts in general. Then there is learning to let go of the all the expectations of yourself and your life that might just not turn out how you thought.

It really is a moment-to-moment practice that increases in difficulty with the more attachments and illusions you have. The more you try to control any circumstances in your life, the more tightly-wrapped and emotionally involved you become; thus it’ll then create more of a mental buildup that you will have to overcome in order to not be disappointed when things don’t go your way.

All of this might be something we understand intellectually, but when it comes to putting it into action, there’s no denying that it is really hard, usually because we get in the way of our own selves.

“Where Did This Anger Come From?”

We have emotions that we have to deal with that can spark up for any reason at all. Our emotional reactions are often telling of where we might have insecurities or a certain perspective of things that might not be allowing us to see a situation as it is. But working through these things takes time and an awareness that it is happening in the first place.

One way I struggle with this is when I’m talking with someone and they aren’t understanding what I’m saying, or I feel like they are criticizing me. My initial reaction might be to get frustrated, and once they see my frustration, the emotions elevate on both sides and the conversation can turn into a fight. To avoid this, I don’t try to fight the frustration necessarily, but simply acknowledge that it’s there and that expressing it won’t help anything. I remind myself as to why the frustration occurs and then try to tell myself things that will de-escalate it.

Letting Go of Negativity

Another example where I had difficulty letting go in the past had to do with how I would absorb myself into the negativity of the world. This is easy to do, because the negativity is everywhere. You can tune into any sort of news source and get your daily dose of saddening news.

Top that with a curiosity for why things happen the way they do, or to try to understand the minds of people who commit horrible crimes, and it can be even harder to not get sucked into this stuff.

Humans also tend to be drawn towards things that are shocking or even violent, which is why so many shows that are full of thrilling content tend to get people hooked.

I used to think that being tuned into the worlds’ horrors (and not avoiding them) kept me realistic and on my feet, but I discovered this was just another illusion. It was just something my fear was telling me, and kept me just a little farther from peace of mind.

The problem is that negativity is draining.

As time passed and I grew a little older (and wiser), I realized that the more negativity I was surrounded with, the more drained I was. I understood the idea of creating my own mind state of positivity, but felt at the time that in order to do that I had to deny the reality of things.

The truth is that you can always be aware of the reality of what’s happening around you, but you don’t have to let yourself be consumed by it.

Additionally, once I became self-aware enough to realize how negativity was affecting me personally, I naturally began to want to avoid it.

Stepping into Self-Awareness

awarenessOne of the best things we can do for ourselves is strive to become more aware of our emotional responses, accepting them for what they are, and work on managing them the best we can. Often, this will take consistent work and monitoring of ourselves, but the resulting awareness is worth it. Because then we begin to free ourselves more and more in being able to choose how we respond rather than falling into our habitual emotional patterns.

It’s also worth taking some time to think about what expectations we have of the world and of people, and how these might be affecting the way we operate or taking away our energy. Many of us have a certain idea of how you’re supposed to act or respond in any given situation. People are also generally too caught up in what’s socially acceptable and what isn’t. The more we can free ourselves from these boundaries (obviously without being completely unreasonable), the more we can feel out our natural responses and experience internal peace.

Lastly, we should evaluate our lives and see what circumstances might be bringing us down. It’s not worth keeping overly negative people or situations in our life. We need to take care of ourselves and sometimes certain people or situations can affect our mental health much more than is readily apparent.

“In the end, only three things matter: how much you loved, how gently you lived, and how gracefully you let go of things not meant for you.” —Unknown

 

The Battle in Life Is Always Only Against Ourselves

The Battle in Life Is Always Only Against Ourselves

Living our lives and learning throughout them on this Earth is an incredible experience. Each of us have our own unique journeys in which we approach all differently based on our perceptions and understanding of what goes on around us.

Being Sensitive and Choosing How to Respond to All the Input

I have always been a sensitive person. Sensitive to noise, sensitive to light, attentive to the world around me and things could always easily affect me. Growing up, this wasn’t really a pleasant thing. I didn’t see the good in it, I was purely just affected by it. But as I’ve gotten older, I can see that it has been a blessing. It allows me to really observe and deeply process the information that’s constantly going on around me. However, when I was younger, I didn’t really have the tools required to be able to choose how I wanted to respond to all of this input. It simply just hit me, and if it was negative input from someone or something, it would affect me negatively and that was that.

This at times created self-esteem issues or fears that would cause me to doubt myself. And this can easily spread to other things — second-guessing your own abilities in almost anything. Then if it goes on for too long without resolution, these habits of self-doubt, fear, and low self-esteem can become more thoroughly etched in our brains; more permanent. I realized this is what stifles people’s growth and causes so many people to build up walls around them, or to see the world more negatively and act out of fear. They don’t learn to believe in their own potential.

The world CAN be very negative, painful, and difficult…but ultimately it is us holding onto this negative, fearful outlook that will hurt us more than anything else.

Luckily for me, I grew out of most of these negative thought patterns (having an anxiety disorder didn’t help). It took quite a while.

Dealing with People’s Judgments

If people said something in particular about me based on their perceptions, or judged me in some way, the first thing that hit my mind would NEVER be that it was their problem. I automatically assumed that if they were saying it, it must be for a reason. And maybe it was. But I never really looked at (or saw) the root cause of why they were saying what they were saying. This put me through more emotional pain, so to speak, because it caused me to really analyze myself and see if what they were saying had truth to it. I literally faced it and absorbed it, and thought about it deeply.

I don’t think this is a bad thing either; as I think it’s important to keep our minds open. Someone who never looks at themselves or their own potential faults will not grow in awareness. They won’t become closer to really understanding themselves.

However, it is also very important to understand that most often, the way people see you is completely limited by how they perceive the world in general.

Most of us have limited/stifled our potential in one way or another — and it’s usually never wholly our own fault. It so easily gets stifled over our lives by potentially how we are raised, the expectations and pressures that might be placed us, getting overly fixated on money and letting that drive our actions. Or just by negative experiences and fears, or their own judgments of what they think is right or wrong.

Lately what has been sticking out in my mind is that over the course of my life to date, so many times I could feel that someone had a certain perception of me and I never really looked at it objectively. I always gave it perhaps more credit than it deserved. However, this was always something subtle and unmentioned — for example, if someone had said to me “you’re really stupid,” in that case I certainly wouldn’t have believed them. These were not obvious judgments or statements made, and they weren’t always negative. It was simply just the reflection of their own worldview projected on to me that became apparent through the natural dynamic of our relationship.

It was clear that they didn’t understand me for who I really was.

And I think more often than not, this is often the case for most relationships we might have, to varying degrees. And if we don’t know ourselves deeply, we’ll never be able to detect when someone’s perception of us is off. Especially because this is often just a subtle thing. We get lost in our own misperceptions, which are made worse by others’ misperceptions, and can get lost in a maze and may stray farther away from who we really are.

People’s Perception of You Has More to do with Them Than With You

perception

Every once in a while I come upon that quote on the internet that says, “people see you as THEY are.” I never fully understood this until recently, to be honest. But it is so completely true: People so often project their own fears or negativity or even the nature of their own self on to you. People who make assumptions about you or judge you are often doing so because that is what lies in their own hearts, NOT because it has anything to do with you.

And the answer to this is not to judge them back. You can limit contact, but don’t hold negativity in your own heart, because in the end, negative thoughts will only do you harm. It is best to just pray or hope that someday they are able to rise above their own stifling thoughts and habits.

We must work on becoming more mindful of how we respond to the outside world. Even though it’s often not easy, we can choose our battles; we can choose how we respond. People assume that because they are interacting with other humans most of the time, that that’s who the battles are fought with — like it is us against them. This is never the case. The more we act out of fear, violence, vengefulness, and so on, the more we close our own hearts and are affected in the long run.

“War within ourselves is always a prelude to war outside ourselves. All war starts within our own hearts. When our egos are inflated or our desires insatiable, we go to war with the other for the sad joy of maintaining our one-dimensional worlds.”
― Joan D. Chittister, Wisdom Distilled from the Daily: Living the Rule of St. Benedict Today

“NOTE TO SELF – BOOMERANG EFFECT
My words, thoughts and deeds have a boomerang effect.
So be-careful what you send out!”
― Allan Rufus, The Master’s Sacred Knowledge

“Very often in everyday life one sees that by losing one’s temper with someone who has already lost his, one does not gain anything but only sets out upon the path of stupidity. He who has enough self-control to stand firm at the moment when the other person is in a temper, wins in the end. It is not he who has spoken a hundred words aloud who has won; it is he who has perhaps spoken only one word.”
― Hazrat Inayat Khan, Mastery through Accomplishment

Lexapro or Prozac? Which Anti-Depressant is Right For Me?

Lexapro or Prozac? Which Anti-Depressant is Right For Me?

Scouring the world of anti-depressants is difficult and daunting, because you never know how you’re going to react to these medicines, and most of us might be a little disappointed that we even need anything at all.

You might be in one of the most trying times of your life and just want something to help already, yet we all know that finding the right medicine can be an exhausting process of trial and error.

That’s why I write these blog posts. I want to do my best to help others since I am now on my third antidepressant after battling generalized anxiety disorder and mild depression basically my entire life.

That being said, everybody reacts to medications differently, so I can only document my own experiences and what I’ve read based on research, as well as what doctors have told me. You can take that for what it’s worth.

Also as a side note, think about why you’re going on the medication. Do you suppose it’ll be short-term or long-term? All of that depends on whether your problem has been chronic and more based on your brain chemistry or genetics, versus a set of circumstances that has caused your anxiety and/or depression. I think anti-depressants are great for the former; if it’s something you’ve battled with time and time again. Otherwise, I think other measures should be pursued first (exercise, healthy eating, etc).

Lexapro vs. Prozac — What Are Some Differences?

So let me tell you first about my experience with Prozac. Overall, it worked for both my anxiety and depression. Especially for the depression. I still got anxiety sometimes (I didn’t expect any drug to completely eradicate that), but it “took the edge” off of it, so it was easier to manage. It also helped prevent anxiety because it prevented obsessive thoughts from occurring, which is why this drug works really well for those who also have OCD.

It did have a number of side effects that I didn’t like, and these were primarily mental side effects. I am an extraordinarily empathetic person, but Prozac literally muted my empathy. There were also the famous sexual side effects that people report on anti-depressants, but those went away after the first few weeks, and didn’t bother me anyway.

My concern with antidepressants was always a matter of how it’s affecting my brain in the long-term. How is it affecting my personality?

Prozac muting empathy or emotions in general, is an issue. Because that causes a snowball effect. Once my empathy was muted, I was of course less understanding of others which then shortened my temper. I became less patient as a result, less able to relate to others’ circumstances.

Also, being less in touch with your emotions gives you less “data” so-to-speak about how you feel regarding your surroundings. You don’t realize how important emotions can be, just basic emotions, in giving you information about your natural reactions to things. It gives you more insight into why you are the way you are. Muting this is not a good idea.

Enter Lexapro.

After nine long years, I went off of Prozac. That’s when you can really see the contrast of you on anti-depressants vs. you off of them. My life became more colorful, more pronounced, and I got my empathy back.

A few years later though, I entered in another really bad stint of depression and anxiety, with no obvious trigger. My brain just DOES this crap.

I fought it for months. Exercise and even marijuana products (since I had a medical marijuana card), bright light therapy, etc. Anything not to go back on an anti-depressant.

Then right in the middle of all of this, my dad became so ill that he was nearing death and eventually died. At that point, I gave in and decided to try Lexapro because nothing else was working well enough.

I was very nervous, because who knows what side effects I was going to be dealing with this time. Maybe I’d get some relief of my issues, but was I going to become fat and emotion-less in the process?

Lexapro — A Great Drug for Anxiety

I had heard multiple times from doctors that Lexapro was one of the anti-depressants that targets anxiety really well. It also seemed to me that it might be possibly a milder drug for me since it is approved to treat only depression and anxiety, whereas Prozac is used for a number of things like bulimia and OCD as well.

During the time I started Lexapro, I had had sleeping problems and a sickening mixture of depression and anxiety all at once.

Then a week or so after taking Lexapro (because it seems to kick in quicker than many other anti-depressants), I began to just feel normal. Like myself again. Instead of the drug muting my emotions, instead I literally felt like I was back to how I was supposed to feel. My normal self, with appropriate emotional reactions to things. It was incredible.

I hardly felt anxiety. Likely even less so than if I had gone back on Prozac.

I literally had no side-effects. No sexual issues, no weight gain thus far, no confused feeling about my emotions, no personality changes, etc. I felt that it completely targeted the issues I was having, with no big mental repercussions.

I found something that really works for me and I couldn’t be more relieved.

So Which Should You Try…Lexapro or Prozac?

Unfortunately, this still isn’t a question I can answer. There are so many variables involved, not to mention that the response to each drug is so individual. We all want answers…we all want to know how something is going to affect us. Unfortunately we really just cannot know unless we try it ourselves.

But what I can say is this: If something like generalized anxiety and mild depression is your primary issue, I would try the Lexapro first, solely based on the fact that it is known for being a better-tolerated drug among most people.

If your issues tend more heavily on the OCD-side and/or severe depression, you may want to try Prozac first.

If your issues are mild in general and do not recur often, then maybe think twice about going on anything! There are SEVERAL tools that can help you, and I still think that exercise is one of the best anti-depressants there is.

What keeps me mentally healthy? Exercise, social interaction, eating well, striving for optimism, and sometimes the extra aid of 10mg of Lexapro. 🙂

Good luck to you and as always, reach out to me at liz@mylifeinbalance.co with questions! 

On Mastering Our Desires

On Mastering Our Desires

Neem Karoli BabaOne of the most difficult lessons we can learn is how to manage our desires and understand where they come from. If we understand their source and reason for being, we can more easily look at them objectively and not give power to them to control us.

Many people get confused by for example Buddhist teachings that sometimes make it sound as though we should eliminate all desires or eliminate the ego.

Our desires and especially our ego are both inherent parts of our human lives.

The ego allows us to establish an identity in this world, as without some sense of self, we wouldn’t be able to function well here. What would we be without a sense of self? The ego serves as a tool to allow us to pursue a life path and be a part of the community. It is even a tool with which we can understand ourselves more deeply.

The key is in understanding it as a tool and recognizing its limitations, seeing that the ego in itself does not necessarily define us, and understanding how we can put it to good use.

Our desires are like windows into our own minds. They show us where we might feel like we are lacking in our lives, and if we look at them closely, we can learn more about what we value and try to understand why we are valuing it or what type of emotional programming is creating a craving for one thing or another.

Too much focus on our desires however leads to a mind without clarity and a heart that is not at peace, as all we can focus on in that case is trying to gratify them. Once the are gratified, the rush is over, and we may then return to state or feeling of lack as we are basing our feelings of happiness on whether some condition is met.

When we learn to really feel the difference between being at peace and our minds spent thinking about our desires, we may more quickly see that this focus on desire feels empty in comparison and won’t fulfill us in the long run. Because instead of letting things be and work out as they are intended, we are too attached to controlling the experience or using it to match our programmed addictions to feelings of pleasure and perceived happiness.

Now and then I still fall into focusing on desire. I still fall into emotional programming and habits. But the difference now is that I know where that pattern will take me mentally and how it will manifest in my life, and I know it won’t be to nearly as satisfying of a place in the long run if I just learn to let go and let things be as they will — without continually chasing cravings.

As with all things in life, it’s about a balance and keeping perspective. Using lessons we have learned from past experiences is helpful, as long as we can still keep an open mind to the present experience.

This all falls under the umbrella of mental discipline, which I believe is the greatest tool we can continually develop over the course of our lives. One of the most dedicated people I’ve seen in terms of developing mental discipline is Bruce Lee.

The following excerpt is writing that was found in his pocketbook that he continually carried around (found on https://www.brainpickings.org):

WILL POWER: —

Recognizing that the power of will is the supreme court over all other departments of my mind, I will exercise it daily, when I need the urge to action for any purpose; and I will form HABIT designed to bring the power of my will into action at least once daily.

EMOTION: —

Realizing that my emotions are both POSITIVE and negative I will form daily HABITS which will encourage the development of the POSITIVE EMOTIONS, and aid me in converting the negative emotions into some form of useful action.

REASON: —

Recognizing that both my positive & negative emotions may be dangerous if they are not controlled and guided to desirable ends, I will submit all my desires, aims and purposes to my faculties of reason, and I will be guided by it in giving expression to these.

IMAGINATION: —

Recognizing the need for sound PLANS and IDEAS for the attainment of my desires, I will develop my imagination by calling upon it daily for help in the formation of my plans.

MEMORY: —

Recognizing the value of an alert memory, I will encourage mine to become alert by taking care to impress it clearly with all thoughts I wish to recall, and by associating those thoughts with related subjects which I may call to mind frequently.

SUBCONSCIOUS MIND: —

Recognizing the influence of my subconscious mind over my power of will, I shall take care to submit to it a clear and definite picture of my CLEAR PURPOSE in life and all minor purposes leading to my major purpose, and I shall keep this picture CONSTANTLY BEFORE my subconscious mind by REPEATING IT DAILY.

CONSCIENCE: —

Recognizing that my emotions often err in their over-enthusiasm, and my faculty of reason often is without the warmth of feeling that is necessary to enable me to combine justice with mercy in my judgments, I will encourage my conscience to guide me as to what is right & what is wrong, but I will never set aside the verdicts it renders, no matter what may be the cost of carrying them out.
The most beneficial perspective shift that I have had lately is in seeing all negative thoughts and circumstances as a way to train my mind for the better. I have always known it intellectually, but for some reason I never truly applied that perspective until recently. I think it took a certain amount of mental suffering throughout my life and overcoming of that suffering (by primarily relying only on myself to relieve it) for me to really see how much it had rounded me out as a person, and how it had made my spirit only more resilient.

We have so much power within is, we just have to believe.

Past this, I would strive to have more of Bruce Lee’s mental discipline — a daily intention and method to convert negative emotions into a form of useful action. In repeatedly doing this, over time negativity will hold significantly less weight and we may even learn to welcome it as difficult as it may be to deal with.

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