A couple of weeks ago I found myself at the doctor’s office, having my first physical since 2010. I’d had great prenatal care and always felt like my health was just as important as the children I carried, but this was my first appointment for just me in five years. That last one was at UCSF with a new practice, this one was with the doctor I was assigned when I joined Kaiser in 2003. Quick catch-up, quick check-up, and a scroll through my medical records. “How are you doing?”
“Well, I don’t get enough sleep or exercise or time to myself or with other grown-ups. And I probably eat too much sugar and other crap.”
“And are you feeling any depression?”
“Um, some. It’s been better this last month, but things have been pretty hard.”
“You were on Prozac before. Did that work for you?” I nod. “Do you want to try it again?”
“Um, I would, but I know I have to have a psychiatrist and therapist assigned to me, and I don’t have a lot of time for appointments-“
“Actually, I can give them to you after we do the initial screen. Would you like them?”
Fifteen minutes later I had a three-month supply in my hand and a capsule in my mouth.
A week later I realized it had gotten very quiet inside my head. Depression, for me, is a discordant, agitating song that flows through all of my waking moments. Imagine a constantly blaring car horn that emits despair and self-hate and defensiveness and anxiety just loudly enough to distract you from your creative, loving, empathetic pieces. You go through your days disconnected from your best self, and it keeps you from seeing the best selves of others. And since you’re a stay-at-home parent, the others you see the most are your partner and children.
The Prozac has shut that off. I’ve been hearing it for years, probably since I got pregnant with Tristan, and it’s just gone. No external silence sounds as good as this.