Thursday, September 1, 2011

Prozac Monologues - How It Began

First conceived as a stand up comedy routine, birthed as a book, morphed into a blog, on August 29, 2011 Prozac Monologues came full circle at Happy Hour at the Pato Loco, Playas del Coco, Costa Rica.  This was the very spot where in January 2005, the book was originally written over the course of eight heavenly (my wife wouldn't use that word), hypomanic days.  Micah pulled out his laptop.  Patricia set it up on top of a bar stool.  And I held forth.


You can hear a bit of our little beach town's rush hour in the background.  So here is the text:

Prozac Monologues - How It Began

2004 was not a good year for me.  My doctor tried to make it better by prescribing Prozac for major depression.  Only Prozac didn't make it better.  So she prescribed more Prozac.  And that made it so much more not better that I concluded the only way I could describe how much more not better would be a stand-up comedy routine.  And thus was planted the seed for what has become Prozac Monologues.

So I went off Prozac, and on January 25, 2005, I boarded an airplane for Costa Rica, armed with a yellow legal pad and a ball point pen. 

Hypomania In Action

For eight days in beautiful, tropical Costa Rica, my wife went to the beach, explored neighborhoods, visited with family, tried new foods, while I wrote.  And wrote.  And wrote.  When I filled up one side of the yellow legal pad, I wrote on the back.  When I filled up the back, I wrote in the margins.  When I filled up the margins, I wrote between the lines.

I came home with seven chapters.  Two weeks later, the book was done.

I told my doctor about my book and maniacally writing it.  That word maniacally raised a red flag.  So she screened for bipolar.  She said, Are you manic?

I said what anybody who thought she was Jesus Christ come back as Jessica Christ might have said, I'm not manic.  I'm excited!

Oh.  Okay.  So she prescribed the second antidepressant, and began what will have to become a new book, but I haven't recovered enough to write it yet.

Was I manic?  No, I was hypomanic.  But I didn't know that word.  And maybe you don't know it either.  So I submit for definition and for evidence the first four pages of

Prozac Monologues

by
Willa Goodfellow

Chapter One
Bizarre: In which I decide to write a book

Okay, let's start with the basic Prozac dilemma.  Just who is the crazy one around here?  If, after you read the morning paper, you are happy, content, secure, at peace, able to get up, go out and carry on your activities of daily living, full of confidence and a sense of purpose, then tell me -- are you pathologically delusional?

Or are you on Prozac?

Citizens of the United States of America (called Americans and thereby hijacking the identities of thirty-eight other nations in the Western Hemisphere -- Remember Canada?  Every heard of Paraguay?) make up 5% of the population of the planet and consume 24% of its energy resources.  We spend more on trash bags than the gross national product of 90 of the world's 130 nations.

What was that?


We spend more on trash bags than the whole gross national product of 90 nations.

So who is the crazy one around here? 


The Crazy Delusion 

We get such a sliver of time to enjoy this wildly extravagant planet, and we spend precious moments of it, watching couples on TV compete for cash prizes on the basis of how many maggots they can eat. 

Until the maggot-eating is interrupted by somebody who wants to sell you an air freshener that uses an electronically operated fan to circulate chemical compounds around your living room to make you think you are out of doors. 

The fan is the latest advance in civilization which will enable you to stop feeding your Shiatsu little treats, which you previously had to do to get it to wag its tail to disperse the chemical compounds around your living room. 

So now you have to take Prozac, so you can get yourself up off the sofa where you have been sitting in a semi-catatonic state, watching the maggot-eating and dog-treating, out of your pajamas and into your four-wheel drive SUV, which you were compelled to purchase after viewing those commercials of SUV’s climbing over mountainous terrain beside raging rivers,

But which you happen to use to commute an hour and forty-five minutes on some freeway to work in a cubicle with a picture of mountainous terrain and raging rivers and some motivational caption underneath, so you can buy the air freshener with its self-contained and electrically-operated fan that disperses the chemicals that make you think you are out of doors, because you wouldn’t want actually to go out of doors – the air is so nasty from the fumes of your SUV.  Who is the crazy one around here? 

And don’t even get me started on the taxes you will pay from your job in your cubicle to fund somebody’s research into that missile that can shoot another missile out of the sky, to protect us from the bad guys who can bring down two 100-story buildings armed with the equivalent of a Swiss Army knife.  If it’s your job to figure out how to shoot that missile out of the sky, stop taking Prozac and go do something else to do with your life.  Or just go back to your sofa.  Please. 

Okay, now I sound like Michael Moore.  Let’s just call this the Crazy Delusion, a concept not original to me, and of which you can think of your own examples, so I don’t need to continue this rant which is not really the point of this book, but only the context of our consideration of the title of its first chapter.

In short –

It’s hard to know whether depression is a problem of distorted thinking or the result of clarity. 

In either case, sitting on the sofa in your pajamas does not turn the economic engine of this great nation, no matter what you’re watching.

Except for the pharmaceutical industry’s economic engine.  They keep making money, as long as they are able to sell you images of people who are happy and confident, popping their Prozac, (nowadays it’s Abilify), which you really start to believe when you’re still sitting on that sofa, watching those images over and over and over again. 

Ads For Antidepressants

Have you noticed how all the ads for antidepressants run during the afternoon soaps?  (If you are not depressed, you haven’t noticed, because you’re off at work, turning that economic engine.)  No, those pharmaceutical guys know where to find their audience, and when, on the sofa, in our pajamas, in the middle of the afternoon. 

Now I’m talking to you, the one in the pajamas.  You thought you might get up and go for a walk, like you promised your sweetie (who has gone to work) that you would.  But here it is, two o’clock in the afternoon.  The recap of yesterday’s episode comes on, and before you can find the remote to turn it off after the last soap, that theme song begins.  It sounds inspirational, but for some reason, you start to cry. 

After the theme song, and before the start of today’s episode, it’s time for that gentle, compassionate voice, who lists all your symptoms, including another one you have, now that the voice mentions it, but up until now you didn’t realize that it also is on the list, so you must be even sicker than you thought.  Who is that voice that understands you so well, better than your doctor, it seems, and so must know exactly what you need to ask your doctor to prescribe.

Symptoms Of Depression

Here is that list, by the way: sadness (no duh!), sleep disturbance (too much, too little ) weight gain (or loss), lack of energy, loss of interest in the things you used to like to do, loss of motivation (hence, all that time on the sofa), slowed pace, poor memory, poor concentration (they don’t want you at work anyway – you might break something), loss of self-confidence (like, they really don’t want you at work – you might break something), guilt, feelings of worthlessness, suicidal thoughts or attempts.

If you have been sad or lost interest in things for at least two weeks, plus four of the others, I’m talking about you.  You and 12% of the population who will experience an episode of depression sometime in their life (that’s major depression), plus another 6% who just feel lousy all the time (that’s dysthemia), and another 6.4 who sometimes are way up and sometimes way down (that’s bipolar), or …

One in twenty people in any given month.

When you have so much company, how is it you feel so alone?

You are not alone. 

Prozac Monologues 

photo of Playas del Coco by Helen Keefe, used by permission
photo of trash bags by Yuyudevil, in public domain
photo of Cubicle Land by Larsinio, in public domain
photo of prozac by Tom Varco, used by permission
photo "Loneliness" by graur razvan ionut

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