A true story by Tanya Kowalsky.
I used to be a real horror to live with. I nagged, and pestered Walter constantly trying to get him to pick up after himself, to get a job, or even just to acknowledge me when I spoke to him. But nothing seemed to work. Instead he just spent more time in front of the TV, drinking beer and sorting his fishing tackle.
I was getting more and more unhappy. My mother tried to console me by saying that at least he didn’t cheat on me, but it only brought tears to my eyes. I yelled at myself for not being Christian enough to forget about those flings with the Hooter girls.
I turned to our priest, who said I should be more womanly and generous, so, I volunteered at the local old age home. Sure it was nice getting out of the house, and I managed to earn a bit of money beating the residents at poker, but I still didn’t feel better.
It got so bad that I thought of leaving him, but thankfully my mother reminded me that no man is going to want a ‘used woman.’ Heavens, I can only imagine what trouble I could have gotten myself into. Plus, I had the children to think about, too.
Then one day while I was re-shingling the roof, I spotted our 3 year old Alex chasing a ball onto the street with a car coming straight towards him. I dropped my hammer, leaped to the nearest Maple tree bough, swung over the fence and landed on the neighbours trash cans, which softened my fall. When I finally rushed out into the street, the car had seen Alex and managed to stop. Alex was OK … this time. But I knew something had to be done ; my mothering capabilities had been affected.
With every ounce of passion left in me I decided to try everything in my power to make the relationship work.
I asked Walter to come to couple counseling, but he said the problem was me, that all he wanted was a woman to cook for him and to clean his underwear, and that I was making things so complicated.
So, I decided to go alone. I picked up the phone and made an appointment.
Sure, I was scared–nobody had ever been crazy in my family before. But you have to understand, it was my last hope.
Dr. Thicke wasn’t kind or nice, but his gruffness and lack of interest in me as a human only assured me of his competence as a scientist.
I told him how I felt: that after a brief romance and courtship – a dance at the local hall and a dinner at Taco Bell – Walter and I fell in love. But things changed quickly after that. He paid less and less attention to me, demanded dinners be served in front of the TV, and started referring to me only as “woman.”
I thought this would change after we married–that if I kept the house tidy, got silicon implants and produced 2 perfect children, he’d come to appreciate me. But it only got worse; his friends were over almost every night to watch the game. I couldn’t bring out the beer and perogies fast enough for them all.
Then when the children were born, the distance grew even wider. Walter believed children were women’s work, and instead he spent his time in the garage polishing his vintage Camaro that he had bought with the trust fund I had saved for the children’s education. (Which I’m not bitter about … I couldn’t say anything, I was in the hospital recovering from a Caesarian and I missed his birthday.)
I didn’t have to say any more. Dr. Thicke looked up from the TV guide he was reading and said that I shouldn’t worry: he had seen this before and that it was common. I was suffering from depression.
Then he told me that depression is a disease suffered mostly by women, it makes us cranky and listless and a drag to be around. If I wanted to end my family’s suffering, I should go on antidepressants.
I was so relieved! All these years I had thought that Walter was the problem, that his contempt for me was just a symptom of his misogynistic beliefs and our society’s insistence on devaluing women.
But in fact, it turns out I was the problem. I was just too negative. I took the prescription without a moment’s hesitation.
Within weeks things had changed dramatically, I skipped gaily through my chores, I sang while I scrubbed the toilet, attended to all my family’s whims and fancies, and taught the old fogies at the home how to line dance.
Walter still didn’t talk to me or seem to have any interests in me, the kids or the house; the difference was now I just didn’t care. The antidepressants had effectively prevented me from feeling any of the effects of life. I didn’t have to hurt after all. The marriage was saved.
Thank you Prozac, Dr. Thicke, and all the other doctors, scientists and pharmaceutical companies for changing my life. I couldn’t be unhappy now if I tried.
“How Prozac Saved My Marriage” first appeared in www.happywomanmagazine.com and was published in “The Language Of Argument.”