As I watched the movie Prozac Nation, Christina Ricci is sitting naked on the bed while her mother comes into the room and opens the window tells her to get going. Ms. Ricci is going yard. She is off to Harvard to ply her skills and hone her narratives on life as she experiences life away from mom and dad. Her home life was idyllic in the sense of having nice clothes and a supportive mother but she did not like people because she assumed they did not like her.
She of course had her drugs, mainly medication for her behavior but she added X, LSD, Marijuana and Alcohol to her mind bending menu. She had a narcissistic, womanizing father who avoided her during her early teen years and a madly manic’ mom whose insecurities rubbed off on her talented but troubled child.
After the first party her own manic behavior corrupted her friendships and she was openly antagonistic at the worst moments. She already had an emotional problem and the sense her life was going to be short. She was also a cutter and obsessive about her writing.
On a personal level her behavior is NOT necessarily outrageous given her medical, yes medical condition. Depression and anxiety is not cured by psychotropic drugs because cognitive and awareness therapies can redirect some of the more harmless inclinations. Those treatment modalities may not cure and so the right medications will help fix some of the neurochemical issues.
When I first started taking Citalopram it was not effective so was switched to the drug Sertraline which did alter my awareness around me. Initially my family and specifically my brother indicated I was more aggressive. I may have been but I believe a lot of that was a change and the change was discomfitting. I resolved that I was becoming more aware of what was eating at me. My comprehension of my behavior and thoughts became my own.
The sheer terror of public speaking is a theme that caused me a lot of anxiety as a kid and was not helped by the constant threat of violence in the schools. Corporal Punishment hardly phased the hard-butted strong-willed student but to the good kids, it became an obsession and fed into my own distrust of 99% of people.
I understand Elizabeth’s (Ricci’s) impulses and her lack of control and the desire to please everyone long enough to find an egress from a social situation. Hers was self-medicating. I was fairly skilled in language and was a prolific speller with a great vocabulary. I read college text books in fourth grade because they were fun. What I hated was the spotlight. I really loved sports and always felt like people who were watching were judging me. By the time I was in my early twenties I went back to the high school and played basketball during recreation at the school and a childhood nemesis who said, “Damn you are talented.” I tell you, for a moment in the social context that was a homerun. I did practice and I shot threes with touch. I prided myself getting lost in a place I felt safe. Both scared and excited was when I made my first bucket in a game. I remember like it was yesterday. A high arching shot and nothing but net. That was an ice breaker of a kind but too much is a bad thing.
Retreating into my own little Universe I groped for safety without a safety net and the feelings of being judged, even by family. My hypercritical thinking makes me a very good weather forecaster but the downside is that skill causes me confusion and alarm. I have overcome a lot of things educationally but extreme anxiety has rendered me inert in many situations. I sometimes hate myself, question my own sanity and perceived stupidity.
The exact origins I am slowly rooting out. I am reconnecting with friends from my own class of 74 and finding out that the girls thought I was cute and so on. But this is a slow process and reconciling the pain and anguish is hard. My cats help and we share a symbiotic connection that I believe benefits us all.
So her behavior is not unusual and her journey through the darkest abyss is a journey that we must take. The therapy, drugs and finally a modicum of self-acceptance. We are what our neural pathways allow for. Mine is a hardwired hyper-awareness.