'I'm on Prozac, It Made me a Better Parent'

There's a lot of heavy stuff that shapes my particular style and brand of parenting; a complex relationship with my mother, grief over my father's death, turning 40, and the most severe form of anxiety.

And then there are lighter, yet equally important things that make me the parent I am; a love of books, an allergy to fractions, an unapologetic love of '90s music and my hard line against double dipping or claw machines.

But the one thing that has most significantly changed me as a parent? Prozac.

Muin Gleeson children
Miun Gleeson told Newsweek about parenting her children while taking Prozac in this original essay. Miun Gleeson

For me, antidepressants have silently been the undercurrent of motherhood. In the past couple of years, my mental health became increasingly unmanageable as I've had to fully confront my lifelong anxiety, grief, and depression.

But what mother has time for that? There are color-coded schedules, intense bedtime negotiations, impossible hair knots to untangle, and epic tattle battles to referee. Motherhood is defined by the weighty task of raising children, but simultaneously relies on the premise that we have the mental robustness to avoid drowning.

My catastrophizing and constant hand-wringing were undoubtedly affecting my parenting style. The constant feeling of fraying at the edges compelled me to finally prioritize my mental health, so last year, I tentatively jumped on board with antidepressants and haven't looked back.

I spent a full year navigating my way through many not-quite-right therapists and brands of medication, until I finally landed on the game changer that is my daily dose of Prozac.

Since switching to this particular medication, I have become calmer and gentler. I have deeper reserves of patience than ever, whether it be listening more intentionally when one of my kids discloses their latest outrage, heartbreak or tolerating the special hell that is the ticket redemption counter at the arcade. I simply feel better equipped to more graciously parent them through the various scenarios of childhood.

I have even taken the baton as the "fun parent" every once in a while. Pre-Prozac, I was merely a facilitator on the sidelines of fun—a planner and photographer. I also took seriously my role of fun police, stepping in to break up any merriment because: "Someone's going to get hurt." These days, I may honor requests to take the winding, bumpier route home and agree that some days simply call for frozen yogurt as a meal.

Miun Gleeson and family
Miun, pictured with her partner and children, stated taking Prozac in 2022. Miun Gleeson

But arriving at this new version of parenting hasn't been easy. I had to contend with the residual effects of how I had been raised when it came to understanding mental health–which is to say it was stigmatized and unspoken. For me, being raised by Asian immigrant parents meant therapy or medication was never mentioned. I never saw my parents cry, apologize or do anything else that signifies we're all complex, flawed human beings.

So, before starting Prozac in 2022, I wondered if going on medication would be a form of surrendering. In the beginning, there was a nagging voice inside me that wondered if there is an element of inauthenticity to my parenting on Prozac. Is this all fake? Am I robbing my kids of the "real" me?

My therapist snapped me back into shape.

"Who cares where this enhanced parenting version of you came from? Your children are the beneficiaries of your clarity and calm, and it's your love for them that was behind this big decision in the first place."

She was right.

Why can't there be truth to mothering while medicated? I went years without it, so I know who I am without it, and parenting on Prozac is simply better for me and my family. It's letting me be the person and parent I always wanted to be, and who was perhaps always there underneath my anxiety, grief and depression.

I don't think twice now about the things it took to unearth this version of myself. Prozac works in partnership with all the things in my toolkit that get me through the exquisite yet exquisitely hard days of parenting, from solo trips to my favorite grocery store, peppermint essential oils, happy thoughts, a box of Girl Scout cookies just for me and shameless reality television shows.

Muin Gleeson children
Muin says taking Prozac has made her feel calmer, gentler and more patient towards her children (pictured). Muin Gleeson

I'm not in a woozy, medicated haze, where I stopped caring. If anything, I feel much more present with my feelings in general, which makes me more intimately attuned to my kids' as well. This parenting version of me doesn't make me "mother of the year" by any stretch, but is infinitely better in more ways I could fully articulate.

The things I say to my children are things I reinforce within myself: Everyone is going through something. There's nothing shameful about mental health issues. There's nothing wrong with me that medicine needs to fix.

What medication is doing is granting me grace and the opportunity to live my life and raise my kids without my hardest days defining me as a parent. I'm better grounded because it's given me a broader, more meaningful world view where I can better discern the things that demand my energy.

But what I'm most grateful for is that my meds have allowed my kids to see me in my complexity; I hope I'm proof that vulnerability and strength can coexist just fine. Ultimately, I hope the biggest takeaway will be that we are deserving of any support—medication or otherwise—to help us be the best version of ourselves as parents and people.

Miun Gleeson is a Philadelphia-area based writer whose has written for the Huffington Post, Insider, TODAY Parents and more. You can find her on Twitter and at www.miungleeson.com

All views expressed in this article are the author's own.

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