Last week I posted about movies with depression. When I was researching these films, there were a lot of movies I had not heard of, and one that jumped out to me was Prozac Nation. I watched the movie, and then the next day, I watched it again. This film is literally the embodiment of a college student suffering with depression, the similarities that I share with Christina Ricci’s character (Lizzie) are uncanny. Also, which makes the narrative even more compelling is that it’s based on a true story.
“Gradually, then suddenly, that’s how depression hits, you wake up one morning afraid you’re gonna live…”
Lizzie and I are similar in a lot of ways, though that’s not what is important to her story. She is a talented writer, and receives a scholarship for journalism to Harvard. She’s attractive, smart, a bit crass, and would appear to have it all together. Things are okay when the story begins.
However, not too far into the story, Lizzie’s behavior shifts. It begins with sleepless nights, she’s up all night “writing” but it turns out to be mindless scribble, a night turns into days. Her friends worry for her and take her to the hospital, and this is where she begins her downward spiral.
As previously discussed it past posts, going to college can insight depressive episodes in students because of the many changes that come along with it, maybe this is what triggers Lizzie’s deteriorating mental state.
Soon, Lizzie displays the different side effects of depression. She isolates herself, getting a single room. She doesn’t clean, she doesn’t do anything but lay in bed. Her eyes become dark- and what’s worse is it would seem her friends only think she is selfish and want nothing to do with her.
Lizzie also throughout the film struggles with substance abuse, she does drugs to try to escape her sickness, her mother is her only real support system- but even she loses her patience from time to time.
Lizzie pushes all the people she loves away with her outrageous behavior. She becomes mean, she does impulsive things and does not consider other’s feelings.
Ricci discusses the role and her relation to Lizzie here.
Prozac Nation takes place in a pivotal point in history, in the 1980s when depression drugs were progressing- the name of the movie is after the drug Lizzie is prescribed by her therapist, Prozac, which is the drug I take everyday. There’s a lot to say about medicating, but it’s better explained in this article.
1 in 10 Americans are taking an antidepressant everyday. However, many people do not treat their depression. Lizzie finds (some) clarity in her life, and herself after she begins taking medication, but she still sees that everyday is not going to be a good day. She calls the US the “United States of Depression” and I think that’s fairly accurate. There are many reasons why people end up with depression, weather it be their environment, their heredity, their upbringing, and etc (but we’ll save that discussion for a different day.)
I think everyone should see Prozac Nation, because it is a raw embodiment of the crippling effects of depression, and there is a lot to learn, and it hits pretty close to home for millennials and college students who have depression or know someone with depression. Prozac Nation does not sugar coat this angst, the sadness, the fear of not knowing how to control yourself because you are mentally ill. I give it 5 stars, and hope after reading this you check it out.