from Impotent
by Matt Roberson



Depression and anxiety disorders might be caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain. One of these chemicals is serotonin, which helps send electrical signals from one nerve cell to another. When a person suffers from depression or anxiety disorders, there could be a problem with the serotonin balance and its effect on cell-to-cell communication.

Paxil blocks serotonin from being reabsorbed back into the sender nerve cell. This process increases the amount of serotonin available to be absorbed by the receiver cell and can help message transmission return to normal.

    Click here to see a Flash animation of how Paxil works in the brain.


Everyone took something.

Eric took a double dose of Prozac®[2] for unhappiness.  He rounded it out with lower doses of BuSpar®, and Xanax®, when needed, for anxiety and agitation.

Same last name, first name, middle initial—just Prozac, after crying in Kroger®.

Jennifer (after splitting with Ralph):  Zoloft, but she still imagined Ralph’s ass lofted over

For Lisa, Zyban®, because Doug couldn’t stand smoking.

Emily, Paxil, to calm down.

Matt, Paxil.

Lana, Paxil.

Jill, Paxil.

Angela, Paxil.

Paxil, Paxil, Paxil!


M. took Zoloft first, a half-dose.  Nausea, dry mouth, and dizziness forced him into a ball, chest to thighs, his hands clutching his toes.  He quit.

On Dr. King’s advice, he swapped coffee for tea. He ate small meals through the day and tried again and gutted through and the side-effects lessened, and stopped, and he started pausing, mornings, as he swung out of bed, to notice the grain of their hardwood floors.



He whistled in the shower.

“That’s what I want,” Eric said, over pastrami and rye, and potato soup.  “I want to whistle in the shower.” 

His therapist dragged his feet, then wrote a script, upping Eric’s Prozac to 60 mgs.

Then, whistling.  But he couldn’t have sex.[3]


[1] Paxil® (paroxetine HCl) is an agent in a newer class of antidepressant medication known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs).

[2] Prozac





seemed outdated, undergunned among designer antidepressants.¹  Zoloft® targeted depression and panic disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD).  Paxil—Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD).  Celexa® had a favorable side-effect profile, Lexapro® isolated a part of the CELEXATM (citalopram HBr) molecule, known as an isomer.²  Luvox®, belonging to a new chemical series, the 2-aminoethyl oxime ethers of aralkylketones, and chemically unrelated to other SSRIs and clomipramine, didn’t have its own website, so he didn’t know what to think of it.   Every other drug on its own home page, nicely designed, with polished ad copy.  He inserted brand names before dot coms.  From there, links to every other drug he’d heard of and not heard of, and enough terminology to start a further search, if he wanted.³

M., able to condense issues to their minimum, not stupidly, but reductively, and without good citations, had been the first to suggest drugs.

“You could take a small dose of Zoloft.  It cuts the edge.  Cheers you up.   Or Paxil calms you down.”

“Yeah,” said Same last name, first name, middle initial.  “Maybe.”

“I took Zoloft in school,” M. said.  “And Paxil when we bought the house.”

“Not a big deal,” M. said, shrugged, pulled on his ear.  “I mean, just about everyone

¹Prozac’s good only for depression.
²In clinical trials, LEXAPRO 10 mg/day demonstrated comparable efficacy to a higher dose of CELEXA 40 mg/day.
³Through Google®:;;;;; and, with the slate colored, batik border and links to information about depression, living with depression, medications, links to community chat, sales of fine art email postcards, and pleas for help.  Your help is needed to pay the bills.  DONATE. 

[3] Instead of raising libido and the ability to achieve sexual fulfillment, popular antidepressants commonly cause a loss of interest in sex and block the ability to achieve sexual satisfaction. . . .  Drug-related problems, which occur in women as often as in men, may include decreased or lost libido; inability to achieve an erection or ejaculation; and delayed or blocked orgasm.¹

 ¹Brody, Jane E.  “Personal Health: Antidepressants and Libido.”  The New York Times on the Web. < >




 “No,” Eric said.  “If I get interested,” he said, “I can.”

 “ ?”

  “You know.”

 “Function,” M. said.

 “Yeah,” Eric said, “function.”

 “So,” M. said, “get interested.”

 “Okay,” said Eric, “but then I can’t, you know.”

 “ ?”

 “ .”

 “ .”

 “Have an orgasm.”

 “Never,” said M.

 “Not never,” Eric said, “but not for, like, an hour.”

 “Wow,” M. said.  “Sign me up.”

 “For Prozac,” M. said.

 “It’s awful,” Eric said, “exhausting.”

 “Yeah,” M. said, “I guess.  Lana’s not complaining.”

 Eric, “Well.”

 “What,” M. said.

 “Don’t say it,” M. said.

 “She gets sore,” Eric said.

 “Man,” M. said.

 “Yeah,” Eric said.

 “Is it impotence,” M. said, “or is that just, you know, limpness?”[1]

 “I think it’s erectile dysfunction,” Eric said.

 “I kinda always figured it was the same with guys taking Viagra,” M. said.  “No payoff.”

 “I don’t know,” Eric said.

 “Like after prostrate surgery,” M. said.  “There’s stuff missing.”

 “My dad’s friend had it,” M. said.  “A real bummer,” he said.  “The guy was a swordsman in his youth.”

 “A swordsman,” Eric said.

 “It’s what my dad said,” M. said.  “Fucked up, huh?”

 “What,” Eric said.

 “That he used the word swordsman,” M. said.

 “Yeah,” Eric said.

 “He shows people pictures of his scar,” M. said.

 “His scar,” Eric said.

 “His friend,” M. said, “where they cut it out.”

 “I think just guys,” M. said.

 “He thinks it’s funny,” M. said.

 “It is kind of funny,” Eric said.

 “Yeah,” M. said.

 “But not that funny,” Eric said.


[1] Erectile Dysfunction (ED) is the persistent or repeated inability for at least 3 months to attain, and/or maintain an erection sufficient for satisfactory sexual performance. A 5 item Erectile Function Scale called the "EF Index" was developed to assist clinicians and patients in the communication process.¹

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