12/24/2013 by syrbal-labrys
I remember reading “Brave New World” and feeling my entire face twinge when any “alpha” or “beta” had a rough thought(say about how badly ‘deltas’ or ‘gammas’ were treated), how they sucked in some “soma” to still those negative moments. It reminded me, uncomfortably, of America’s reaction to anything that could be labeled “depression.” I have had a low level depression most of my life, certainly since about age ten.
Mine is increased by situational events; mostly I manage without drugs. I’ve had plenty of time to experiment with things the doctor ordered, and with the most common cultural “cures”. Sugary stuff and chocolate once worked wonders for at least giving me the energy to get out of bed. Alcohol did not make depression worse, but hyped me up so much sleep was impossible. I pretty much don’t drink these days, aside from a single glass of wine or mead with a festive dinner. I LIKE sleep, you see. I used to get classic “holiday” depression, but I no longer am troubled by that. That ended, when instead of upping a dose of pills to cope with holiday family interactions, I QUIT trying to be agreeably smiley through the holidays and QUIT seeing toxic relatives who had a fixed idea of how to fuck up my life to THEIR satisfaction. See, a pill couldn’t fix that; only getting rid of the real PROBLEM fixed it.
I was on anti-depressants from 2001 through about 2006, on Wellbutrin. It did not render me a drooling wreck or do nothing at all like other pills my doc attempted. As soon as I saw how ignorant George Bush was, I knew I was going to need help, you see? No, I am not kidding. But though Wellbutrin was effective, after five years I began to have twitches and headaches that suggested I might stroke out if I kept taking it. It WAS what enabled me to get out of a bed of apathy and DEAL with daily life, so I had a struggle at first learning to function again.
So, since then, I’ve dealt with the rest of George Bush in office and the disappointment that has been President Obama. I’ve dealt with a major PTSD meltdown in my husband, one that nearly ended our 35+ year marriage. And with a son in a war zone for two tours (back to sugary treats!) I’ve used exercise, dance, chanting, meditation instead of medication. And I yell and vent a lot here. And I feel considerably LESS desperate and suicidal than I ever did back in the days of medical trials. Because I feel in control, not at the mercy of the drugs.
So, why mention this now? Well, because to be utterly honest, as more and more Americans are diagnosed with depression and it seems to be proving more and more “intractable” to drug regimens; a very old idea re-occured to me. Back in the old days, when dinosaurs like me were young and frolicy there was this saying: “If you aren’t depressed, you aren’t paying attention!” Combine that with the habit of many, many people who say “I don’t read/watch the news cause it depresses me,” and it really worries me. What if SOME of that massive load of depression is not so much a brain chemical mediated sort at all? What if it is, in fact, our brains screaming at us that SOMETHING IS FUCKING WRONG and we just go on trying to “soma” ourselves into a non-existent peace? If in fact, our brain chemistry is NOT what is making us depressed, how COULD medication work?
Yeah, yeah, I know. I am not a doctor. And I’m of course, not legally capable of telling anyone to discontinue meds. And I quite frankly know there ARE patients rightly given drugs for depression AND other mental health issues. But it is so popular to prescribe pills, even GP docs diagnose depression based on a silly little paper survey. It seems every third person is on some sort of psycho-active drug, and I wonder, is it really working?
Speaking strictly for myself? Maybe the things that make me want to beat myself insensible against my own desk top are NOT in my head, but in my WORLD. And taking a pill isn’t going to fix that for me. So, yes, I do worry when more and more Americans report depression and are offered pills; I likewise worried back in the early ’80’s when my very intelligent son was nagged by teachers to go on Ritalin just because they didn’t want to answer his probing questions. He was NOT ADHD or any such thing. But teachers were already preferring drugged children to normal children.
I’m a big fan of DEALING with life toe to toe. When I do NOT do that, when I try by any means to sedate myself out of confrontation and trouble? THEN I am depressed and filled with self-loathing. I just wonder if America is fighting her depression issues on the wrong battlefield. Passing out pills is so much easier than slogging through other solutions. I just worry that the pills create a whole new class of problems, and solve none of the original ones.