So, Goody (I would totally make her name into a link if I knew how), a most prolific blogger has often waxed on the state of mental health care in the United States. I have learned quite a bit that frightens me about the way things are down south, and I thought I would share some of my own experiences and thoughts here.
I was diagnosed with depression a few years ago, when I was quite young. I clung to this diagnosis, it made me special, and it explained why nothing was my fault. I was quite pleased to know that I, like many other people out there, had something wrong with me. Now I know that I probably was not depressed, I was a teenager, I was lazy, and I wanted an excuse. Anyways, I ended up moving away before they could prescribe me medications, but any time I ran into trouble, I comforted myself with the knowledge that "It's not my fault, I'm mentally ill." A couple of years ago, when I was about 24, I went to my doctor and complained that I had a headache, and was tired. He asked me a couple of questions (Do you sometimes feel like you can't accomplish things? Are you often tired? Do you cry sometimes?), and diagnosed me with depression again, and prescribed Effexor. No, he didn't think that perhaps I was a little stressed out, as I had recently moved to a different city, and started a new job. He didn't ask if I had someone to talk too, nope, just prescribed the drugs, and sent me on my way.
So, I started to take the effexor. Yikes. That was a trip. The only way I can describe the first two weeks of taking that stuff was that I had stepped sideways. It was like I was totally out of sync with the rest of the world, I didn't sleep, I couldn't eat, I was constantly jittering. Eventually these side effects faded, but if I missed a pill by even an hour, I was heaving my guts up over the porcelain throne. Then one day, after about 2 years of taking the stuff, I decided I didn't want too. I still feel the withdrawal effects, though they are tolerable now. I really thought I was going insane, it was like someone was electrocuting my poor brain, my skin crawled constantly, and I had fainting spells. I actually went to my doctor and told him I thought I may be addicted to the drugs, and he said "No no, Effexor isn't addictive, although it does have some mild withdrawal side effects at times." Oh My God! How can something not be addictive, but have such terrible withdrawal symptoms that after a week, you want to take a whole bottle to make it stop.
After the wee fuss-pot was born, I had problems again. It was well known by my health care practitioners that I had problems with depression in the past, so they were watching me and counting the days till I cracked. I admit that I went a little crazy after Mary was born, but it turned out that I was able to work through it by altering my behavior, eating, and getting out of the house...Of course those things didn't happen till after I was prescribed two different antidepressants. According to Goody, if I were in the USA, they could have forcibly medicated me, or even worse, locked me up and sent Social Workers to watch Mary. It kind of blows me away.
One last thought, apparently they are starting to diagnose men with Post-Partum Depression. Um. Can men actually be post-partum without some sort of surgery?