Sunday, October 21, 2007

Equal (Rant)

"The year was 2081, and everybody was finally equal."

Have you read the short story Harrison Bergeron by Kurt Vonnegut? If you haven't, you should (you can find it here It's scary in its plausibility.

It comes to mind because this morning on CBC radio the Sunday Edition host was interviewing a man named Christopher Lane who has just had a book published. His book is called "Shyness: How Normal Behaviour Became an Illness" and it's all about the mental health industry. Yes, I say industry, because that's what it is, an industry run by the drug companies. Did you know that if you are nervous about talking in front of a group of people, that if you don't like the idea of eating by yourself in a restaurant, if your hands tremble a little when you meet new people, or if you don't like using public washrooms you are sick in the head? You likely have Social Anxiety Disorder, but never fear, all you have to do is take the drug Paxil or one of these powerful anti-psychotics (or possibly a combination) and you'll be all better. Never mind the side effects, just take your drugs and you can be "normal." Oh, and don't forget to drug your child if they show any anti-social behaviour too. There's all sorts of antidepressants and anti-psychotic drugs out there that you can use to alter your child's developing personality and central nervous system. Don't worry if you come down with the newest "disorder" in the books, Apathy disorder. It's actually caused by the drugs that you're taking to keep "normal," but they're developing new drugs to take for that one too. Good God, no, don't stop taking those likely unnecessary antidepressants, we'll just add on another drug to combat your drug induced apathetic haze, that way the drug companies will make twice as much off one person! Oh, you're a woman too? Well, if you have a period, you likely have Pre-Menstrual dysphoric disorder. It used to be relatively rare, but the drug companies decided that PMS would be a good thing to make money off of, so they've changed the diagnoses criteria to be identical. We'll just give you yet another antidepressant to deal with those ugly female hormones (and make more money for the drug companies too).

Yes, there are people out there who are mentally ill, people who do need these drugs. Not everyone does though, and the way things are going people who aren't drugged for something are going to be a minority. Why does every personality quirk and emotion have to be a disease, and what exactly is this "normal" that everyone is striving to reach by drugging themselves? You know, sadness is normal, anxiety is normal, a little fear, well that's normal too. We live in a scary world, bad things happen that we should feel sad and fearful about. Anxiety isn't always a bad thing, it's a natural thing and it can keep us safe. Being shy and bookish is not a mental disorder, it's the way I am, and the way millions of people throughout history have been. Yes, being a shy, awkward, bookish teenager was miserable, but I wouldn't take it back in a million years. I wouldn't want to have been drugged to be more "normal," those years helped form me into the person I am today, a person that I actually like and am proud of most of the time.

I'm trying to judge when the best time for me to pack up my family and move to a remote commune will be. We'll be the whacko's in the bush who refuse to drug their children, who refuse to be "normal." Anyone want to come with me? I seem to be able to make a mean loaf of bread...

Huh, who knew I could rant so early in the morning?


Cori said...

Hear hear.

Goody said...

Amazing how these people are willing to ruin people's lives under the pretense of helping.

greypanther said...

I am totally with you honey! I was on anti-depressants after my daughter's birth for about a year and then I decided to get off them. By that time was back to my "normal" self. Yeah my doctor did not like it that I did it without telling her first but she got over it. The only drug I take on a semi regular basis is Tylenol and that's only because of my wicked headaches. Otherwise I prefer to deal with my problems by reasoning them out. It doesn't work all the time but hey I don't want to be apathetic. Otherwise my daughter's birthday party today would have been a whole lot blander.

Okay I guess I needed to rant too! Thank you for listening if you so choose to!

Shani said...

I completely agree with what you've said.

I'll go one further to say that yes, medications can help, however, they should be used in combination with counselling and/or therapy.

There is a large number of people who can be weaned off once they are able to deal with the overwhelming aspects of their depression/anxiety or other issue, that aren't. They are given the medication, which treats the symtoms, not the base line issues.

That's not to say that there aren't people who need to be medicated full time, but to say, more importantly, that there are people who don't!

Stephanie said...

You need to accept the fact that many people would rather have an instant fix for their problems, whether it be a weight loss pill or Paxil, rather than take the time to deal with an issue in the right way. It's not only the doctors that are the problem but also the patients. The emergency rooms are filled with people who have a sniffle and want some sort of drugs instead of waiting the three whole days until they get better. The drug companies wouldn't be so able to sell these drugs if patients weren't going to their doctor and saying " I feel sad, can you give me something for it?"

I am not saying that drugs aren't helpful in some cases. I just think that it shouldn't be the first thing people reach for.

mary said...

I agree that the medication issues are getting out of control, especially for kids under 18 who may be a bit 'eccentric' nothing wrong with that.

but meds likely saved my life. sometimes it's just chemicals making you crazy.

Anonymous said...

On the other hand, there are significant numbers of people who do require medications. I'd love to see someone rationalize attempting to "wean" a diabetic off of insulin after a combined course of dietary therapy.

SSRIs, Trycyclics, MAOIs, Lithium, tranquilizers, these things ARE NOT "quick fixes". Nor are they trivial to perscribe, and nor is any of them necessarliy a particularly good fit for any one individual. Before prescribing any "anti-pressant", a patient should be refered to a specialist for evaluation.

GP: I'm sure your doctor was only upset because she didn't get a chance to monitor you coming off the meds, as there are all sorts of potential complications in coming off regular dosages, especially if you go cold turkey, and don't titrate the dosage down.

"Problems" come from external sources, "conditions" are what your body and biology conspire to create, and indeed, many of them are temporary. In those instances, it's appropriate to treat, and then carry on.

Other issues aren't so simple.

It really pisses me off that in the 21st century, that issues like care for mental health still carry so much stigma, and that people who have serious problems will suffer untreated because so many people want to see themselves as "Strong" and "Empowered" for overcoming their percieved weakness. Or indeed that vocal people will voice their perceptions and predjuices so loudly to accomplish the same thing.

Generalized and Social Anxiety Disorders are REAL. It is NOT just being bookish and shy, it's seeking refuge in a book because your real life is something you are trying to escape from. It's shaking in your pants because you don't know anyone in the room, and you're petrified you are going to make a mistake, and reveal to everyone that you're a clueless noob.

Introvert and Extrovert aren't just simple labels. They are scales, and too far either direction. And one of the most annoying things is when these things need their closest examination... The onset of puberty is when many genetic linked behavioral issues manifest... yes, the sacred under-18s. the magic cultural indicator of "adulthood" is completely irrelevant to the biochemistry of the brain.