Thursday, May 27, 2010


I read a blog post a few days ago, the gist of which has been bouncing around in my thoughts ever since. The author was lamenting a few days without caffeine, and justifying the longing for caffeine by listing a number of other vices of the modern world. And one of the "vices" was antidepressants. They were described as something people toss back least I think that was the phrasing...I went back to reread the post to be sure I wasn't over reacting and much of the post had been edited and was gone.
That resonated with me, strongly enough that I dreamed about it last night, which tells me I need to address it. I have a very live-and-let-live philosophy, and I rarely comment on, or criticize other blog posts. This comment troubled me, though, as it seemed so dismissive of something so serious.
Are anti-depressants a casual vice? Something needing to be justified and a little ashamed of? Are they something we know we probably shouldn't indulge in , but just can't resist, like cookies? (Jeeze, I know I shouldn't, but I simply can't pass up a tasty mood stabilizer!)
I just don't think so. It made me feel diminished to read that. In my experience, antidepressants help with a troubling illness. They are expensive and it's difficult to find the proper dosage and the proper "fit" and some of them have horrible, debilitating side effects. They're certainly not something I take casually or take for granted. I feel lucky to have access to them and to have access to medical care to try to get my brain chemistry working properly. The alternative is unfathomable. Desolate.
A good cup of coffee is a delicious treat. An antidepressant helps a person lead a normal (or almost normal) life. Yes, it would be "easier just to be happy". It would be great to be taller, too, or ten years younger. I'd do those on my own if I could, too.
'Til then, peace, love, joy, pharmaceuticals. Oh, and a good cup of coffee.


Kyla said...

Some people do take anti-depressants casually. (Mother's little helpers like Valium come to mind.)

Some people take them because they save their lives.

To be flippant about them as if they are a vice for everyone is to have a very interesting global view of believing that all people are the same.

Sometimes a person just needs a bitch slap, for being so insensitive. I volunteer to deliver it.

Kyla said...

An interesting question, instead of "What does this say about me?" would be "What does this say about the author?"

straylight studio said...

I agree Karen, the idea that someone would refer to antidepressants as a vice is just mind boggling. It infers weakness or lack of self control in the user which is simply unfair. It's unfortunate that disorders that involve brain chemistry (such as depression) aren't necessarily as visibly tangible as say a broken arm. Therefore people don't take them as seriously and or speculate about their validity.

Cris Leonard said...

I suppose anything can be made into a vice, but any suggestion that a person with depression is in any way weak is simply ridiculous. I know that you know this but you are in no way diminished because you are helped by anti-depressants. You are one of the bravest people I know.

Gail said...

Peanut M&M's are a vice--I should know.

Someone who thinks anti-depressants are a vice has never know the debilitating effect of an altered brain chemistry. Medicines that can bring brain chemistry back into sync are a miracle.

I know how you must have felt after reading it....but never feel diminished because you take them or because some ignorant person doesn't understand their use.

alyson said...

anti-depressants a VICE? oh good grief. whoever wrote that must have re-thought their position, as the comments had been edited out when you re-visited the article.
It's just plain silly. Anti-depressants don't work magically or even immediately for that matter. You have to have had the strength to have made the doctor's appointment, gone to it, spilled your guts, got the prescription, filled it, paid for it, taken the meds, tolerated unwanted side-effects,WAITED for them to work, had the dose adjusted, oh good grief!!!! Hardly a vice.Insensitivity to others, lack of sympathy or empathy, dismissiveness and just plain stupidity are more "vices". No wonder many of us still feel the need to keep our struggles with depression on the hush-hush! said...

I agree with you, Karen. It is so amazing how some people judge others by their own experience and standards, yet are shocked when they are judged in this way.
Our society sometimes forgets that the head is a body part. Are people with diabetes or cancer just popping their medications for recreational use? We are fortunate to have medical care and advances help chemical imbalance. People used to be locked up in sanatariums for such things. You are a lovely and talented person. Be true to and love yourself for who you are.

kate mckinnon said...

I just finally caught up with this post; I'm so stunned that I have that tingly feeling in the very outside layer of my skin- you know that feeling?

I can't even find the post in my own archive; but I'm sure I clarified it, as I always do, with some sort of sentence that says that ...aside from the people who really need these miracle drugs...

obviously there are people all over the Earth who rely on precious medications to calibrate and equalize their body chemicals, whatever their ailments. I would never demean this. That's just...silly, if you know me, and Karen, you know me.

I know people with PETS on Prozac. People whose docs just tossed scrips at them, rather than figure out exactly what's going on. People who pop them to calm down, because they hate their life, whatever.

I can't fathom that you could think, or read into that what you did, and so, as the person who wrote it, I apologize, and remind you that you do in fact know me, and you surely know my heart.

I would also encourage you to talk to me next time; I value your friendship and could actually have done something to mitigate not only your feelings, but the way I expressed myself. Having been given no opportunity to do that, all I can do is apologize in a blog comment.

Surreal, but heartfelt.