Friday, February 24, 2006

Mother's Little Helper

I just had lunch with a good friend today. She owns a small business that she has been growing, slowly, over the past five years or so. She's someone that I really think is brave, confident, positive and who can do no wrong.

Today she told me she's been seeing a therapist. No big deal, in my book. We all need to bounce our thoughts and emotions off someone else, to validate them. This is healthy. Actually I think she already told me this last time we went to lunch.

Then she told me, in hushed tones, that she had asked for some anti-depression drugs. This sort of shocked me, because this friend is one of the most upbeat, happy people I know. Well, I guess she is in public, at least.

I tried not to look as shocked as I was. It's really not that uncommon anymore, but it still shocks me when someone I know believes that they need drugs to solve their problems. What really bothered me next was when she told me that she finally asked her therapist for the meds when she had a day where she was so down that she didn't want to get out of bed. And didn't, until 1:00pm. She just didn't want to face anyone. My thought was, "Doesn't everyone have days like that?!" Isn't that what a Mental Health Day is for?

Then I had mixed feelings:

Was she looking for an easy solution to a normal problem? Or was this just a little help she needed to face her "down days"? Was there something wrong with me, that I'm not on mood elevation drugs?

In the past year or two, I've had no less than six (that's a 6!) friends tell me that they take some sort of drug to change their mood. I've also had a few friends that have turned to legal drugs (aka alcohol) to help them with their problems. My mindset has always been that if you can't handle your problems on your own (meaning without drugs or alcohol), you're just not trying hard enough*.

So I am just naive to think that most people don't need chemical help to get through the week? Has life gotten that complex and stressful that we all need to medicate ourselves to get out of bed in the morning? What about the message this sends to our kids? Even without the meds, is social pressure to be better, stronger, faster too much for our brains to handle?

Damn, this whole post depresses me. I think I'll go have a drink and take a nap.

*Yeah, I know this belief doesn't fit my personality. I don't know where it comes from. Freud would have a field day with me, that's for sure.


Rachel said...

Yes! That's exactly what I've been wondering myself about the drugs. In a conversation about taking better care of my health, I told my MD I wasn't trying to live to be 100. And that led to a trial bag of mood stabilizers. Uh...what happened to the natural state of ebb and flow? And if we're so full of anxiety that we're taking drugs in heretofore unheard of quantities, maybe it's our lives that need adjusting, not our serotonin levels. Now that I have 2 kids, I dropped back to part-time and voila! I'm in a MUCH better mood! (And no, we can't afford it either. We just drive old cars and don't go out to eat as much. Not as depressing as it sounds. Really.)

Jane said...

I self-medicate with caffeine, but other than that I think I'm pretty much okay on my own.

When I was going through some heavy stress last year, my doctor gave me a bag of anti-anxiety drugs to try. I read everything I could find about them and ended up deciding not to take them. The real deciding factor was reading how difficult it is to STOP taking them. That just didn't seem right to me at all.

Cagey said...

I've thought a lot about this post over the weekend and have come to the conclusion it should be filed under the "until you've walked a mile in their shoes" category.

Dorothy said...

I think you'd be surprised if you knew how many people really are on some kind of medication.

Goofy Girl said...

Well, there you go...two of four commenters have been offered a bag of mood enhancing drugs by their MD. I am agog! (did I spell that right?)

I pretty much agree w/ Rachel - if life is stressing you out...take some ACTION to change your situation!

Jane - Caffeine does not count. Or I would be an addict. Six Diet Cokes per day is not excessive, right?

And no, Dorothy, really nothing surprises me anymore. If everyone I knew was on drugs, I would probably just feel left out. :-(

And (as usual) Cagey is the voice of reason. No, I should not judge until I know ALL the details of other folks' situations. ...but I can still opine! ;-)

Jason M. said...

There are two things you might want to consider. First, sometimes we let things go wrong for a long period of time before we take action. Depression usually doesn't strike overnight, it creeps in slowly.

Second, sometimes things are wrong and you don't know it. I'll give you a personal example. I had sleep apnea my whole life and didn't know it until I had a sleep study done at age 29. Before I found out I had sleep apnea, I was very pessimisticlife. Life seemed harder for me than for other people. Anyway, when I got treatment I expected my outlook to change right away. It didn't. So I've been taking drugs to boost my serotonin levels. If my sleep apnea had been discovered sooner, would I need the drugs. Probably not. But, until they discover time travel, I think I'm stuck with the meds :)