Antidepressants — again

My friend Diana sent me a link to a site that reveals that Cho Seung Hui, the boy responsible for the Virginia Tech massacres, was on antidepressants. Given my experience with those deadly drugs, I believe it. If I’d had a gun during those times, it would have been hard for me to resist the siren call of those images of me dead that followed me everywhere, and the blind rage that fueled me might have exploded into something deadly.

When will the stranglehold that the drug companies have on the American medical system be broken? How many more tragedies of this sort must occur before family doctors stop prescribing antidepressants as though they are cough drops. They should be prescribed only by psychiatric experts with NO ties to drug companies, only under close supervision, and only as a last resort, when all other natural means have been exhausted.

The doctor who was my family physician for 15 years tried to prescribe antidepressants for my daughter’s headache diagnosis before Christmas. She didn’t tell us what the prescription was, or what to watch out for. She didn’t warn us of the increased suicide risk for adolescents. When I Googled the vaguely familiar name I saw the enormous red-flag warning box that showed up on the screen: “Warning: Do NOT prescribe to minors unless all other options have been ruled out.” Something like that. Needless to say, my daughter’s father and I didn’t fill the prescription, and that doctor is no longer either mine nor my daughter’s health care provider. My daughter is taking a naturopathic substance for her headaches, and is doing much better. She had ALLERGIES, for Christ’s sake. Was my ex-doctor senile, insane or just being paid off by the drug companies?

Something has changed in me, though. I used to get so angry about everything that was falling apart in the world around us. News stories of disappearing bees — with all the horrifying implications contained therein — would have shrouded me in gloom, in memories of my mother’s beekeeping, in what we will miss when we cannot taste heather honey anymore, in how that tiny loss presages much darker times. The endless reports of carnage in Iraq, paired with images of a genial president claiming, “We’re making progress,” would have filled me with dread and a sense of helpless anger. The tidal wave of junk food that one day could claim my daughter’s health, and my growing inability to help guide her to healthy food choices would have weighted me into despair.

Oddly enough, I recognize something now that before I didn’t. I really am helpless. And it’s OK. I do the little things I can do here at home, like recycle and keep fruit and vegetables available, and buy whole grain and organic. And I accept that I have no control over anything beyond my own small world. And even in that, my control is limited, no more than a convenient illusion. This handing over of my life, my control, to something other than myself has lightened me. If I can find three things to be joyful about, that is enough:

  • Sun and cherry blossoms and silence
  • My dogs waiting eager-eyed for their walk
  • Zeke’s kindness, which I see in her interactions with her friends, with me

2 responses to “Antidepressants — again

  1. That’s one of the deepest gifts of what I think your tradition calls faith — being able to sit still with “I really am helpless” and see that it’s not a curse, but a blessing.

  2. Dale: Funny, to read “your tradition.” And of course it is, both in me being Irish, and now more formally. I see it in some ways as similar in goal to Buddhism, to letting go of desire, finding a way not to be attached. I am not so attached to control now, or at least, I’m trying not to be!

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