Sunday, January 15, 2012
One Pill Makes You...
The NYT article that I've linked below reminded me of a conversation I had a year or so ago with a group of fellow creative folks. Seven of us were sharing tapas and tales one evening and the topic of drugs came up. No, not meth and ecstasy, but the prescribed sunshine that doctors provide to so many Americans nowadays: Prozac, Zoloft, Cymbalta, Adderall, and the other forms of modern day blotter acid that big pharm is having a field day with.
Now, before you fire off a response about my insensitivity toward these very real maladies such as depression, anxiety, and inability to focus, please know that I am totally empathic with those who struggle with these very real disorders. They can wreak havoc on people's lives, and they suck.
That said, I was amazed to discover that I was the only person at the table NOT taking one of these medications. It gave me pause. Was it because we were somewhat creative types and with that role comes a certain oppressive monkey that insists upon digging into our backs? One that paralyzes us when we should pounce, one that makes the brightest of days still feel somewhat gray?
Or is it that we've become the generation that has been led to believe we've been dropped in the midst of a dark forest and the only bread crumbs toward home are blue and oval-shaped?
Now, I have my days. Not days when I lay in bed and wonder if it's worth getting up. But, like everyone, I sometimes look at the hamster wheel I'm on and wonder why I bother keeping it moving in circles. My answer is always simple - I do it because I'm good at it, because I love my family, and because I am scared to leap out of it and try something new.
Seriously...if there were a courage pill, I'd be all over that. My novel would be written, and every literary agent in the country would be weary from my insistent follow-up calls. I'd eschew barefoot running and just start training for barefoot mountain climbing. And I wouldn't have panic attacks when taking my kids zip lining.
And lest I seem like a hypocrite, I do have my anti-depressant. It's called coffee, and I rely on it like Burroughs relied on horse. Take away my three cups a day and I'll become a barely walking homicidal, suicidal, bipolar troglodyte. Half man, half bleary eyed black bear with his paw in a trap and his bear balls in a vice. So, I've got that going for me...
Meanwhile, when it comes to creative souls and mellowing meds, I do have to wonder what would've happened if Hemingway had Zoloft, or if Van Gogh could've scored a prescription for Wellbutrin. Was there a drug out there that Kurt Cobain and Jack Kerouac missed, and if so, would it have helped them instead of sending them further into their downward spirals?
I don't know the answer, and I'm not judging anyone I know here. I do know the 'prescription as solution' mindset is running a little rampant in America, and it makes you wonder what we're doing differently that requires us to stay so medicated. Did our forefathers and mothers get cut from a tougher swath or were they just quietly sad about their shorter, even more bleak lives? Did they suck it up better than we do? Did they get by on a better diet, a stronger faith, and less daily stimuli?
If so, when does that pendulum swing back? Because the next generation is headed even further down a road where comfortably numb - be it through narcotics or electronics - is a way of life.
Here's the link to the age of anxiety article. I found it pretty interesting. What do you think? What's put us in such a funk as a generation? As a nation? Is it biological, chemical, environmental, or just societally acceptable?
It's Still the 'Age of Anxiety.' Or Is It? - NYTimes.com