Daily Archives: January 29, 2010

From LSD to Prozac in the same generation

A friend of mine sent me a list of “ponderisms”. The following comment is from that list.

?       In the 60’s, people took acid to make the world weird.  Now the world is weird and people take Prozac to make it normal.

It stuck a chord with me so I started to do a little research. 

The number of Americans using antidepressants has skyrocketed in the last decade, the Washington Post reported Dec. 3.

According to the Health United States 2004 report, issued by the National Center for Health Statistics, the use of antidepressant drugs such as Prozac, Paxil, or Zoloft, has nearly tripled among all American adults.

Among women, one in 10 now take an antidepressant drug. The number of children using antidepressants also has tripled since the 1994-96 study period.

The report also revealed that prescription drug costs are increasing faster than any other area of medical care as more Americans take drugs for a wide range of reasons. According to the report, the cost for healthcare in 2002 climbed to $1.6 trillion. Of that figure, prescription drugs accounted for $162 billion.

About half of all Americans take at least one prescription drug, the study found.

If anyone wishes to think that the drug companies are out there for the altruistic purposes of making us well and relieving our pain, think again. Ever since advertisements for medicines have been allowed in the mass media, use of all kinds of drugs, especially antidepressants, is out of sight.

I seem to be blessed with the ability to acquire medical problems before the average person even hears of it. In 1986, I started feeling extreme fatigue. I forced myself to go to work for ten years before I finally found an “alternative medicine” doctor who did something out of the mainstream. I started getting better.

Prior to that, doctors in this area really didn’t know what to do with me. That was in the days when what I had what was derisively called Yuppie Flu. The syndrome was seen often in middle class status seeking women. By that time, I was no longer married to the social climber. One doctor tried testosterone. Another one gave me injections to boost my immune system. While I’m honestly not sure how sick they believed me to be, they were willing to experiment on me, and I was too tired not to try everything.

Now they call what I had Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. A couple of years after those symptoms began, I also developed fibromyalgia. There were days when every muscle in my body had trigger points. There are still doctors who don’t believe these conditions exist, but they are fewer in number. When I got sick, nobody as yet seemed to know what to do.

 It was during this time that our school system was also changing insurance HMO carriers every couple of years. I’d no sooner get to know one doctor than I would have to find a new one. It was not an unstressful time in my life. When everything first started, my son was in middle school. It took ten years until he was almost done in college for me to finally start feeling better.

The doctors I went to on several occasions reached into their drawers and pulled out anti-depressant samples for me to take. There would be no explanation or warning of probable side effects. It was just “Here, take these. Let me know if they help.” I don’t remember how many different ones I was given. I do remember that at that time one of them was Paxil, then Welbutrin, and at another time it was Prozac. I remember the Prozac because after the free samples  I had to go to a compounding store clear across town on the northeast to get it. It was brand new and not readily available.

There were days when I would have to rest in my car because I was tired out from walking from the school to the parking lot. I remember very clearly the afternoon when it was almost the last day for my son and me. I remember exactly where it happened. I had exited the freeway and I was driving on the access road with the cement divider separating my car from the freeway.

I suddenly had a very persistent thought. I wondered what it would feel like to miss the next corner and run into the concrete. The thought was exceptionally strong and seemed like a wonderful way to get out of my misunderstood illness. It would end the debilitating fatigue. Permanently. A voice kept saying “Suicide is the way!”  It seems the manufacturers  of Prozac were aware of this little detail from almost the beginning. This link cites knowledge back to 1988, about when I first started taking Prozac.

It was the second time thinking of my son saved my life. Had he not been in the car, I probably would have discovered what it would be like to drive through a concrete divider. If that hadn’t stopped me, I’m sure traffic on the expressway would have. I came home, took my prescription of Prozac out of the medicine cabinet and flushed it down the toilet. I have refused to take any antidepressants again.

We take antidepressants because we have so easy an access to them. We are still in search of a medical way to be happy. In the 60s we wanted to explore the unknown by affecting our brain chemistry. (I wasn’t one of the we, by the way, but I easily could have  been if I’d connected with the right young 20 year olds.) Now we still want to affect our brain chemistry to avoid the known. Will we ever be naturally happy? Namaste. Attic Annie


Filed under Casual conversation, diary, general topics, life