A Strange World

A while back, I went to a workshop about women’s health. Two (women) doctors addressed physical and mental issues that apply specifically to women.

They spoke a lot about anti-depressants, which they routinely prescribe for women just because modern life is so hard. With the responsibilities of family and work and life, women routinely find themselves depressed and anxious and turn to medication. So, these women aren’t chemically depressed and wouldn’t be depressed if life weren’t so difficult and overwhelming.

That struck me. Hey, I’ve been depressed since childhood – I lay on the couch and cried for much of my youth. Anti-depressants shifted the world for me. But if were a normal, fine person until I had to deal with life AND then I needed anti-depressants – that’s crazy.

Such an odd world we’ve created FOR OURSELVES. So much pressure. For many women it starts with pregnancy. I have a pregnant friend, a senior executive in the tech world, who routinely throws up at work. She’s sick every single day, but has no choice but to go do her job. And she has a two year old at home, who’s not sleeping well. And a husband who works long hours. My friend is beyond, beyond exhausted.

It’s only going to get harder for her. When she gives birth, she’ll have just two months to stay home with her new baby and then back she goes. Juggle, juggle, juggle. I’m exhausted even writing this – I can’t imagine how she’ll be feeling.

My friend and her husband can’t afford for her to stay home. Even if she could, it would interrupt her career. If she wanted or needed to go back at some point, she’d be way behind everyone else, especially in her field.

I read all the time about women struggling to manage work and family. Why do we make it so hard for half the people on the planet? Everyone has a mother. We need women to bear our children. Why do we penalize them for doing something so necessary. Why do we make mother’s lives so impossible that they need to be medicated?

There are so many other examples of weirdness in this world of ours – did you know there are no mandated rules for bereavement leave? If a family member dies, your company is being nice if they allow you a few days off!

Why do new doctors have to work endless, sleepless hours, particularly when they may be making life or death decisions? I have friends who, post-law school, were required to work so much they regularly slept in their corporate offices. And many of them felt pushed to take these corporate job so they could pay back huge student loans. When I worked at a top ad agency in NYC, I’d come in each morning to find the young copywriters passed out on chairs in the lobby. Who came up with this?

Why did we make our whole world so difficult? Why is everything so expensive and life so hard? Is this really what we want – a world where we need medication even if we’re perfectly fine?

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8 thoughts on “A Strange World

  1. Good questions, in which I have no answers! But I will say that I used to be more open-minded about meds and psychiatry. I was told I needed them, so I went and got them. I still have a lot of respect for my previous psychiatrist that gave me so many meds (even though I moved and he’s no longer my doctor) but I no longer have the casual attitude that I once did about psychiatric medications. I’ve had too many problems. Also, one helped me gain 80 lbs. and become prediabetic. I’ve dealt with side-effects, mild serotonin syndrome (TERRIBLE!) and the SSRI/SNRI withdrawal I had to go through as a result of the SS.

    I no longer have faith in the “system” — the doctors, or the medications. Now I take as little as I can in those areas and won’t increase, even if I’m struggling, b/c I’m not willing to deal with side-effects. Maybe because of fatty liver (thanks Abilify and weight gain!!!), I’m now super sensitive to meds. I have to be careful of everything. I’ll never look at any of it the same. A lot of the time it’s NOT WORTH IT.

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    1. a very thought provoking post. I’ve been mulling over feelings for days. I’d love for my kid to quit the meds. I’m not convinced they help. She’s an adult though and has to decide herself. I just don’t think we know enough about long term effects.

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      1. i don’t know your daughter’s diagnosis, of course. i do believe, myself, that mental health issues like bi-polar disorder probably do need medical attention. Something like depression and anxiety – not as sure. it does seem like there are more holistic treatments that can help. That being said – it drives me crazy when people who are fine but having a complicated time – (work, children, aging parents) are medicated. Prayers for your daughter.

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      2. Thank you for the prayers. They are much appreciated. I agree with you.

        My daughter’s official diagnosis is anxiety and depression but even that I’m suspect might not be correct. I can almost count on one hand her time spent with a psychiatrist attempting to figure it out. Medication was just part of the package. Hindsight is 20/20 and we will never know if other holistic treatments would have worked instead. Meds do not give tool to deal. I’m afraid for her to stop the meds too. Can she cope? Remains to be seen and a scary prospect all the same.

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    2. i don’t know what you were being treated for; however, i do think many of us are over-medicated. I do take Lexapro and I do find it very helpful for my life-long depression. but when life is tough, doctor’s have recommended upping it. No way, i’d rather deal with life than walk around like a zombie. i do think we know what’s best for our own bodies – usually.

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  2. Oh, I will say I recommend Genesight testing, as it looks for gene-drug interactions. It doesn’t mean a medicine will not cause side-effects (no test can predict that), but it can help steer you towards (or away) medication. Wish I had this testing earlier, but it did not exists. Genesight is through Assurex Health.

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