I’ve been me for a long time now. My whole life, in fact. That’s 44 years now, a respectable chunk of time.
I went through puberty at… well, that takes a few years to go through. I started at age 8. I finished up around 11 or 12-ish. Still a respectable chunk of time ago. 36 years, give or take.
Medical doctors have to attend college, and then med school. They have to study for a long, long time to get smart enough to be doctors, a long time before they are allowed to practice medicine, prescribe drugs, cut on people if they’re surgeons, etc. Like 8 or 9 years for schooling, then 3-7 years of internships, and then finally they are doctors. Let’s say 16 years to be a real top-notch pro. So a fair chunk of change out of their lives. And I appreciate that. They are experts on the average human body.
But I am not the average human being, and I am not living in the average human body. I should know, having been me my entire life. Post-pubescent me for 36 years now, even. I note post-pubescent because puberty is when one’s body chemistry does the “chrysalis” thing and shuffles, re-arranges, and when you’re done, the adult form emerges. I’ve been living with my adult chemistry for a good 36 years now. I know how my body works and how it does not work. I am an expert on being ME. I’m more of an expert on being me than any medical doctor is on the average human, it might be noted. I know me really, REALLY well.
My body chemistry is not average. If it were, I would not have need of any specialized medications to control it. Clinical depression is an imbalance of body chemistry. It is not sadness. It is not a lack of properly balanced chi. It is not a poor attitude. It is not laziness. It is not my diet. It is not God’s punishment for a sin I have committed. It is a physical imbalance like diabetes or autism that makes me different from the average human. In that respect, it is no different from my Meniere’s. It is part of the genetic lottery I drew at birth. It is what my body is.
It is not who I am.
It is also not something that’s gonna be controlled by happy thoughts and tai chi. Please stop telling me you know more about my body and my condition than I do. Stop pretending you care and the overabundance of your great heart makes it okay for you to insult me. We both know better. Get down out of my face with that care-trollery, you sanctimonious buffoon.
I have been unmedicated. I know what it’s like. You were not there, you didn’t see me, didn’t experience me at my horrifying, suicidal, nihilistic worst. You did not hold me while I sobbed my guts out, literally crying until I vomited for hours, or tore bedsheets to one-inch squares in my frenzied panic attacks. Years later, my mother was still finding pieces of her shredded bed linens behind her bureau drawers. Unmedicated me was only safe to be around because I had something besides a person to shred. My mother sacrificed her linens willingly…
I have a relative who has told me right to my face that “…things were better in the 50s when people didn’t talk about their problems all the time, and didn’t take lots of drugs to mess up their heads.” She is in complete denial of her own mental health issues which are so clear to everyone but herself, it’s kind of heartbreaking. But to be told that the medications I take daily to keep my head clear, that those are what are causing my problems? – THAT is a special brand of madness reserved only for the tin foil hat wearers and conspiracy theorists. And she doesn’t see it. She doesn’t understand. She just grinds on in her ignorance and her anger and her addiction to painkillers, cigarettes and alcohol. Merciful heavens, I know she’s in pain, she survived esophageal cancer for crying out loud, but she’s not doing a thing in the world to try to better herself, not one single, solitary thing. She is, however, trying to drag me down to her level because misery loves company.
But I won’t go.
She’s not the only one. There are so many, many people out there who are convinced that Big Pharma and Big Brother are one and the same, and they are Out To Get Me ™ any way they can. Now I’m no fan of the tactics and woefully lacking ethics of Big Pharma, nor am I living in ignorance of their multitudinous crimes and sins against humanity and general decency.
But I am chemically imbalanced all on my own without their help, in my natural, un-anything’ed state. I was unbalanced long before I took my first medication. I was a freakin’ mess, folks. And I’m here to tell you that without those medications from Big Brother Pharma, I would probably be dead today, just like Robin Williams.
Because Depression is a killer. People weep when Cancer kills a victim. “Oh, she was so brave, she fought to the end, she was so heroic, alas!” But people blame the victim when Depression wins. “She was weak, she gave up, she stopped trying, she was selfish and didn’t care about those who loved her. She should have tried harder.” Stop it. Depression kills. It kills as surely as Cancer ever did, as surely as a car crash or having a piano dropped on your head will kill. It is a deadly poison that eats away at your mind from the inside, a poison created by your own body, a poison that whispers to you in a voice no one else can hear, until you can hear nothing else, and it screams and sings and whoops its war cry and drowns out every other sound in the world until you go mad from the repeated mantra of you’re-no-good-no-one-loves-you. Who amongst you wouldn’t be desperate to get that demon out of your head any way you could?
The drugs quiet the demon.
And the kicker is that it’s a lottery as to which drugs will work for which person, too. Because the standard drugs don’t really work all that well for me. I’m on something that turns most people into a zombie (Thorazine), and it’s brought me to life. I am vivacious and happy and energetic on this med (in combination with two other psych meds), and it was out of a desperate need to sleep that I rolled the dice and took the prescription my doctor offered me. I knew I might get the “Thorazine shuffle” as it’s known in the psych med community. I was suffering from horrible insomnia, and at that particular moment, didn’t care what it took. I needed to sleep. And accidentally stumbled upon a miracle. Because everyone who has whacked-out body chemistry is whacked out in a slightly different way, and responds to the meds in a slightly different way. My doctor admitted it. He understands. He’s been around the block a few times. He’s seen it happen. Random results. YMMV. One man’s meat is another man’s poison, and there’s no way to predict or control the results. It really is a roll of the dice. I got lucky. I’m now getting the sleep I need, and as an added bonus, extra energy and cheerfulness! Not the usual Thorazine patient.
The point is, everyone is an individual. You cannot just walk up to someone and say “This is bad for you, you must cease and desist,” without knowing them, knowing their history, and knowing their situation. Someone online, who doesn’t even know my real name. Someone who has maybe seen a profile pic and therefore knows I’m overweight. Someone who knows nothing about me besides that, and truly, not even the reasons for that. That someone can’t freaking prescribe for me. Stay out of my life. You don’t know. I know. I know what’s best for me.
My doctor and I have sat and discussed it rationally like two intelligent adults, and we have decided what works best for me. Him, an experienced psych doctor with years of accumulated knowledge in his field, and me an experienced me-be-er with years of accumulated knowledge in my field.
You’re just some schmoe with an opinion.
Which I did not ask for.
So keep your schmoe opinion where it belongs: between your ears and out of my life. Because you’re not an expert on being me. I’ve been adult me for 36 years now, and I know how it’s done. You don’t know me at all.