Below is a re-post of a comment that I actually left on Mark Heath’s “Another Fine Mess” blog. I’m reposting it as a solo piece here because…I feel like it really sums up the feelings that swirl in my head when I hear people say that medications are bad. That “big pharma” is trying to kill us all. This is my pavement-level response:
I’m a huge fan of my anti-depressant that I actually take for anxiety and to prevent a migraine disorder. Yes, I think it’s important for questioning to remain a part of any scientific process so I don’t think that people who question the effectiveness of antidepressants are jerks.
It’s just that whether the effect is placebo or medical, it saved my life. In addition to being a person who is almost constantly assaulted by a “white noise” kind of anxiety in my body (which is not a problem for people around me but is a horrible, nagging and constant discomfort within my body) – I spent several weeks last year disabled by a migraine disorder that rendered me cognitively unable to function in any normal sense and unable to ambulate with any reliability thanks to crushing vertigo. I also intermittently experience depression of the variety that begins to distort ones thinking…not psychosis…but the kind that paints every perception and experience in a manner that teeters on self-destructive and begins to eat away at relationships with those around me.
I also come from a family of very diagnosably anxious and depressed people, many of whom would also qualify with no question as having ADHD as well. A family where addiction to alcohol as a self-medication has eaten through generations of family relationships, corroded futures…you get the picture.
I only belabor this point because it’s just so easy to try to seek a blanket to soothe us, either through medication or through skepticism. It’s easy to choose black or white, when grey is less appealing, when the answer might really be “sometimes”. But for me, grey is the reality. When you are faced with disability, or with the spectre of suicide and addiction in your family line, if you have any functional desire to survive, you will seek options.
For me, one of the best options so far has been medication. I don’t know why it works, why it seems to cause me no side-effects…but the benefits in this case greatly outweigh all else. I can’t think of any good reason that I should choose to remain constantly agitated by an intrusive anxiety, or unable to even get off of my couch due to disability…I can’t imagine why I would choose to allow depression or anxiety to make my life decisions for me, to allow them to clone me into a statistic of addiction or suicide…when I can choose to live. When I can choose to be happy. When I can choose to take a medication (the fourth one that I tried, and accidentally, because it was for the migraine issue, not the anxiety or depression, that I tried it) that for whatever reason has given me control over those factors.
THAT SAID…because the issue is a grey one…this may not be the appropriate approach for everyone. I just worry that people who may benefit from medication are sometimes leery of them because of a “meds are bad” stance. Meds are bad sometimes, like when they’re giving you freaky side effects. Sometimes they’re freaking great. Mine are freaking great.