I don’t mean to make light of mental illness. It is not funny. And, there are people near and dear to me who have been afflicted. Still, with one in four women taking psych meds, a person has to wonder (or at least I do), is there something wrong with all of these women? Or is there something wrong with the paradigm in which we live? I mean, are that many women just inherently flawed?
Consider that this statistic doesn’t even include women who abuse alcohol, street drugs, or obtain prescription meds illegally.
It’s a hard question to ask and harder to answer. Have we developed into a society that is so oppositional to women’s needs that women are forced to get stoned in order to keep going? Or, are we women spoiled? Lacking endurance? What’s the problem? What’s not working?
This is a topic dear to my heart. I had a run in with a psychotropic medication. Within hours of taking Prozac only ONE time, I became legitimately suicidal, crying inconsolably for hours and panicked, with my children still in my care. It was one of the most frightening episodes I’ve ever experienced. I had been suffering from depression in the aftermath of my husband leaving. But, I was not suffering from a chronic chemical imbalance, I was responding authentically to a true life crisis. My preference at the time would have been for the drug to work. Upon reflection, I am grateful it didn’t work. I had to go through the grueling, sometimes debilitating stages of grief and recovery. I had to leave no emotional stone unturned. Frankly, I still wake up on many days thinking – “Really? This is my life? Really?” – as I stare longingly at my pillow, wishing to slink back under the covers and dream the perfect dream to assuage my anxiety and insecurity. But, I get up and I care for my kids and I do what I can, one little bit at a time.
All of that said, I did what works for me. I incorporated exercise and lots of reading, writing, soul searching, healthy foods, water, time with friends, therapy (which was hit and miss and dependent on available funds). I don’t doubt that meds help people. In fact I know people who have been helped by them. But, I know more women who are lingering in an odd sedated dissatisfaction, mellowed enough to function but too mellowed to let the inertia of discomfort push them toward evolution and perhaps the dreaded, “change.”
This is a tough issue. Are we all fucked up? Or are we just women? Hormonal, moody, needy, demanding, stoic, sensitive … the full spectrum of human?
Some among us are indeed bipolar, clinically depressed and/or chemically imbalanced. But as those numbers increase, should we ask why? When more women are medicated than not, does crazy become normal?
I don’t have the answers. I’m asking the questions right now and intend to revisit this topic.