Dear Elaine

Please folks, I know this is a loaded issue, but please no more comments suggesting Elaine cause harm to herself. And if you do go to her site, please be respectful. I don’t want to have to put all comments on moderation, and I really don’t want to have to edit any comments, but if I hear another suggestion that Elaine jump off of a high place or any references to defenestration or self-harm, I’ll get pissed myself. I like you all very, very much and I don’t want to have to be MEAN to you.

I regret the day I ever used the term “happy pills” within your hearing. You don’t know me, you don’t know my blog, Super Babymama, and you obviously don’t know about my penchant for being flippant about important matters.

This is the way I operate. This is how I navigate painful territory. I guess to make you “happy” I should have first talked about the last year I’ve lived through, starting out in intensive care in the hospital and then, oh I don’t know, finding my roommate dead in his bed of a heroin overdose, and having such severe panic attacks that I had to stop driving my car and couldn’t sleep for days on end and was snapping on everybody in snapping distance. I supposed I should have gone on at length about my year, my overwhelming fears for my Wayward Eldest Daughter’s safety and well-being. I guess you, Elaine, have a right to hear all the details of her hospitalization after being assaulted on the beach in Venice. All of this, of course, being a way of saying that yeah, Elaine, I have had serious panic attacks and stress this last year. I have been scared approximately 300 days out of 365. I have needed sleep. I have been worried about my health. I’ve been Depressed, and it hasn’t motivated me to start any revolutions or political movements or write any symphonies.

But you just cannot get over the fact that I used the term “happy pills.” It’s like an obsession with you. And you won’t stop blogging about it.

Ok Elaine, I apologize. They are not “happy pills.” In fact, the very existence of them, and my need for them, is about the unhappiest thing I can imagine. Ok, satisfied now? And if you are, then DROP IT.

129 comments for “Dear Elaine

  1. C.
    January 8, 2008 at 11:20 pm

    It feels like people think anti-depressants are a negative thing, a character flaw and a failing in the first place, and they expect you to have proper shame about being on them. How dare your chemicals be off! How dare you joke about your treatments?!

    Lots of hugs. It’s a hard road, but the results are worth it. Don’t be afraid to make jokes if it makes things feel better!

  2. C.
    January 8, 2008 at 11:23 pm

    Plus, reading her blogs, she bases her opinion on the fact that antidepressants fucked me up. I’m only 17, and I’ve been on six antidepressants. Some of them fucked me up pretty bad, the one I’m on now works wonderfully, but I only got it after a 10 day hospital stay. Depression is hard to treat, and it is a mental illness, and one’s person experience doesn’t make a solid foundation to judge other people off of.

  3. Daomadan
    January 8, 2008 at 11:27 pm

    I’d say ignore her, but as someone who has suffered from panic attacks, depression, anxiety, and currently working through PTSD…yeah. I’m livid. Maybe after I sleep on it I can think of something coherent to say that doesn’t just involve cuss words or snorts of disbelief.

    *hugs* You’re not alone kactus. I totally hear you.

  4. January 8, 2008 at 11:28 pm

    if you think depression is a mental illness please prove it.

    Wow. Just wow.

  5. zuzu
    January 8, 2008 at 11:33 pm

    She does this kind of shit to boost traffic to her blog, BTW.

  6. January 8, 2008 at 11:49 pm

    yeah, that’s what floored me as well, Jack. Entitled, much? fuck -me.- sure, let me -prove- to you that my own goddam experience is valid so that I can continue to do what I need to do to function, in order to please -you- and your pet dogma, I -really- have time for this. fuck OFF.

  7. January 8, 2008 at 11:50 pm

    zuzu: well, it worked, and mazel tov, I hope it makes her -happy-, you know. say, maybe they should bottle that! Attention ™. fucking terrific.

  8. January 8, 2008 at 11:52 pm

    Zuzu, should I break the links? God knows I don’t want to throw any traffic her way.

  9. Bitter Scribe
    January 8, 2008 at 11:53 pm

    Good heavens, why would you even care about the opinions of a fool who thinks depression is not a mental illness? People like that are like the people who think the world was created by God in seven days 6,000 years ago: not worthy of serious attention (except when they pose direct threats).

    Granted, being called out personally is never pleasant. But I can’t think of a situation to which “consider the source” is more applicable.

  10. Betsy
    January 8, 2008 at 11:54 pm

    I love how she takes the fact that antidepressants didn’t work for her and turns that into THEY’RE AWFUL TOOLS OF THE MAN AND NO ONE SHOULD TAKE THEM EVER. Lots of drugs that work for many people don’t work/have side effects for individuals. Get the fuck over it and listen to the many people telling you what lifesavers they have been for them. Those two things CAN coexist: drugs working for some people, and not for others. I know, mindblowing.

  11. NBarnes
    January 8, 2008 at 11:54 pm

    I call mine my ‘anti-crazy pills’. If I’m feeling particularly vulnerable and melodramatic, I call them ‘anti-killing-myself pills’.

    Also, what Jack and belledame222 said.

  12. January 8, 2008 at 11:54 pm

    you know what else it reminds me of? Gotta say it: the trans “debate,” which is not a -debate.-

    “Let’s have an intellectual discussion about whether you get to live in a way that allows you to function. Well? Go on: -prove- that you -need- surgery/pills/whatever the fuck else it is that’s none of my goddam business and I don’t know what the fuck I’m talking about -anyway,- because it’s in service to the Revolution! What, you can’t wait till then to use the public toilet? or get out of bed in the morning? damn. you’re -selfish-. and also CAN’T HANDLE THE TRUTH”

    even the -crap- about God help me depression being more, what, conducive to Revolution, this is such -basic- myth about depression 101, and such CRAP.

  13. January 8, 2008 at 11:55 pm

    BS: no doubt, but sometimes you just gotta shout.

  14. zuzu
    January 8, 2008 at 11:57 pm

    Zuzu, should I break the links? God knows I don’t want to throw any traffic her way.

    Yeah. And don’t bother responding to her posts again.

    Which is not as easy as it sounds. You’ve been looking through trackbacks, haven’t you? ;)

    And while you’re at it, prove depression exists! You don’t know the history of psychiatry like I do!

  15. January 9, 2008 at 12:01 am

    -jumps up and down on sofa-

  16. January 9, 2008 at 12:04 am

    There, done. She just pisses me off cuz she won’t shut up about it. I keep hearing these rumors that she’s still nattering about my “happy pills” and it gets on my nerves.

    Gotta admit though, I sat this one out for quite a while :)

  17. January 9, 2008 at 12:07 am

    Trolling 101, really.

    I mean, it’s not like it’s easy to refrain from responding when it pisses you off. I have been unable to resist plenty of times. But I have to say, it’s always been better when I grit my teeth and tried. You can always e-mail folks privately to rant!

  18. January 9, 2008 at 12:10 am

    Jack and Belle – and not just “prove it,” but her response that it can’t be proven, and so therefore the jury is out.

    You know, I don’t believe in gravity. Prove that I can’t fly if I want to. See? You can’t. Guess the jury is still out. It’s all a plot by the airlines!

    Seriously, I agree that there are serious problems with the pharmaceutical industry and that there are dangers associated with anti-depressants (FWIW, somewhere on her blog she mentions that anti-depressants carry an increased suicide risk; IIRC, I read several years ago that this is because it takes so long for them to kick in initially, and meanwhile the patient is expecting to feel better and doesn’t – of course, she doesn’t explain this). There are also, however, dangers associated with life-saving heart bypass surgery…

  19. C.
    January 9, 2008 at 12:11 am

    I like ‘crazy pills’, because it’s specific enough that people realize what they are, and it amuses me greatly.

  20. crystals
    January 9, 2008 at 12:13 am

    I’m so sorry that you’ve had to deal with all of that. I’m really glad that you’re getting your happy pills, and I hope they’re dealing with the depression, because no one deserves to be stuck in that pit of black quicksand.

    I would have a few choice things to say about this woman’s crappy attitude, and complete certainty that because a particular treatment didn’t work for her it must be worthless for everyone, but it pisses me off too much for me to say anything coherent about it right now, except:

    if you think depression is a mental illness please prove it.

    How about comparing images of normally functioning brains to those of depression patients? And if neither that nor the DSM count, then how, exactly, should “mental illness” be defined?

  21. EG
    January 9, 2008 at 12:16 am

    Eh, she’s just pissed that someone, somewhere has decided not to be miserable–how dare you (and I) alleviate our suffering?

    I really like the trans comparison, Belledame. Thanks for that. They’re both about other people’s anxieties about the potential for modern medicine to alleviate misery and shape our lives, and about anxieties about the malleability of human biochemistry.

  22. January 9, 2008 at 12:19 am

    I’m assuming this is our little buddy Elaine who thinks that pet ownership is slavery for everyone but her? I knew she was a nutty vegan, but I didn’t realize she was a nutty Scientologist-wannabe, too.

  23. Sniper
    January 9, 2008 at 12:27 am

    I have bad news for you guys. Birth control pills damned near drove me nuts, which means you all have to stop taking them. Sorry, but what can you do?

  24. a.r.
    January 9, 2008 at 12:28 am

    If you’re breaking links, you might want to go back through the previous post — her name in the comments is linked, and she left a link (comment no. 120) to her blog post about this, too.

  25. TrishB
    January 9, 2008 at 12:32 am

    Crazy pills. Happy pills. Psych meds. Crazy meds. Whatever. Yeah, been there, done that. Guess what? Those drugs are exactly why I’m alive. Started them at 22, and have been on them, now about to hit 41. Thank fucking goddesses/gods/FSM et al.

    There’s no “good” reason for depression in me. Great family life (well relative to an abusive one, anyway). I aced high school, got into one of the best colleges. . . and then flunked the hell out. That takes a helluva a lot more talent than many people realize. No one wants you to flunk out of a high ranked (read:high priced) college, including the deans.

    I’ve made the goddamned pot holders. I am not going back.

  26. Jaime Duhe
    January 9, 2008 at 12:39 am

    I just went to her blog and got so incensed I had to put my two cents in. I have to say that in terms of self-righteous indignation, she scores pretty high up there. This is what I had to say to her:

    Regarding the dust-up on Feminste a few days back, I read the ensuing comment thread with interest, seeing as how I’m one of those that has crippling depression that is just a normal human emotion, and this is what I took from it, particularly in concerns to your attitude and the perceived slights against you by the moderators of Feminste:

    You feigned concern for kactus’ flip attitude concerning her medication, and then act surprised that people got emotional about the implied value judgments about the way they are dealing with their mental health. Would you have played the concern card if a feminist blogger made a flip, irreverent post about dealing with an abortion? I imagine that the comments would have looked much the same in that scenario, because its the same issue. People choose to deal with mental illness with psychiatric meds. You chose not to because they didn’t work for you. If you want to open a dialogue about psychiatric disorders and treatments, talk about how you dealt with your depression in a holistic way, post resources, studies, whatever. But don’t question another human being’s course of treatment. Telling people that SSRI’s are wrong and bad is tantamount to telling them that dealing with their depression in what might be the only effective way for them is bad and wrong, and it make you sound like a pompous ass.
    I know without a doubt that I would be dead if I hadn’t had a concerned doctor that wrote me a scrip for an SSRI. And I am saying this despite the fact that that SSRI most likely brought out the mania in what was later diagnosed as bi-polar disorder. Off meds, I am a dead thing. I don’t eat, don’t sleep and end up in locked psych wards with feeding tubes stuck down my throat.
    If you have all the answers, then please won’t you share. Maybe you could offer up some advice as to how I should deal with rapid cycling bi-polar disorder too. Maybe psychiatric meds aren’t for every patient suffering from psychiatric symptoms, and maybe doctors are too cavalier with their scrips, but for every person that dislikes meds and is convinced they are harmful, you will find a dozen more that cannot function without them. For myself, whatever the long term side effects may be, a tic is many times more tolerable than death.

  27. TrishB
    January 9, 2008 at 1:01 am

    Jaime, can I give you applause for your post? Please? Brava/bravo!

  28. Jaime Duhe
    January 9, 2008 at 1:06 am

    Jaime, can I give you applause for your post? Please? Brava/bravo!

    Trish, I actually managed to get my ass thrown out of a very good school due to depression. Two semesters of missing more classes than you attend will make the deans put their collective loafers down.

    (It was a women’s college, so brava would be appropriate!)

  29. January 9, 2008 at 1:17 am

    I never got my ass thrown out of a women’s college, but I did have a couple very long talks with the Dean of Students of one about my “highly concerning performance”. Under only slightly different circumstances I could very well have gotten myself tossed.

    Of course, the fact that I function fairly well even when sharpening my knives for the later wrist-slashing, mainly meant that I didn’t get diagnosed and handed my life-saving SSRI’s until well after college.

    I have very little patience with people who think that their own experience defines God’s Own Truth for the rest of the world.

  30. January 9, 2008 at 1:21 am

    But you just cannot get over the fact that I used the term “happy pills.” It’s like an obsession with you. And you won’t stop blogging about it.

    Well, that’s pretty much her modus operandi about everything.

    I’m pretty sure she’ll compare people on anti-depressants to animals somehow.

  31. January 9, 2008 at 1:23 am

    kactus, i applaud you. ppl who drive by doctor you need to be called out…unless they are you or inside your brain they don’t fucking know…i can’t fucking stand it when people judge you on your willingness or non-willingness to take meds…

    i have fibromyalgia, so when i say ‘been there, done that’ i am making an understatement. i have heard it all, from it’s all in my head, to i am being a wimp. when they aren’t shoving the crazy pills at me (which i need b/c i can’t sleep from the pain, and i cry uncontrollably, and i now have severe depression from the constant pain, which BTW isn’t vice versa thank-you very much) they are treating me like a drug seeker. i am so glad you found a doctor who will actually listen to you and takes your preferences into account. sometimes enough is enough. for me, no, therapy alone doesn’t help. i am really in a bad way sometimes, and my depression needs both, or it gets the best of me. i also deal w/ the fat shaming, i am slightly over weight b/c i had to stop exercising b/c i was in so much pain…and i have yet to find one doctor who hasn’t told me i would be in less pain if i would lose some weight…

    ooops…shorter me: you rock! and i wish you best of luck w/ your treatment!

  32. EG
    January 9, 2008 at 1:29 am

    I’m pretty sure she’ll compare people on anti-depressants to animals somehow.

    Nah. She takes the experiences of animals seriously, perhaps because they can’t open their mouths and disagree with her.

  33. Jaime Duhe
    January 9, 2008 at 1:35 am

    HAI GUSY!!!

    Elaine really really cares about us poor saps that have duped into taking SSRI’s by the big bad doctors and drug companies. She told me on her blog.

    SHE REALLY CARES!
    Really.
    For Real.
    Cares.

  34. January 9, 2008 at 1:40 am

    Really, though, I think this is just another example of one of the huge problems with stuff in blogtopia. It’s like people formulate theories first, and reject the evidence that doesn’t support the theory instead of changing the theory in light of new evidence.

    I mean, how many times have we had this discussion?

    Blogger A: Anyone who is such-and-such is XYZ.

    Blogger B: Hey, I’m a such-and-such, and I’m not XYZ. In fact, I’m pretty sure I’m ABC!

    Blogger A: No! You are deluded! It is not possible for me to be wrong! Therefore you have been convinced by society that you are ABC!

  35. January 9, 2008 at 1:41 am

    if it werent for kactus and everyone commenting on those threads about their positive experiences with meds i would still be sitting here resigning myself to accept a life of agoraphobia and fear forever becos my previous experience with zoloft hadnt worked and talk therapy isnt all that effective when youre terrified to even call to make an appointment with yr therapist who you actually really like. just knoing i can feel better gave me the boost to pro-actively seek access to medical care so i can get my hands on help. knoing i can feel ok, becos of these people here at feministe meant i finally began my medicaid paperwork thats been too hard to face for well over a year cos it was too scary to do anything. those threads meant i accomplished something in my life that im proud of, and historically my biggest accomplishment tends toward just getting out of bed.

    elaine has no business commenting on someone elses healthcare choices. the only body she is boss of is her own. you have all already helped change my life.

  36. EG
    January 9, 2008 at 1:48 am

    Wow, Jess. It’s wonderful that you’ve found the strength inside yourself to get help–and you’ve gotta know that all the outside motivation in the world wouldn’t have helped if you hadn’t been ready and able to use it. I’m really glad things are moving forward for you and I really hope that you find a doctor who works well with you.

  37. January 9, 2008 at 1:59 am

    thanks EG. i started my medicaid paperwork last week and i should be recieving more in the mail soon. i looked into my state’s CHIP program for the unisurable, but the premiums start at roughly $300 a month, so thats out. between my mental health stuff, the fact that my teeth are crushing themselves and will shatter if i dont get braces, and a chronic kidney problem, if i cant get medicaid i will probably end up dropping out of school in order to find a job with good healthcare. so, cross your fingers for me. i’m not a huge fan of college thus far, but i also kno that i cant really judge the experience when im so deep under this depressive episode that im not a fan of anything lately. id like to continue my edication at least until i can see how i feel about it in a different mindset.

  38. alicepaul
    January 9, 2008 at 2:07 am

    IMO, everyone should have the right to unbridled access to affordable medical treatments, including “controversial” ones like abortions, mental healthcare, marijuana, and sex reassignment surgery. It comes down to privacy and bodily autonomy, period.

    However, personally, I would like to see things like eating disorders and some other forms of mental “illness” reexamined a little more critically. Meaning, I don’t like the “sick” label. I don’t like when a disporportionate amount of young women, queer people, poor people, and people of color are the ones most likely to be hospitalized and have our experiences pathologized. I mean, let’s not forget that homosexuality was considered a disease by psychiatrists (it was in the DSM) until 1973. Historically, labels of “Insane” and “hysterical” were used to lock away uppity women and other non-conforming individuals, and in general pysch diagnoses have been used to police socially unacceptable behavior. This is something to be wary of.

    I resent the idea that I am some abnormal deviant who needs to be “fixed” or “cured.” (Background info – I am gay, a survivor of PTSD due to sexual assualt, and have an ED). I think that society is diseased and people suffer pain as the result. People must be able to use any resources availible to alleviate this suffering. But I would rather not see things framed as “these people have defective brains,” ya know?

  39. Mandolin
    January 9, 2008 at 2:09 am

    Sniper wrote:

    I have bad news for you guys. Birth control pills damned near drove me nuts, which means you all have to stop taking them. Sorry, but what can you do?

    This — really and not sarcsatically — also seems to be one of Elaine’s arguments.

  40. Rosehiptea
    January 9, 2008 at 2:13 am

    Like I keep saying, I’m not even on my meds right now (which totally makes me a superhero, right? Right? Yeah, I didn’t think so either.) and I loved the happy pills post. It was the opposite of starry-eyed love for the pharmaceutical industry and if someone can’t see that, that’s their problem.

    If I get back on them, I’m going to refer to them as “sleazy drugs purchased in a back alley with money I stole from Elaine’s purse.”

  41. January 9, 2008 at 2:15 am

    good lord that woman is an asshole on legs. three of them, even.

    incidentally, can I just say how much I love people who use the term “vulgar” unironically, especially when they’re supposed to be Radikal Revolutionaries of some sort?

    “You’re the vulgarian, you fuck” –A Fish Called Wanda

    Let’s all have an organic tea party and passive-aggressive the world to death. ooo, sorry, did I say “passive aggressive?” that was rather DSM-ish wasn’t it. I meant “whine.”

    *burpfartscratch*

  42. Jollity
    January 9, 2008 at 2:21 am

    I’m assuming this is our little buddy Elaine who thinks that pet ownership is slavery for everyone but her?

    I admit I Googled her name after suggestions that she was being obnoxious “again”, and aside from this anti-depressants issue, the animals one was what I found. So yes, I’d say it’s the same one.

    I could say much about my Fluoxetine, but I would be repeating myself. I replied on the last two of these Kactus posts about it. But I should say again that it is insulting when someone (who has never even so much as seen me in person) informs me that what I had assumed were my feelings and physical/mental/emotional experiences never happened, and that I dreamed it all because I’m brainwashed by whoever. Also, her suggestion that she “cares” about the people who use medication reminds me of those people that bash fat people “because it’s so unhealthy”. Of course, they really care about Beth Ditto’s heart and blood pressure, mmm-hmm. Likewise, Elaine really cares about the tragic monopoly the dread medical establishment has over women and isn’t merely trying to assert her superiority and make other women feel like shit for not being precisely like her.

    *Kactus here–I edited out the last line of this comment because it was threatening and uncalled for. I apologize for not seeing it sooner–especially on a thread dealing with mental illness, depression, and the very real danger of suicide, suggesting somebody kill themselves is WAY out of line.

  43. January 9, 2008 at 2:22 am

    I mean, how many times have we had this discussion?

    Blogger A: Anyone who is such-and-such is XYZ.

    Blogger B: Hey, I’m a such-and-such, and I’m not XYZ. In fact, I’m pretty sure I’m ABC!

    Blogger A: No! You are deluded! It is not possible for me to be wrong! Therefore you have been convinced by society that you are ABC!

    or the variant I love even better, wherein

    Blogger A: Anyone who is such-and-such is XYZ. I know because this
    expert says so/I have a friend of an acquaintance who says so/
    everybody knows/I might or might not have experience with this, I’m
    too mysterious to say so, but that won’t stop me from picking -your-
    most intimate shit apart of course.

    the rest the same with a bit more incredulous swearing.

  44. TrishB
    January 9, 2008 at 2:24 am

    Jaime- However the hell you got here, I’m glad you’re doing well now. Even though I am a walking phamacopeia, it took a long time for the people around me to come to grips with my depression. No matter how many or what meds I take, it’s always going to be a wild ride. The good friends know that, the not-so-good ones get scared. I’m damned lucky my family has always been there to grab me from the edge.

    Since I’m alive close to 20 years after my first suicide attempt, anyone who wants to tell me that I should just suck up without meds, well, they can bite my ass.

  45. January 9, 2008 at 2:25 am

    Nah. She takes the experiences of animals seriously, perhaps because they can’t open their mouths and disagree with her.

    we have a winnah!

  46. January 9, 2008 at 2:30 am

    Elaine really really cares about us poor saps that have duped into taking SSRI’s by the big bad doctors and drug companies. She told me on her blog.

    So if I’m taking a non-SSRI anti-depressant (Wellbutrin, in my case), does that mean that I’m home free in the duping department?

  47. Banisteriopsis
    January 9, 2008 at 2:33 am

    I want to echo everyone’s support for you kactus. After reading about your ups and downs on your blog for the last year, and how you had to do so much work to solve real problems like finally being able to leave the house or keep the lights on, it sucks that you have to deal with some person on the internet harping on how you relate to your own damn life. You are awesome.

  48. Jaime Duhe
    January 9, 2008 at 2:39 am

    So if I’m taking a non-SSRI anti-depressant (Wellbutrin, in my case), does that mean that I’m home free in the duping department?

    Hmmm. You’ll have to ask Madame Dr Elaine to find out if Wellbutrin is on the level or not. If it ever made her crazy, or even looked at her funny, you are probably neck deep in dupage.

  49. January 9, 2008 at 2:43 am

    I don’t like when a disporportionate amount of young women, queer people, poor people, and people of color are the ones most likely to be hospitalized and have our experiences pathologized.

    I understand what you’re saying. Here’s an enraging little tidbit I read one time: African-Americans are diagnosed as schizophrenics at a much higher rate than other ethnic groups, not because schizophrenia (which has genetic roots) is more prevalent among them, but because their depressions are more likely to go undiagnosed for so long that they start experiencing psychotic episodes.

    However, people who are depressed do experience changes in brain chemistry. A POC or gay person who’s experiencing a depression may have gotten that way because of the constant, relentless messages and pressure from our society, but they’re going to need a little help to regain normal function while we work to fix those societal problems. Denying people medication and therapy because someday we’ll fix society is simply cruel, no matter what the motives are.

  50. Josh
    January 9, 2008 at 2:45 am

    This amusing statement appears in her latest post, describing how exercise and diet and the sun and not thinking bad thoughts helped her depression:

    Those things worked for me but other things may work for others. Just depends.

  51. January 9, 2008 at 2:51 am

    just not THOSE other things. got it.

  52. January 9, 2008 at 2:53 am

    i wrote my own little response…not nearly as polite as kactus was…and i fail at trackbacks…so here it is, for anyone w/ five minutes they don’t need back…

  53. Josh
    January 9, 2008 at 3:00 am

    She also says her basis for objecting to SSRI’s is that the link between serotonin and depression is not well-established. This shows a fundamental understanding of how drug discovery actually works. Drugs are deemed efficacious if they have the desired effect in clinical trials. While it is helpful to understand the mechanism of action, it isn’t critical.

    Or maybe she’s opposed to Tylenol as well?

  54. alicepaul
    January 9, 2008 at 3:15 am

    Mnemosyne – I totally agree…having lived through it, I know that mental difficulties are very real. And again, individuals shouldn’t be judged for or prevented from personal medical decisions.

    But I wish that instead of people pointing to the anorexic girl or the trans guy and saying “Look how sick and fucked up and disturbed you are, let us fixx u!” that we could shift the discussion to how warped society is when it comes to food and bodies and gender.

  55. hyrax
    January 9, 2008 at 3:21 am

    The truth is, I take psych meds and I do think of them in some sense as ‘the master’s tools’, and I think they can be misused (including by me and my doctors). I also need to function in the world we actually live in, and part of that means making compromises, including choosing to support a pharmecutical industry that I don’t support to get through the day in a way that supports me.

    I can see why some people make different choices thank that, and I do try to help people feel more comfortable with psych drugs (specifically, by communicating to people that yes, they will have to give some stuff up to go on meds, but they get something too, it’s an exchange they get to choose to make if they want to). Lots of things aren’t perfect, and holding out until we all eat good food, exercise the perfect amount, have wonderfully supportive friends and relations, have no other health problems, and have no life trauma just plain isn’t realistic.

  56. RacyT
    January 9, 2008 at 3:24 am

    Didn’t she invent a bunch of bullshit about Jessica’s adoption of her dog b/c she doesn’t approve of breeders? Shit she couldn’t possibly know and of course didn’t? I think that is just one more example of why her opinions are garbage.

  57. January 9, 2008 at 4:03 am

    For somebody who’s been largely out of the Internet loop for a while, I feel faintly ridiculous copying my comment at one individual’s blog post into the comment field at another individual’s blog post, but hey, when have I ever hesitated to appear ridiculous? (Thusly linked with a wink and smile to you, dear kactus.)

    But because there seems to be just so much poisonous acrimony in all this, and the mama in me wants to rally everyone together for a completely infeasible therapeutic (as it were) Group Hug (note: my actual children HATE when I make them hug each other after their sisterly spats, so I can’t imagine how much that would piss off a bunch of grown women), I’m gonna. (Also, I fucked up the grammar at the end of my comment at Elaine’s… maybe reposting same here is evidence of my obsessive-compulsive tendencies, for which I either should or should not be taking medication.)

    So here it is (slightly edited):

    I’ve been largely offline for the last few months, and it seems like every time I resurface there’s another quasi-political brouhaha erupting wherein people I generally respect seem to be going at each other in typical exasperating circular firing squad fashion, and I find that (dare I say it?) depressing. Anyway, I just wanted to register my sadness…

    I’ve been dx’d bipolar and there are days when I believe both in the diagnosis and the standard pharmacological treatments, think life itself depends continuing in that vein – and I have good, sound reasons for feeling that way. Other days, I accept the diagnosis as real, but refuse medication – and I have good, sound reasons for feeling that way. Other days I think it’s all a crock of shit, that I’m not bipolar at all and it’s merely my PTSD that’s pulling all the psychological strings – and I have good, sound reasons for feeling that way.

    Fortunately, while I’m locked into constant debate with myself on these matters, I don’t get into preaching mode when it comes to other peoples’ beliefs/convictions (which could certainly be as individually mercurial as are my own).

    Bottom line: You’ve owned that you’ve struggled with depression, that you’ve had suicidal feelings. So although I am not going to “side” with you or kactus or anybody else in this confounding matter (what would be the point of that?) I will do my best to just send you bit of human warmth, an “I’m so sorry it’s like that sometimes,” to you, and by extension to everybody else who does battle with the depressive Beast. It’s an impressively awful Beast, which I think can only be further energized by non-dialogue of this (”…should be summarily duct-taped to a television set and forced to watch all the episodes of Cadillac Desert…”) variety.

    Cheers – V.

  58. January 9, 2008 at 4:39 am

    I prefer to call them (Citalopram in my case) Dried Frog Pills. They’re great for making crazy people hallucinate that they’re actually sane.

  59. January 9, 2008 at 5:05 am

    Don’t let the alties (or Scientologists) get you down.

  60. January 9, 2008 at 5:59 am

    not to derail – but any fellow happy pill takers have any advice for someone whose welbutrin stopped working after 5 happy years? SSRI’s don’t do it for me, I need the dopamine fixer.

  61. January 9, 2008 at 6:15 am

    i had success w/ zoloft again after taking a ‘med vacation’. my body began reacting to it again after i took a little break, w/ my doc’s supervision. doesn’t work for everyone, and i have never used welbutrin…you also have to go through the adjustment again, for me i had to re-experience night sweats and dry mouth again…but it worked like magic for me…

    magic happy pills…;)

  62. louise
    January 9, 2008 at 7:37 am

    Banisteriopsis says:

    January 9th, 2008 at 2:33 am – Edit

    I want to echo everyone’s support for you kactus. After reading about your ups and downs on your blog for the last year, and how you had to do so much work to solve real problems like finally being able to leave the house or keep the lights on, it sucks that you have to deal with some person on the internet harping on how you relate to your own damn life. You are awesome.

    WORD. kactus, you have been a class act and remarkably gracious throughout the “pill war”, as well as supportive and informative. And goodness knows, you have had even more pressures and terrifying personal situations that you could have cited! You are a tough gal.

  63. January 9, 2008 at 8:16 am

    kactus,
    life has chewed you up and spat you out sideways this year.
    Anything that keeps you functioning is a good thing.

    Ignore the nattering nabob. Real people know that you take the medicine you need to get well.

  64. wren
    January 9, 2008 at 8:57 am

    Kactus, just want to add my support. (and a long personal rant, because this sort of thing bugs the crazy right out of me and onto my computer sceen.)

    I had a bad experience with happy pills, myself. They were actually prescribed to treat migraines, but, despite the fact that I would be diagnosed with depression just a year later (probably because of the sexual assault that occurred a year prior to being diagnosed with the meds, so my brain was already on that track), the pills made me absolutely bonkers. And thirsty, which, since I was abroad on an archaeological program at the time and spending roughly six hours a day under the Mediterranean sun, was bad news.

    Where it came to the depression, though, I was absolutely lucky. As a young white female who attended a good college and was able to articulate “I was raped, now I think my brain is fucked” to the appropriate string of doctors (who, as someone mentioned above, were operating under institutional backing to keep me sane so as to keep the drop-out rates low), I ended up in the talk therapy that eventually turned me feminist, and never needed drugs for that particular problem.

    All of which just leads me to think it’s all about individual brain chemistry and when the problem is caught in its development. Personally, I just needed to break the cycle of brain crap, and I wasn’t yet so deep in it that I needed drugs to do that, but if it had gone on much longer I have no doubt I would have. My shrink actually called it “adjustment disorder” on the forms, too, to save me trouble with future insurance issues, just in case I did need drugs at some point. That’s telling.

    You should hear what folks say about my personal sanity pills, to treat late-diagnosed ADHD, which is obviously all in my head since I did well in high school and went to a good college. The fact that I managed to do that by pure dumb luck rather than any actual studying or note-taking obviously doesn’t make a difference. The fact that I literally cannot hear what my friends (in whose lives I am interested!) are saying to me because I’m in la-la-ooh-shiny land is completely in my head, of course. I should meditate more, apparently. Bah.

    Anyway, the upshot is, Kactus, I’m so sorry you have to take crap from people.

  65. CBrachyrhynchos
    January 9, 2008 at 9:38 am

    alicepaul: I hear what you are saying, but isn’t there at least some wiggle-room for the possibility that some of us are cognitively kinked in ways that make living extremely difficult? I’m back on medication after a few months of trying to live without it, and the symptoms are just too damn wacky for be just a case of the blues, or anger at some vague political situation. Between the inexplicable tears, the phantom ants under the skin when I spend more than 10 minutes in a grocery, the insomnia, chronic tenstion headaches, the nagging mechancical tic that pops up somewhere, and the waterworks over trivial things like television program theme songs, I’m glad to be returning to something that is more normal.

  66. January 9, 2008 at 10:23 am

    Does anyone else think that this argument smacks of anti-choice rhetoric?

    My friend/wife/I had an abortion and it made me so unhappy. I see now that I was duped and the evil doctor murdered my child. I must fight for legislation to protect other women from this terrible thing.

    Never mind that the majority of women feel relief after an abortion… no… it just matters that YOU or someone YOU know had negative feelings about it– therefore, abortion = bad.

    PS: On a note more directly related to this post… I get this justified anger coming at Elaine…. her comments were rude and hostile and kactus you did right letting her have it! But it REALLY bummed me out when I read a comment that said, “Go jump off a high building!”

    Isn’t that a little extreme for a discussion about depression/suicide?

    And comments like that just remind me of the cruel things that the trolls send me on my blog (“just kill yourself, feminist bitch” etc. etc.). I don’t deny anyone their right to be pissed and shout “fuck you”— or as one blogger so aptly told Elaine,

    “May you be knocked off of your high horse and land in a warm fucking pile of clue.”

    But please let’s not venture into truly ugly commentary. I feel like the people who visit this site *trolls aside* are so much better than that.

  67. January 9, 2008 at 10:35 am

    This just reminds me of a friend of mine who suffers from panic attacks but is convinced that drugs and/or therapy are the root of all evil, and that eating brown rice pasta and doing Master Cleanse will help.

    I think I’ll point all this out the next time she’s in the ER after pulling a Tony Soprano.

    This woman sounds like far too many Vegan’s I’ve encountered, sadly. I know 99% of you are normal rational people, but why do the nutbars always come out swinging?

  68. Yuri K.
    January 9, 2008 at 10:40 am

    Alicepaul:

    There’s some difference I think we can parse between ‘disordered and abnormal’ and ‘in an undesired state.’ I went back and changed ‘undesirable’ to ‘undesired’ because I think that’s really at issue: people (including me) who feel or have felt at some point like their mental and emotional state is fucked up.

    I think the solution is for people to be more willing to be open about it and not act like depression is some kind of weakness or personal failing, but instead something that’s simple and solvable. People talk for EVER about what they’re doing about their blood pressure or cholesterol; a few chats about psychological meds seems like it would go a long way to normalizing things. I felt a lot better about mine when I realized I had a lot of friends who were considering/taking meds, and were having positive experiences.

    That all being said, it’s definitely true that incidence of depression, etc. is on the rise, and it’s not due to overactive physicians. There’s something about modern society (many things) that fundamentally disagree with human brain chemistry. And all the wellbutrin in the world doesn’t mean we should ignore that.

  69. everstar
    January 9, 2008 at 10:42 am

    My ex (who was a psychology major, God help us) hated, absolutely hated the fact that I started taking antidepressants because he thought I should be able to pull myself together and get over it. Finally I said to him, “Look, I wear glasses. If I could will my eyes into focus, I would, but I can’t. I’ve tried. My depression is the same thing. If I could just pull myself together, I would, because I don’t like being this way. But I can’t.”

    He still didn’t get it and I broke up with him a couple of months later. Go figure.

  70. meggygurl
    January 9, 2008 at 10:53 am

    *lets out a long string of shift^numbers*

    This is one of my pet peeves, people who seem to believe they know how evil the meds are and how you can make yourself better by sunshine and happy thoughts. How are you suppose to “make yourself better” if you don’t give a damn enough? I went through a 4 year depression in college, complete with arms that looked like a scratching pole, extreme weight gain, and many other issues. No one would listen to me that something was *wrong* with me. I went to therapy and asked them not to put me on meds, and they didn’t, until I stated in a group therapy session that it wasn’t that I wanted to kill myself, it was just I didn’t care enough to look both ways before I crossed the street. Then they put me on meds. And they saved my life. Then, because I was stupid and full of it, I took myself off, against my doctor’s orders, and then spiraled down into nothing. It was the wost few months of my life. I eventually got better with out meds, but maybe if I had stayed on I wouldn’t have left the self destructive path behind me.

    Psychology and Psychiatry have made a lot of mistakes in the path, and meds are far from perfect, and they always recommend therapy with pills, but the meds are greatly needed a good amount of the time!

    Man, now I am in a bad mood! I hate people! *fumes*

  71. zuzu
    January 9, 2008 at 11:10 am

    incidentally, can I just say how much I love people who use the term “vulgar” unironically, especially when they’re supposed to be Radikal Revolutionaries of some sort?

    And this after she wrote a whole post taking Jill (or me, I forget) to task for using the word “classy.”

  72. preying mantis
    January 9, 2008 at 11:42 am

    I call my husband’s meds his “so-you-can-leave-the-house medicine.”

    Honestly, what’s up with insisting that someone who needs psych meds to function go through the motions of acting ashamed of it while in public? It’s like, how dare someone be happy that they finally found the right medication to treat their condition! If they couldn’t have the decency to suffer in silence or find some treatment that I find acceptable, can’t they at least manage the proper amount of contrition over having a chronic problem in the first place? Don’t they know how offensive their lack of rugged individualism is?

    It’s not only cruel and counterproductive, but it’s also based in making a judgment call no stranger has ever been entitled to make.

    “I have bad news for you guys. Birth control pills damned near drove me nuts, which means you all have to stop taking them. Sorry, but what can you do?”

    Doesn’t Elaine actually have a huge beef with hormonal birth control because she can’t use it?

  73. Zan
    January 9, 2008 at 11:51 am

    Red Queen — Cymbalta. It’s a beautiful thing. I was on Wellbutrin for a few years and then switched about two years ago. It is AMAZING. SSRIs don’t do it for me either, but the Cymbalta is like a miracle.

  74. January 9, 2008 at 12:45 pm

    kactus, first i want to thank you for your candor in this post, then i want to say that it’s bullshit that you had to write it in the first place. you don’t and shouldn’t have to justify the words you chose to use on your own blog. Fuck Elaine, if she has a problem with your vocab she should refrain from reading your blog and move on with her own life. unfortunately i got read this post too late and can’t find her blog but i’m sure it’s just as ridiculous as everyone has been mentioning.

  75. viceabbess
    January 9, 2008 at 12:58 pm

    I suppose as comment #74 or so I probably do not have anything to add that has not already been said, but here goes: why not move from an either/or argument to a both/and (in true feminist style) ? Can’t we both acknowledge the roll that antidepressant medications can play in helping people live better lives and be critical of a society that mass produces and mass markets mental illness? Like many of you, I have struggled with depression and anxiety from a young age, first psychiatrist appointment at age 5, first Rx for SSRI at age 14, blah blah blah. I have tried drugs (both Rx and recreational), sex, alcohol, politics, work and just about everything else to work through my issues, and don’t claim to know what would work best for anyone else. On a side note, I push yoga as the cure all treatment :)

  76. Lizard
    January 9, 2008 at 1:34 pm

    I knew she was a nutty vegan, but

    I’m not sure if the “nutty” was intended to apply to all vegans—I hope not—or only to the overbearingly evangelical ones. I’m a vegan too, and as passionate as I am about animal issues, I’m equally passionate about the role anti-depressants have played in my life. Prozac and Zoloft saved my ass more than once, and it’s entirely possible that thy may do so again someday.

    (You know that highly manipulative commercial for–I think–Cymbalta, in which the Weimaraner sits forlornly with his ball because his owner is too depressed to play with him? That instantly makes me weep, because I know all too well that during the times I was most bleakly depressed, it was probably my dogs who noticed, and suffered, even before anyone else did.)

    In case anybody wonders, Elaine doesn’t represent vegans. Elaine represents dopes.

  77. EG
    January 9, 2008 at 1:36 pm

    Alice, I hear what you’re saying, but my experience was that understanding what I was enduring as an endemic illness was actually a massive relief as well as (dare I use this wretched word?)…empowering. It was almost precisely the feeling I had when I was later diagnosed with asthma. I’d had tightness in my chest since I was a kid, and the doctor I saw back then told me it was just anxiety. After over twenty years of thinking it was “just anxiety,” I had a series of attacks and finally saw a lovely doctor who told me that not only did I have asthma, but he was certain that I’d had asthma all along, and that the tightness in my chest had not been “just anxiety.” It was a massively freeing moment for me, because experiences that previous doctors had dismissed were finally being validated.

    I felt the same way about finally seeing a psychiatrist. I was in the midst of a major depression and she asked me when it had started. I told her that it was always hard to tell because, you know, you always had those feelings in a greater or lesser form, but sometimes they got worse. The moment when she looked at me and said “You always have those feelings? No, that’s not normal” was again amazingly empowering, like a huge weight was being lifted. Understanding my depression and dysthymia as an illness to be treated was amazingly freeing–I did not experience it as telling me that I was inherently “diseased.” For me it meant that I could understand myself as actually being separate from that pain, because that pain was not a true part of myself.

    A major difference between categorizing eating and mood disorders as mental illnesses and categorizing homosexuality and trans-ness as illnesses is that gay and trans people do not suffer inherently, as part of their homosexuality and transness. If they lived in a less bigoted society, they wouldn’t be suffering, and they could be perfectly well left to get on with their lives in their own ways. That’s not the case with eating and mood disorders. As you say, perhaps if we lived in a less fucked up world, we wouldn’t develop those conditions, but once the conditions exist, they are inherently painful and harmful.

    I do hear what you’re saying, again. And I agree that greater attention should be paid to circumstantial causes and ways to alleviate them; almost all doctors I’ve talked to, for instance, are convinced that air pollution is responsible for the higher and higher rates of asthma we’ve been seeing in the past decades, and I wouldn’t be shocked if similar things are correlated with mental illness. But I actually think that a greater focus on those circumstances works quite well with an understanding of the conditions as illnesses; consider cancer, which we all acknowledge is an illness, and at the same time we all know can be induced by circumstances such as radioactive waste seeping into water supplies.

    I really just wanted to note that being understanding myself as ill was a really positive experience for me, not a negative or shaming one at all.

  78. JPlum
    January 9, 2008 at 1:39 pm

    I’ve had to deal with that ‘just cheer up’ attitude from my parents, since they are medical doctors and recall their classmates who went into psychiatry as being the bottom of the barrel. I’ve been a cutter, on and off since I was 15 (the self-harm started when I was maybe 10?), and when I was about 20, I asked my mum how to find a psychiatrist-she told me they was nothing wrong with me, I was perfectly normal, I didn’t need a psychiatrist. I rolled up a sleeve to show her the cuts and scars, and her response was to snort, and say that she supposed I could ask for a referral from [local psych hospital]. I’ve had an eating disorder since I was about 12, and my parents spent my teen years encouraging/enablig/ignoring it, and I still don’t think thay realize that I’m bulimic.

    So asking for meds was a huge step. I went on Zoloft at about 26, and I can still remember being on the bus on my way to work, 5 weeks later, when it kicked in. I suddenly realized that I wasn’t anxious, and I also realized that I, quite literally, could not remember ever feeling that way before. In my life. Ever! This may play into the hands of those who think we take our meds to get high, but I actually did start giggling. Zoloft completely levelled me out, made me a bit numb, and nothing ever really bothered me, but that was exactly what I needed at the time. I later had a bad episode, and my doc upped the dosage, and I became a crazy person, but then we tried Effexor (meh), and now Celexa, which is nice.

    The most amazing thing for me was that the anti-depressants got rid of my stutter, which was caused by the constant anxiety. Being on the drugs made me realize that the depression wasn’t the primary issue, it was the anxiety. I can cope with mild depression, so long as I’m not anxious. When I get really anxious, I get agitated, and it feels like there are things in my head that I can’t get out, and everything feels like it going too fast, and spinning around. So I’d cut in order to slow it down.

    I’ve never tried therapy-why would I? With the drugs, I don’t need therapy, since I can function quite well. Which is not to say that others would not benefit from therapy, becasue my experiences are not universal.

    So, Kactus, good luck, and give your body time to work through the unwanted effects. In my experience, the major side effects stopped at the same time as the drug started working. The only annoying side effect now is the night sweats, and they were the worst on Zoloft-they’re not so bad now.

  79. snappy mackerel
    January 9, 2008 at 1:44 pm

    Hey kactus,

    You’re doing a great job at Feministe and I enjoy your posts. Elaine can mind her own business. My oldest friend has a chemical imbalance that caused him to have panic attacks that would culminate in cutting himself. He is alive because of drugs. Maybe he’s “deluded” into thinking he’s cured (which is doubtful, because I’ve known him since we were kids and at nearly 27, he is peaceful for the first time), but who fucking cares? He isn’t cutting himself or freaking out. He is persuing the life he wants. That is what we should wish for everyone. Elaine’s habit of butting into threads with her opinion and insisting that everyone else prove her wrong is the very definition of bullying and it has no place in reasonable discussions among respectful people. Keep doing what you’re doing!

  80. Cara
    January 9, 2008 at 1:47 pm

    Is this the same Elaine who gets pissed off at Amanda for talking about birth control pills?

  81. January 9, 2008 at 1:48 pm

    I think I mentioned over at Ilyka’s place how amazing that last thread was for me. Dozens and dozens of you were honest and open about depression–it was such a wonderful thing for me to see.

    When I first started considering that I had a problem with depression that might be needing more than’ therapy and short-term meds (like ativan to get through whatever crisis of the day I was going through) I began to realize how depression is often seen as a “women’s problem” and didn’t seem to be taken very seriously. This was back in the 80s. A lot has changed since then.

    I’ve been very lucky. In the early 90s I went on a year-long course of zoloft (which was then in early release) that I believe had a long-term positive effect on me. I didn’t suffer from constant depression again for years.

    I have no scientifiic facts to back this up–just my own experience. But I went from feeling like a deer caught in the headlights all the time to functional and pretty much happy and adjusted. I would get situational depression, sure, but that’s life after all. It was nothing crippling.

    I still can’t say that I’m Depressed as much as Extremely Anxious, which has led to insomnia, which has in itself led to depression. It’s been quite a cycle.

    But you folks all rock so hard, I mean it. Your honesty has been an amazing thing to see. Thank you for it, from the bottom of my heart.

  82. Entomologista
    January 9, 2008 at 2:01 pm

    Is this the same nut that had a seizure about somebody buying a dog from a breeder?

  83. January 9, 2008 at 2:03 pm

    Kactus, I don’t know you and until you started blogging here, I had only seen a bit of you in comments on other blogs. But I do want to say that I consider you very brave for going public with this. It shouldn’t be something that people have to hide, but they do. And it’s precisely because of this kind of stigma. It’s also the reason why people don’t seek support, and don’t do anything about their mental illnesses at all. Because our society tells us that people who use medication are weak and brainwashed. It’s dangerous. And while there is indeed cause to be worried about over-medication in A LOT of areas, suggesting that people shouldn’t seek help for their problems isn’t exactly making things better. Particularly when it comes to anti-depressants, because depression is seen as some kind of personal failure. I hate the judgemental attitude towards people who take medication for anxiety or depression, as though the person taking them hasn’t already agonized over and felt guilty about the decision.

    I also think that a lot of people have joking and self-effacing names for their medication, like happy pills, or crazy/anti-crazy pills. I can’t imagine why someone would take issue with that as long as the person is referring to their own medication.

  84. Entomologista
    January 9, 2008 at 2:05 pm

    In the early 90s I went on a year-long course of zoloft (which was then in early release) that I believe had a long-term positive effect on me.

    I think you may be onto something. I have had a similar experience with Prozac, so it’s interesting to hear that somebody also thinks this might be the case.

  85. EG
    January 9, 2008 at 2:07 pm

    There’s actually physical evidence for that in the brains of people who take a course of anti-depressants–the amygdala and hippocampus aren’t as shrunken. Also, since the negative effects of depression are cumulative, aggressively treating an early episode can have serious long-term positive knock-on effects.

  86. Erin
    January 9, 2008 at 2:10 pm

    Wren, my mom was told that there was NO WAY that she could have attention problems, because she had a PhD, and could obviously never have finished a dissertation if that’s what was wrong. What’s her PhD in, you might ask? Well, psychology, funnily enough. And she had to fight to get medication that would help her. I had similar problems getting help for my depression, but they were in my own head: I was functional, and not actively suicidal, so obviously things weren’t that bad, right? Wrong. We’re just really good at maintaining the facade of functioning and mental health in my family.

    And Lizard, I do the same thing with the Cymbalta ad, and for the same reason. But it helps to remind myself that my dog, if he had such thoughts, would hate for me to feel ashamed about the past, and would rather have head scratches or a walk or a biscuit in the now as reparation for whatever it is I’m upset about, because my being upset is No Fun for him.

  87. Gillian
    January 9, 2008 at 2:23 pm

    I hadn’t seen Elaine’s comments til now but holy shit, dude:
    “So, anyway, I just think we should be really, really careful about medicating the depressives”
    Speaking as a depressive who’s been on Lexapro for about two years, I struggled with depression since I was about 11 and I was denied treatment until I went to seek it out for myself when I was in college; without Lexapro, I can still function but I’m miserable all the time and functioning becomes much, much harder, to the point where I can either perform well at work OR have a social life and hobbies OR get adequate food and rest. With Lexapro, I can do all three, just like a normal person. AND I can be much more productive and creative on Lexapro than I can when I’m crippled by depression.

    Everybody on my mother’s side of the family suffers from depression, and it’s only in my and my cousin’s generation that we’ve been able to get the treatment we need, for what’s obviously a hereditary medical condition.

    Elaine and her buddy Tom Cruise can shut the fuck up.

  88. preying mantis
    January 9, 2008 at 2:30 pm

    “…Extremely Anxious, which has led to insomnia, which has in itself led to depression. It’s been quite a cycle.”

    Boy howdy. It’s only been while reading through this thread that I fully realized just how many different problems my husband’s untreated anxiety resurrected or exacerbated. Being able to get timely, appropriate, and sympathetic treatment spares people so much misery that it’s kind of mindblowing.

  89. January 9, 2008 at 2:36 pm

    OK, assuming I haven’t dropped out of memory altogether, you know me. A bit. Right?

    I am now on 14 pills a day, minimum. That excludes the flat-out narcotics, which are an “as needed” deal.

    People like Elaine would deny me the treatment that allows me to actually have a life. To work. To contribute to the housework. To have a social life.

    Most of my medication is for pain (in fact, all of it contributes to managing my pain, even the birth control — by allowing me to skip my disabling period pain — and antidepressant). Before I began this regimen, I was sitting on my ass at home all day. I looked forward to grocery shopping every week, because it was my One Big Outing. My husband was still doing over half the housework, despite working full time (while I didn’t work at all). Every day was a struggle just to stand, to put that weight (all 140lbs of it) on my knees, to use my full range of motion, to stand there and halfheartedly dry the dishes while H washed them… to shower, and usually I had to have his help with the actual washing-my-body part, because it required bending and reaching awkwardly in ways I couldn’t handle.

    Now I’m working a good amount of hours (20-30), I’m helping keep our place clean, showering every 2-3 days (which is amazing for me), I have the energy left over for a social life and to take a painting or photography course through the local juco. I feel good. I still have my days, like yesterday, when I was so shaky that doing my (now short and easily manageable) hair for work was a real task, because I couldn’t stand more than a couple minutes at a time. But those are moments, now; they aren’t the norm. I notice — I feel GOOD. Beforehand, I was always down in the dumps; I felt weak; I felt lazy. But now?

    This is addressing the pain only. When my anxiety was untreated, I was a hermit. I could not leave the house. I had severe panic attacks so much as thinking about dealing with my family. I got to the point where I couldn’t even fire up the browser to read blogs or read the email that H (who is, almost 100% of the time, a calming effect on my anxiety) had sent me that morning. Just that minimal amount of contact with another person would set me a-shakin’.

    All it took to fix this? 75mg of Effexor XR. My dose has since been doubled to address the pain, but the antidepressant damn near eliminated the anxiety.

    Thing is? I still get sad. I still get nervous. But now those emotions stay in a normal range. I don’t freak out because I can’t find my other sock, break down when a passerby says a simple “hello.” I’m not Always Happy. I still get angry, I still get sad, I still get frustrated. I’ve been pissed at my boss for days now over some work drama. But it’s a normal pissed. It’s not “God, I just wish I would die — I can’t handle this” felt quite sincerely, only barely not to the point of planning out how it’s going to happen.

    Damn straight these are “happy pills” — they make me happy that I can now live something approaching a normal life. They aren’t Rose Colored Glasses or Constant Bliss. If I wanted that shit I’d go for the street drugs. I don’t want Constant Bliss. I want management of my conditions that prevent me from functioning day to day. And now I’ve got it. Thank you, Pfizer!

  90. JPlum
    January 9, 2008 at 2:38 pm

    Sometimes I think it would be fun-and funny-to get a shirt that read ‘I’m not well-adjusted, I’m well-medicated’ but then I remember that not everyone has a sense of humour, and I really wouldn’t want to deal with the Elaines of the world getting all up my skirt over my decision to become well-adjusted through medication.

    Oh, about side-effects-anyone else read Marge Piercy’s Woman on the Edge of Time, where the future people talk about there being no ‘side-effects’ to medication-all of them are simply the effects of the medication, some of them wanted, and some of them not. So the sleepyness effect Zoloft can have may be a desired effect for some, and an unwanted ‘side-effect’ for others. I don’t know why that particular bit of the novel had souch an impact on me, but thinking about all the effects of medication as simply what the medication does blew my mind.

  91. January 9, 2008 at 2:42 pm

    To raise a completely different issue, considering my above ramble:

    If I didn’t have Medicare, I’d be rightly fucked. Preexisting conditions exclude me from private insurance. My work provides some health benefits, but they don’t have an actual prescription plan, only “discounts” — and with everything I’m taking, I’d still be paying close to half a grand every month. More than I make in many cases.

    So, if I were to take my work’s plan, the medicine that ALLOWS ME TO WORK would not be covered (effectively).

    The catch is that I’m on a trial work period, trying to get off disability. After nine months, if I meet SGA, I’m off. And Medicare goes with it.

    Conveniently, that’s when my husband’s plan kicks in. (A monthish beforehand, but still) — if I didn’t have him, where would I be? Ineligible for disability, but then unable to actually work once I was kicked off it. Wtf?

    In so many ways, I’d be fucked if it weren’t for my husband. And it just shouldn’t be that way, I’m sorry.

  92. January 9, 2008 at 2:46 pm

    Oh, about side-effects-anyone else read Marge Piercy’s Woman on the Edge of Time, where the future people talk about there being no ’side-effects’ to medication-all of them are simply the effects of the medication, some of them wanted, and some of them not. So the sleepyness effect Zoloft can have may be a desired effect for some, and an unwanted ’side-effect’ for others. I don’t know why that particular bit of the novel had souch an impact on me, but thinking about all the effects of medication as simply what the medication does blew my mind.

    Lyrica lists weight gain as a side effect. In my case, that meant increased appetite. Thing is: before Lyrica, I had zero appetite — I would eat maybe 1/4 of a plate and be at the point where you involuntarily gag when you try to take one more bite, because you would honestly vomit if you continued. I was, naturally, very underweight and undernourished. Along comes my pain medication and voila! Normal appetite, and over several months, weight gain to the point where it didn’t hurt to sit on a hard chair (pelvic bones rubbing up against the metal or hard plastic) or wear jeans (same).

    Sometimes things just work out : )

  93. ACG
    January 9, 2008 at 2:49 pm

    Alicepaul, I have to agree with EG. I’ve been in treatment for depression and bulimia since I was 16, and it (particularly with the depression) is was such a relief to have a medical professional tell me that I had an illness, a treatable one, and wasn’t just “wacky” or “wrong.” (Incidentally, I can’t express how much I envy those of you who’ve found your “happy pills.” My docs would never prescribe them for me, since they were just as likely to end up in the sewer system as in my bloodstream, and I would have loved to have had some kind of chemical alongside the talk therapy.)

    If you’re objecting to the use of “sick” as in, “That’s just sick! That’s just wrong!” I do see where you’re coming from. But I consider my depression and ED to be an illness just like the flu, cancer, asthma, or anything else — not the result of “a defective brain” any more than cancer is the result of “a defective breast” but just a bodily phenomenon that’s making me miserable. Sometimes, you grow up next to a power plant and you end up with leukemia. Sometimes, you grow up in a hostile, superficial world and you end up with an eating disorder. In those cases, you treat the illness as best you can and, at the same time, you work to change the environment that caused it.

    A friend of mine who’s recovering from alcoholism has a note taped to his mirror reminding him that he’s “sick and getting better, not bad and getting good.” That’s the way I think about my own issues. I’m not wrong, I’m not defective, I’m not weak, I’m just suffering from an illness, and the treatment is making my life better.

  94. Astraea
    January 9, 2008 at 2:53 pm

    omg, Woman on the Edge of Time was a life-changing book for me and it is still one of my favorites. It was very critical of psych meds and of the psychiatric practice, but had a very specific setting and context in the 1970s. The part you refer to stuck out to me, too, at the time.

  95. January 9, 2008 at 2:54 pm

    Sometimes, you grow up next to a power plant and you end up with leukemia. Sometimes, you grow up in a hostile, superficial world and you end up with an eating disorder.

    “sick and getting better, not bad and getting good”

    I think I love you.

  96. Hector B.
    January 9, 2008 at 3:02 pm

    You guys just don’t see the truth Elaine sees: whatever bad happens to you is your own fault. So just suck it up and change your cancer-prone personality or whatever character defect you have that is keeping you from leading a Dagny Taggart sort of life.

  97. JPlum
    January 9, 2008 at 3:17 pm

    ACG, you reminded me of a good doctor story-when the increased Zoloft was making me tired and kind of crazy-yet I still had insomnia at night-my doctor suggested I try taking the pill in the evening. I explained that the evening is when I do my throwing up, so that wouldn’t really work-even if I took it right before bed-well, bed happened at different times, and it was no guarantee that I wouldn’t get up, eat and throw up. So, we looked at other options-she didn’t insist on the textbook response. She also used to get exasperated with me when I wouldn’t come in and see her immediately if I got worse, rather than waiting for the meds to run out. This was because she wanted to help, and she couldn’t help if I didn’t come and see her!

    Oh, and Kactus, about the weed-pot smoking is demostrably bad for you (it is smoking, after all), have you considered cannibis pills? My dad’s a pain doctor and he’s had a lot success with these pills, getting patients off pot and other illegal drugs. Cannibis pills have all the effects of pot, without the high, or the smoking-related dangers. In my dad’s opinion (which does influence mine) the only reason to smoke pot when cannibis is available in pill form is if you want to get high, in addition to the other effects of pain relief, anti-nausea etc. Or is the US government as persnickety about cannibis pills as it is about pot itself?

    Of course, if you’ve tried the pills and they don’t work, or you can’t get them, then ignore the above, because your experience is your experience, and I’m not going to tell you it’s wrong. I just don’t think many people know that cannibis is available in pill form, and that it can work.

  98. louise
    January 9, 2008 at 3:18 pm

    The only book I have EVER violently thrown across a room, Hector!

  99. January 9, 2008 at 3:18 pm

    I have to say, I do love the “there’s no test for it, so it can’t exist” trick. Very clever.

  100. VicSin
    January 9, 2008 at 3:20 pm

    Thank you kactus – thank you for speaking about something that affects so many of us, myself included. I tried the damn exercise and diet, getting more sun and every time I found myself staring into the Mississippi contemplating how long it would take for someone to find my car at the levy or dock and realize what happened. I slept with a knife under the pillow for two years because if I woke up and couldn’t handle I could take care of myself. I flunked out of college because I couldn’t get out of bed for three months, and when I did it was to move to a bed back at mom and dads for another 3. My meds – and I alternatively call them my happy pills or crazy pills – changed my life for the better. FUCK YOU Elaine – what gives you the right to say what experiences another person has had and how that affects them? What right do you have to say what medical conditions anyone has? Prove it? Bull shit – prove to me that you can quit speaking with such pretty white girl priveledge, that of someone who’s existence has been unmarred by life and tragedy. Oh you life isn’t perfect? Prove it! If it is STFU. I can’t even write anymore I’m so pissed off. Kactus, thank for for calling her out, thank you for your candor and honesty, and thank you for understanding the way you do.

  101. CBrachyrhynchos
    January 9, 2008 at 3:22 pm

    Well, I’m wondering if a part of this comes from a misunderstanding as to what those medications do for many of us.

    I’m still mopey, anxious, and frequently depressed and blue since taking an SSRI. It doesn’t fix my problems, soothe my fears, or confront my conflicts for me.

    But I don’t get the skin crawling and rising sense of panic when I’m in a crowd. I don’t like being in the middle of crowds but I don’t feel the need to find a corner and scream.

    I don’t get obsessive over little shit that doesn’t make a big difference in my life. I can spend 15 minutes on this post, and ignore it for the rest of the afternoon rather than clicking every 30 seconds.

    I still rub my hands together when I’m agitated, but I don’t need to wear Band-Aids to cover up the blood blisters I used to get from doing it compulsively.

    My first reaction when discovering my basement/crawlspace was flooded last night was to call a plumber, then look to see if I can fix it myself. Off medication my first response to any crisis was, “might as well kill myself now.”

    And the feeling of a tightly-wound spring in my shoulder-blades is gone. And I no longer take toxic levels of acetaminophen to get through the day. I think that is what made my counselor finally give me the referral to a psychiatrist.

    When I work out, I can do it to safe limits. I don’t overtrain until I’m injured.

    And some people will compare SSRI’s to illegal drugs. But on the other hand, many of those illegal drugs do have valid prescription uses, and I’ll make a controversial statement upfront here, many of the problems of substance abuse and chemical addiction could be strongly mitigated by supervised legal access.

  102. AK
    January 9, 2008 at 3:31 pm

    Damn. I don’t have the heart right now to read through all 90+ comments. What I want to say is: thank you for posting this.

    This could have been me writing this last year.

    There is so much shame and stigma in our society at large, at least, where I live, about “happy pills”… like if you can’t work through your problems on you’re own you’re screwed up. Well, some of us need chemistry to help us overcome these overwhelming set of challenges life presents, and if it helps us mount revolutions and write symphonies, all the more power to you!!

  103. brklyngrl
    January 9, 2008 at 3:47 pm

    I have no idea who Elaine is, and I have a feeling I don’t much care to, but its your life. You don’t have to answer to her or anyone else. If you want to refer to your own medication as happy pills, thats really no one else’s business but your own. No one else has the right to edit your language and tell you what to do or how to tell your own story. Thank you for sharing your story. Try to ignore the people who want to grab hold of it and use it to push their own agendas.

    Just had to get that out.

  104. Mnemosyne
    January 9, 2008 at 4:00 pm

    All of which just leads me to think it’s all about individual brain chemistry and when the problem is caught in its development. Personally, I just needed to break the cycle of brain crap, and I wasn’t yet so deep in it that I needed drugs to do that, but if it had gone on much longer I have no doubt I would have.

    Yep. Turns out that dysthymia is easily treated in the early stages, but is hard to treat if you let it go on. It took seven years of therapy and medication to get it to go into remission because I’d tried to ignore it for so long.

  105. Mnemosyne
    January 9, 2008 at 4:05 pm

    I’m not sure if the “nutty” was intended to apply to all vegans—I hope not—or only to the overbearingly evangelical ones.

    In Elaine’s case, it’s more “she’s one of those nutty kinds of vegans” than “see, you can tell she’s nutty because she’s a vegan.”

    I do think you vegans are a little cracked as a group ;-) but that’s not quite the same thing.

  106. zuzu
    January 9, 2008 at 4:11 pm

    I do think you vegans are a little cracked as a group

    We know. You say that every time the issue comes up. But why?

  107. Mnemosyne
    January 9, 2008 at 4:41 pm

    We know. You say that every time the issue comes up. But why?

    We should probably discuss at your place so as not to derail the thread.

  108. EG
    January 9, 2008 at 4:46 pm

    I have to say, I do love the “there’s no test for it, so it can’t exist” trick. Very clever.

    God, do I hate that. Because a) obviously we can’t just trust the self-reporting patients, because they’re brain-washed and b) how many medical tests depend on recent scientific advances such as powerful microscopes? Did those illnesses just not exist before the invention of the microscope? Here’s a thought: perhaps we haven’t yet developed the technology to test for depression.

  109. January 9, 2008 at 4:53 pm

    well, look, I respect some people who’re very passionate about animal rights, but PETA on the blogroll makes me think…oy, just oy. Ingrid Newkirk is Klassik Krank.

  110. January 9, 2008 at 4:57 pm

    also I get a certain vibe of, how you say, White Light Nazi: you know, Think Positively, be healthy; she doesn’t want to be tagged as “diseased” because -disease itself is shameful.- Eat your veggies, get your exercise and sunshine; not only will you avoid deadly depression but, you won’t get sick and you won’t die! Dying’s probably a Tool of the Patriarchy/Big Pharm/whoever the Matrix is this week too…

  111. Raoul_j_Raoul
    January 9, 2008 at 6:20 pm

    Unfortunately I don’t have time to read all the comments, but the first several really resonated with me. I too almost failed out of college a couple times after the stellar honors-filled High School. I spent the better part of the next 15 years feeling like a failure for that and various other reasons. I managed to function fairly well, except for a serious lack of dates (because who want to date a shitty person like me). Anyway, anti-depression meds really help. I should have started them earlier, back in my 20s. I didn’t, because at the time I thought therapy was for rich people and crazies.

  112. annejumps
    January 9, 2008 at 6:54 pm

    amanda w, I’m glad I found your blog. My mother has fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue and I emailed her some of your posts.

  113. January 9, 2008 at 7:27 pm

    jaime @ #28: thrown out of a good college? hee hee, i’m working on getting thrown out of a community college! [or, well – taking 4 going on 5 years to finish a 2 year program…]

    zan @ #73: thanks for the tip about cymbalta above. i’m on month no. 15 on the bupropion [wellbutrin] and it’s working fine, but i know it won’t forever, based on personal experience [i self medicated with alcohol as a teenager and i know what it’s like when you have to use more and more and more, with nasty side effects like turning into a giant asshole and throwing up on people.]

    yeah, people belittling depression or antidepressants. yeeeaaahhh. the same sort of people who had either one or both of two prognoses for my life:
    1. dude, why don’t you just snap out of it and stop feeling sorry for yourself and acting so weird?
    2. wow, you must be really unlucky!

    i wish i had these “krazee pills” when i was 19. my life would have been a lot different.

  114. January 9, 2008 at 7:31 pm

    So am I to infer that Elaine wouldn’t give her dog Prozac either?

    (sorry, couldn’t resist)

    Listen, I took these drugs for 15 years. That’s way longer than most people use them. I discontinued Effexor, which I was on for five of those years, a year ago, and now use a combination of amino acid therapy and light therapy and neurolinguistic programming therapy. I do this because I was sleeping for 12 or 14 hours a day and having scary involuntary movements on my former drug regimen and I wanted to see if I could find alternative therapies that did not cause these side effects.

    I would not necessarily recommend what I do to everyone because, frankly, it is expensive. It shouldn’t be so expensive. Insurance should cover more of this stuff than it does, in order to give people a wider range of treatment options. Or better yet, we should have universal mental health care that covers it. (Ahh, the dreams I wouldn’t dare dream in the throes of untreated major depression!)

    And I absolutely do not think I am a “better” person in any way, shape, or form for doing this than someone who is still taking “meds.” As far as I’m concerned, amino acids are drugs. So are vitamins. That they are made by vitamin/supplement companies rather than pharmaceutical companies does not make their neurotransmitter effect any less tangible.

    Also, I have little patience for people who don’t understand the difference between endogenous major depression and being pissed off at Republicans. Before these medications existed, people with the former certainly existed, and their “treatment” options universally sucked — they could be institutionalized for life and given shock treatment or (shudder) insulin treatment until they could barely remember their names, they could drink themselves to death, or they could shoot or hang themselves. Things were so much simpler in the good old days, if you couldn’t hack it we put you away or you put yourself away! The treatment options we have now may not be perfect or work for every single person, but I’m certainly happy we have them.

  115. zuzu
    January 9, 2008 at 8:08 pm

    Question for Canadians: what mental health services are covered under your provincial plans?

  116. January 9, 2008 at 8:22 pm

    Question for Canadians: what mental health services are covered under your provincial plans?

    In Ontario, psychiatrists are covered (if you’re referred by your GP — everything has to go through your GP) but psychologists aren’t, so a lot of people end up seeing MDs for talk therapy… and a lot of times, it doesn’t last long. Still, it’s something that some mental health services are covered. I assume hospitalization for mental health issues would be covered, too. Drugs aren’t, but you can get a drug plan, and even without one, they’re a hell of a lot cheaper than here.

  117. January 9, 2008 at 10:10 pm

    @Astrea’s comment #94:

    Woman on the Edge of Time was a life-changing book for me and it is still one of my favorites. It was very critical of psych meds and of the psychiatric practice, but had a very specific setting and context in the 1970s.

    Me too, as was Phyllis Chesler’s Women and Madness, for the same reasons. Anybody read the more recent edition? I’d be curious as to what extent it may have been updated, with regard to new pharmacological and other therapies. (At the time, it was a much-needed critique of crap like men taking their non-gender-role-compliant wives to shrinks for Valium, institutionalization, electroshock, lobotomies, and what have you.)

    Also, a good one to read (or re-read) would be Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s The Yellow Wallpaper.

  118. Tricia(freya)
    January 9, 2008 at 10:47 pm

    The Yellow Wallpaper — important and eye opening and… :::shudder:::

  119. Tricia(freya)
    January 9, 2008 at 10:49 pm

    …sorry unfinished comment above…

    Also, The Yellow Wallpaper is free online.

  120. zuzu
    January 9, 2008 at 11:02 pm

    Thanks, Kate.

  121. Astraea
    January 9, 2008 at 11:49 pm

    Ditto to The Yellow Wallpaper.

    I’ve only read excerpts from Women and Madness, but always had it on that big list of Things to Read Someday.

  122. syfr
    January 11, 2008 at 6:17 pm

    yeah, the depression is all in my head. Despite the fact that I’m fourth generation with it.

    [/snark]

  123. January 11, 2008 at 8:22 pm

    I am sad that we have to take the high road, but then again, I like my happy pills too. they stave off attacks of craziness, and now I can do things.

  124. Mnemosyne
    January 11, 2008 at 8:29 pm

    Am I stepping off the high road if I hope that Elaine develops a condition that only becomes serious if you refuse to eat meat?

    But that’s my knee-jerk vegan hatred popping out again — apologies to the rest of you, aka the non-crazy vegans.

  125. Lorelei
    January 11, 2008 at 8:54 pm

    this whole thread just makes me happy that by Wellbutrin XL dosage was doubled last week, LOL! i can’t take shit like things elaine says without wanting to cut myself without my meds. :)

  126. manda
    January 13, 2008 at 11:00 pm

    I would say do your best to ignore Elaine – this is just her attempt to gain noteriety.

    Here’s how it works:
    1. Go to a popular feminist blog, make a lot of posts for a few weeks
    2. Find something offensive and post almost non-stop, responding condescendingly to everyone that disagrees
    3. When the original offending post is shut down or no one else is posting, bring up the offending action in every other (related or unrelated) post
    4. Slowly drag the conversation to your blog
    5. Become more inflamatory/condesending/rude on your own blog thus drawing traffic from the supporters from the original offending poster and possibly a few people who agree with you

    Follow those five easy steps and you have Elaine’s method. Basically, she is trying to build her online presence by picking fights with prominent bloggers. Hopefully enough people are onto her crap that she won’t be successful when she tries it again – and I have no doubt that she will.

  127. Nicole
    January 15, 2008 at 6:55 pm

    I have to say, I do love the “there’s no test for it, so it can’t exist” trick. Very clever.

    Indeed it is. Under that rationale, love can’t exist–hey, there’s no concrete test for it, right? Can’t exist!

    And, wren, thank you. I’ve had ADD my whole life–it was diagnosed early, but I’ve only been on light medication for it. I’ve always kept it a secret from people, ever since I found the term “minimal brain dysfunction” used to refer to it in an old quiz bowl book, and I didn’t want anybody to find out, or to say that exceptions were being made for me. I got through high school and college, and now that I’m in law school, I’ve realized that I need help. Reading your comment made me finally have the courage to go to the Office of Disability Services and get an appointment to get tested.

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