This past week, during which circumstances conspired to deprive me of sleep and turn me into one throbbing stress nerve, I had eight different people — not eight different times; eight different people — offer me some sort of prescription drug for my own relaxation. Let’s see if I can remember them all: Paxil, Xanax, Ativan, Valium, Prozac… and some other one, I think it started with a Z and ended with a C, or maybe a Q. I know it had a little “tm” in a circle on the end.
These people were not doctors. Half of them didn’t even have prescriptions for the drugs they were giving me. They would just see that I was tired and weary and a bit on edge, and thought it only natural — logical — that I would want to pop a pill. Take care of that right quick. When I told them, no, I was fine, I’m good, thanks, appreciate it… they were taken aback. David, don’t you understand? These make you feel better. And doctors say they’re OK. Why wouldn’t you want one?
It is amazing to me how many people in London are on some sort of medication. Hell, I’m sure some of you are on them. How did you start? Was there some sort of injury? Maybe you had a fight with your other half and had a friend who suggested you could calm down with these. Maybe your psychiatrist recommended them. Perhaps it was the July 7 bombings. Whatever it was, they’re everywhere. I sometimes wonder if, when I’m speaking to a member of the Prozac nation, anything I’m saying is having an effect whatsoever. If they’re even paying attention. If they’re just trying to find their happy place.
These drugs are self-indulgent anyway. They’re just like the rest of this self-absorbed city; the focus is making yourself feel better. If there’s something wrong in your world, it’s not because of anything you might have done wrong, or decisions you might have made. It’s society. It’s too tough; I’m too sensitive. Here, take this pill.
Now I’m aware that there are people out there — some are friends I love dearly — who genuinely need these antidepressants, and I don’t mean to disparage them. This is medicine, and some people have imbalances or bad genes, and they need these as remedies. Good for them. I’m glad they have something that makes them feel better. But there aren’t that many. And they don’t make up three-quarters of the population of London!
Rules of thumb here. The following things do not give you chemical imbalances that require medication:
Your parents’ divorce.
Joe breaking up with you for that slut from work.
Your boss is an idiot.
Your back hurts when you get home from work.
You need an alternative to weed.
You’re getting older.
You need to lose weight.
Your roommate won’t stop leaving her towels in the bathroom.
Rachel doesn’t love Joey.
You know how you deal with these things? Not to sound insensitive here, and if I do so, I apologise but… shut the fuck up and deal with it. These problems existed long before GlaxoSmithKline set up in Brentford and started making billions. Life is to be faced head-on and dived into with reckless abandon. Living scared, or dulled, solves nothing.
Doesn’t anyone just want to live anymore? The notion of antidepressants revolves around having no highs too high and no lows too low. Just a smooth plateau, everything’s the same, everything’s easier, nothing gets you too excited. Why in the world would anyone want to live like that? It makes people into boring, bland, even-keel people, and I surely didn’t move to London for those.
And let’s not get into the antidepressants that reduce sex drive. I mean, if the goal is reducing stress, that would seem the definition of counterproductive. (Is there any way women who are on antidepressants that reduce their sex drive could wear some sort of ID bracelet, or maybe a dogtag? It would make dating so much easier.)
I just don’t see how life got so difficult that we needed some outside agent to help us control it. People… life is hard. It’s really awful sometimes. Isn’t that the point? Don’t you want to feel, whether it’s euphoria or deep sadness? You’re going to be on this shit for 30 years and then one day realise, dammit, I missed everything. I don’t mind being depressed every so often. It makes the joyous moments that much more exhilarating.
Why would you want to numb that? Why would you want to escape from life? It’s worth staying alert for, you know.
Read my other article — The Beauty Of Sadness — and you’ll see what I’m on about.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I could really use another drink.