Until 1990, I'd never even heard of anti-depressants. Then I briefly dated a guy who started taking them after a slight emotional jolt sent him "over the edge" (into depression?). While my then boyfriend was poppin' whatever the pre-cursor to Prozac was, his speech was slurred, his driving skills were terrifying and his over all ability to roll with day-to-day life evaporated. Eventually his sister, who was a nurse, flushed his meds and life returned to relative normal.
In 1995, I had a couple of college friends who were on Prozac. One liked to cut up her wrists with car keys while on it because she said she 'couldn't feel anything.' The other calmly told me she had lurid nightmares of murdering her parents and dismembering their bodies ... but that was just part of the 'process of adjusting to the meds.'
When I moved to Seattle in winter 2003, I (very) briefly rented a room from a 58-year-old, unemployed Boeing engineer who had been on Zoloft for about three years. This was the same amount of time he'd been unemployed. His doctor had initially prescribed the drug for just three months while my roomie was recovering from a mild heart attack but he had since found other ways to get his Zoloft fix.
My roommate's favorite pastimes included: sitting in the living room by himself with the lights off for hours, getting up at 4:30am every Saturday and Sunday to "meditate" and watching the Home Shopping Network. Every day. At a certain prescribed time. He told me he had no doubt that he was "addicted" to Zoloft but that he loved how it had made his life "fuller." His aging Filipino girlfriend was on something similar, Celexa, I think. They enjoyed swapping meds and playing around with the dosages just to see how it would alter the high.
Jesus fucking Christ in a hat.
Recently, I worked a month-long temp assignment for a guy who was on Paxil. This abrasive Yuppie asshole admitted he was addicted to it and he gleefully recounted how he'd mixed up his indigestion meds with the Paxil and "accidentally" taken triple his prescribed dose for several months. He said despite the liver damage, he'd "never felt better." And the guy was twitchier than a monkey after a triple-shot espresso. He was incapable of concentrating on anything for more than three minutes and paranoid? His paranoia made every cocaine or pot user I've ever worked with pale in comparison. They're all plotting against me was his personal mantra.
A five-minute trot around the Infobaun reveals a whole bunch of things about so-called mood stabilizers. First of all, psychiatrists -- a profession not historically known for it's open-mindedness or long attention span -- have admitted that they "don't know exactly how Selective Seratonin Re-uptake Inhibitors work."
There's tons of stuff out there arguing against SSRIs (Zoloft, Prozac, Paxil, etc.) at least until doctors have a clue what they do to our brains ... or the pharmacutical corporations admit what they know (it burns holes in your head, your brains fall out your ass, whatever).
Ironically, I'm in agreement with the Scientologist. One of their celebrity darlings, Giovanni Ribisi, said it best: "You're taking a pill not to feel an emotion."
My own psychologist of a half-dozen years was opposed to mood stabilizers unless someone was screaming crazy. He said essentially the same thing that actor said that our culture tries to medicate depression and sadness rather than understand it.
Here's a small list of just some of the side effects of taking these sketchy drugs: irritability, aggression, nightmares, dizziness, extreme nausea, psychological dependency, physical dependancy/withdrawal symptoms, crying spells, light headedness, coordination problems, sweating, vomiting, agitation, memory/concentration difficulties and general fatigue.
And Number One on the Top Ten List of reasons why you shouldn't ever take it: a marked increase in the likelihood of extreme depression and possible suicide attempt.
Oh, I'm sooo stickin' with a Friday night cocktail and a joint ...
-- Mz M.