Cheri Speak

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Bringing Up Being Down

Are We Crazy

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A Case of the Crazies

Depression, the ten-letter-word we rarely hear except in relation to whichever shiny new pill PhRMA is pushing. In fact, many of those suffering from it don’t talk about it, they talk about what they take for it instead. It’s almost as if depression is really a four-letter-word we whisper about or apologize for and antidepressant use is the disclaimer that allows us to utter the word out loud.

Why is that? Why isn’t a real conversation being had across the country? Why is admitting we are depressed akin to admitting we are insane? Why do we seek social acceptance of our sadness by comparing prescriptions and their side-effects instead of acknowledging why we are depressed?

Is the treatment more important than the cause?

Antidepressants are the most common prescription medication taken by Americans age 18-44, and the third most common drug for all ages. From 1988–1994 through 2005–2008, the rate of antidepressant use in the United States among all ages increased nearly 400 percent! The antidepressant Abilify is the second biggest revenue generating drug in America.

The CDC reports that one out of ten of us are depressed and in their very first sentence of the statistical data they tell us that,

depression is a mental illness“.

A mental illness? Really? Did it ever occur to the CDC and their actuaries that maybe we simply have a lot of negative things bombarding us at every turn and that the result is we feel like shit?

Shitty Life

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The Shit List

The CDC lists the following groups of people as those who are most likely to meet the criteria for major depression

  • persons 45-64 years of age
  • women
  • blacks, Hispanics, non-Hispanic persons of other races or multiple races
  • persons with less than a high school education
  • those previously married
  • individuals unable to work or unemployed
  • persons without health insurance coverage

Um hello? Let me accurately define that list, although “Duh” is just as appropriate:

  • persons 45-64 years of age: Those of us who have entered the mid-life crisis and empty nest to retirement years. Being alone, adjusting to “not being needed” and old age. The age of losing our loved ones like parents, aunts, uncles, and possibly siblings.  apparently earns us the label of “crazy”
  • women: You know the fairer sex who maintains a house, the children, grumpy husbands or no husband while trying to maintain jobs. The ones who make less money doing the same jobs as men. The ones who have to worry about rape every time we walk to a dark parking lot after a long day (or night) of busting our ass to put food on the table. Yeah those crazy bitches.
  • blacks, Hispanics, non-Hispanic persons of other races or multiple races: Let me spell it out for you R-A-C-I-S-M and inequality. Sadly it still exists. In addition, statistics will show that a large portion of people in this category are living at income poverty levels. I know, insane right?
  • persons with less than a high school education: Why did these people not finish high school? Teen pregnancy maybe? Or maybe they had to quit school and get a J-O-B to help bring in money for the family? Don’t worry, the doktor says antib3pr3ssants wurk and will apparently make up for that diploma you didn’t get.
  • those previously married: Don’t get divorced! If you do, and feel sad about it or struggle alone to raise kids and pay the bills you may be nuts!
  • individuals unable to work or unemployed: You mean individuals who are unable to pay bills and buy food? The ones losing their homes? Yes, how unnatural feeling sad would be in that case!
  • persons without health insurance coverage: If the uninsured have a serious physical illness or disease they have no right to be down about it because all that does is add “mental illness” to their medical laundry list of woes and who’s going to pay for that?
money madness

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Of Money and Madness 

Is it possible that a real living wage and health care could change the world? Don’t we know that acknowledgement of life’s problems isn’t denial and that a real conversation is not a placebo, but instead a positive course of action (which believe me would go a long fucking way in helping us change our tune)?  Of course we know this, but governments, big PhRMA, and corporations cannot afford for us to be healthy and happy. They make too much money keeping us sick and depressed.

There’s a Pill For That

If we’re sad, stressed-out, or worried, we’re suffering from “depression”… 

If we’re excited, we’re suffering from “mania”… 

If we’re confused or overwhelmed, we’re suffering from “anxiety”… 

You can take the magic poison pill your doctor prescribes for these things or you can remind yourself that the cost of pharmaceuticals over the course of a year could pay for a couple of fun weekend getaways, a day at a spa, or a number of other feel-good mood-boosting experiences. It could also put more food on the table, pay down that credit card, and fill up the gas tank which could help decrease your daily stress level.

Coping Pill

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But, They Help Us “Cope”

I say we need more coping skills not coping pills!

The next time you are feeling down, go in the bathroom, look at your image in a mirror and tell yourself,

“I’m sad, I’m not crazy. Depression isn’t a disease, it’s an occurrence. I am N-O-R-M-A-L.”

Then…drop that little pill right down the drain!

40 comments on “Bringing Up Being Down

  1. slepsnor
    February 18, 2013

    I come from a family of chronic depressives, so I do think it is a mental illness for many people. My sister, my parents, my wife (after her breakdown), and several other relatives have all been diagnosed with some level of depression. My wife and my sister (former cutter) are the worst of the family, so they’re medicated. The medication does help them handle the emotions better, but they are really severe cases that need the extra support. So, for some people, there is a hormonal/chemical issue that causes depression. Not all people, but there are some.

    I think the real problems are that depression is overly diagnosed by professionals and people are self-diagnosing. It seems to be ‘better’ to say that you’re depressed instead of sad because there is a sense of having no control when you’re depressed. It gives a person a false sense of helplessness that they can hide behind. These problems become a severe issue when medications are included because that makes a crutch for a person who could possibly get over the depression through hard work and therapy.

    One issue I have with the medication is that it is used without therapy or any method of getting off the medication. For some people, I understand. For other people, I think the medication is used only to get them through the day instead of helping them get better. One family member of mine had to use anti-depressants to get through a horrible job and make it to retirement. He stopped taking them after he retired and now he has very little control of his temper and emotions. The slightest thing can set him off to anger or depression, but he refuses to get help because he’s fine. So, that is one of the bigger dangers of medication for just about anything. A dependence to keep one under control that the person doesn’t even realize.

    Like

    • C. R.
      February 18, 2013

      I completely agree that there are SOME people who are genetically depressed, but surely not 1 in 10 as the stats try to tell us.
      Personally, I cannot tell you how many times I voiced a stress in my life when asked by a doctor and they immediately tried to write a prescription for an antidepressant. I would ask, “Oh is that a check to pay my rent?” or, “Is this pill you want me to take like a seed that will grow some groceries?”, or “oh, do I give this to my dead mother to bring her back to life?” … of course they looked at me like I had completely lost my mind LOL.

      Like

      • slepsnor
        February 18, 2013

        Statistics are easily skewed if a person wants a certain outcome. I can say that nobody in my family has ever been polled to help with these statistics. Society has taken the idea that it is easier to throw a pill at a problem instead of working to recover from the issue. A depression can be caused by a temporary chemical imbalance caused by stress, so therapy and learning coping techniques would be better. An idea that just came to me is that it is also possible that this is caused by a doctor’s fear of lawsuit. If they fail to offer the medication and a person commits suicide or something equally disastrous then they can possibly be held liable. The truth is that a doctor can offer you the medication, but you don’t have to fill out the prescription and take the meds. It’s like a ‘cover your ass’ method. I’m not a doctor and only know chiropractors, so I’m guessing here. Hopefully, I don’t offend any doctors with that comment.

        Like

      • slepsnor
        February 18, 2013

        Kind of in the middle of something and about to be removing from the computer by my wife who’s editing for me, so I’ll have to scan the article for now.

        My mom actually works for a company that does stuff for pharmaceutical companies. Not sure what, but it has something to do with putting out the information that they give them. The greed and idea that pharma-companies have been discussed at length. I try to avoid medications whenever I can, especially since I took something for an upper-respiratory infection that had a list of side-effects a page long. I was ‘fortunate’ enough to get the two side-effects that should NEVER be received together. Insomnia and vivid nightmares. I gave up after two days.

        As for the doctors earning money, I have heard this and it’s rather disheartening. I’d like to think that most doctors care more about patient health than the money they make. My sons doctor has continually tried to avoid giving my son medications beyond stuff we can buy on the shelf. My doctor tries to do the same thing, so I’d like to think they care more about me than their wallet. It’s unfortunate that most of the jobs that are designed to help the masses are being boiled down to money.

        Like

    • tonisaman
      July 24, 2013

      There is no medical test for depression. It is all subjective. That doesn’t mean there isn’t depression but that also doesn’t mean a toxic chemical can fix the problem. In fact, in my observation and study and personal experience it only masks the problems and makes a tolerable problem intolerable.

      Like

  2. dylanfreak
    February 18, 2013

    The pharmaceutical industry are not part of the solution; they’re part of the problem.

    Like

  3. dylanfreak
    February 18, 2013

    “Is” not “are”! Sorry!

    Like

  4. Ronn "Ronnagade" Jordan
    February 18, 2013

    I really dug your post, I also like to add an image to my posts. I’m also diagnosed as being “depressed”, but I refuse to take any meds for it because in my humble opinion, Big Pharma can not cure anything and they are NOT in the business of curing anything. Their business is to keep you coming back for more. The reason all of us people on that “Shit List” are depressed is because we are living through some rough shit. Not to mention the fact that the side effects of these so called cures are worse than the disease itself…may cause death, high blood pressure, stroke, liver failure and/or anal leakage. Really??? If you thought I was depressed before throw some anal leakage into that mix and I’ll SHOW you depressed.lol.
    Big Pharma needs us for their stockholders, we are WAY too over-medicated in this country, now that’s depressing. Thanks for your post!!! You have a new follower. :D

    Like

  5. artofstumbling
    February 18, 2013

    Well I’m sure my depression is in part circumstantial, female, lesbian, relationship breakdown, unemployed, illness. However, I feel that personally, I went to my doctors after months of crying, crying non-stop, crying myself to sleep at night. Even if it was triggered by circumstances, it was destroying my life. I knew it was not a good way to live / be feeling. The doctor started me on antideps (fluoxetine.) 3 weeks after I started taking it, the crying stopped. I still feel sad sometimes, and anxious, but the difference it has made to me is immeasurable. It has helped me face things and aim towards getting my life back on track. If it wasn’t for the drugs, I don’t think I would have been where I am now, actively applying for jobs, joining a band, doing things. It’s impossible to say whether that would have happened anyway. All I know is, not crying myself to sleep every night, is preferable.

    I think, if you notice that distinct difference after 3 weeks, clearly, you may have a chemical imbalance that will make you feel down, more than, say, another person facing the same set of circumstances.

    It will be interesting for me to come off the antidepressants, which I should try after 6 months according to the doctor. And all I can say is, if I start feeling like that again, I’m going straight back on them lol.

    Like

  6. artofstumbling
    February 18, 2013

    But you are totally right about depression being next to impossible to talk about. Most people, my parents included, only know I’m depressed for the very reason of telling them about my medication. And in fact, just last night, came up with some friends for the same reason. But still, I feel totally inadequate about it. I do my best to explain, I really, was very down. It is hard to explain to people. But I do my best.

    Like

    • C. R.
      February 18, 2013

      Rebecca, I do understand and have been there myself. Thankfully I have been off all medications for two years now. They made me a zombie. I felt nothing. Also, I was dealing with a divorce, my kids graduating HS, a cross country move, and my mother dying. It was a hard time for me and I was an absolute mess. I could not function nor stop crying endlessly. I get it. I also get that there are some people who are genetically predisposed. I do believe they are the minority in relation to those that are prescribed. As you know, I feel strongly about the pharmaceutical industry and the government with regards to manufactured sickness and I wholeheartedly believe (at least in America) we are a country of very over prescribed and improperly diagnosed individuals. Hugs! Always here if you need me.

      Like

  7. Adam S
    February 18, 2013

    Cheri, great article. I like the bdemographic breakdown and explanation. You and I share the same believes. Definitely over-prescribed, under-evaluated. It’s too quick and easy. I can speak. I deal with it. Yes, it sucks, but I also don’t do a lot do a lot of the things I should do that might help.

    I particularly liked this:
    If we’re sad, stressed-out, or worried, we’re suffering from “depression”…
    If we’re excited, we’re suffering from “mania”…
    If we’re confused or overwhelmed, we’re suffering from “anxiety”…

    I know you’re speaking in generalities, but to a degree, that’s it exactly. I don’t think it’s possible to be hunky-dory all the time. Life happens. Masking instead of addressing problems, is a problem in itself. Again, great article once again!

    Like

    • C. R.
      February 18, 2013

      Thank you Adam. Your opinion always matters, especially in light of what brought us together to begin with.

      Like

  8. diannegray
    February 19, 2013

    This is an excellent article Cheri. I’m no doctor, but just about everyone I’ve ever known has felt ‘down’ at some stage in their life. I think society puts too much emphasis on ‘happiness’ and if you’re not ‘happy’ then you’re told there’s obviously something wrong with you. I believe feeling up and down is a natural state – we don’t know what ‘happy’ is if we’ve never felt sad and visa versa. When my father died I went to the doctor (on an unrelated matter) and he asked me how I was feeling. I said I was a little in shock and felt confused and sad about the entire situation (my dad was killed under hospital care in what should have been a simple procedure). The doctor immediately started drawing up a script for anti-depressants. I told him I didn’t want it because what I was feeling was a ‘normal reaction to a tragic event’ and yes – he looked at me as if I was nuts!
    I totally understand that people have chemical imbalances and absolutely need something to get that balance back – but the entire western world is completely over-prescribed. There is a shitload of money to be made in the pharmaceutical world and I hate that some doctors have become the ‘pushers’.

    Like

    • C. R.
      February 19, 2013

      Thank you very much Di. Yes, as I am sure you have seen, this is not the first time I have written about pharmaceuticals (and doctors). In case you missed this one, you will love my article called Medicine Money; a Prescription for Legal Bribery.

      I am so sorry about your dad. I lost my Mom almost 2 years ago. She was addicted to prescription medications which is inevitably what killed her at the age of only 62.

      In case I haven’t mentioned it lately, please know I really appreciate you reading (and commenting on) my stuff. Thank you.

      Like

  9. motv8her
    February 20, 2013

    Cheri, thanks for coming to my blog. I was confused by how you posted your comment, but intrigued enough to find out who you are and what you were about.

    My family truly has a genetic history of mental illness. At this time I am dealig with an adult son who has paranoid schizophrenia. It has been quite the journey, with a few more scheduled stops between now and March 1st. It’s the unscheduled stops that have taken this family to its knees! As I’ve said in my blog I am bipolar. Looking back over my life, especially my childhood I can see that my mother is probably bipolar (undiagnosed/unmedicated). One thing I’ve learned is that when a person is never diagnosed they leave a path of destruction, with children suffering the most. Those children then grow up and try to cope in a world that may not know the secrets the child endured behind closed doors at the hand of an undiagnosed mentally ill parent/guardian.

    Having worked for several pharma companies, I too believe the money is in the meds, not the cure. The fact that ‘we’ as a society are having a dialogue about mental illness, prescriptions, etc. can go a long way in helping those who may be in hiding to get help, while also putting doctors/pharmaceutical companies on notice.

    I will take some time to review your posts and look forward to ‘hearing’ from you. Blessings!

    Like

    • C. R.
      February 20, 2013

      Hi. You are welcome. I think I found you because you (or a post you made) appeared in my post dashboard as a related link to the topic I was writing on…possibly. Anyhow, I am glad you came over to say hello. And I do hope you know that I do understand that there are some people who do need medications at times in their lives. I just feel strongly that way too many are miss-diagnosed, or too casually diagnosed and plied with pills that more than likely will not help them. In fact the pills could even make the situation and the takers health worse.

      I have known a few people in my life like your son. I cannot even imagine the difficulties and pain. Hug.

      Like

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  13. DaydreamsinWonderland
    February 20, 2013

    I love you, Cheri. I just love you. You pulled the words right out of my head. They do make us think depression is a dirty word. & That’s a damn shame.
    Not many people knew it, but I was hinting at my past battles with it in this post: A Lonely Diner. I hinted because I was to embarrassed to say the actual words “Yeah, I suffered from depression” in fear of judgemental finger-pointing & whatnot.

    You’re an asset to the blogging community & I hope you plan to stick around for a long, long time. :)
    *hugs*

    Like

    • C. R.
      February 20, 2013

      Awww thank you SO much. I love YOU too. Together in the struggle, right? Depression is NOT a dirty word. It’s something that happens to each and every one of us at some point in all of our lives. It is OK to talk about it. In fact, I would argue that it is the most healthy thing we can do to combat it!!!
      I plan to be here for a long time ;)

      Like

      • DaydreamsinWonderland
        February 20, 2013

        Exactly. ;) I agree, it really shouldn’t be so taboo to discuss. Most therapists (NOT psychiatrists, but psychologists) would tell you talking about it is VERY healthy.
        & Good. :) Your writing brings joy & inspiration to many eyes/hearts. ;)

        Like

      • C. R.
        February 20, 2013

        Thanks, I hope so. I am sure I also piss off a bunch of people, but hey at least I can make people feel SOMETHING ;)

        Like

      • DaydreamsinWonderland
        February 20, 2013

        Ah, don’t we all? It means we’re doing something right. ;) They probably say “Oh God, here she comes with her preachy, wordy, know-it-all, look at me stuff!” about me. The best way to deal with it is make fun of yourself before they can get at you. Beat them with their own words, & then “kill them with kindness”. Disturbed, sad people are generally threatened by those that shine brightly like stars. It’s one of the huge problems with the world.
        Don’t worry though, we’re helping change that. ;)
        #B4Peace :)

        Like

      • C. R.
        February 20, 2013

        yes and the more we #B4Peace the others will #B4Peace!

        Like

      • DaydreamsinWonderland
        February 20, 2013

        P.S. Speaking of! I need your social networking skills! Pass this on! Let’s Go Viral I linked to the Kozo & Cheri post but I think my pings are getting spammed. :/
        I would do it myself but I don’t have a Twitter account anymore (I need to make a new one) & I don’t have a Facebook or Pinterest page. (After your Pinterest post I’ve been considering setting one up though!)

        Like

      • C. R.
        February 20, 2013

        done…now go get a pinterest silly

        Like

      • DaydreamsinWonderland
        February 20, 2013

        You’re the best, Cheri! I will! I’ve gotta clear my night schedules for the next few & I’ll devote that to setting up a Twitter account & Pinterest. (Cuz all of my blogging buddies might beat me up if I don’t! Haha!)

        Like

  14. eof737
    February 20, 2013

    We definitely need more preventive care centers where wellness and helpful information on staying healthy is provided. Depression is a mental health concern and my observation is that the economic downturn had an enormous impact in many communities and led to increases in people needing such help. You do have a point with the eagerness to prescribe but it’s that complicated marriage doctors have with mega pharma… . I enjoyed your piece and the s*&^ list made me chuckle. ;-)
    Eliz

    Like

    • C. R.
      February 20, 2013

      Thank you Eliz. The problem with over-prescribing killed my Mother (with her help of course). This is an important topic to me. BTW I giggled too when I put the S*@# list together :p

      Like

      • eof737
        February 20, 2013

        I hear you… It is an important topic very, very close to my heart too. :p

        Like

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