back to the Black Table

 Over the last seven days, during which circumstances conspired to deprive me of sleep and turn me into one throbbing stress nerve, I had eight different people Ė not eight different times; eight different people Ė offer me some sort of prescription drug for my own relaxation. Letís see if I can remember them all: Paxil, Xanax, Ativan, Valium, Prozac Ö 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 ďtmĒ in a circle on the end.

These people were not doctors. Half of them didnít even have subscriptions for the drugs they were giving me. They would just see that I was tired and weary and a bit on edge, thought it only natural Ė lo, logical Ė that I would want to pop a pill. Take care of that right quick. When I told them, no, I was fine, Iím good, thanks, appreciate it Ö they were taken aback. Will, donít you understand Ö these make you feel better. And doctors say theyíre OK. Why wouldnít you want one?

It is amazing to me how many people in New York City are on some sort of medication. Hell, Iím sure some of you people are on them. How did you start? Was there some sort of injury? Maybe you had a fight with your significant other and had a friend who told you you could calm down with these. Maybe your psychiatrist recommended them. Perhaps it was 9/11. Whatever it was, theyíre everywhere. I sometimes wonder if, when Iím speaking to a member of the Prozac nation, anything Iím saying is having an effect whatsoever. If theyíre even paying attention. If theyíre just trying to find their happy place.

These drugs are self-indulgent anyway. Theyíre just like the rest of this self-absorbed city; the focus is making yourself feel better. If thereís something wrong in your world, itís not because of anything you might have done wrong, or decisions you might have made. Itís society. Itís too tough; Iím too sensitive. Here, take this pill.

Realize, Iím aware, there are people out there who need these antidepressants, and I donít mean to disparage them. This is medicine, and some people have imbalances or bad genes, and they need these as remedies. Good for them. Iím glad they have something that makes them feel better. But there arenít that many. And they arenít three-quarters of the population of Manhattan.

Rules of thumb here. The following things do not give you chemical imbalances that require medication:

Your parentsí divorce.

Bobby breaking up with you for that slut from accounting.

Your boss is an idiot.

Your back hurts when you get home from work.

You need an alternative to weed.

Daddy never hugged you.

Youíre getting older.

You need to lose weight.

Your roommate wonít stop leaving her towels in the bathroom.

Rachel doesnít love Joey.

You know how you deal with these things? Not to sound insensitive here, and if I do so, I apologize but Ö shut the hell up and deal with it. These problems existed long before Merck moved to New Jersey and started making millions. Life is to be faced head-on and dived into with reckless abandon. Living scared, or dulled, solves nothing.

Doesnít 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, everythingís the same, everythingís 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 didnít move to New York City for those.

And letís 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 donít see how life got so difficult that we needed some outside agent to help us control it. People Ö life is hard. Itís really awful sometimes. Isnít that the point? Donít you want to feel, whether itís euphoria or deep sadness? Youíre gonna be on this shit for 30 years and realize, dammit, I missed everything. I like being depressed. It makes the joyous moments that much more exhilarating.

Why would you want to numb that? Why would you want to escape from life? Itís worth staying alert for, you know.

Now, if youíll excuse me, I could really use another drink.



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