Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Emerging Pet Peeve

So I'm in the process of reading Ronald Fieve's Bipolar II and while I'll reserve my final judgment until I've finished, I have to confess that I'm getting really irritated with the way that he seems to think that psychiatric medications are just so darn wonderful. Don't get me wrong. I acknowledge that meds help a lot of people and that psychiatry has certainly come a long way since the 70s. But a long way from nowhere doesn't necessarily mean that you've gotten somewhere.

I think part of the problem is that Fieve is approaching medication from the perspective of a doctor and I'm reading his book from the perspective of a patient. Sure, in his mentally stable world, he can analytically say that we've come a long way from the days when being bipolar meant being hospitalized and turned into a drug zombie. Instead of tranquilizing patients into stupors, shrinks are learning to manipulate moodswings more artfully. Great. Really. I'm happy for doctors making $150 an hour than they can feel good about their progress. Fan-fucking-tastic.

In the meantime, the patient has a different experience because while I empathize with my 1970s counterpart, fact is, I'm looking for stability and I want it NOW. I'm not looking for some uber educated doctor man to tell me that medication has come so far when I'm taking some little white pill that's made me gain 30 pounds and now, I can't fit into my freakin pants and I'm still horribly depessed. I don't particularly give a shit that I should be grateful that antidepressants have evolved beyond MAOIs when the crap I took made my mouth so dry I thought I would choke on my own tongue even though it did jack shit for my depression. In fact, with every study that comes out saying something like, oh BTW, zyprexa makes you gain 40+ pounds or some other uninspiring crap, I'm feeling less and less charitable toward these psychitrists who don't take these charming medication, but seem to prescribe them with wanton abandon, happily exposing unstable brains to drugs that were perhaps pushed past the FDA a bit too quickly considering that they tinker with your friggin brain chemistry and all.

I don't want to hear about how great medication is. It seems to me that right now, it's all castor oil. It's all about being so incredibly miserable and desperate that if some doctor told you that eating a cow pie would make you feel better, you might just try it because nothing could be worse than the status quo. That's where medication is right now. We're eating cow pies, ending up full of shit and hoping for the best. Shrinks generally have no friggin idea why one drug works better than any other drug. It's not quite a science. It's more like voodoo with an office.

Fieve's attempts to laud medication as the cure ignore all of us eating cow pies because the alternative of doing nothing seems worse than at least pretending that we're taking some active step to manage this charming illness. Who knows? Maybe he'll get into that in the next chapter. We shall see.