I don't normally respond to the negative emails. They're pretty few and far between these days. But one I received this week bothered me, mostly because I hope it isn't true. She said that I presented an unrealistic portrait of antidepressants, that I didn't do a good job of sharing their side effects.
I'd like to go on record as saying that I always respond as truthfully and in detail to anyone who emails me with questions about antidepressants (or as my friend K.D. Reep calls them her "anti-hitting people pills"). Yes. There are side effects. Yes. When you begin taking them you won't feel so hot for a while. And yes. If you decide to stop taking them, you have to wean very, very slowly to avoid more side effects.
But here's the thing. In this life we subject our bodies to many uncomfortable things, things that bring reward in the end. Let's take a look at my short list.
1. Tweazing our eyebrows. Or waxing our eyebrows. Or anything eyebrow related. But we do it. We maintain those suckers. Why? Because no matter how cool she was, not one of us wants to look like Frida Khalo's less creative relative. Not even if we get one of those cool flower wreaths for our hair. Not even then.
2. And while we're on the topic of hair, why stop at the eyebrows? Why not just address hair removal as a whole. Legs. Arms. Faces. Other locals I shall not mention. We tweeze, pluck, pull, thread, wax and it all hurts. It hurts like the dickens. And what a waste of time! It's all time we could have been using to watch the latest episode of Breaking Bad, or leaning on the kitchen counter eating ice cream. But we like the reward. We like not looking like a pioneer woman with a 5 o'clock shadow.
3. Shopping for jeans. This doesn't necessarily cause physical discomfort, but it feels like a branding iron on the old ego. Shopping for jeans for those of us who have had children and don't run marathons or skirt the edges of an eating disorder is like trying to find the most flattering brand of cling wrap. But we do it. Why? Not because it's fun, but because we don't want to be arrested for public nudity because we didn't have a pair of jeans. And also because our great aunt will write about it in her Christmas news letter.
4. Working out. The sweat. The muscle craps. The chaffing. The horrendous moment when you're running and you think, "Eh. I should not have eaten that plate full of broccoli for lunch." Let's face it. 99% of us would much rather be taking a nap, eating a bowl full of sugary cereal, or reading a book. But we still work out. Why? Lots of reasons. Blood pressure. Longevity. The above mentioned jean shopping. We don't like it, but we like the reward, so we do it.
5. Childbearing. This is the queen mother. This is the thing we do to ourselves voluntarily that is unthinkable. We vomit. We lay in bed with exhaustion. We gain weight. Our ankles get huge. Our hormones take over to the point that *we* watch National Velvet and end up screaming at the screen, "RUN YOU LAZY B#ST*RD, RUN! And of course by we, I mean me. Then, when we've reached the size of a beached whale, and our hip bones actually expand wider, we give birth. I could resurrect the old "watermelon through a hole the size of a lemon" simile but you've heard it. But we do it. We do it because it brings new life, it brings family, it brings love so big it makes our hearts feel like they might explode.
In summation, yes, perhaps my cart ran away with the horses a bit in this blog post. I blame National Velvet. But I'm trying to make a very important point. Yes, side effects are real. But when compared to the things we voluntarily do to ourselves on a daily basis... it's not that big of a deal. And more importantly, when you compare those side effects with DAILY MENTAL HEALTH AND PEACE... it's not much of an excuse.
Antidepressants saved my life. I'll go way out on a limb here and say that they may have saved my marriage (or at least made it a heck of a lot more happy than it was before). They make me a better mother. They keep my anxiety disorder in check.
Like waxing my lip, or working out, or having Jane... it's worth it.