I have decided that a good Friday topic is mental health, so here I go. What better way to start off the weekend than talk of Prozac, depressed mothers, and mind-melting anxiety? Yeah, that's what I thought.
I've been intending to mention that my earlier post about saving the world one post-natally depressed woman at a time may have come off as arrogant, as if I view myself as some sort of PPD saviour. I am not under the very misguided perception that my few emotional words will save anyone. The basic idea was to put it all out there in the hopes that there might be someone reading with whom those feelings resonated. They won't leave the blog blissfully happy and shitting rainbows, but maybe they would feel slightly less alone and convinced that they are horrible mothers. That's all I'm going for.
Anyway, I've been inspired to write about my own insanity AGAIN due to a troubling article on the BBC website today which designates Britain as a 'true Prozac nation'. Why is Britain rapidly turning into a country full of automatons with glazed-over eyes? Well, could it be because it takes up to 18 weeks for an individual to receive non-medicinal treatment (counselling/psychotherapy). 18 weeks. 18 weeks is 126 days. 18 weeks is 4.13 months. In some areas waits for therapy would be two years, with the longest waits overall averaging out to 7 months. I'm sure that these numbers do not apply to the severely mentally ill, but for those of us who have battled with dark times, any wait is too much.
Because of this delay, many GPs are prescribing anti-depressants as they are well aware that counselling would be very far off in the patient's future. According to figures, 31 million prescriptions are written in Britain for "drugs such as Prozac", which I assume refers solely to anti-depressants.
I could write a cogent meditation on all of this, but my only question is - WHY CAN I NOT HAVE OF THE 31 MILLION? I want a piece of the Prozac pie! Regular readers may be aware of my battle with my GP for some recognition of my post-baby depression and anxiety issues. If not, the initial post can be found here. In summation, I went to the GP a gibbering wreck, cried until I couldn't speak, told her I was going mad with anxiety, showed her my constantly shaking hands, was spoken to as if I was a small child with severe learning disabilities, was given a "book" prescription for some nonsense self help book on anxiety, and sent on my merry way. The end. Until....
I went back to the GP a few months ago, a fact I never mentioned on the blog. I intentionally saw another doctor at the practice, stupidly believing this would increase my chances of something being done about the anxiety. Ha! Ha! I scoff at your ignorance, November Pru. I managed to hold myself together, but mentioned that I worry incessantly, something which has not managed to go away even though I was back at work and not stuck indoors with a baby all day anymore. Her advice? Take a walk. Take a motherfucking walk. Walk. As in, one foot in front of the other in a repeated pattern. Doesn't matter where, just walk.
"It will clear your head!" she said to me enthusiastically, as if the cure to most of the world's ills could be solved by a brisk power walk at the start of the day. I tried to politely tell her that I had plenty of time to myself, thanks, but she didn't buy it. She, like GP #1, felt the need to impress upon me that medication was not the answer. Books and walking are apparently. Who knew?
The moral to this story is, Britain, don't turn into a Prozac nation. Dump your pills down the sink wash them away forever. As you're turning on the garbage disposal (which don't actually exist in this country) to shred those pills to pieces, think how happy and re-charged you'll be as you're striding confidently down the street with the knowledge that that dirty black dog Depression is quickly sliding away.
Folks with anxiety? Pick up that book with the pastel cover which looks as if it was designed by three year olds during a daycare craft session in the early 80s, you'll be glad you did. It tells you to take deep breaths and think happy thoughts, something which surely never occurred to you at 3am when you're having a panic attack and feeling as if you are being crushed with the weight of your own thoughts. Duh!
What I want to know is, in a county with a population of just under 61 million people with 31 million anti-depressant prescriptions, how do I get two doctors who refuse me these magical pills? What are the odds?