2/08/2008

Insane in the Brain

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?

16 comments:

May said...

Ah, how timely. I just received my very first antidepressant prescription at my postpartum appointment not six hours ago.

I'll let you know how it compares with taking a walk. (A WALK? Puh-leeeeeze!?)

Nic said...

You totally crack me up. I love your revised book jacket.

I'm sorry, though, that your doctors weren't more helpful. I think they're making a real effort to diagnose and treat PPD here - but that could just be a false perception.

Flicka said...

And now you know what it's like to deal with military healthcare. That exact level of frustration and incomptence, applied to every situation. I feel your pain. In fact, no amount of walking has cooled my homicidal rage toward governmental healthcare which is why I inwardly laugh at those who think socialized healthcare is the ticket to the future for our country. Hah! Prozac nation, indeed.

All that aside, I wish you *could* get some happy pills. Can you change practices? Is that even allowed? I don't want them to be looking back one day, tsking each other and saying "someone really should have done something." I seriously do NOT think walking is the answer, unless they are now prescribing walking as therapy to PTSD patients. Because PTSD is about the closest thing I can think of that matches all the hell you have been through. Geez, people. Walking. I'm going to be muttering that to myself for the next week.

Lut C. said...

Next they'll be prescribing a dog or a cat. A dog can accompany you on the walk. A cat is eagerly awaiting your return. Big smiles all around.

Let's not mention the dog chews your favourite shoes to shreds, craps all over the place making you trail him with an assortment of plastic bags.

The cat is sure to be a surly animal that wants to be fed, but never petted and hisses at the baby .

Anita said...

I suffered PPD with my second son and was given Prozac. Thank God for that amazing pill, it saved my life 12 years ago. Literally.

Until I read about anxiety also being a sign of PPD I just thought I was going fucking nutso! I finally spoke with my doctor about the anxiety that keeps me awake with horrible thoughts of tragedies that have not happened but possibly could. We're working together on a solution.

I was hoping to leave here blissfully happy and shitting rainbows. I may not be blissfully happy but I feel better knowing I'm not alone on this ride.

Oh, and rainbows hurt like hell coming out. Can I shit sunshine and kittens instead?

pixi said...

Maybe both doctors are Tom Cruise fans?

Seriously though, it sounds like very irresponsible medical care to me. Especially, if they never followed-up.

rockmama said...

I went to one of the GPs in our practice with a RAGING UTI. As a sufferer of chronic cystitis since I was 19, I knew the difference between an attack and an actual infection. You know what he gave me? IBUPROFEN. The fucker gave me something I already had in my PURSE.

However, just about every other doctor in my practice is all too happy to give me whatever the hell I ask for in order to get me out of their office. You can crash on my couch for a week and pretend you live in my postcode so you can get some of the good stuff.

OvaGirl said...

Excellent post as ever Pru.

Ooh, what a stunning segue to my announcement that I am awarding you an Excellent badge. Come peel it off my blog and adhere it to your own.

Sassy said...

Mental health is so fucked up in every way. I had the opposite problem where I was diagnosed and medicated as bipolar when I was 18 and in no way mentally ill.

I couldn't sleep because I had just worked 3 weeks straight starting at 3am in a bakery and I was somewhat down because a friend had just died of ovarian cancer. I needed a good nights sleep and a holiday, what I got was 6 months of medication hell.

Really, while you may not be The Saviour of the world, I do applaud you for sharing as I'm sure there will be people who will appreciate your words more than you could ever imagine.

Becky said...

Wow. That's just. Wow.

Wow.

Wow.

Wow.

(I think you should market that book).

Kristi said...

That 18 week wait time-is that for women going through PPD too? If so, that is way too long (it's way too long for anyone suffering from depression).

Michael Moore had me believing the UK's universal health care system takes excellent care of its citizens. Apparently, this isn't the case.

wheelsonthebus said...

Whenever people go on about how Britain has such a better health care system than the US, I try not to choke. My husband has been in various levels of depression since moving here. He went to the GP and all they wanted to give him was drugs. He said NO because he wanted therapy with it. Seems like you got the only GPs around who aren't shoving anti-depressants down our throats.

May said...

Ah, yes, the 'pull your socks up, have a nice cup of tea, remember the starving masses and go for a walk' school of dealing with depression and anxiety. The other face of the coin being the 'whatever you try and tell me is wrong, I will go suddenly deaf and either under or over-medicate you until you are hospitalised' school. GPs are simplky not trained to deal with it, which is STUPID, as in the same breath the NHS is chirpily telling us one in four people have some kind of entanglement with mental health issues and we should always go to the GP about them.

Gah.

electriclady said...

Dude, I can't believe two different doctors refused to even consider giving you medication. On the other hand, maybe pixi is on to something. Perhaps you just need a good session with an E-meter to settle you down.

(hiding from the Scientologists who will certainly hunt me down now)

PiquantMolly said...

This post terrifies me, for a few reasons.

I know how absolutely miserable you were in the months following P's birth -- and if THAT wasn't enough for you to get a prescription, then what the hell is?

Also, I'll be joining you in expatriotism to England soon. I've been on Zoloft for 7 years and I'm an immensely happier person for having been so. How am I going to convince someone in the NHS to continue giving me my meds -- which I'll certainly need when moving to a new place thousands of miles away from my friends, my family, and pretty much everything familiar?

Fuck.

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