When I got to item number 12 of yesterday's Thursday Thirteen, I started thinking about the decision I made to relieve myself of the burden of Paxil. In addition to the constant yawning, tiredness and general malaise I found myself in, I couldn't get it up.
After reading kara's post of a Bill Maher essay today, I started thinking that maybe I'm not the only one who feels like America is falling under the influence of the drug companies - sick mind notwithstanding.
Several years ago, I was diagnosed with high cholesterol. The number had gotten up to 225, and with a lousy family history, my doctor threatened to put me on Lipitor if I couldn't get the number to some acceptable level. Vigorous exercise wasn't doing it, so I turned to the local vitamin shop for an answer.
Every day, I take 1200mg of something called Red Yeast Rice, as well as Omega3 fish oil tablets, folic acid and a multi-vitamin pack that could choke a pony. Combined with my exercise program, the number got to 156 in less than six months. Common Americans would have relented to the sofa and the safety of Pfizer's miracle drug, but for those of us who would rather make our own path in life, the simple answer was not the right one. The vitamins cost me more than my prescription plan would for the Lipitor, but my self-respect is worth more than the money I would save. So, I say, "Pfuck you Pfizer", I'll do it myself.
I read a statistic in the newspaper that said more than 40% of American adults are taking at least one prescription medication. If you think about it, it isn't too hard to imagine. Arthritis, cholesterol, depression, high blood pressure, anxiety and good old impotence probably account for most of it. There are medications to keep people from smoking, drinking, eating and insomnia too. As has been said here before, we are a fat, lazy country of convenience; and nothing is more convenient than a pill.
When junior sees mom and dad popping the meds to escape the reality of having shitty kids, lots of bills, a lousy job and no place to go; they see it as the perfect solution. When they are old enough to sign themselves out of school because their teachers are jackasses, the prescriptions for ADD (and it's older cousin ADHD) start flying. Keep the kids medicated. Mom and dad will be less miserable if the kids are so doped up that they can't see how miserable mom and dad are. The circle of life, brought to you by Merck.
My version of reality came when I realized that my feeling lousy was the result of the woman in my life making me feel like a pile of crap, regardless of my level of involvement in the relationship. My intital answer was to blame myself and seek the appropriate medication. You can't blame me for falling prey to the constant advertising and reassurance that my problems must be addressed through 10 milligram doses of instant gratification. When the gratification was neither instant nor acceptable, I decided that the pills didn't either cause or correct the problem. Since there was no pill for BITCH, I quickly realized the real issue and have since found peace with myself; no thanks to pharmaceuticals.
Granted, there are legitimate illnesses that require medication, but we have seen a dramatic increase in the amount of advertising done for prescription drugs over the last five years. Each one uses the tag line, "Ask your doctor if [drug] is right for you." Ask my doctor? Isn't it his job to tell me? The drug companies have figured out the perfect marketing campaign:
The cure for what you think ails you doesn't come from the pharmacy. Ask your doctor. If he tells you it does, maybe you need to ask another one.
"Certainly, in the 1990s there were lots of advances in being better able to target drugs to conditions," he said. "But there is that danger that people are overmedicating . . . taking so many medications that they can interact, make one ineffective or cause harm."
And, he added, "Americans seem to look for that magic pill, don't they?" In many cases the patients pressure physicians: " 'Give me the pill, I don't want to change my diet, I don't want to exercise.' It is an easy way out but may not be as effective," he said.
The benefits of improved diet and exercise can extend beyond any single ailment, he added.