Thursday, November 30, 2006

What's So Bad About Feeling Good #2

Allow me to post on a comment left by Mr. Dayton in my comments section. (Note: The entire lengthy comment can be read on the comments page of my last post. Also, these are direct quotes and any errors are his.)

Okay...there is so much I want to respond to in the above mentioned comment that I simply had to take a moment and reflect. What, I wonder, is the main point of that long-winded, poorly-edited, and badly shaped piece of nonsense? Was it that Mr. Dayton feels that he has the "right" to do whatever he wants as long as it only hurts himself? Was he arguing for a change in the laws dealing with prescriptions and how they are doled out? Or, was Mr. Dayton simply on the defensive because he thoughtlessly went on national television and admited to using a chemical in a way that is not provided for by the law of the land and we, the nobodies on the internet, called him on it? He makes any number of arguments in his "defense." Most of them do not make a lick of sense.

Lets just think about this for a moment. First, Mr. Dayton hints that happiness, or at least the pursuit of it, is provided for by the constitution. Of course the words are there, but has anyone ever successfully argued in a court of law that knowingly breaking the law was okay because it made them happy? This country would be a much different place if that worked. Who would pay taxes or obey street signs?

Dayton follows with a list of behaviors that while anti social or questionable, are not actually illegal and says that "as long as those people aren't hurting anyone else I would never dream of supporting a law to coerce them to stop those behaviors." Of course, he wouldn't have to, because those behaviors, unlike his own, are not illegal! I have heard a great many people argue that illegal behavior should be allowed as long as it doesn't "hurt anyone else." It's a favorite of drug users. Suicides also come to mind. In America, we "coerce" people who attempt to commit suicide into treatment, despite the fact that it could be argued that just letting them hurt themselves might allow them some form of happiness, or that they are "only" hurting themselves.

Dayton claims that:

"Most people only take antidepressants if something is wrong. Most people only go to a therapist or get a coach if something is wrong. Why can't drugs and therapy be evaluated on the basis everything else we do in the pursuit of happiness is evaluated?

Do the benefits outwiegh the risks? Does the value outwiegh the costs?

You, Nurse Ratched and others make it sound as if the risks associated with taking antidepressants changes based on why it's taken. That is false and an absurd notion. The risks are constant. It is the benifits and the value palced on them that changes with purpose. (sic)"

What Dayton ultimately fails to realize, is that antidepressants are not harmless candy. I am not a doctor, however I know that anytime a doctor prescribes a medication, they are performing a delicate balancing act. They have to know that the problem is bad enough to risk any of a number of known and unknown side effects. They have to figure in any number of elements, including possible interactions with other medications. A quick search on the internet shows that Wellbutrin can cause seizures, sexual problems, sleeplessness, increased agressivness or mania, as well as other risks. If there is nothing wrong, why would any legitimate doctor allow a patient to risk any or all of these side effects in the pursuit of a state that Dayton himself describes as "a fleeting feeling?"

Dayton ends with this outraged nugget: "Assuming you agree with the current laws around prescribing medication, how dare you support denying me and my doctor the right to choose the course of therapy we see fit!"

I "dare" because denying him the "right to choose a course of therapy" for a problem that doesn't exist happens to be the law in the United States. I "dare" because, as Nurse Ratched noted, that denial happens to make common, and medical, sense. Finally, I "dare" because Dayton can't argue his way out of a paper bag.

(This picture doesnot belong to me, but I found it highly appropriate & amusing.)


Monday, November 20, 2006

"What's So Bad About Feeling Good?"

Once again, Nurse Ratched provides me with plenty of food for thought. She writes:

"Yesterday, CNN released a story about a guy who takes antidepressants. The problem is the guy doesn’t suffer from depression. He said he takes Wellbutrin because it makes him feel good, really good.

Troy Dayton started taking Wellbutrin when he was kicking cigarettes, but now he doesn’t want to give his little helpers up. Troy said the medication makes him feel great, and that the medication gives him the ability to think more clearly. It sounds like Troy has found pharmaceutical nirvana. Some of my past patients have told me that Wellbutrin gives them a rush, the same kind of rush they get when they take amphetamines.

Now hear this! Antidepressants aren’t sugar pills, they are serious medications that have risks as well as benefits. If you take them long enough, you might become physically or psychologically dependent on them, and they can trigger manic-depressive illness in susceptible people."

(Check out the complete post here: Nurse Ratched's Place.

I have mixed feelings about anti depression meds. I took them for nearly a year in college and I truly feel that they saved my life. However, it is nice to know that now, I am able to cope without chemicals that make me feel "normal." I still suffer from episodes of depression, but for the most part, I know how to make myself feel better naturally; I take a walk through the local park, eat more fresh fruit and veggies, enjoy a night out on the town with my husband, or hole up in the apartment and play gory video games and eat pizza for 24 hours...

I know that sometimes, I am just not going to feel "happy." Still, when I look back at the last few years, I see a trend - most of the time, I am content with my lot in life. If I am not usually super happy, than I am at least somewhat emotionally even, and not super sad or distressed either.

I worry about people for whom feeling "normal" isn't good enough. At what point did we become a society that had to be super happy all the time? How do we know what happiness really is if we haven't allowed ourselves to experience the opposite of it? Life is about experiences. We know this, but we seem to have a much harder time admitting to ourselves that not all of Life's experiences are, or should be, good ones. Life is made up of a strange and ever-changing mixture of good and bad that Mr. Dayton, however "happy" he may be, is not getting to fully appreciate.

(By the by, the pictures used in this post were taken by yours truly somewhere in southern AZ and CA...)


Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Post Election Day Rah Rah

So, I am very tired from listening to NPR late, LATE into the night. But it was all worth it. What a great night. What a great day. The sun is shining, the weather is warm, not hot (remember that I'm in AZ), and the President just went on national TV and admitted that the Republicans got spanked because we just plain don't like him. Not, "we" the Democrats, or "we" the liberals, but "we" the AMERICANS. Yes, its simply a gorgeous day, Darling!

Still... I want to provide a small voice of reason for those who want to be over exhuberant and stomp all over thier Rupublican neighbors. Lets try to rember what got us here. It wasn't the simply irresistable Democratic platform, it was that American's are tired of Bush and his never ending war. The next time around (2008) Democrats had better have a better stratigy for winning this thing, because Bush won't be there for America to vote against.

Democrats had better get busy and get something done in the next two years. Now is not the time to pretend that Americans have spoken in favor of Dems, but to remember that Americans spoke against an unpopular war and President who was seemingly incapable of joining the rest of us in reality. Dems have been given a chance to prove thier worth, not a mandate to do whatever the heck they want to.

I've heard several Dems talking about what they will be doing when they get to Washington. I hope they keep in mind that Americans as a whole, and Democrats in particular, do not like bullies. If the Dems get caught up in revenge and other such pettiness, they better believe that it will be a short two years. Instead, Dems could and should actually do what the Republicans talked about a few years ago. I would like to see a busy, cooperative Congress that remembers what they are supposed to be doing - representing us, not bickering between themselves and getting nothing useful done. If this doesn't happen, you better believe that the Republicans will be the proud holders of another "mandate" in 2008.

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Monday, November 06, 2006

Letter to McCain

Dear Sen. McCain,

I just wanted to let you know that I will never vote for you in any election for any position. I am through with you.

I’ve lived in AZ for just under 3 years, but that time has provided me ample time to learn that you are not always the “independent Republican” you often claim. Still, I mostly excused your behavior as that of a "normal pol," and believed that the good accomplished outweighed the bad. All that is over now. Yesterday, I watched the TV in horror as you personally called voters in this state to “protect marriage” by making it legally a “union between one man and one woman.”

I am appalled that party politics was enough to get you to spout off such ridiculous nonsense. As a former citizen of Missouri, I watched in 2004 as this wedge issue was deftly used by Republicans to fire the ugly side of my neighbors’ hearts and fears and ultimately win the state for the Party. Now, I find it interesting that this issue has come to the forefront in an election that some believe the Democrats have a pretty good chance of winning.

Or worse, perhaps you actually believe that marriage needs “protecting” from those who would…what? Seek long-term, faithful commitments under the eyes of the law and their fellow citizens? As a Christian woman who spoke the vows of marriage more than two years ago, I can find no offense in others seeking the same state. Whether they look or think like me is really of no consequence. If two men or two women wish the same commitment and protection that I have, I can only further wish them the same happiness. Ultimately, no married gay couple can possibly reduce or destroy the sanctity of my marriage. Only my husband and I can do that.

I fully believe that you are a very intelligent and capable man who has done great things for this state and the nation. Please stop promoting politics of hate that can only cause division and make our hearts and minds ugly and less Christian.



PS- I got the picture from Sen. McCain's website. The letter is a copy of one I sent to the Senator this morning.

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