A Spoonful of Sugar

Taking pills is something we all do from time to time. Until 1994 I think that the only ones familiar to me were pills to get rid of a headache or to aid recovery from an over indulgent night before. The kind of over-the-counter pills familiar to us all. Yet even when I was growing up there appeared to be very few pills of any description in the house apart from aspirin or paracetamol, although my grandma seemed to be taking all kinds of unnaturally big and strange sounding pellets! Our medicine cabinet was full of, well, just that…medicine. Ribbed glass bottles of every shape and size containing ‘fruit’ coloured liquids for just about every ailment, which always reminded me of the miracle cures sold from the back of a wagon in old cowboy films. My impression then was that the so called ‘specialist’ prescriptions were given only in extreme cases of ‘obvious’ pain, or to treat the more exotic unseen behavioural ailments like depression. My first experience of these ‘exotics’ was following the sudden death of my first wife. I’d heard of shock before, and as a child I’d once, inadvertently, touched the live prongs of standard lamp, which had virtually thrown me across the living room. That, to me, was shock. I’m no medical expert, and I would hear this word ‘shock’ bandied around, but wasn’t quite sure what it meant. Mine was best described as an acute stress reaction which is generally known to arise in response to a terrifying event, like the sudden and almost instant death of someone close to one. She had died in my arms. For some reason I saw this at the time as an admission of failure, that I couldn’t cope without some kind of a chemical re-balance to restore ‘normal programming, but, without question, the magic pills worked. Their success removed a prejudice in me that I’d felt toward people that have a need to rely on certain pills just to get them through the day or to help maintain a mental balance by which they recognise their own true personality. More and more I meet people who have been prescribed with mild doses of antidepressants, whether it’s because of how the world is, or the sheer speed of change in society during the past twenty five years or so, coping for some people of a certain age has unquestionably become more difficult without a chemical rebalance of some description. People are not naturally hypochondriacs, and anything that can help restore a mental ‘quietness’ is, in my view, not a bad thing. Being told that one has probably been depressed for some considerable time can, in itself, be quite a shock. If your doctor suggests a prescription that will restore the real you, the ‘you’ that is recognised by your friends and family, then go with the flow and don’t let it worry you.



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