Side effects include death

We’ve all been there.  You have had a terrible day in work, your boss has had the audacity to ask you to stop Face-booking and actually do so work for the company, you got snarled up in traffic because some idiot put an SUV into the median because they were talking on the cellphone whilst simultaneously blow drying their moustache and the kids have decided that the sofa would look much better painted with frozen yoghurt and peanut butter……  The mailman was laughing when he stuffed your credit card bills into the box and your partner has just informed you that they forgot to take anything out of the freezer so dinner is last night’s left-overs

So utterly depressed and miserable, you  sit down after eating two day old pizza with tatter-tots (must remember to check whether that was covered by medical insurance or falls into self administered poisoning) and decide that you are going to indulge in some escapism and watch tv.  Finally, twenty minutes after surfing the channels trying to find something semi-decent to watch, you settle into some committee-written sit-com which invariably switches to commercials 30 seconds into the third act.

Too tired to reach for the remote, you continue to watch a really well made animated ad. A woman is walking with a cloud over head, looking wistfully at the happy smiling faces around her.  Butterflies and song birds float around.  The soft lilting voice-over explains that this person too has had a hard time, was depressed and my gosh, thanks to that nice friendly pharmaceutical company, she takes a tiny little pill and all her troubles completely vanished, the same way your debit card did when you used the ATM lunchtime. This cartoon woman is now free from woe and can be seen to float with the birds, smiling and laughing as she skips through some Disney-esque park……. Wow.  That’s just how you feel and what you need.  You have only got to take one pill and…….

But then it happens.  The lilting voice changes, now just ever so slightly faster and with a degree of urgency is explaining the side effects…. ‘consult your doctor if you become suicidal whilst taking this medication’ …  ‘liver disease was reported by some users’  ….. ‘your symptoms could become worse’ ….. ‘dry mouth and lower cell counts could occur’…. Side effects include DEATH.  At  the same time captions across the bottom of the screen are stating that this medication is not suitable for teenagers or people with dementia and does not protect from HIV.

When I lived in a land of socialist medicine, if I went to my doctor and said I was depressed, his first reaction would be to ask “how long do you want off work?” followed by “do you want help to stop smoking?”  Then he would write something in Latin on a piece of paper and I would trot to the pharmacy and get a brown bottle filled with red M&Ms  (and I swear that often that would be the case).   Two weeks later, feeling refreshed from having 10 duvet days and not having to listen to my boss insist that it was customary for workers to really have to produce some work in exchange for wages, my depression would have completely gone…..

But not here.  Here you are expected to self diagnose that your bad day is not just circumstance, that you are clinically depressed and that ONLY the brand name drug you saw on TV last night can help and your doctor must prescribe them now.  (after all, there is a drug dependency culture here…. It starts with the copy-writers, actors, media space salesman, tv companies, program makers, wholesalers, pharmacies… and ends with the stockholders and insurance companies)

So here is a thought.  It may be better to avoid becoming depressed by actually working for a living, put a lock on the fridge to stop the little monsters getting at the yoghurt and should your partner forget to take anything out for dinner, insist that they pay for a babysitter and take you out to a restaurant.  Failing that, remember, not a single dead person has reported a case of depression.


About cryptothinker

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