5. Paxil and other agents of change

Which of the following has existed since time began?




Human misery

The present day gives you in addition:

The constant threat of other people’s terrorism


Job insecurity




All of the above push you below. More than you think is less than we know.

To not be depressed, you would have to be dead.

Argue all you want that society needs the fix—don’t treat the symptoms, cure the disease. But you alone can’t solve the world, and add to social stress the personally anguishing:

Misplaced love

Lingering aspiration

Feelings of worthlessness and alienation

All increase tension and misunderstandings with coworkers, family and friends. This can hurt, but never forget:

But it is not a crime to feel anxious or hopeless. What is criminal is not trying to quit.

Perhaps you use self medication. Cold beer and whining. Hard spirits and soft spirituality. Strip joints and joints and all flavors of party favors topped with the glaze of blasé escape. You only indulge socially, you say—but the company of your demons doesn’t count.

Alarmingly, for many, continuing a life of pain or decadent destruction appeals more—is safer—than confronting the social stigma of mood-improving drugs such as Paxil, Xanax and Zoloft. Those who suffer are more concerned with insisting they’re okay and normal than striving to be okay and normal.

But what exactly is the stigma?—besides the phenomenon of disgrace for thinking and feeling to the point of despair.

Before acquiring an abstract meaning, stigmas referred to real-life bleeding—boils and lesions that riddled a body and indicated disease, which warded off the healthy for fear of contagion.

What do you and a leper with gaping holes have in common? What, precisely, is your stigma? Surely not trying to help yourself feel better, think more clearly and act with poise.

No. It’s stumbling about with a sick heart and bleeding mind.

Put away those bad feelings. Prevent those bad thoughts from happening.

You are not dead. Stop pretending that you are.


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