We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
It turns out that I am afflicted not just with pharmacological Calvinism but with mindfulness skepticism as well. For while I believe, in theory, that learning to coolly regard my anxiety as a purple, hairy monster I could stash in my tote bag, as Mennin suggests, might steady my pulse on sleepless nights, I am suspicious of any cure that requires more effort and expense on my part and more hours away from my work and my family. In this skepticism, I am like my anxious peers. “We go through rough patches, and we do things that make us feel better,” says Lisa Colpe, an epidemiologist at the NIMH, with the vocal equivalent of a shrug. A lot of people with anxiety would simply prefer to live with it; they know that when it becomes unbearable, the drugs will be there.
A cure isn’t what the PR executive with the occasional Klonopin habit wants. “My own personal experience is that there’s a healthy level of anxiety, and I don’t believe ‘healthy’ is the absence of anxiety,” she says. “I live in a world that puts unreasonable demands on me, and sometimes I need help. I wish I could do it without the pills, but I can’t.”
A long time ago, I was having trouble sleeping and felt I was drinking too much. Not so much that it altered my everyday life, but as the son (and grandson) of alcoholics, it was enough to get me worried about why it was happening.
I took a step I never would ordinarily consider and saw a therapist. I can't remember which branch he was in, I know it wasn't exactly considered 'popular' at the time. Maybe it still isn't....
Point is, he worked wonders on me. Basically, after listening to me talk over 3 sessions, he told me to stop worrying about things I couldn't control, and spend time focused on things I can control.
A good example was a fear of flying which suddenly appeared out of nowhere. I was going out of my way to avoid business trips. He simply explained that if I wasn't scared in the passenger seat while my wife was driving, then it was illogical for me to be scared in a plane. By the same token, he thought my drinking was the result of the fear of a potential layoff at work which I had no control over, but that I should spend time making sure I got my work done because if the basis of the layoff was performance, I'd probably be first on the list if I was immobilized with fear.
Over 9 sessions, he explained how my brain worked, why I was beginning to think and act irrationally, and why alcohol was playing a bigger role in my life.
I walked out after the final session stronger and more focused, and never went back again.
No drugs, just the awareness that any anxiety I felt was completely under my own control - and if I am concerned and focused about things I control directly, I control my destiny.
I was laid off, and that was probably partially due to the earlier paralysis which was hurting my job. But a management change also played a big role. Turned out to be the best lay off I'd ever had. I entered a new industry, learned it from the bottom up, and it has now converged with my old industry, making me a far more valuable employee than I ever could have been.
I do not like taking pills for anything. There are exceptions, of course. I am taking Flexeril occasionally for back pain. But I don't know that I would ever take something for anxiety. Sometimes you have to just work it out.
My uncle put in perspective when I was a teen. He'd brought me to the top of the mountain on my first day returning to the slopes after a bad accident. He'd said there was an "easy trail". There wasn't. He looked at me and said "You have to confront what worries you, face it down, and make it work for you." It's advice I forget from time to time.
Spengler had an interesting column along these lines a couple of weeks ago:
"There might be a simpler explanation for the disappearance of Japan's libido. "Between 1998 and 2003, sales of anti-depressants in Japan quintupled, according to IMS Health. GlaxoSmithKline alone saw its sales of Paxil increase from $108 million in 2001 to $298 million in 2003. According to the company, during one seven-month ad campaign it ran last year, 110,000 people in a population of 127 million consulted their doctors about depression," the New York Times reported in 2004 .
Back in 1998, Proffesor Jesse Ausubel of Rockefeller University warned that massive overuse of psycho-pharmacopoeia might lead to a gigantic decline in libido.
Prozac is well known to cause sexual dysfunction, along with general calming. Maybe the attack on depression and hyperactivity is affecting aggression, violence, crime, and many other antisocial behaviors. But creativity in all its forms, economic, scientific, artistic also often first appears as antisocial behavior. Maybe America and other nations are prescribing themselves a gradual but gigantic and deadly loss of libido. An ironic end to the Freudian century."