I’m Not Moody, I’m a Normal Human Being–And So Are You

Lately, much of my regular media diet has been made of up of discussions of Moody Bitches: The Truth About the Drugs You’re Taking, the Sleep You’re Missing, the Sex You’re Not Having, and What’s Really Making You Crazy. From NPR to Slate, everyone’s talking about it. Here, take a few minutes to catch up:

Here is an excerpt from the Holland article that should get across the gist of her argument:

“We have been taught to apologize for our tears, to suppress our anger and to fear being called hysterical.

The pharmaceutical industry plays on that fear, targeting women in a barrage of advertising on daytime talk shows and in magazines. More Americans are on psychiatric medications than ever before, and in my experience they are staying on them far longer than was ever intended. Sales of antidepressants and antianxiety meds have been booming in the past two decades, and they’ve recently been outpaced by an antipsychotic, Abilify, that is the No. 1 seller among all drugs in the United States, not just psychiatric ones.”

This seems, for lack of a better word, crazy to me. What I found more surprising was some of the reaction. For instance, in the Slate article, Hanna Roisin says, “I can think of lots of reasons why women might take more meds than men. Maybe women have more pressure on them these days. For upper-class women to excel in every realm, and for single-mom working-class women to keep their families from falling apart.”

There is a difference between being stressed out, and being depressed or suffering from severe anxiety. Unfortunately, instead of helping people deal with the stress of everyday life, or addressing the root causes of their issues, we medicate them so they forget to care about all the shitty things that are keeping them down. And I’m not suggesting that everyone–including poor women with no spare time–need to rush off to the psychiatrist to work through their feelings instead of getting meds from their primary care physician. I’m simply suggesting that we stop making them feel like there is something wrong with them for reacting in a normal way to their circumstances.

Somewhere along the way we seem to have lost our ability to identify emotions as our normal, healthy way of responding to events in our lives–good and bad. Being sad because someone you love died is not the same as being depressed. Being stressed out during a big project at work is not the same as having an anxiety disorder. Even chronic, on-going stresses (like being poor, or having a bunch of kids you need to cart around to soccer practice and help get into an Ivy) are not the same as having an actual medical or psychiatric issue. But instead of making the changes–whether that be to our society and economy, or just within our own lives–that would help alleviate these stresses, we pump people full of drugs so they’ll stop complaining. As Holland wrote:

“In the days leading up to menstruation, when emotional sensitivity is heightened, women may feel less insulated, more irritable or dissatisfied. I tell my patients that the thoughts and feelings that come up during this phase are genuine, and perhaps it’s best to re-evaluate what they put up with the rest of the month, when their hormone and neurotransmitter levels are more likely programmed to prompt them to be accommodating to others’ demands and needs.”

Truth! Stop blaming yourselves for your reactions to things, ladies! You don’t need to go around screaming and crying, but you don’t have to take anyone else’s BS either. Stop letting people make you feel like your reaction to a problem is the problem.

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