The Arrow

There are no answers; only choices.

Posts Tagged ‘drugs’

Musings on Drugs

Posted by thearrow on December 27, 2008

Still fighting my sore throat with, what else, Tylenol. And it works, except I’m in la-la-land again and can’t really concentrate on doing anything. Today’s NYT column by Judith Warner, Living the Off-Label Life, did keep me focused, though. Warner asks us if we would be willing to take a drug that would enhance our brain’s performance under the everyday barrage of information, disruption, and tasks on our never ending to-do lists. She goes through the list of cons of cognitive enhancements, the main points being that they would render meritocracy and fairness meaningless, and that they still seem unnatural and inhuman.

But then she turns to the reasons why we should perhaps consider, as suggested by the authors of an article in the science journal Nature, accepting the “benefits of enhancement.” Life as we know it is not the life our brains have been prepared for. We are trapped in a rat race, whether we like it or not. In my job I have to cope with interruptions and new tasks all the time, regardless of what’s on my plate already. The workflow changes continuously. I feel overwhelmed and I don’t even have kids, which bring a whole new layer of complexity to your life. So I think I’d be very tempted to take one of those brain-performance enhancers.

That and the chip storing the images of the artworks I’ve seen, and I’d be the perfect cyborg :). Perfect until we’ve brought about some new challenge for ourselves, for which we have to invent some prosthetic device/drug to help us cope. The biggest problem is our feeling of inadequacy at not being able to do it all. And everyone around keeps marching on; no one yells “stop!”

Maybe we should just learn to say “no,” you know. But I think we’ll sooner start taking drugs than do that. As Warner said, “It’s disturbing to think that we just have to make do with the world we now live in. But to do otherwise is for most people an impossible luxury.”Β  Normality is fading rapidly into history.

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Let’s Put You on Some Drugs

Posted by thearrow on October 28, 2008

So it turns out I have anxiety. Nothing new except now it’s medically diagnosed. I went to my annual physical examination yesterday and told the doctor that I can’t fall asleep sometimes, other times (very rarely) I can’t breathe. She took detailed notes of my account, went to talk to another doctor, and then gave me the news: “We’re going to put you on Lexapro, which treats both anxiety and depression.” (Me, thinking to myself: oh, is it that obvious that I’m depressed as well? :). Hm… Maybe anxiety and depression just go hand in hand. I hope.) “And, because it takes it about two weeks to work, we’ll put you on Ambien, which will help you sleep. It is addictive, though, so we won’t prescribe it for more than that.”

Whoa, dude! Not so fast. In case you guys (as in my three readers) didn’t know, Ambien may cause sleepwalking. A bunch of people put on weight while on it, only to discover that they were eating in the middle of the night and didn’t know they were doing that. Others sleepwalked out of the house (also in the middle of the night). Antidepressants, too, can lead to weight gains, from what I hear. If you ask me, that sort of defeats the purpose of taking these drugs, since putting on weight makes you even more depressed πŸ˜€

But, weight issues aside, the idea that I would be on these drugs was downright scary to me. I don’t think I take more than two aspirins a year, and that’s for random headaches. I took two sleep-aid pills with some natural extracts one night last week (two being the quantity recommended on the box) and I was groggy until 8 p.m. the next day! I cannot imagine what would happen if I were on two drugs, one of which could cause addiction. I’d probably get hooked just by looking at it. So I have one thing to say: No effing way!

Don’t get me wrong. I agree that there can be very stressful situations that you just cannot manage, in which case drugs can help. I don’t think you can do anything through sheer will. But I was shocked to see how easily I could have been prescribed some really powerful drugs, without much thought given to milder alternatives. It’s not that I don’t trust the doctor; I don’t trust the system. I politely declined and said that I’ll try to manage with those pills with natural extracts, which I hope to take as infrequently as possible.

On second thought, I could have just taken the drugs and go to a Halloween party looking like a natural zombie.

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