I am not a wind-up doll!
I am so sick of hearing this ad come on around dinner time everyday. I guess the idea is to hit people with it, women especially, when they are getting home from work. Indeed, “I have just worked an 8 hour day and I still have to make dinner and pay bills and…”
…and then this ad comes on and saves the day. Let’s watch it, and then discuss further…
First of all, who doesn’t have to “wind themselves up” just to get out of bed? Our bodies are not programmed to wake up at 5:30 am, in the dark, to make the long commute to work or go to the gym (something you’ll want to start doing, if you’re not already, after you start taking this pill). With all of the demands put on us in the hyper-modern world – more and more bureaucracy that we are expected to navigate and work into our schedules, more and more competition to keep a firm hold on your job, more and more stimuli in the forms of advertising and flashing lights to digest – I don’t know very many people that get the amount of sleep they wish they could, or the amount doctors recommend getting. I don’t know many people that hear their alarm in the morning and rip off the blankets and jump out of bed with a huge smile on their face. Yes, life is wearing us out, but for good reason. Our bills are getting higher, but our pay damn well isn’t. But we’re expected to work unpaid overtime. This ad is sandwiched between footage of the most recent war being waged abroad, or images of today’s stock market “progress” – two huge red arrows pointing downwards, or a picture of a missing child. Daylight hours will be extended this weekend, but with more sun will come more smog – take a deep breath of fresh morning smog – ahhhh, if that doesn’t wind you up, you must require a doctor’s assistance!
This little character that “just keeps going and going and going and going” used to be called the Energizer Bunny, a battery-powered device. We humans are not battery-powered devices! Yet these pills and diagnoses (“depression” at first…then maybe something more if that antidepressant doesn’t act as a battery-pack within 4 weeks) tell us that if we aren’t behaving like the energizer bunny there is something wrong, that we are “abnormal”, we are sick, and like a diabetic needing insulin, we need our desvenlafaxine. (An Effexor isomer, of course, as the pharmaceutical industry has not come up with anything “better” for a very long time.)
If the world is getting you down, if you feel like you constantly have to “wind yourself up” just to keep going within it, it may not be you, but the world that is the problem. Of my own late-twenties to early-fourties group of friends, I don’t know of a single person who is feeling content right now, or whose robotic forward motion and painted on, never-fading smile matches this wind-up doll’s. Let’s take the example of two women. One is on an antidepressant. Two, actually. She was laid off two jobs in one week (the second before she even started it, because of “corporate restructuring” and sleeps late into the afternoon, pretending the world doesn’t exist for as long as possible. Another woman is not on antidepressants, and is secure in her employment. She attends toastmasters and runs half-marathons frequently, but is not “happy”. The poor thing didn’t realize that she could not withdraw money from her RRSPs without being penalized by high taxes. She has taken out a $25,000 line of credit for her formerly very wealthy father, who is now facing bankruptcy. Now, she plans on working until she has amassed $10 – $15K in her savings account and then taking off. Where? She does not know, as long as it is far away and very different culturally.
Then there’s me. I’m on the original Effexor, venlafaxine, as well as Lamictal (lamotrigine), which is supposed to prevent depression in “bipolar people” even further. If I didn’t take my Klonopin (clonazepam) every few hours, I would feel very wound up! But not in the way this doll in the commercial does. I would start thinking so fast that the tension headache would come quickly as would the frown or perhaps even tears, as I went in my head through lists of things that need to get done, but I wouldn’t know where to start – what is more important, waiting on hold for 60 minutes with B.C. Health Insurance to try once again to get the medical coverage I should have qualified for last August, trying to come up with a creative idea as to how I will pay my tuition, or working on one of the three final papers, 6000 words in length each, that are due in a month and will determine whether or not I will be able to continue in my chosen career path? Yes, wound up but paralyzed, and probably staring at the television, watching this commercial.
Commercials like these make the suggestion that as many as one out of two people suffer from “depression” and need to be on a medication like Pristiq. Yet, we are not allowed to speak with one another about how depressed we are. I don’t know of any office or graduate program where the topic of “depression” is scheduled to occupy part of the morning meeting, and there is still so much stigma around feeling down that we are scared out of our minds to talk to other people about it. Maybe Suzie in the cubicle on my right is also finding she constantly needs to wind herself up just to finish some of this monotonous work, but shhhhhhhhh! – it’s a secret. ”How are you today?”, “Good, how are you?”, “Oh, I’m good!”
No, we cannot talk to each other, but we can “talk to our doctors” about this! Finally, someone to talk to. Someone with about five minutes to spare and a prescription pad in their hand.
And on this note I would like us all to consider that Pristiq may not be the answer.