Ordinarily Well by Peter D. Kramer is about antidepressants. More to the point, it is about if they work.
Kramer is not merely a bystander… he is a psychiatrist and scholar. No dummy is he… and this book is a testament to that. It is well-written, of course, and compelling, too. It is thoughtful and comprehensive.
But… I have to be honest. I didn’tfinish it.
Or maybe I should say, I didn’t read it straight through. I felt myself going under a tidal wave of words and struggling to find the surface. I skimmed and skipped and all the other things an author hopes you won’t do with their book. At some point, I put the book back on the shelf and wished it well.
You may recognize the author as having written the landmark Listening to Prozac in the late 1980s. He knows what he’s talking about. And I care about whether or not antidepressants work, since I’ve been taking them off-and-on for nearly 25 years!
Or maybe I don’t. Care, I mean.
See, with my hypochondria/ health anxiety (link of my posts tagged with hypochondria) I kinda expect the doctors to be the experts and just tell me what to do. Unless I don’t wanna do what they say. <<<— this does happen occasionally, which makes zero sense, I know. This might explain how I (every so often) decide I’m well now and stop taking the damned meds. Hate them. Hate that I’m tied to them. Never works out well.
Reminds me of something…
Sometimes, I wonder what would happen if I were stranded on a desert island. I think about how – suddenly – I would have no access to my preventative asthma spray, my BP meds, my antidepressants… and my dark roast coffee with two creams (only the best, most flavorful drugs for me!). I wonder if I would adapt without them? Or, would just die real quick? If I lived, it would be longer than most cuz I could live on my fat. Is that true? Do fat people live longer simply because they’re fat? I mean, from a desert island standpoint? That hardly seems right. Fat doesn’t provide anything, except maybe warmth. The degrees I go to in my mind…
And yes, I digress.
Drugs. Hate them. Need them. Take them.
The times I’ve tried to go off, I’ve felt… off. More “off” than when I’m taking them. Which, by the way is waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay over there.
Would I even know how to function without them now? It’s been such a long time.
So yeah, this book. I think it’s pretty good, if you like this kind of thing. I found the parts I did read to be repetitive and a little too… well, it’s been said (by me, above): wordy.
Yes, it’s important work, I know this. And it’s certainly not bad… it’s just… deep. Clinical-deep. Textbook-deep.
Oh, and you may be wondering…
Did he make his case? Do antidepressants work?
As God is my witness: I have no idea.
* Originally written by me for this blog on September 29, 2018￼