‘Is It Me or My Meds?’ is a detailed look into the relationship between antidepressants and the people who take them. David A. Karp, a sociologist who himself uses antidepressants, interviewed approximately 60 individuals about their use of medication and how it has affected their mental health.
I’m going to really try to emphasise mental health in my reading in these last 6 months of 2016, so I thought that this would be a pretty good place to start. I like starting off with non-fiction to get a general overview, and then moving to more specific depictions in novels and other literature. My knowledge just feels a bit more rounded that way. Due to the fact that the book was grounded in specific people’s experiences, I found it very interesting indeed. My favourite chapter was one that made the point that medications are like dating, and then marriage. The first medication isn’t necessarily the right one – and ones that seem right for months or years might suddenly stop working.
The book also included a lot of advice for people as they begin to take antidepressants. It explained simply and practically what potential side-effects could be, and gave examples of people’s various experiences. It was this variety that I thought was the most useful, as some people did indeed find their antidepressants to be a wonder drug, whilst others, after decades of searching, still could not find the right medication for them. In any situation, Karp attempted to discuss the medication in a positive way without shoving a pro-meds agenda down your throat. The complicated nature of the topic is very clear, and individuals’ choices and opinions are clearly respected.
I would be interested in an updated version of the book, however – published over 10 years ago, there is a lot of emphasis on Prozac as a relatively new drug. I wonder whether opinions have changed given the increased prescription of SSRIS (selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors, the most common form of antidepressant). I know that Karp has since released another book, ‘Voices from the Inside: Readings on the Experience of Mental Illness’, which I imagine will also touch upon the topic of medication. I might check that out at some point, too.
NB: These are pretty expensive, so if you want to read them, I’d recommend borrowing them/requesting them from a library. I’m making the use of my university library whilst I still can!