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Pet Peeve

You know what annoys the ever-loving crap out of me? It seems like anytime someone says they are sad or upset or, I dunno, bitchy maybe, the immediate response is "oh poor dear, you are depressed, have some nice Prozac." The reasons this pisses me off are twofold threefold:

1) Depression is a serious thing that causes real problems for lots of people, and I don't think we should be throwing it around every time someone has a bad week and gets a little cranky.

2) Could we please for the love of dog stop medicating everybody for everything at the drop of the proverbial fucking hat? Don't get me wrong, I think Prozac and it's sisters save lives every day, both in the literal sense and in the quality of life sense, and if that's what helps you then hallelujah and I mean that sincerely, but it just chaps my ass that mind-altering medication is the first choice for treatment and not the last.

3) I'm not prone to depression. Bitchiness, anti-social behavior, passive-aggression, deceitfulness, treachery, snobbery, and many other things? Yes. Depression? No. And I believe that being sad is the normal and natural reaction to sad things and I don't think we need to clinically diagnose a little appropriately-caused sadness and I really think we need to let people (like hi, me, I'm a little sad right now, but it will pass) have their moments of sadness without calling it more than it is unless and until it proves to be more than it is.

And I'm sorry if I just pissed a bunch of you off, but the thing is I have a kid and a family history and a pile of research saying depression is nurture as well as nature and it takes a fucking village, you know? And I just want my kid to be able to be sad about sad things without people carelessly throwing big, scary words at her. Words have power.

Damn, y'all. I think I just pushed my own buttons. That takes some serious talent. (Not like that, get your minds out of the gutter.)

Comments (64)

Oh my word is this a pet peeve of mine too! All these 'armchair doctors' who feel they are qualified to diagnose serious mental illness without ever attending a day of med school.

In my case, I spent much of the first year of my life disliking what I did each day. And let's face it - poopy diapers, crying, being stuck at home, etc. is not the funnest way to spend a day. I am very honest about this. And so the number of people who 'helpfully' suggested my failure to enjoy life at home with baby was due to my clear case of post partum depression. Ummmmm no. It was clear I was not depressed - just tired and often fed up with the daily grind. It was insulting to me and insulting to those mothers who actually do get PPD. I am still trying to think of a good come back to those people [women!] who felt it necessary to use this inappropriate label.

Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar. Sometimes you can feel sad/tired/fed up/frustrated/lonely etc. without it being grounds for a visit to a doctor.

I am in total agreement with everything you said.


Stay strong when they use that "ritalin" word as a "treatment" when your daughter gets excited about learning at school!!

AMEN! I agree with you 100%! No one is allowed to "feel" anymore, its like we are all supposed to be robots, going thru life without experiencing the full range of emotions that life brings.

One of the reasons I never wanted to go back to working in social services was the complet and utter overmedication of all the children that came thru our doors. Every kid was on drugs for something. Depression. Anxiety. ADHD. How about teaching coping skills? Or parenting skills in some cases? It pissed me off so bad. I worked in an elementary school for a bit and was appalled to see the kids lining up at the nurses station to get their Ritalin! How the hell do so many kids suddenly have ADHD? It makes me so mad!

Serious. Talent.

You go, girl!

(but don't you DARE take my meds from me.)

As a clinically depressed person, I am so glad to see you write this post! Trust me, I would give anything to have "normal" feelings of sadness/frustration/irritation. I've done loads of therapy, and meds help me to be a happier person, so I take them...but they certainly are NOT for everyone. It irritates me to no end when someone goes in to the GP, says, "I feel sad!" and the GP writes a prescription for antidepressants. Puh-leeeeeeze, people ~ feeling sad is normal! It's part of the human condition! Depression is NOT normal. If you are depressed, see a shrink ~ let a REAL doctor, who knows the ins and outs of depression ~ make that diagnosis.

It also chaps my ass that there are commercials...actual television commercials!...for depression medication. Because what we really need are a bunch of people going in to the GP and asking for a drug by name.


Sorry ~ I'm off my soapbox now. :) Just know that I totally agree with you ~ if you were really depressed, I think you'd know it. That inability- to-get-out-of-bed-unless-it's-to-take- a-buttload-of-sleeping-pills-with-a-vodka-chaser feeling is pretty hard to ignore.

Preach it sistah!! I completely agree with you.

Dude, what woman doesn't get bitchy?

As someone who grew up in a house where the only acceptable emotion was happy, I have learned to appreciate and allow the low moments. True, I think you can cross a line and dwell on shit for too long, but a bad/angry/sad/crappy day here and there are okay and, actually in my opinion, needed to clear your head, heart and soul. Life isn't always going to be sunshine and puppies and roses. And it's about damn time we accepted that and stopped whining about it.

It's one of my pet peeves, too. Great post!

Word. Totally. I sound fourteen, but I have always been annoyed by exactly what you are talking about. mind did go straight into the gutter. How sad and depressing is that?!!

Umm... Yeah, what they said!

and I am also totally agreeing with Lisa about the Ritalin too!

Be bitchy. You're allowed.... we all are.


I agree with you completely about being too eager to medicat depression. Bad days are bad days and everyone has them.

I also want to add that I think we are too quick to medicated other things like kids who are diagnosed as ADD or ADHD. If we just did a little investigating, we could find out if they're just gifted or bored or behind rather than assuming immediately that they're imbalanced. (I'm sorry in advance if you don't agree with me on this.)

Not everything can or should be cured by chemicals. Thank you for saying that.

I had a bout with depression that needed medication and I still completely agree with you. Got any room on that soap box for me?

Anyway, I always get a lift when I'm in an icky place from painting my toes. Whether I do it or it is one of those ecstatic times when I get an actual pedicure, it never fails to pick me up.


Amen, sister.

I completely and whole-heartedly agree...

Preach it, Sister Beth. Bring it on.

It's a lifesaver, it's a tool, but God Almighty it's not for everyone.

I completely agree with you on pretty much all your points. Sometimes people are just sad, and it's good to actually feel your feelings, not medicate them away. Your post kind of reminded me of Garden State, which I think I will have to watch tonight.

Beth, I love you. I love you because you are the first female blog writer I've ever read that hasn't done the whole, "Here's how I medicated myself for depression" post. Bless you. I'm sure that most of the folks who do these posts had true problems because, honestly, who am I to judge? But seriously? Every one of them? Are women really that messed up and crazy? Really? Are you sure?

So, even though I have never commented before, I'm not even going to bother with the first date comment action. Beth, I love you. Wanna make out?

Amen Sister. I agree so much that I wrote about it a little while ago...

Well actually the title was not accepted...
Your comment could not be submitted due to questionable content: prozac-goddess

hmmmm... Oh well. It's a June 26th, 2006 entry.

Ice cream is cheaper, anyway.

"Treachery"--ha ha, I love that!

When will our society learn that it's okay to be "down" without having to call it something else? Good post!

"..And I just want my kid to be able to be sad about sad things without people carelessly throwing big, scary words at her. Words have power."

That is a powerful statement that takes a lot of courage to say.

We are a over medicated society.

If I was to take a pill for each time I felt bitchy, I would be pretty doped up right now!

I said something along these lines last night to my college buddy. Everytime I get overwhelmed (you know with two children 2 and 1, a full time job, husband that travels) everyone automatically says I need some sort of medicine. For what exactly? It won't make my life any easier, now will it? Now i fyou can give me some sort of meds that turn me into a whirling dervish able to do everything at once and be a perfect mom, complete with fresh baked cookies, I'll consider it.

Word up, sister. Word. Up.

I've said it over and over as well while at the same time saying I'm so grateful there is help for people that suffer from actual depression or any of the other now treatable mental illnesses. I think I know the difference.

The same with the kids. Ritalin has been helpful to many but I think it's prescribed too often to benefit the adults. An active child who disrupts a class may just be bored or a naturally active kid. I'd be very careful. Medication would be my last resort; not my first.

I was on anti-depressants very briefly about 20 years ago. The doctor thought I needed to break the cycle and he was probably right although I might have gotten through it. It didn't take long and those feelings have never returned. I'm glad it was available because I was way beyond sad. Sad is normal, bitchy is normal. This was something different.

You've been reading my blog!

*applause* does it every occur to people that bitchiness is a part of life for a woman???

ummmm, YEAH!

Oh trust me you are so far from alone on this subject. I totally hate the way those drugs are so way overprescribed especially since that is for sure the reason why my own father took his life. He was way over medicated and it made him crazy. So many people cry wolf or should I say so many doctors cry DEPRESSSION when we are sad and normal. Real depression is somethign so scary that any doctor can realize...any human can notice the real difference. Its sad to know that so many more people will end up like my dad because of over medicating and doctors not taking the time to figure out the real problem or if there is even a real problem. You arent pushing my buttons at all and I appreciate you posting this!

AMEN! i think that our whole world is over medicated or imporoperly medicated, yes some people need it, but why is it that the moment a person has everyday normal emotions, someone wants to medicate you or call you emo? i don't get it. it's life, people have emotions.. that's part of us, i worry about the people who never get sad about shit.. not the ones that do sometimes.

You know how I cure my down days? ENDORPHINS. A good walk with some tunes blasting on the MP3 is way cheaper, and probably more effective than a prescription for any of those pills. At least for me.

I am the stepmother of a 10-year-old boy who now takes THREE meds a day - one for ADHD, one for impulsivity, and a freakin' MOOD stabilizer. He's ten. He's not bipolar, he's a BRAT. That's the thing with kids - while some children probably legitimately have ADHD, ADD, and the rest of the alphabet, some children are just poorly behaved children who would do as well (probably better) with a healthier diet, some firm boundaries, and loving and concerned parents. Parents are scared when their kids get bummed, or they're scared when their kids act out. I tell you, my stepson was NOWHERE near as bad as he is now PRE-medication. They aren't always a cure-all.

So, yeah, you hit on my pet peeve as well. Pills don't fix everything. Emotions are not a bad thing.

Meds are just another of our society's beloved quick fixes. I had a run-in with post-partum depression. Only it happened during my pregnancy (and not after). It's horrible and scary and a real illness (once you go through it, you know this). My hormones (the progesterone, which rises in pregnancy) were apparently the culprits. Anyway, what bugs me is that people take the medication, and that's it. If a person is clinically depressed (i.e., not just down), s/he needs to do more than just take a pill. Cognitive therapy is just too much work for people today, I guess. The scary thing is that quick fixes never last. The meds are a quick fix.

I really do feel the same way and the gals on here talking of ADHD really give you something to think about especially for me dealing with our son who I suspect might have ADHD. I will continue to wait though before we have him tested, I really don't want to medicate him. If I could only just give him a tranqulizer or a shot of Benadryl before going out in public, I think we'd be good. LOL

Amen, Sistah! I agree that depression is a serious thing (not to be mistaken for being fed up or sad or pissed off), and actual depression needs to be properly treated (with or without medication, that's a personal choice). Being sad or pissed is not depression. It's being sad. Or pissed.

People use a lot of medical terms incorrectly, like "migraine."

I like to be repressed as much as the next guy, but it's HEALTHY to feel sad when sad things happen, and angry when bad things happen...and happy (gasp! Happy?!) when good things happen. Feelings are called feelings for a reason (because you're supposed to feel them. Incase that wasn't abundantly clear).

I couldn't agree more. Very nicely stated.

When I was going through the end of my marriage ten years ago I sought some counseling because I was depressed. I wanted the doctor to prescribe me some medication because I was convinced I needed it, but luckily the counselor didn't think so. We talked it out and I was divorced a couple of months later. My depression eventually ended without the use of pills and I will be eternally grateful to that counselor for realizing I didn't need the drugs.

I'm a pharmacist. I *know* we're an over medicated society.

Doctors are quick to prescribe and lax at following up.

My personal pet peeves are the weight loss drugs. I know, i know, some people struggle etc, but hey, try eating less and moving more before you go looking for the magic bullet.

That being said, my stepson is medicated for ADHD. We fought it for 2 years before finally taking him to a pediatrician who specializes in ADHD. That stuff works like magic on him.

I agree with you

Beth, can I just tell you how freaking awesome you are?!

I have been sad and I have been depressed, and there is a huge freaking difference. Depression is a very serious condition and I am glad that it pisses someone else off when the first reaction to a little sadness is "Here! Pop a pill!"

Thank you for telling off the internetwebosphere, because otherwise some people may just not get it.

Have a great weekend! You derserve it, as always.

I had to also chime in about ritalin. My hubby was put on it as a child because he was overly hyper. Hello what kid isnt at 8 years old and who says it isnt normal or that he was just bored? Anyways...I would never use it on our kid because of what it did to him physically. It wrecked havoc on his body. When he stopped taking it he grew to man size in like one year. All his joints are screwed up and he has more stretchmarks than any women could imagine. I think his parents said his foot grew 6 sizes that year and he went from 90lbs to almost 170! Who knows what it did to him mentally. If there is one thing I know I wont do it is to medicate my child.

I read an article a while back about how women who are overwhelmed with work/kids/family/life were being prescribed anti-depressents. Rather than making these women see that they were trying to do too much and that they needed to take responsibility for their lives and their choices, they gave them happy pills. It marginalizes those who are truly sick and sets a very bad precedent for those who need to deal with life rather than escaping it with drugs. I wish I still had the article for you.

I hear ya. Women can get a prescription ALOT easier than men can too. I would guess that most of the anti-depression drugs were created for women. Somehow the male dominated medical profession feels that women need to be drugged when they are sad and men just need to suck it up.

Sometimes its circumstances, sometimes its biological. When its a bio thing? You won't fix it by going on vacation to an amusement park. I know several people that have severe depression. Their lives are very good otherwise, but they can't be happy. They can't. But the right meds help.

And when people are cutting wrists and things? Maybe they need some help fast. People should be able to do what they want with their lives, but knowing people who have been at that point (but were caught in time), they all said that they were glad someone was there. It comes in waves, and you just need to get over the wave.

Serious stuff, Beth. Hope all is ok in your world.

It turns me on when you say "I pushed my own buttons." :)

Amen sister! My mother is clinically depressed, she needs prozac like the rest of us need water. shouldn't be the answer to every blue mood. My mother also won't question her doctors, which means they throw every kind of pill at her instead of just examining her. It is disgusting. It has come down to me being a advocate for her in doctor's appt. just so they don't prescribe her more crap. She seriously has over 20 prescriptions. I agree with you!

Amen, Beth (and to everyone else who commented before me).

Growing up with a manic-depressive in the house, who was finally helped by Prozac, I know its value to those who are genuinely imbalanced. All the people who are taking it, not because they're non-functional, but because they're *feeling* are just turning us into a nation of Stepford Wives (and husbands, and kids).

I loved this post.

You have an amazing way with words. I really like your style.


Now I'm feeling a tiny bit guilty for using the word 'depression' in my response to your request for cheap pick me ups. Anyway, when I had my first daughter my grandmother died right afterwards and no one had told me she was so ill because they didn't want to upset me before I had the baby. Obviously, I was shocked and very upset and sad, and simultaneously and separately also very sad at the way certain family members were acting over the baby. Some of those people decided I had postpartum and told everyone! To this day, people try to work it into the conversation (hoping I am subject to depression?) and it irritates me beyond belief. It was just to avoid feeling guilty over causing a new mother to be upset, I GUESS. Things happen and sometimes you react wildly and angrily or feel sad and I think it's mean to call a person depressed for normal reactions. I'm not being defensive either, as I had two other 'happy' births.


I have a family member who takes Prozac because her life sucks. What ever happened to CHANGING the things that make you unhappy, rather than just popping a pill?

On the other hand, I also have family members with every reason to be happy, but who still can't be without the help of medication. I just wish the medical profession would work a little harder to figure out which is which.

Call me crazy - but from living on a farm for several years - I have noticed that hard working people - as in mud on your boots, dirt under your finger nails, getting up before sun rise, in a field all days kind of working people, seem to be much less depressed than people I worked with in NYC. I have come to a conclusion that physical work makes you less cranky. (Which - to me - justifies having a gym in your workplace and letting you brain rest for a bit) ... Just an observation... But then - it could also be that working with nature, and down-to-earth, real things as opposed to "imaginary", paper and computer based stuff has something to do with it, too...

Beth, this post was really amazing. I totally agree, the whole WORLD is over medicated, and doctors are way to quick to prescribe a pill. Depression is quite serious though, i'm in the grips of it right now, i'll fess up, and without the pill, hell even with the pill, i just can't be happy, about anything really, its scary as all hell, counselling is required along with the medicine though, it's not MAGIC. Depression is a real thing though, but honestly, too many people use it *medication* as an excuse, they think it'll fix everything, and it won't. I hope all is well with yourself, chris and mia, and i hope you continue to blog it like it is, your very honest and open and that helps a lot of people who read your blog, just look at the number of comments you get. :) Thanks :)

I wonder how many people simply have a thyroid disorder. It's symptoms mimic many things...including depression. I'm not dismissing those who have a true chemical disorder, but I meet more people with Thyroid disease and medical treatment has helped them so much. I mean...I thought I was losing my mind for a while, but after getting my thyroid checked, I found out what was really wrong. Yes...this country medicates too easily and too quickly for everything.

I like this post. Sadness is underrated by people and overrated by doctors. I like being sad sometimes it makes the happy times that much better.

just a sidenote: i may change my name to mia. i got involved with avocados recently, and BOY! am i ever addicted to them! they are delish. mia's right to love them so much. everytime i cut into one, i think of her. :)

I have to agree...when I was feeding Ava breastmilk, although from a bottle, I was a mess. My hormones never went back to normal until I was done pumping, but all my co-workers kept telling me to get meds and that I was depressed. Once my hormones were normal again, they all commented on how "happy" I was again---WHATEVER!!!

Well said Beth.

There is a big difference from just being sad within the normal ebb and flow of our emotions and then being really seriously clinically depressed to the point where you don't want to get out of bed and do anything because all you can think about is ending it all.

One needs time and simple pleasures to get out of. The other needs a therapist and sometimes some medication.

We are two quick to lump them both into the same category and toss a pill at them - but if you're not chemically imballanced, a pill to balance those brain chemicals isn't going to do squat to make you feel better. And having taken those pills for a real chemical imbalance and having dealt with the side effects and then the god-awful withdrawl (don't let anyone tell you they're not physically addictive because they are dirty, lying whores if they do), I don't understand why someone would want to take them unless they are in the honest-to-god chemical imbalance depression hole.

Wow. What a great post. I didn't admit to my depression after having my children, and I waited way too long to address my anxiety disorder. I spent a year in counseling before going on medication, and the doctor started me at the lowest possible dose and gradually increased until we found the right level. I go to the psychologist on an "as needed" basis and have to have a doctor visit at least every three months to ensure that I am still appropriately medicated.

I still get sad and angry and irritated sometimes, and I am also happy and excited sometimes. And sometimes I am middle of the road. My Zoloft does not make every day sunshine and lollipops, but it lets me get through the day without having a panic attack about whether my kids are safe or whether my husband has stopped loving me. Thank God I had care that allowed me to try coping mechanisms and therapy before jumping into taking medicine that sometimes makes me nauseated or drowsy.

I too went through several months of counseling for depression/anxiety and am taking medication for both. I do agree with this post that the pills are kind of pushed as a 'fix-all'. I'm glad that they're available though, as I'm one that needs a little help to keep my feelings 'normal' and not irrationally out of control. I know some people think that's BS, but I know how I feel with and without them and I choose with and think that's better for me.

Just need to be one of the many people agreeing whole-heartedly with you on this one. Life is sad sometimes and drugs do not make sadness go away. Clinical depression, not getting-out of bed-stuff, fine, take the drugs, but for the rest of, life is ugly and no drugs will change that. My 36-year old sister has breast cancer. This makes me sad and down and scared and stressed, but drugs to mask the pain of that reality are not helpful, my sister will still have cancer.

Thank you for writing this.


((...Backing away slowly from the trecherous snob... ))


Have you been reading the new book by Tracy Thompson on motherhood and depression? I devoured it the other night and, according to the author, I have multiple symptoms of depression. Except that these symptoms can also suggest the general state of being a mother--tired, sometimes snappish, yearning for some time alone, etc. It does indeed seem that depression is the new black, so to speak, and in a disturbing backlash to the Tom Cruise backlash, medication is an alarming "new" coping mechanism.

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